Vietnamese Customs experiences

Sep 29th, 2003, 10:26 AM
  #1  
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Vietnamese Customs experiences

In several guidebooks I have been reading there are comments that passing through customs in Vietnam can be difficult, in terms of both hassles and out-right confiscation of items.

Normally I wouldn't care -- they can have my old undies -- but Vietnam is our last stop on a 3 week trip and I will be carrying a moderate amount of purchases -- nothing kinky or electronic. I'd hate to cart the stuff around SE Asia only to have the customs officer declare it "verboeten".

Experiences? Any problems getting a small digital camera and cell phone into or out of Vietnam also? Are people's experiences that there is a definite list of things to avoid or is it the personal whim/preference etc... of the customs agent you encounter?
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Sep 30th, 2003, 04:24 PM
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Anyone??
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Sep 30th, 2003, 04:30 PM
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wj1
 
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I was there a year and a half ago and we didn't have any sort of problem at all. Hope that helps. Have a wonderful trip. I love Vietnam and I hope you do too.
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Sep 30th, 2003, 05:46 PM
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Amy
 
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Hey, hi! Lucky you, going to Vietnam!

I didn't have any problems with my new camera (non-digital, SLR Nikon) or with anything else in customs; on the other hand, most of what I was carrying was Bat Trang porcelain and my new clothing from Hoi An. Maybe they just didn't want to go through it all! No, seriously, they were quite professional and not at all difficult for me.

Have a wonderful trip! (As you may know, I loved Vietnam too.)
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Oct 1st, 2003, 05:01 AM
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Thanks -- that's reassuring to hear.
And thanks for not jumping down my throat for asking
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Oct 1st, 2003, 07:25 PM
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my only experience is in hanoi....we were there 2 years ago, no 3 now....we had no problem what so ever either entering or leaving....i do remember that the immigration situation was very disorganized, but we moved slowly and took it easy and had no problems...since out time they have opened a new terminal i believe....we came in on a 747 air france and it was the only plane at the time....i don't think they looked at anything when we left so had no problems....if you are bringing in or out items which you shouldn't then expect to have a problem...normal things like cameras and phones are no problem, but porn or similar are asking for trouble....
the officials were typical beaurocrats of a non-democracy---having said that they are typical immigration and customs people trying to protect their country.....
we took out tons of purchases....all purchased in vn however...
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Feb 12th, 2004, 03:46 AM
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I thought I'd report my experience.

Which was that immigration/customs going in and out was smooth and unproblematic. Nothing was opened -- no questions were asked.
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Feb 13th, 2004, 04:05 AM
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Peep
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Same for us last Feb. No problems or hassles at all.
 
Feb 14th, 2004, 03:56 AM
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I had forgotten about this but your question reminded me.
We were in Vietnam at Christmas. The form you have to complete for immigration is carboned and for our family of four we had eight pieces of paper as they were not stuck together. Each form and its carbon had a serial number so you had to match them up before filling in the top copy of each.
There was a strange question asking how many pieces of unaccompanied baggage we were carrying and as my husband and I were sharing a case I wrote "one shared". This caused a big problem in Saigon (not most because the official didn't understand it) but basically because it only needed a number.
This form was then stapled in duplicate in our passports.
When we left the form was ripped out and given back to us to hand in as we went through security. I hadn't noticed but in ripping out the form the corner of it around the staple became detatched and it was the corner with part of the all important serial number. A very serious uniformed official called his colleagues who all looked similarly serious and asked me ( I could tell by the tone of voice) where the corner of paper was.
My husband and daughters had gone through and disappeared around the corner.
We turned to the page in my passport where the staple remained and I showed it to him but the tiny piece of paper was no longer under the staple.
Thankfully I spotted it having dropped into the centre of the passport and I eventually got through. Only then did he smile!
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Feb 15th, 2004, 10:45 AM
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Sometimes it depends on who you are. As a Vietnamese-American, I have experienced a lot of harrassment from Vietnamse customs officials. Friends and family members have also reported similar problems.

On early trips (late 90s) I was often given trouble over cameras (not camcorders), visas, etc. But non-Vietnamese members of my party were never questioned. While I hesitate to generalize that Vietnamese-Americans are not well treated, I did sense a lot of resentment. Since the early trips, I have learned to speak only English upon arriving at the airport. Since I don't have an accent, I can usually get away with feigning ignorance--though my name does indicate my ethnicity. I have actually had a passport controller ask me for a bribe (in Vietnamese), to which I pretended not to understand and asked if there was something wrong with my passport, visas, etc. I just kept asking him a lot questions in English (which he couldn't understand) until he waived me through.

Another interesting thing to note is the fact that my passport has never been stamped by Vietnamese passport control. I have also had a paper visa stapled to my passport and then removed when I leave the country. There is no evidence in my passport that I've ever been in Vietnam... My husband and other travel partners (all non-Vietnamese) all have stamps...
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Feb 15th, 2004, 01:47 PM
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kathyl, recently I heard an interview with the last leader of the former government of South Vietnam, General Nguyen Cao Ky (sp?). I think it was broadcast on your NPR network. It seems that he's visited the country for the first time since his hasty departure in the '70s, is going to let bygones be bygones and may even move back - but I suspect that his polite reception may have something to do with his bank balance.
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Feb 15th, 2004, 02:26 PM
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By the way, we had no problems entering through HCMC or leaving through Hanoi, but then we're not Vietnamese-Australians.

A friend of mine observed what might be the the opposite to the bribe solicitation problem kathyl experienced. His Vietnamese-Australian colleague, on leaving the restaurant where they'd just had lunch, had to decline the offer of a commission; the owner assumed that he was a local tour guide who'd steered his Western client to that restaurant. Something to bear in mind when considering your guide's restaurant recommendation.


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