Visa on arrival for Vietnam

Old Aug 9th, 2009, 09:34 AM
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Visa on arrival for Vietnam

Has anyone had recent experience with entering Vietnam with a "visa on arrival"? Did you have any problems at the airport, or did it go smoothly? I'd prefer to get my visa on arrival, but would like to know if there are potential problems by doing this.
shelleyk is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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I assume you mean a pre-arranged visa. (Visa on arrival means something else - you can arrive with no notice and can purchase a visa. VN does not have visa on arrival, only pre-arranged visas. Unfortunately even on the VN embassy website, they call it visa on arrival).

There have been a number of recent reports of using this with no difficulty. Do make sure you have your paperwork showing you have arranged for a visa or you won't even be allowed on a plane to VN. The prearranged visa is good only for arrival via air (no land borders).
Kathie is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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I know 5 people who've done this. All went except one co-traveler. The visa arrives loose, and you have the VN agent install it when you come into VN. Hers got lost and she didn't know it till she arrived. Because the records were in the computer, thay allowed her into VN, but she had to pay a higher"service fee" to straighten out the problem..
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 10th, 2009, 01:11 PM
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Are additional passport sized photos required upon arrival to accompany the pre-arranged visa letter?
I'm told the visa letter must be shown to your air carrier or they will not let you board the final leg into Vietnam.
vicnric is offline  
Old Aug 10th, 2009, 04:57 PM
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shellyk-We had no problems. I wrote about it and answered your question in my current trip report (click on my name, or yours, to find it easily).

vicnric-I just did this in July, flying from LAX to Hanoi. Yes, you need to bring 2 photos, but they aren't really "additional" as they are the same ones you'd need if you sent your passport to the embassy for the Visa.
I'd also read that you need to show the letter at the airport to the airline on departure (this was actually the part I was most worried about) but American never asked us for it.
Don't forget, you will also need $25 in US cash or Vietnamese Dong for each visa you get at the airport.

BTW, unlike lcuy's experience, we did not receive loose-leaf visas, but rather, a single, 8"x11" emailed letter which applied to both of us. When we arrived, an actual full-page visa was pasted into our passports.
Kristina is offline  
Old Aug 10th, 2009, 06:51 PM
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We were actually lucky that the airline in KL didn't ask to see the visas. if they had, Melissa might have had to physically stay in KL until she got a new visa. As it ended, the problem became simply "financial", and our Vietnam trip went on as planned!.
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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Thanks for the input. I guess I'll try this route, and I'll be sure not to lose the visa, as Melissa did. It's nice to know that the visa on arrival system actually works. I think I will use to do the paperwork, unless someone has a better recommendation. Kristina-it sounds like you were satisfied with Tonkin Travel. Do you think I should use them to get a quote for airfare from Hanoi to Luang Probang. I looked at the airfare on Kayak and it was $891 US for Feb, which seems really ridiculous.
shelleyk is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2009, 11:52 AM
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Absolutely ask Tonkin for a quote. Also ask vietnamstays if they book airfare too.
Or look at other carrier's websites who might fly that route. Check Vietnam Airlines, Air Asia, Bangkok Airlines, etc.
Kristina is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2009, 04:03 PM
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There is no trouble with pre-arranged visas now. All the wrinkles have been worked out.

Note that you need ONE () passport size pix; and USD$ (although they will also accept VN Dong). The desks are in the immigration halls and you will need to fill in an application form unless you have a smart visa agent who sends you the forms along with YOUR LETTER OF AUTHORISATION.

It is best to PRINT OUT your LETTER OF AUTHORISATION and STAPLE it in to your passport. You will need this to show to airline check-in counters.

Note: On occasion airlines (the one that takes you into VietNam) require you to sign a waiver saying you will pay for transportation out of the country if you are not admitted. Don't worry - they are using SITA - the out of date database.

Visa agent shouldn't charge more than USD$20-30 for their 'service'. Your visa fee is ABOVE this and paid to the immigration police.

If the Tonkin Travel mentioned above is based in Ha Noi there are many derogatory remarks about their service. They use the forums to generate business and give some customers big discounts so they will talk.

You are best buying INTERNAL air travel IN VIETNAM as there are price wars in progress and new carriers are starting up. ALWAYS BUY FROM THE AIRLINE OFFICES - in every city they serve. No need to discuss why here but as a long-time resident buying from the carrier has its advantages!!
BuonMeThuot is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2009, 05:47 PM
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Do you perhaps own your own travel agency in Vietnam? You have certainly answered a lot of posts here today.

Tonkin is a very reputable agency and I had a very positive experience using them, as have many other people here. As far as I know, they have never posted here to generate business.

As for stapling your Authorization letter into your Passport, are you kidding me? I would never staple anything in my US passport! Not that immigration agents haven't done it, but I would never presume to do that myself.

Sorry folks, maybe it's just me, but I'm finding myself questioning BuonMeThuot's motives here. They haven't posted here in almost 4 years and come on today to post on 20 threads? What's that about?
Kristina is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2009, 11:54 PM
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Slow season in Vietnam???

And no, I think a lot of us will not be thinking very highly of BuonMe thout!
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 26th, 2009, 10:03 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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No, I consume travel products, not sell them. I also happen to live in VietNam, for getting on for 20 years, and find that living in a place often reveals more information than people who visit for a short period.

I am glad that Tonkin gave YOU a good feel, I assure you that others did not get that experience. Maybe he is learning. Try Googling for info.

The reason you should staple your Letter of Authorisation into your passport is that it is required at multiple points before entering VietNam, starting with the check-in counter. Why you think immigration types have more rights than you in attaching things to your passport is beyond me.

As for my 'absence' - this is simple, I had a computer with auto-login for web sites and the hard drive had a problem. I used a new login but recently my old drive was revived and the old data recovered.
BuonMeThuot is offline  
Old Aug 27th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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Ah, so this is where he's disappeared to. The person who is calling himself BuonMeThuot here is well known on the Trip Advisor Vietnam forum, where over the years he has appeared in a number of guises but is always identifiable by his style of writing and his tone. There is a story behind his denigration of Tonkin Travel, which contrary to what he says is an utterly trustworthy agent and never stoops to self-promotion. (No, I do not work for them - I'm just a lover of Vietnam who posts regularly on TA and Thorn Tree!)

Back on topic, my visa on arrival worked perfectly. I was the only person on my flight to Hanoi to go through the VOA process so the whole thing took only five minutes. They only required one passport photo from me, but I suppose it would be wise to take two just in case. When paying the $25 fee many travellers have found that only notes in pristine condition will be accepted, so it's wise to use crisp new ones.
RedKite is offline  
Old Aug 27th, 2009, 08:54 AM
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I have been using Tonkin recently and the only problems i have encountered were a few email delays. That aside i have so far had excellent service from them (as have many other Fodorites and is indeed the reason why i chose them) i have also NEVER seen them self promote on here OR TA.
I have to say whilst of course everyone is entitled to their opinion BMT is also SO negative that i usually avoid reading his posts.
Smeagol is offline  
Old Oct 9th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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Kathie, thank you, this is putting me at ease since this is what I have arranged for from Canada and was getting somewhat worried when I mentioned it to the Vietnam Consulate in Ottawa and they hung up on me!
I'll post my experience upon return.
Au_courant is offline  
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