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Travel to Vietnam from South Africa – Everything You Need to Know

January 03, 2024

Vietnam is quickly becoming a popular travel destination for tourists from all over the world, including South Africa. With its stunning natural landscapes, mouthwatering cuisine, rich culture and low costs, it’s easy to see why.

Travelling from South Africa to Vietnam does take some preparation though. From getting visa requirements in order to finding the best flight deals, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know as a South African traveller heading to Vietnam. We’ll provide tips and information on visas, flights, money, tours, South African communities and more. Let’s dive in!

How to Obtain a Visa to Vietnam from South Africa

Vietnam has visa requirements for South African passport holders, so sorting this out should be a priority. Here are your main options:

Apply for a Vietnam e-Visa

The fastest and most convenient way to get your Vietnam visa is to apply online for an e-Visa. This can be done through various approved websites.

You’ll need to complete an online application form, upload a digital passport photo and pay a visa fee. Approval usually takes just 3-6 working days.

With an e-Visa, you can enter through 42 of Vietnam border gates: Airports, Landports and Seaports. This makes e-Visas ideal for tourists.

E-Visa Tips:

  • Only use official/reputable websites approved by Vietnamese Immigration.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from date of arrival.
  • Print out e-Visa or have digital copy easily accessible.

Apply for a Vietnam Visa On Arrival

Another option is to get a visa on arrival (VOA) when you land in Vietnam. This method tends to be more time-consuming.

Upon arrival, you’ll need to stand in line to apply and wait for approval. Processing can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour in some cases.

VOA Tips:

  • Only available at certain ports of entry (mainly international airports).
  • Be prepared for longer wait times and potential delays going through immigration.
  • Have exact change in USD to pay visa fees to avoid hassles.

Apply for a Visa at the Vietnamese Embassy

You can also opt to apply for a Vietnam visa by going directly through your nearest Vietnamese embassy or consulate.

This option takes more planning, as it can take 7-10 days for approval. You’ll need to apply in person and provide the necessary documentation.

Embassy Visa Tips

  • Book appointment well in advance to avoid delays.
  • Make sure all documentation provided meets requirements.
  • Pay close attention to dates of entries allowed with the visa.

No matter which visa route you take, be sure to apply early and double-check all requirements for South African passport holders. This will ensure a smooth arrival!

Flights to Vietnam from South Africa

Flights to Vietnam from South Africa

Flights to Vietnam from South Africa

Booking flights is the next important step for your Vietnam trip. Here’s a breakdown of key things to consider:

Best Time to Fly to Vietnam

The best time to fly from South Africa to Vietnam typically depends on the specific region you plan to visit in Vietnam and your personal preferences. Vietnam has a diverse climate with regional variations. Generally, the country can be divided into three main regions: North, Central, and South.

If you’re heading to the northern region (including Hanoi and Ha Long Bay), the best time to visit is usually from October to April. This period is characterized by cooler and drier weather, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). However, it’s worth noting that December and January can be chilly in the north.

For the central region (including Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue), the ideal time to visit is from February to August. During these months, you can expect pleasant temperatures ranging from 20°C to 35°C (68°F to 95°F), with minimal rainfall. However, it’s good to note that typhoons may occur between September and December, which can affect travel plans.

If you plan to explore the southern region (including Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta), the best time to visit is from December to April. This period offers drier weather with average temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F). However, it can get quite hot and humid during April and May.

Ultimately, the best time to fly to Vietnam from South Africa depends on your desired itinerary and weather preferences. It’s advisable to check specific regional forecasts and consider any local events or festivals you may want to experience during your visit.

Flight Duration from South Africa to Vietnam

The estimated flight duration from South Africa to Vietnam varies depending on the specific departure and destination cities within each country. On average, a non-stop flight can take around 12 to 15 hours. However, please note that this is only an approximation, and the actual duration may differ due to factors such as flight routes, wind conditions, and layovers. It is always advisable to check with airlines for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding flight durations. Non-stop flights from Johannesburg to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City take roughly 12-15 hours including layovers.

Connecting flights stop in the Middle East or Asian hubs like Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur. This adds 3 or more hours to total travel time.

Most Popular Airlines for Flights

Some leading airlines offering routes from South Africa to Vietnam include: South African Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific

Check their websites directly or use flight comparison sites to find current deals.

Tips for Finding the Best Flight Prices

  • Book at least 6-8 weeks in advance for cheaper economy rates
  • Be flexible with departure dates/times
  • Consider getting a stopover in a connecting city to save costs
  • Check prices daily as deals can change frequently
  • Sign up for price alerts and sale notifications

Things Not Allowed When Flying to Vietnam

Be aware that customs regulations in Vietnam prohibit bringing certain things into the country:

  • Weapons/firearms and ammunition
  • Illicit drugs
  • Pornography or political/religious literature banned by authorities
  • Certain radio equipment like walkie-talkies
  • Food products made from animal origins

Also know that counterfeit goods and excessive amounts of cigarettes/alcohol can be confiscated. Do proper research to avoid any issues!

Money and Currency in Vietnam

Now that you’ve sorted visas and flights, let’s talk money! Here’s a quick overview of Vietnam’s currency, costs and financial tips:

Official Vietnamese Currency

Official Vietnamese Currency

Official Vietnamese Currency

The official currency used is the Vietnamese Đồng (VND). Banknotes come in the following denominations:

  • VND500,000
  • VND200,000
  • VND100,000
  • VND50,000
  • VND20,000
  • VND10,000
  • VND5,000
  • VND2,000
  • VND1,000
  • VND500
  • VND200

How Much Cash Can You Bring?

There aren’t strict limits on how much foreign currency cash travellers can bring.

However, amounts over USD $5,000 (or equivalent) must be declared on the customs form on arrival.

Currency Exchange Options in Vietnam

The most convenient places to exchange foreign money to VND are typically:

  • Banks (including ATMs and branches)
  • Official money changers at airports/hotels
  • Reliable stores/gold shops recommended by locals

Avoid shady street money changers offering much higher rates – these often scam tourists with fake currency, shortchanging tactics and more.

Always ask for a formal receipt with exchanges and calculate the amount yourself.

Tips for Exchanging Cash:

  • Shop around as exchange rates can vary
  • Avoid airport money changers with poorer rates
  • USD and GBP get the best exchange rates
  • Bring new/undamaged USD/EUR notes (needed for some places)

Using ATMs in Vietnam

Finding ATMs in cities is easy – they are plentiful at banks and many convenience stores, malls, etc.

Most accept foreign cards like Visa, MasterCard, etc. Maximum withdrawals are typically capped at VND 2-5 million per transaction. Watch out for ATM withdrawal fees.

ATM Tips:

  • Confirm foreign transaction fees with your bank at home first
  • Notify bank of travel dates to avoid card blocks
  • Only use ATMs with security guards present
  • Avoid unfamiliar local bank ATMs just to be safe

Paying with Credit Card in Vietnam

Most shops, hotels and tourism sites in Vietnam accept major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard. You can rest assured, because credit card payments are very popular in Vietnam.

Credit Card Tips:

  • Confirm if your card has foreign transaction fees
  • Alert bank before leaving home to avoid issues
  • Keep cards secure; scams do happen targeting tourists
  • Always double check charges and statements closely

Other Useful Money Tips

  • Carry smaller VND bills for easy transactions, vendors may not have change
  • Buy required VND from your local bank before departure
  • Split cash/cards across multiple locations as backup
  • Have photos of key cards in case they get lost/stolen
  • Save receipts to reconcile statements for fraud monitoring

Recommended Vietnam Tour Packages from South Africa

One of the best ways to experience Vietnam as a tourist is by booking an organised tour package. This takes care of logistics for you.

We’ll highlight some of the top recommended Vietnam tour packages specifically tailored for South African travellers:

And much more! Check with leading Vietnam tour companies for current rates and custom options. Private touring is also available.

Best Things to Do in Vietnam

As a captivating country filled with diversity, Vietnam offers endless opportunities for great travel experiences catered to all interests and budgets.

While an organised tour takes care of the planning for you, it’s also exciting to craft your own unique Vietnam itinerary.

Here are just some of the top attractions and activities you won’t want to miss:

1. Explore the vibrant streets of Hanoi: Start your Vietnam experience by exploring the bustling city of Hanoi. Immerse yourself in the rich culture, visit the historical sites like Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, explore the Old Quarter, and try the delicious street food.

2. Cruise through Ha Long Bay: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit in Vietnam. Enjoy a cruise through the stunning limestone karsts and emerald waters, visit hidden caves, try kayaking, and immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty.

3. Experience the charm of Hoi An: Hoi An is a charming ancient town with well-preserved architecture, colorful lanterns, and a relaxed atmosphere. Explore the narrow lanes, visit historic temples, enjoy the local cuisine, and take part in a traditional lantern-making workshop.

4. Trek in Sapa: Located in the northern part of Vietnam, Sapa offers breathtaking landscapes and vibrant hill tribe cultures. Embark on a trekking adventure through terraced rice fields, visit local villages, and witness the stunning beauty of the mountains.

5. Discover the Mekong Delta: Take a boat trip through the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam. Explore the floating markets, visit traditional villages, sample fresh fruits from the orchards, and learn about the unique way of life in the delta.

6. Relax on the beaches of Nha Trang: Vietnam is home to beautiful beaches, and Nha Trang is a popular coastal destination. Enjoy the white sandy beaches, indulge in water sports activities, and explore nearby islands for snorkeling and scuba diving.

7. Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels: Discover the fascinating history of the Vietnam War by visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City. Go inside the complex underground network, learn about the guerrilla warfare tactics, and gain insights into Vietnam’s past.

8. Explore the imperial city of Hue: With its imperial citadel, royal tombs, and historic pagodas, Hue offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s history. Explore the UNESCO-listed Imperial City, visit the famous Thien Mu Pagoda, and take a boat trip along the Perfume River.

9. Experience the sand dunes of Mui Ne: Head to Mui Ne for a unique desert experience in Vietnam. Marvel at the red and white sand dunes, try sandboarding, visit the Fairy Stream, and enjoy the picturesque fishing villages along the coast.

10. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City: Wrap up your Vietnam journey by experiencing the lively nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City. Explore the bustling streets, try delicious street food, visit rooftop bars, and immerse yourself in the dynamic energy of this vibrant city.

And so much more beyond just this list! Vietnam’s combinations of stunning scenery, delectable cuisine and fascinating history promises an unforgettable adventure for South African travellers.

Hiring a Vietnam Tour Guide

While organised group tours take the hassle out of trip planning, some people prefer more personalised adventures.

Having your own private Vietnam tour guide can make all the difference for a custom experience tailored to your exact interests whether history, food, nature or a mix.

Why Hire a Private Tour Guide?

Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Flexible itineraries not tied to fixed tour bus route schedules
  • Personal attention from start to finish
  • Gain deeper insight into culture, history and everyday local life
  • Learn interesting backstories, hidden places and facts not found in any guidebook from a knowledgeable insider
  • Have a translator to overcome any language barriers
  • Insider foodie tips at local eateries and markets vs tourist traps
  • Improved safety and security navigating solo
  • Ability to fully customize activities matching interests and fitness levels
  • Great local photography tips

Where to Find Good English-Speaking Guides

Reputable tour companies like have excellent private guides on staff that lead tours in English. Saigon Tourism and Vietnam Holiday are also top-rated agencies to check.

Know that hiring quality guides with experience, certifications, great reviews and legitimate licenses directly equate to better overall trip experiences in Vietnam.

Do some research to find ideal guide matches based on your tour vision, destination goals and personality vibes beyond just language skills. This partnership sets the foundation!

South African Communities in Vietnam

South African Embassy in Hanoi

  • Address: 3rd Floor, Central Building, 31 Hai Ba Trung Street, Hanoi
  • Telephone: + (84-24) 3936 2000
  • Fax: + (84-24) 3936 1991
  • After hours standby number: + (84) 904 002 972
  • Consular: [email protected]
  • Open Hours: Monday – Friday: 09h00 to 12h00 (Consular Services); 09h00 to 17h00

South African Consulate-General Ho Chi Minh City

  • Address: 80 Vo Van Tan Street, 6th Ward, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Telephone: (+848) 3823 8556
  • Fax: (+848) 3823 8557
  • Open Hours: Monday – Friday : 08h30 to 11h30 and 13h30 to 16h30

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we’ll try to answer some common questions South African travellers may have preparing for a Vietnam trip:

Do I need travel vaccines going to Vietnam from South Africa?

  • There are no vaccination requirements mandated by Vietnam specifically. However, the CDC recommends Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines as a precaution.
  • Malaria medicine is also prescribed for some regions. Talk to your doctor about any health risks based on your detailed Vietnam itinerary for tailored medical advice.

How good is the wifi in Vietnam?

  • Internet service and availability in Vietnam has improved drastically over the last decade. Most hotels and coffee shops aimed at tourists offer free and fairly reliable WiFi.
  • Expect fast enough speeds for essential usage like Google maps, ride-hailing apps, Google translating phrases, etc. but don’t expect to stream HD Netflix anywhere beyond a luxury hotel!
  • Pocket wifi rental helps ensure connectivity if planning.

What is the best way to get around Vietnam?

  • For tourists, the three most practical transport options include trains, buses or domestic flights between the main cities and domestic airports.
  • Trains like the North-South Railway connect Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City with stops along the coast. It’s scenic and affordable.
  • Modern buses like Sleeper Bus or Limousine Bus serve popular routes conveniently.
  • Various budget airlines like VietJet, Bamboo Airways and Vietnam Airlines fly short routes between prime destinations for reasonable rates if booked early.
  • Other transport like rented motorbikes or private cars with drivers can also be booked as desired.

What should I pack for Vietnam as a tourist?

Recommended items to pack for travel in Vietnam include:

  • Light, breathable clothing – Vietnam can be humid year-round. Think light cottons, linens, etc. Easy to layer items are ideal.
  • Raincoat or compact travel umbrella
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Universal electrical travel adaptor
  • Prescription medications in original containers
  • Photocopies of passport, visas, travel documents
  • Healthy snack options like trail mix, protein bars, etc. Local cuisine can be very carb and oil heavy
  • Light jacket or hoodie for overly air conditioned interiors
  • Batik shirts or loose dresses if planning to visit temples where shoulders and knees may need covered
  • Motion sickness remedies if doing winding transport routes
  • Biodegradable sunscreen to protect skin while outdoors
  • Mosquito repellent spray for certain locales
  • Collapsible water bottle to refill along the way

Packing minimally and lightly is encouraged!