When traveling to Vietnam, it is very likely that you will need a visa to enter the country. But Vietnam visa is more a formality, a bureaucratic procedure only. There’s usually no issue getting it if you follow the steps.
The requirements for us, as Romanians, are similar with most other countries, especially for the ones in the European Union. But please check with Vietnamese authorities in your country before making any travel arrangements.
To get the visa for Vietnam you have several options:
- apply at the embassy in your home country
- get the visa on-arrival at the point of entrance in Vietnam
Since we were traveling through several other countries before reaching Vietnam, on arrival visa was the best option for us. But this is not as simple as it appears!
To get the visa on arrival for Vietnam, you need to get an approval invitation letter. You can apply for it through the state e-visa system or through a third party agency. If you are visiting as part of an organised group, most likely the travel agency will deal with all this for you. But if you are an independent traveler who arranges everything by himself, here is what you need to know.
We found the e-visa system too complicated and preferred to use a third party agency to get our Vietnam Visa Approval Letter. There are lots agencies on the Internet, with various fees, timelines and reviews. We used Vietnam Visa Pro and we were very happy about the whole process. The cost is just 6 USD/person and we got our visa letter in two days. It was a bit funny that we got a group letter, with maybe more than 20 names on it. There are a bit more expensive options if you need the letter more urgently or if you prefer fast track service at the airport. We needed just single entry visa, but you can apply for multiple entry too.
After receiving you Vietnam Visa Approval Letter, make sure you print it. You also need one passport-type photo to apply for visa on arrival.
In Hanoi airport we had to wait just about 20 minutes for all the visa formalities to be over. I think we were quite lucky, as I heard others saying they faced long queues and spent nearly two hours in the waiting room. The good part is you have free WiFi in the airport! You leave your documents at one counter, then you can wait relaxed, as your name and picture will appear on the screens when you can pick up your passport with the visa on it. At this point, you might have to pay a visa fee. Romanian citizens are exempt from paying so we just collected our documents and left to get our backpack. In case you wait a long time, your luggage might be already removed from the belt. You’ll find it nearby, on the floor or on a luggage cart.
Beware if you don’t travel to Vietnam by air! Visa on arrival is granted in International Airports. If you arrive in Vietnam overland or by ship, make sure you check the desired entry point in advance.