The official language in Vietnam is Vietnamese. However, mostly in the tourist areas people speak English.
The official name of the country is the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
The standard time in Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+7).
Counting and numbers
Dates in Vietnam are written with the day first, then the month, then the year. A common way to write a day would be: 7 April 2008.
With written numbers, commas and decimal points are exactly like in Europe but swapped from what you are used to in US.
Vietnam uses the metric system for measurements and Celsius for temperatures. You can find a conversion tool here
Electricity and plugs
The standard electrical voltage in Vietnam is 220 volts / 50HZ, so you will need an adaptor if you don’t come from a European country (which uses the same system). All types of electrical plugs are used, which makes it quite easy to adapt your electrical appliances here. However, be careful and read the voltage instructions and use a transformer if necessary.
The official currency in Vietnam is the dong (VND). It is divided into 10 hao but since a hao is worth so little these days, it’s no longer issued. The new 2003 issued coins include the following denominations: 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 dongs. The banknotes come in 6 denominations (also 2003 series): 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, 200000 and 500000 dongs.
Vietnam is very convenient for foreigners. If you stay in a budget hotel and eat in cafes you can live on US$20/day easily, while if you have slightly higher standards like eating in restaurants and using the taxi, US$60-70/day should be quite enough.
Check this conversion rate tool before planning your vacation.
Banks and ATMs
There is a reasonably extended network of ATMs in Vietnam — in the major cities and tourist areas — which makes it quite easy to carry plastic around. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB credit cars are all accepted in the major cities and tourist areas. You can also have US$ available when you visit the more rural parts of the country. But when you are venturing outside the beaten track, make sure to stock on dongs.
Money can be exchanged at the bank, at an authorized exchange bureau, at the hotel reception or on the black market. Banks offer the best rates but you’ll find a bureau much easier than a bank and have longer opening hours.
Using the telephone
The country code for Vietnam is 84. To call Vietnam from US you will first need to dial out of the U.S. and then into Vietnam, which means 011+84 + local number. To call a Vietnamese number from within the city, just dial the number you were given. To call US from Vietnam dial 00+1+the US number (make sure to use the area code as well).
Public phone booths are available in the major cities and tourist areas. You need to buy a prepaid card from the Post Office.
You can also ask your mobile carrier to tell you what network to connect to once you get to Vietnam (provided you have the roaming activated). The GSM network uses the same standards as Europe, Asia and Australia (GSM 900/1800), but it’s not compatible with US and Japan standards. Another option is to just buy a prepaid card when you get in Vietnam, provided your cell is unlocked.
Useful telephone numbers
Most foreign citizens require a visa and passport to visit Vietnam. Visas are issued only by embassies and consulates abroad and are valid for 30 days (in general).
>> more information on Visa