Every Western visitor to Vietnam needs to have a visa. Visa for Vietnam are not as easily available as for instance visa for Thailand.
It is in general only possible to procure the visa by yourself, when you are travelling on business matters or on an official mission. In both cases you need an invitation letter, either from your Vietnamese business partner (at best a government organization) or from the Vietnamese government office which you will deal with on an official mission.
The Vietnamese business partner or government agency should send the invitation directly to the embassy where the foreigner intends to apply for his visa. When the foreigner appears at the embassy, he or she will have to refer to that invitation letter.
Apart from that, in order to give some weight to the individual visa application, it is recommended to bring along all correspondence ever exchanged with the Vietnamese business partner or government agency.
Tourist visa for Vietnam are easily obtained, if you book a package arrangement with a travel agent. In general, the Vietnamese government is not particularly interested in visitors, travelling on their own.
Bangkok is considered the place where one has the best chance to get a tourist visa for Vietnam without being booked on a package tour. But even in Bangkok, individual travellers cannot just enter the embassy and apply for a visa by themselves. Even those, who have not booked an arrangement with a travel agent, will have to turn to a travel office to have a Vietnam visa issued. Travel offices in Bangkok taking care of Vietnam visas for individual travellers usually charge comparatively high fees of about US $ 70.
There are no problems in obtaining a visa for those, who book a Vietnam arrangement with a travel agent. To provide a Vietnam visa usually is part of the services of the travel agent handling an arranged tour.
Visa formalities are not limited to the issuing of a visa for the period of the journey.
Vietnam is one of the most bureaucratic countries of Southeast Asia. For a journey to Vietnam it is not sufficient to just be in possession of a visa for the duration of the stay. The visa must also detail the place of entry to and exit from the country, as well as the mode of transport one uses.
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