Country Overview > Tourism > Getting there and away

THINGS CHANGE...
The information in this chapter is particularly vulnerable to change. Check directly with the airline or a travel agent to make sure you understand how a fare (and ticket you may buy) works and be aware of the security requirements for international travel. Shop carefully. The details given in this chapter should be regarded as pointers and are not a substitute for your own careful, up-to-date research.
ENTERING VIETNAM
It's possible to enter Vietnam by train, plane, automobile and other forms of transport. Air is popular for those holidaying in Vietnam, while bus is the most common route for those travelling extensively in the region. Anyone planning on arriving from China should consider the spectacular train ride from Kunming in China's Yunnan province to Hanoi (although there are currently no trains on the Chinese side: check for updates). Entering from Cambodia, the boat ride down the Mekong River from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc is memorable. Formalities at Vietnam's international airports are generally smoother than at land borders, as the volume of traffic is greater. That said, crossing overland from Cambodia and China is now relatively stress-free. Crossing the border between Vietnam and Laos remains somewhat stressful.
Passport
There are no 'suspect’ stamps that will prevent foreigners from visiting Vietnam, but some Vietnamese who live overseas may be given a harder time by immigration and customs than non-Vietnamese visitors. Arranging a visa remains essential before arrival in Vietnam, but these are easy to obtain from embassies worldwide or through Vietnamese travel agents in advance
AIR
Airports & Airlines
There are three international airports in Vietnam. Tan Son Nhat airport ( SGN; Tell: 08-8446665) serves Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and is Vietnam's busiest international air hub. Hanoi's Noi Bai airport (HAM;Tell: 04-886 5047) is the destination of choice for those concentrating on northern Vietnam, while a handful of international flights also serve Danang airport (DAD;Tell: 0511-830339), a useful gateway to the charms of central Vietnam.
Vietnam Airlines (
www.vietnamair.com.vn) Hanoi (Tell: 04-943 9660) HCMC (Tell: 08-832 0320) is the state-owned flag carrier, and the majority of flights into and out of Vietnam are joint operations between Vietnam Airlines and foreign airlines. Vietnam Airlines has a modern fleet of Airbuses and Boeings and the level of service on its international flights is starting to catch up with its bigger rivals. However, on the domestic front, cancellations and late flights are still possible. Many international flights leaving Hanoi connect through HCMC, but it's a headache. Passengers have to pay a domestic departure tax, fly to HCMC, claim their bags, check in again, and pay an international departure tax before boarding the international flight.
CLIMATE CHANGE & TRAVEL
Climate change is a serious threat to the ecosystems, that humans rely upon, and air travel is the fastest-growing contributor to the problem. Vietnam Travel Guide regards travel, overall, as a global benefit, but believes we all have a responsibility to limit our personal impact ors qlobal warming.
Flying & Climate Change
Pretty much every form of motorised travel generates CO, (the main cause of human-induced climate change) but planes are far and away the worst offenders, not just because of the sheer distances they allow us to travel, but because they release greenhouse gases high into the atmosphere. The statistics are frightening: two people taking a return flight between Europe and the US will contribute as much to climate change as an average household's gas and electricity consumption over a whole year.
Carbon Offset Schemes
Climatecare.org and other websites use 'carbon calculators' that allow travellers to offset the level of greenhouse gases they are responsible for with financial contributions to sustainable travel schemes that reduce global warming - including projects in India, Honduras. Kazakhstan and Uganda. Vietnam Travel Guide, together with Rough Guides and other concerned partners in the travel industry, support the carbon offset scheme run by climatecare.org. Vietnam Travel Guide offsets all of its staff and author travel. For more information check out our website:
www.lonelyplanet.com.
LAND
Vietnam shares land borders with Cambodia, China and Laos and there are several border crossings open to foreigners with each neighbour, a big improvement on a decade ago.

Border Crossings
It is essential to have a Vietnam visa before rocking up to the border, as they are not issued at land crossings. There are currently twelve international land borders: three each with Cambodia and China and six with Laos. We list the Vietnam side of the border first in the following country coverage. More are set to open during the lifetime of this book, so ask around in Hanoi or HCMC for the latest information. There are few legal money-changing facilities on the Vietnamese side of these crossings, so be sure to have some small-denomination US dollars handy. The black market is also an option for local currencies - Vietnamese dong, Chinese renminbi, Lao kip and Cam-bodian riel. Remember that black marketeers have a well-deserved reputation for short changing and outright theft.
Vietnamese police at the land-border crossings, especially the Lao borders, have a bad reputation for petty extortion. Most travellers find that it's much easier to exit Vietnam overland than it is to enter. Travellers at the border crossings are occasionally asked for an 'immigration fee' of some kind, although this is less common than it used to be.
CAMBODIA
The Moc Bai-Bavet border is the traditional favourite for a cheap and quick way between HCMC and Phnom Penh. For those willing to take their lime, it is much nicer to meander through the Mekong Delta and travel by river between Chau Doc and Phnom Penh. One-month Cambodian visas are issued on arrival at Bavet and Kaam Samnor for US$20, but they are not currently available at Phnom Den. Overcharging is common at Kaam Samnor.

AIRLINES FLYING TO & FROM VIETNAM

Air Asia (airline code AK;
www.airasia.com; hub Kuala Lumpur).

Air France (airline code AF; Tell: 825 3484;
www.airfrance.fr; hub Paris).

Asians Airlines (airline code OZ; Tell; 8315141;
www.us.flyasiana.com; hub Seoul) Cathay Pacific (airline code CX; Tell: 826 7298; www.cathaypacific.com; hub Hong Kong).

China Airlines (airiine code Cl; Tell: 824 2688;
www.china-airlines.com; hub Taipei) China Southern Airlines (airline code CZ; Tell: 771 6611; www.cs-air.com; hub Guangzhou)

Japan Airlines (airline code JL; Tell: 826 6693;
www.jal.co.jp; hub Tokyo)

Jetstar Asia (airline code 3K;
www.jetstarasia.com; hub Singapore).

Korean Air (airline code KE; Tell: in HCMC 08-824 2878;
www.koreanair.com; hub Seoul)

Lao Airlines (airline code QV; Tell: 822 9951;
www.laoairlines.com; hub Vientiane) Lufthansa (airline code LH; Tell: in HCMC 08-829 8529; www.lufthansa.com; hub Frankfurt)

Malaysia Airlines (airline code MY; Tell: 826 8820;
www.malaysiaairlines.com; hub Kuala Lumpur)

Philippine Airlines (airline code PR; Tell: in HCMC 08-8222241;
www.philippineair.com; hub Manila).

Qantas (airiine code QF;Tell: 933 3025;
www.qantas.com.au; hubs Sydney & Melbourne)

Singapore Airlines (airline code SQ; Tell: 826 8888;
www.singaporeair.com; hub Singapore)
Thai Airways (airline code TG; Tell: 826 6893;
www.thaiair.com; hub Bangkok) Tiger Airways (airline code TR; www.tigerairways.com; hub Singapore); United Airlines (airiine code UA; Tell: in HCMC 08-8231833; www.unitedairlines.com
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