When we were planning our trip to Vietnam we researched online thoroughly before applying for our visas. We found two very contrasting methods of acquiring a visa and, after a lot of confusion, extra research and wasted time, we eventually managed to figure the process out for ourselves. We thought we’d write about our experience to help other travellers debunk all the information (or perhaps misinformation by Vietnamese embassies) in order to get your visas quickly, easily and for half the price that Vietnamese embassies charge.
Visa On Arrival
The first method we found during our research was to get a visa approval letter issued online that can be handed to immigration upon arrival to receive a VOA (visa on arrival). The letters were advertised to cost us around US$9 each, and then we would have to pay US$25 to get our VOA once in Vietnam. However, the websites issuing these approval letters did not look authentic (they actually look pretty dodgy) and we thought it was better to check on the Vietnamese embassies website first, to see what our other options were.
Applying for a visa from Australia
Once we got to the Vietnamese embassy website it clearly stated that “the Vietnamese Embassies and Consular Officers are the ONLY Competent Government Agencies, who are authorised to issue visas abroad.”
The website also stated “in order to avoid any risks… travellers are strongly recommended to apply with the Vietnamese Embassies and Consular General Offices in Australia to get visas before leaving.”
Okay, so thats pretty clear, right? After completing the required visa application form and printing two passport sized photos each we headed straight to the Embassy in Sydney to apply. Once we got there we handed in all our documents and were then asked by the cashier for a hefty AU$190!!!
Wait, wait, wait. How much?!
That was WAY more than what we were expecting to pay. And seeing as we’re travelling on a budget we asked the cashier to wait and went straight back online to see if we could find any cheaper option.
The easiest, cheapest and best way to get a Vietnamese visa
After going through a heap of travel forums we were informed and finally persuaded that some of the dodgy looking visa approval letter websites are actually authentic and DO issue a valid document we can then hand to Vietnamese Immigration (NOTE: only valid at main international airports). We made sure we went to a highly recommended visa approval letter site and followed the instructions we found there.
Within 2 days we had received our visa approval letters to our emails and were instructed to hand this along with a passport sized photo and the application form we’d find at immigration in Vietnam.
A week later and we’d arrived in Ho Chi Minh airport. Unfortunately I’d left my passport photo in my checked-in luggage so was asked to pay an extra UD$5 for a new photo to be taken. After this we submitted all the above documents and paid the US$25 each and, VOILA… two single entry, 30 day Vietnamese tourist visas were inserted in our passports in no time.
We highly recommend applying for a Vietnamese tourist visa in this way. It’s way easier (no going to an Embassy or having to print out any documents), half the price (US$34 instead of AU$85) and very straight forward with no hassles.
We hope this information can help others planning their trips to Vietnam! The country is amazing with friendly locals, delicious food and beautiful scenery and architecture.. well worth the visit. Happy travels!