Vietnamese Visas – Online, Embassy, Border Crossing from Thailand, Laos & Cambodia

19th of October 2015 – Great news! I applied for a rushed online letter of approval and have been accepted for a visa, my flight departs at 7.10pm tonight… $300 later. So for those who are wondering, for Australia passports,  you can still obtain a visa on arrival IF you have first obtained a letter of approval. It cost approx. $20USD when applying for your letter of approval and a further $25USD when your visa is processed on arrival. There are different visas/costs for multiple people are multiple entries. Please find a list of those visas and prices within the link below.

https://www.vietnam-evisa.org/visa-fee.html

 If you apply (like I tried) on a Saturday, Sunday or a Holiday you will incur a $200USD processing fee.

 The ‘URGENT’ visa is an additional $20USD and take 4-8hours to process (this is what I purchase first thing Monday morning- I came through within 2 hours and I was booked and on a flight that night)

The ‘EMERGENCY’ visa is an additional $50USD and takes 30mins. 

The website listed above also has an online chat option, the person whom I was speaking with told me to process the URGENT visa as they knew it would come through quickly and it wasn’t worth me paying the extra for the Emergency. Never hurts to ask! Money all adds up when you’re travelling! 

Once you have obtained your letter of approval you will need to print it out and glue on your passport photos.

Please also be aware there are a number of false websites advertising Vietnamese visas, here is a list of some,

http://vietnam-embassy.orghttp://myvietnamvisa.comhttp://vietnamvisacorp.comhttp://vietnam-visa.com,http://visavietnam.gov.vnhttp://vietnamvisa.gov.vnhttp://visatovietnam.gov.vnhttp://vietnam-visa.gov.vn

If you head to an embassy to process the visa ( I have done this once before ) you will incur different fees. In Bangkok its approx.. 3000 Thai baht ($100 AUD) if you would like the visa ready the next day or 2400 Thai Baht ($95 AUD) if you’re happy to wait 4 days (these fees to tend to change a lot). The embassy is open between 9am-11.30am, closes for two hours and reopens from 1.30pm -4.30pm. Be sure to say whether you need single entry or multiple entry, at this point in time there is no ‘same day visa’ that can be obtained from Bangkok embassy.

If you are land crossing  via Cambodia, there is one place that will complete a same day visa – This is listed in the Lonely Planet Guide. The Sihanoukville Vietnamese Embassy is the only place that will issue this – it’s a bit of a clever trick.  You just need to walk in, (the earlier the better) and your request will be processed, you will receive a visa on the spot.

 As of July 2015 If you’re a citizen from Britain, Germany, France, Italy  or Spain you don’t need to apply for a visa or approval letter if your stay is no longer than 15 days. You simply walk right in with your passport!

 When deciding which visa to get, keep in mind the embassy is more expensive however it will save you from waiting for your visa to get processed in a Vietnamese airport. It took me three hours to have my visa issued and to clear security – my organised driver thought I’d missed the flight and tried to leave without me. Luckily Rowan (who walked straight through with his UK passport the day prior) had seen the wait time that I would be in and had come to the airport  with the driver.

 If you are looking to cross the border from Vientiane in Laos, there is once again no ‘same day’ visa. There is a next day service though. The embassy is located at 23 Singha Road, just north of Patuxuay Monument on the road to Pha That Luang. It’s an easy walking distance from the main bus station. Look for a Toyota dealership –Tuk tuk drivers know this name as Patuxay Toyota. The embassy is open Monday – 9.30am-12pm and 1.30pm – 5pm, Tuesday – Friday 8.30am -12pm and 1.30pm -5pm. Visa collections are 5-00pm-5.30pm Monday – Friday.  The visa costs about $70USD you can pay in dollars or Kip and will take 15mins to apply for.

 Things to keep in mind

*Keep in mind the embassy will hold your passport whilst they are processing your visa.

*Be sure to always carry passports photos with you – I’ve been stuck a few times running around like crazy trying to get passport photos taken.

*Always make sure the cash you are paying with are clean, crisp new notes, they will not accept damaged bills.

*Always have cash, most embassy’s do not accept card.

 

 

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Refused entry to Vietnam – Stuck in Malaysia!

It’s 8.57am, Sunday 18th October 2015 and I’m sitting on the airport floor in Kuala Lumpur, stranded with no flight out and no visa to Vietnam… I was meant to fly out this morning but they wouldn’t let me on the plane. Myself, Rowan, Shannon and Donald arrived from Thailand at midnight last night.

I then had to find a taxi to send a bag of my winter clothes to a friend – So I could collect them on my way through to Europe next month. It’s a very uneasy feeling watching your bag drive off without you.

With our scheduled flight departing for Vietnam at 6.35am, we all curled up under a stair case and slept on the tiles (seriously what airport doesn’t have carpet.. anywhere.. at all!?) well.. I use the word sleep very loosely. I woke shivering from the air-conditioning and scrambled through my bag for my wind shield and long pants –the only semi warm clothes I had in my backpack for Asia. Glancing at my phone I see a message saying that my bag arrived safely at my friend’s house.. well that’s a relief…

The flight starts boarding, 

“Visa?” she asked, as she flicks through our passports.

“No, no, visa on arrival,” I replied.

“But miss you cannot”

Fear began to strike – But I had recently checked the visa policies, not to mention had entered the country several months prior without a visa.

 She looked again at all the passports – scanning my last Vietnamese visa which had been obtained on arrival.

“UK passports okay, Aussie passport not okay”

I began to try and convince and bargain and barter – I could not board without a letter of approval.

I jumped online searching for emergency visa, BINGO! And only $50.. proceed to check out.. I thought I had found my loop hole.

‘Before processing please be away that today us a Vietnamese holiday and you will incur a fee of $200USD and will receive the visa within 30mins’

I didn’t even care about the fee, I was exhausted, I was ready to hit the payment button. I showed the attendant and explained by the time the plane grounded I would have a letter of approval. She spoke to her coworker, and they began to make phone calls, I pleaded and thought I had made my case.

“Sorry miss, you cannot, you can get fine, we can get fine”

I couldn’t believe this was happening. I keep an eye on these flights and their prices all the time and I knew the mess I had just gotten myself into was not a cheap one to get out of. With two members of our party able to board, we were all lost for words.

 “What do we do?” Rowan asked, “I don’t really want us to separate.”

Shannon Chimed in, “ I can’t afford this I’m flying home”

I told the boys to board the flight and that I could figure it all out.

 Rowan reached forward to kiss me, then I watched him board the plane to Vietnam without me.

 I was okay but my mind went into override trying to think my way out of this situation, and with lack of sleep, my mind was getting foggy. My phone was going flat and I couldn’t see any power points, I didn’t have a sim in my phone and I couldn’t get in contact with my mother who was in Thailand. So I used Facebook to try and contact  someone, anyone that could help.

Next thing I knew, Shannon had booked a flight to Langkawai to see an aunt. I really couldn’t be bothered to deal with her suddenly up and leaving, so we said our goodbyes and I wandered around the airport running through all the possibilities for flight connections.. none in which were under $500.

 Finally mum calls back, she has my laptop and I needed a little outside help. My phone was about to die, so I left her with my details and search for a place to charge my phone.

I sprawled out on the floor in a small corner and my mind started to wander to darker places filled with jealousy and greed, places I had left behind long ago. However a head fuelled with emotion is a perfect place to write from, as soon as my pen wen tot paper, happiness flooded through me. I scribbled for a while, loosing track of time. Then finally a message back from mum.. with an address of a hotel. We had come to the conclusion that this situation could not be fixed today. Today was a Sunday and nothing could possibly be done regardless of how much money you could throw.

 Jumping in a taxi,  I found new breath – with the sense of an unplanned adventure…. The taxi driver was young Malaysian boy who kept insisting I should go to breakfast with him – that made me giggle a little.

Finally I reached the hotel where I could hear the bed singing my name. Unluckily for me, check in was a firm 2pm -4 hours away. I stored my bag and stumbled around looking for good coffee hopefully with some wifi.  Lucky for my hotel was located next to a shopping mall . 

This hotel was called ‘Tune Hotel DPulze Cyberjaya’  and was approx. $40Aud for a double room – The taxi from/to KLIA 1 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 1) is around 40 MYR ($13 AUD)

–          The taxi from/to KLIA 2 is around 50MYR ($17AUD)

 Would highly recommend if you just need a place for the night close to the airport, waiting for a flight the next day. Good food and coffee nearby. Kuala Lumpur city is over an hour drive from the airport. This was only 15-20mins.

 Still in search of coffee I notice a dimly lit café with fairy lights lighting up the words, “Plan B.” How very aptly named this café was. Stepping inside I felt like I had walked into one of Melbourne’s famous coffee shops – The coffee was amazing, probably the best coffee I’ve had overseas. I had found my happy place. I was happy to sit here and write all day, and after I ordered two coffees, they brought out the rest for free.

 Surprisingly this is the first time I’ve missed a flight – there’s been a few close calls. But hey, everything happens for a reason, good thing I found out about this visa situation  before next month when I’m flying back into Vietnam to continue on to Heathrow – Now that would be an expensive flight to miss!

For information on how I receive my visa please continue on to my next blog.