Alike many other countries, Vietnam only applies visa exemption policy for few nationals in particular cases. Most of the foreigners must have a visa in advance to check in flights to Vietnam. Traditionally, Vietnam Visa shall be issued and directly stamped on the applicant’s passport by officials of Vietnam Embassy or Vietnam Consulate in Bangkok. However, procedures have been extremely cut off due to the implementation of Viet Nam Visa On Arrival. Unfortunately, if you are not fully aware of the legal requirement on the visa to Vietnam, you might land your self in hot water upon arrival.
UPDATE: From February 1, 2017, the Vietnamese government has brought the implementation of E-Visa scheme in use.
You can make an application for E-Visa on the official website of the Vietnam Immigration Department. After filling out the application and uploading the required photo, full payment of the fee must be paid. The system will be also specified on what date your visa will be approved. As informed that your visa is issued on the Immigration Portal, you can print out the document and go through the Immigration Area at the airport. It should be noted that E-visa is completely different from VOA (Visa On Arrival).
UPDATE: From July 2015, Visa Exemption Policy is applied for Citizens of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain
Travelers from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain will no longer have to get the visa to enter Vietnam if the stay is less than 15 days. In case, they want to stay longer than 15 days in Vietnam, they must have a visa as normal.
Apply for A Vietnam Visa Online
Nowadays, with people who don’t have much time to go to the Embassy or Consulate for visa issue, they can have their Vietnam visa online in their leisure time with just an application. After filling out an online application and paid for fees, after a several business days, applicants will ger approval letters issued by the Immigration Dept of Vietnam. With that letter, the applicant is able to get visa stamped upon arrival at any Vietnam international airports. This is so called Visa on Arrival.
Obtain visa to Vietnam at the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok
Alternatively, it is quite easy to have a Vietnam visa in Bangkok. Get a taxi or BTS Skytrain to Wireless Road (Soi Wittayu) in the center of Bangkok. On the Skytrain, you get off at the Phloen Chit stop. Walk out through the elevated skywalk and then down the stairs onto Wireless Road. There is a huge dark gray futuristic-looking building on the corner called Park Ventures Ecoplex on the corner of Sukhumvit Road and Wireless Road, so you’ll know you’re in the right place. Walk down Wireless Road towards All Seasons Place, which is a huge mall and office block. (There is a big map on a board in the BTS station – check it before you go out through the exits to ensure you know where you’re going).
You will need two photos for your Vietnam visa application. If you haven’t got them already, there is a photo shop that can do passport photos in Wave Place, which is the mall on the opposite side of the road from Park Ventures Ecoplex. You can see Wave Place from the Skywalk before you go down on the street.
Walk along Wireless Road for about five minutes. The Vietnamese Embassy is just along here, but it’s easy to miss because you are so close to it. Look for this door, which is the entry to the Visa Application area.
Once inside, fill in one of the application forms and then submit it at the window along with the appropriate fee.
Vietnam Visa Fees
From February 2015, it’s 3000 Thai Baht for a single-entry visa if you want it ready next day, or 2400 Baht for processing in 4 days. At the present, there is no kind of process can give you a visa in a day. Applications should be submitted between 9 am to 11.30 am and 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm. Applicants should pay well attention to the working hours to make sure that the visa will be issued timely for them.
Please note that the Vietnamese Embassy can amend visa fees in some cases as well as the delivery schedule. It is normal if the processing fee increase or processing time becomes longer than before.. So you had better bring with you some cash to pay for arising fees, amounts. Also, please leave a comment here with changes to pricing and I will update the article accordingly – thanks!
Also, make sure you request a multiple entry visa if you intend to exit and re-enter Vietnam during your travels, otherwise you’ll have to apply for a second visa all over again. Multiple entry visas unsurprisingly cost more.
You can check on the Vietnamese Embassy website for updates to prices and opening times, but the site seems in semi-hibernation.
Vietnam Visa processed with the express process in Cambodia
If you are travelling to Cambodia and intending to go on to Vietnam afterwards, you should get a Vietnam visa at the Sihanoukville Vietnam Embassy because it is issued quite fast. This trick is listed in the Lonely Planet Cambodia and I’ve done it myself (although it was a long time ago so double check it’s still operational). You simply turn up at the Vietnam Embassy – preferably midmorning when someone will be there and had time to deal with your request – and they issue the visa on the spot. The gentleman who issued mine and Louise’s visas was certainly friendly than the harried Bangkok visa staff.
The Vietnam Embassy in Sihanoukville is marked on most maps of the city, although it can take a bit of cruising up and down the road on the back of motorbike taxis to spot its entrance gates.
Note that this immediate issue only seems to happen in Sihanoukville and not any other Cambodian cities, including the capital Phnom Penh. You can still get a Vietnam visa in Phnom Penh, but you’ll have to wait for it.