Limited gatherings, sport behind closed doors and wearing masks outdoors are now officially things of the past. And as South Africa slowly returns to BC (before Covid) times, so too does international travel.
A couple of weeks ago Vietnam announced that it would be reopening its borders for international tourism. Here’s all you need to know about visiting Vietnam’s two biggest cities: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in the ‘new normal’.
Regulations to abide by to ensure a smooth journey
All visitors must provide a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test no longer than 72 hours old before entering Vietnam or they must provide a negative antigen test that is no older than 24 hours. Alternatively, you can do a test in Vietnam within 24 hours of your arrival.
There are no quarantine requirements for Covid-negative tourists but all tourists must fill in a written declaration form and must download the Vietnamese Covid tracking app.
South Africans require a visa to enter Vietnam. However, the visa-on-arrival method allows tourists to collect their visas upon arrival at one of Vietnam’s airports and makes the visa application stress free.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City was the former capital of South Vietnam before the Vietnamese war. It’s named after the Chairman and founder of the Workers' Party of Vietnam and is the largest city in Vietnam. It’s also the country’s economic hub.
But for us tourists, Ho Chi Minh City (often referred to as Saigon) offers much more than banking districts and high rise buildings. Make the most of the city’s location on the Saigon river by taking a relaxing cruise between numerous landmarks. You can do this by speed boat at sunset or on a wooden rowboat.
Ho Chi Minh City is infamous for the Vietnam War, why not learn about it first-hand by taking a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels? The Cu Chi tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war and played a huge role in their success.
The tunnels are an hour North-West of Ho Chi Minh City and make for the perfect educational day trip.
Lastly, if you aren’t the formal tour type, take a walk through the city to take in the French-influenced architecture. You can get a close look at the Buddhist temples of the region whilst fuelling up on the city’s famous street food.
Between Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates you can fly from Cape Town International or Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International airports to Ho Chi Minh City with just a single stopover.
The merging of South and North Vietnam resulted in the unified Vietnam that we know today. Hanoi is the capital of this beautiful country and is also a tourist hotspot. With so much to do, you might even find yourself extending your trip.
In the centre of Hanoi, one can see the UNESCO World Heritage Site - The Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long. The citadel was first built in 1011 as the location for royal palaces of the Vietnamese dynasties and hosted the Vietnamese court until 1810.
The French influence in Vietnam is clear in Hanoi with the city being divided into two strikingly different areas. First, there’s the old quarter which is famous for its 36 guild streets that are categorised by the industry conducted on each street. Then there are the French quarters (Hoàn Kiếm and Ba Đình) where you can take in the “Paris of the East’s” colonial buildings, tree-lined streets, and multitudes of lakes.
If big city lights aren’t your thing, take a trip an hour and a half south to Ninh Banh City where you can hike the scenic rice-paddy-surrounded mountains or tour the pergolas of the region.
Make the most of Vietnam’s reopenings and book your tickets now. And don’t forget to do it in style with our super durable and eye-catching Capri Spinner by Bric’s.
Special thanks to Mark Wyatt and Gabriella Bailey for the photos and unique insights into this beautiful country.