|The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 7/12/2004 4:44 AM
Like a dragon floating in the sea, Vietnam winds its way some
1,030 miles up from the South China Sea to the Gulf of Tonkin, with
its head caressing the border of China to the north and its back
resting snuggly against her Southeast Asian neighbors, Laos and
Cambodia, to the west. The total land area of Vietnam covers about
128,000 square miles (larger than Virginia, North Carolina, and
South Carolina combined). Vietnam’s main cities, for population and
importance, are Hanoi, Haiphong, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly
Vietnam’s northern terrain is mostly mountainous or hilly, with
some highland areas covered by a thick green blanket of jungle
(about half the total land area). The Red River Delta and coastal
plains in the lowland part of the North are heavily populated and
intensively cultivated (almost entirely by rice fields). Although
much of this Delta Region is seasonally flooded, a complex network
of dikes and levees helps to prevent serious flood damage.
The southern part of Vietnam is dominated by the estuary of the
Mekong River system and is low, flat, and frequently marshy. The
rich soil in the Mekong Delta is the most fertile in the country.
Areas immediately north and east of Ho Chi Minh City in the Mekong
Delta are much more varied with low-lying tropical rain forest,
upland forest, and the rugged Annamite Mountain chain.
Vietnam is largely a tropical monsoon country. In the north, a
hot rainy season prevails from May to September. The average
temperature in Hanoi is about 86°F during this period, with very
high humidity. Due to the lack of proper drainage, flooding caused
by heavy rainfall and/or typhoons can create conditions hazardous to
ones health and property. Flooded streets slow down traffic and
provoke accidents. Houses and furnishings can suffer as a result of
leaky roofs and other sources of water damage. Food supplies are
also affected. During the cooler, dry season in the north from
December to March, the average temperature is 68°F, with overnight
minimums sometimes around 40°–42°F. Due to the lack of heating in
most shops and offices during the dry season, it will feel
In the south, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta experience a
year-round tropical climate with daily temperatures normally
exceeding 88°F. The rainy season in Danang and Hue in the center of
the country lasts from October to March.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual Mean
Temperature 79 79 83 85 84 82 82 81 80 80 79 80 80 Av. Daily Max
Temp (F) 85 86 92 91 88 87 86 86 86 86 86 86 88 Av. Daily Min Temp(F)
72 72 74 76 76 76 76 76 74 74 74 72 72 Relative Humidity (%) 51 40
52 57 63 65 69 70 71 68 63 57 80 Precipitation (Inches) 1 .5 1 2 9
14 13 11 14 11 5 2 76
Population Last Updated: 8/17/2005 9:40 PM
In 2005, Vietnam’s rapidly growing population was estimated
between 82 and 84 million, making it the twelfth most populous
country in the world. The population makeup is roughly 86% ethnic
Vietnamese, 1% ethnic Chinese, and the remaining 13% a mixture of
over 50 ethno-linguistic groups, including Khmer, Cham and Muong.
The largest single minority group, the Tay, live mostly in the
Northern provinces such as Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son , Thai
Nguyen, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang and Quang Ninh. Vietnam’s infant
mortality rate is 21/1,000. Life expectancy for males is 70 years
and 73 years for females.
Vietnam has one of the most complex ethno-linguistic mixes in all
of Asia. Aside from the Kinh or Vietnamese, the rest of the
country's 54 nationalities inhabit the Central Highlands and the
mountainous regions in the north. The official language is
Vietnamese (a hybrid of Mon-Khmer). English is increasingly favored
as a second language. In addition to English, many Vietnamese
officials and businessmen speak some French, Russian or Chinese.
The predominant religion practiced by most Vietnamese is Mahayana
Buddhism, which is often referred to as a way of life or a
philosophy rather than a religion. It advocates moderation in all
facets of life and sees material objects as standing in the way of
greater happiness. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, with the
actions of your current life determining the role of your next life.
By living simply and selflessly, a person will be reincarnated
many times over. This continues over many lifetimes until the soul
reaches a stage of eternal happiness – nirvana. Other religions
practiced in Vietnam are Confucianism, Taoism, Catholicism, Animism,
Cao Daism and Islam.
The Vietnamese family unit (particularly in the rural areas) is
patriarchal in nature with strong familial ties. It is not unusual
to find three or four generations living in the same household.
Personal names are written with the family name first, middle name
second, and the first name last. It is common practice to address
people by their first names, e.g. a woman by the name of Nguyen Anh
Tuyet would be addressed as “Miss Tuyet.”
Observing the following local customs will help keep you from
embarrassing yourself with the Vietnamese. Crossing your index and
middle finger (our way of wishing it were so) is considered to be a
lewd gesture. Direct eye contact is seen as a sign of disrespect.
Touching someone, especially on the head, is not welcomed. Motioning
for someone to come with your palm up is considered rude. Handing a
pair of chopsticks or a toothpick to someone is considered bad luck.
And, last but not least, the Vietnamese (like most other Asians) do
not like to lose face. When they don't understand a request or
question, they will still respond affirmatively so as not to “lose
face.” Although they might disagree, they will nod affirmatively
just to avoid confrontation. The Vietnamese are not prone to show
their emotions in public.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 8/17/2005 9:44 PM
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) is a one-party state
controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party, with the Political
Bureau (Politburo) as the top organ of the Party. Its national flag
is red with a large yellow star in the center. The Party’s
constitutionally mandated leading role and the occupancy of nearly
all the senior Government positions by Party officials ensure the
primacy of Politburo guidelines. The National Assembly (chosen in
quadrennial elections) elected non-Party members for the first time
in 1997. But, despite some increased activism, it remains largely
controlled by the Party. Party intrusion into Government operations
has diminished somewhat, allowing Government officials to have more
latitude in implementing policy. The Party and State have also
diminished their intrusion into the daily lives of the people.
Vietnam’s administrative bodies are divided into the following
four levels: 1) central, 2) provincial and municipal (Hanoi, Ho Chi
Minh City, Danang, and Haiphong), 3) quarters (urban) and districts
(rural), and 4) precincts (urban) and communes (rural). Vietnam has
59 provinces, 5 municipalities under central government control, and
one special zone. All these different levels have a fair degree of
independence in implementation of policy and administration of local
There are a number of “mass organizations.” The Women's Union
(approximately half of the total labor force), the Farmer’s Union,
and the Youth Union are called on to represent the interests of
various sectors of the Vietnamese public and serve as a political
link between the people and the Communist Party on the one hand, and
the Party and Vietnamese Government on the other. The Vietnam
Fatherland Front, an umbrella organization under the Communist
Party, coordinates and oversees the activities of these mass
organizations. The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)
represents the commercial interests of both state-owned industries
and the private sector and informally advises the Vietnamese
Government on economic policy.
Vietnam obtained membership in the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) in July 1995 and in the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) in November 1998. The SRV also belongs to the
following international organizations: The United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), UN
Development Program (UNDP), UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), WHO (World Health Organization), World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), ADB (Asian Development
Bank), INTELSAT, Mekong Committee, Nonaligned Movement, and the
Pacific Economic Cooperation Council. Vietnam also has observer
status in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It
hopes to join WTO in 2005.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 7/12/2004 5:09 AM
The art scene in Vietnam reflects the perception of a people
surrounded by a rich cultural heritage that at the same time are
striving to stake their place in the modern world. There are dozens
of art galleries in Hanoi, many with high-quality paintings
available, but just as many with trendy commercialized “souvenir”
artwork churned out for the tourist trade. Other popular art forms
include ceramics, religious wood carving sculptures and lacquer
ware. Hanoi’s Art Museum contains a smattering of work from
different eras but probably does not have as good a collection as
some of the private galleries. Also of interest are Hanoi’s History
Museum, which contains artifacts from 1,000 years ago, and the
The capital city of Hanoi is sometimes referred to as “Asia’s
architectural pearl,” with its mixture of traditional Southeast
Asian/Chinese Art Deco and French Colonial styles. Juxtaposed among
these quaint and pastel-colored turn of the century houses and
office buildings are the recently constructed hotels and high-rise
buildings of shiny steel and glass. There is an international
movement, Friends of Vietnam's Heritage, actively engaged in
preserving the architecture of the past in the face of the
temptation to tear it down to build more commercial enterprises.
The Opera House is one center of culture in Hanoi. It is the home
of the Hanoi Symphony Orchestra. International cultural groups also
perform at the Opera House or at Hanoi’s Music Conservatory. There
are several smaller theaters for traditional Vietnamese opera, "cheo",
and water puppet performances.
Although the quality of education has improved significantly
here, Vietnam’s reputation as a highly educated country exceeds the
reality. Vietnam’s population is probably better educated than other
countries enduring similar levels of economic development. However,
for the most part, the academic curriculum in this country still
focuses on rote memory and “the one right answer.” Schools operate
on double and sometimes triple shifts, meaning little actual
classroom time for many students. Educational facilities are
frequently inadequate. Oftentimes, families cannot afford the fees
for attending school beyond the very basic levels.
The National University has many branches, the most prestigious
of which is located in Hanoi. The SRV is striving to improve its
comparatively low level of technological knowledge, particularly in
the field of computer science.
Initiated in Vietnam in 1992, the Fulbright Program enrolls some
30 Vietnamese officials, scholars and professionals annually in
graduate programs at leading American universities. Last year the
program began funding American graduate student research in Vietnam.
This year’s Fulbright agenda included placing American lecturers at
seven Vietnamese universities to teach and consult in various
disciplines. In addition, there is a Fulbright-run program in HCMC,
which trains mostly provincial level officials in economic
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 7/12/2004 5:15 AM
After a decade of political isolation brought on by its invasion
of Cambodia, Vietnam began to open its doors in 1986, seeking both
to enter the marketplace and participate in the international
community. As in China, reforms started with the agricultural sector
and an opportunity for farmers to hold land for extended periods of
time and decide on what crops to plant and how to sell much of what
they produced. The “doi moi” (renovation) reforms also tried to
create an atmosphere to attract foreign investment.
Agriculture, especially wet-rice cultivation, accounts for nearly
30% of overall production and employs a large majority of the
population. Important cash crops include coffee, rubber, tea, and
mulberry (for silk production). Vietnam has significant deposits of
crude oil and natural gas lying mainly off the southern coast, as
well as coal and limestone. Other minerals are present, but not in
marketable quantities, using locally available technology. Forty
percent of the industrial sector is still in the hands of
state-owned companies. The country's main exports are garments,
textiles, crude oil, rice, seafood products, coffee, footwear and
other agricultural products. Export of light manufactured goods,
especially textiles, footwear and processed foods, is growing in
importance. Major imports include petroleum products, industrial
machinery, vehicles, consumer electronics, telecommunications
equipment, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals.
European and Asian investors came first, and remain among
Vietnam’s top ten investors even today. The U.S. trade embargo was
not lifted until February 1994, after a long period in which the
U.S. sought to strengthen Vietnamese commitments to cooperate on the
humanitarian MIA issue. Vietnam also focused on re-establishing both
regional and international ties, establishing diplomatic relations
with over 100 countries. As a member of ASEAN, Vietnam committed
itself to the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) as a part of the
requirements for further economic reforms and tariff reductions.
Vietnam’s reform process had already slowed by 1997, due to a
two-year process in which Vietnam moved from a generation of
eighty-year-old leaders to a government and party led by men in
their sixties. The new leadership pledged to continue the reform
process and has not rolled back any of the earlier reform policies.
But they have yet to move past the earlier stages of reform to
attack the inefficiencies of a State-run system, preferring instead
to sustain a lower level of growth while maintaining basic social
stability and control by the Communist party.
The initial boom in foreign investment began to create the
trappings of modernity in larger cities like Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
Hanoi, Haiphong, Hue and Danang got new hotels, taxicabs, and the
start of a tourism industry. The hotel boom, most notably in Hanoi
and HCMC, became a bust in 1997-98 when the over supply of three,
four, and five-star facilities tumbled room rates. Unfortunately,
this did not fill Hanoi's 3,000 new, higher-end hotel rooms because
tourist levels had already begun to fall as a result of the Asian
financial crisis. This crisis has also taken a deep bite out of
foreign investment levels, which have been declining since 1996. By
the end of 1997, U.S. investment in Vietnam reached $1.4 billion,
putting us seventh behind the French and a host of regional
countries with significantly more money invested than the U.S.
Two-way trade at about $700-800 million is a fraction of its
potential because of the absence of normal trade relations (formerly
called MFN or most favored nation status).
The U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), which went into
effect on December 10, 2001, is the centerpiece of our efforts to
open Vietnam’s market and promote reform of its trade and investment
regime. The BTA includes provisions that over time will eliminate a
broad array of non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports; cut tariffs on
goods of high interest to the U.S., especially agricultural items;
provide effective protection and enforcement of U.S. intellectual
property rights; open Vietnam’s market to U.S. services providers;
and create fair and transparent rules and regulations for U.S.
In November 2000, the U.S. and Vietnam signed a framework for
science and technology cooperation. In 2003, the U.S. and Vietnam
concluded a bilateral textile agreement, a civil aviation agreement
and a counter narcotics agreement.
Automobiles Last Updated: 8/17/2005 9:46 PM
Having your own car or recreational van will add a great deal of
convenience and independence to your life. Retaining a full-time
driver is highly recommended, particularly if you have school-aged
children with extracurricular activities and active social lives.
Approximately one-third of all USG personnel in Vietnam ship POVs to
post. A handful of American employees occasionally do drive their
own vehicles, including motorcycles. A valid U.S. driver's license
is required to obtain a local drivers permit. (NB: International
drivers licenses are not valid in Vietnam.) Please note that you may
not import a vehicle over four years old or a motorcycle of over
175cc into Vietnam.
Driving in Vietnam is stressful and requires a great deal of care
and vigilance to avoid accidents. Most people do not obey standard
rules of the road. Traffic moves on the right, but operators
sometimes do not stay on their own side of the road. There are very
few traffic lights or stop signs. In principle, the bigger you are,
the more right of way you have. Another basic rule of thumb for
driving in Vietnam: Those behind need to watch out for those in
front or alongside. If you plan on operating a motorcycle or riding
a bicycle, bring a sturdy helmet. Department of Transportation
approved helmets provide excellent protection; however, some people
find that the limitation of peripheral vision from a full-face
helmet is not always a good tradeoff in Vietnam, given the need to
watch for lane intrusion from all directions. An open-faced helmet
or even a bicycle helmet may be appropriate, but riding bare headed
Virtually everyone in HCMC owns a motor scooter and operates it
like there's no tomorrow. With this seemingly endless stream of
motor vehicles, HCMC is, without a doubt, one of the noisiest cities
in the world. At first glance, one might think HCMC's mostly
straight and perpendicular roads would be safer to navigate than
Hanoi's winding streets, but one quickly realizes that havoc reigns
supreme down south. People make U-turns wherever they please. Motor
scooters dodge in and out pushing your nerves to the limit. If that
weren't enough, the motor scooter operators drive significantly
faster and are terrifyingly more reckless than in Hanoi. If the
speed doesn't get to you, the abundant exhaust fumes will.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 8/17/2005 9:47 PM
Taxis are plentiful and the taxi drivers usually understand
enough English to take you where you want to go. Cities still have
many cycles or pedicabs you can use for short distances and/or more
scenic rides. There are also “hugging” motor scooter rides available
for the more adventuresome traveler (riding behind a Vietnamese on a
100cc Honda Dream).
Office Shuttle. The Embassy provides a shuttle service to and
from the office for a reasonable monthly fee. Consulate General
employees either use their own cars or take taxis to and from the
Mission personnel and their dependents may also rent USG
vehicles, when available, for recreational travel in the city and/or
surrounding areas. The charge for this service is currently $0.32 a
mile, the driver’s hourly OT salary, and per diem for any overnight
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 7/12/2004 5:23 AM
Using local buses is not recommended. They are not only crowded
and uncomfortable, but are also considered unsafe for most
foreigners. Trains in Vietnam only service coastal cities. Not only
are they limited in service, but also they run slowly on a narrow
gauge track and, except for a special group of cars used from Hanoi
to Sapa in the northwest highlands, are uncomfortable, unsafe, and
noisy. Vietnam Airlines and Pacific Airlines monopolize the domestic
air service and have flights to most major cities within Vietnam.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 7/12/2004 5:25 AM
Local and international telephone service is available and
reliable. International direct dial service is excellent. A
one-minute call to the U.S. or other foreign country costs
approximately $1. Direct calls from the U.S. can be received in
Hanoi without cost.
Residences of all USG personnel are equipped with telephones.
Employees are responsible for paying the monthly residential
Through the International Voice Gateway (IVG) Program, the
Embassy has four IVG telephone trunks directly connecting the office
with the State Department Telephone Switch at Beltsville, Maryland.
This IVG connection was installed as both a cost-saving and
morale-boosting program. Calls to the greater Washington area
(703/202/301/410) are free. All 1-800 numbers are also free of
charge to Embassy personnel. When placing personal calls, a
commercial telephone calling card can be used for numbers outside
the D.C. area. These personal calls will be billed to the employee
as if the call originated from Beltsville, Maryland.
Internet Last Updated: 8/16/2005 10:06 PM
Internet service is available at residences in both dial-up and
ADSL formats. Dial-up is at a 1200 baud rate. Service can be
provided via prepaid cards or monthly billing. In addition to ISP
charges, users incur a per-minute telephone charge. ADSL is
available at certain locations and costs a maximum of approximately
$60 USD per month. Using both dial-up and ADSL users can expect
outages. Although the outages are infrequent and short in duration,
they are unexpected and an annoyance. All users are strongly advised
to use some form of personal software fire wall, to protect against
hackers and viruses.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 8/16/2005 10:09 PM
FPO service is available in the Embassy for all eligible
employees and their dependents. U.S. Mail and Pouch arrive twice a
week on Tuesdays and Fridays and depart twice a week on Mondays and
Saturdays. HCMC Consulate General mail also departs and arrives
twice a week via Hong Kong. Average transit time from the U.S. for
both posts is two weeks. DHL or other delivery services, are
available in Hanoi and HCMC. Because HCMC does not yet have direct
FPO service, outgoing parcels must be hand-carried to Hanoi or
Bangkok and sent through the military postal system. Address
official and personal correspondence as follows:
Hanoi FPO Address Full Name (for State Dept.) American Embassy
Hanoi PSC 461 Box 400 FPO AP 96521-0002
Hanoi Pouch Address Full Name (for State Dept.) 4550 Hanoi Place
Washington, DC 20521-4550
Ho Chi Minh City FPO Address Full Name American Consulate General
HCMC PSC 461 Box 500 FPO AP 96521-0002
Ho Chi Minh City Pouch Address Full Name 7160 Ho Chi Minh City
Place Washington DC 20521-7160
Radio and TV Last Updated: 8/16/2005 10:11 PM
The Vietnamese Government operates two radio stations, which
broadcast classical music, traditional Vietnamese music, the news in
Vietnamese, and several other languages including English, Russian,
French and Chinese. American pop music is found on the dial a couple
of hours per day.
There are four Vietnamese television channels, which include
short English-language news segments. With the significant increase
in the expatriate population during the past couple of years,
installation of satellite dishes on detached houses and service
apartments has brought a myriad of international television channels
to Vietnam, including (but not limited to) CNN, BBC, CNBC, FOX TV,
MTV, HBO, CINEMAX, and Hong Kong's Star World, Star Movies and Star
Sports (which show selected British, Australian and American
programs). Other channels available come from China, France,
Australia, Indonesia, India and Malaysia. In Hanoi, one can obtain
cable service from Vietnam TV for an initial fee of $60 and a
monthly fee of about $2-$5.
In HCMC, the following cable channels can be viewed in all major
hotels and service apartments: CNN, CNBC, DIS, HBO, MTV, TNT,
National Geographic and the Cartoon Network. Other channels come
from Australia, France, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Germany,
Malaysia and the UK. Radio stations play both Vietnamese and Western
Locally purchased televisions and VCRs use the NTSC PAL system.
Both PAL-system and multi-system televisions and VCRs are available
here at reasonable prices. The wide variety of CDs and DVDs on sale
are almost all pirated.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
7/12/2004 5:34 AM
Personnel are advised to bring reading material from home,
because English-language books and magazines are scarce. Moreover,
what little supply of English-language material is available in
Vietnam costs two to three times what we would pay in the U.S.
The local print and broadcast media are run by the Communist
Party and Government of Vietnam. Reporting of local developments is
therefore heavily controlled and coverage of international events is
limited. Both the Embassy and Consulate General subscribe to several
copies of international newspapers and magazines, including the
International Herald Tribune, Time and Newsweek. Both posts also
subscribe to a number of local English-language periodicals,
including Vietnam News and Vietnam Economic Times. Most USG
employees receive their personal subscriptions through the FPO.
The Public Affairs Section’s library has a small collection of
periodicals and books. E-mail and Internet services have recently
become available but can also be censored. Because of power outages,
service is often unreliable and subject to interruptions.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 7/12/2004 5:36 AM
The medical care available in Vietnam does not meet U.S.
standards. Anything involving broken bones or other surgical
procedures will entail a medevac. Medevac patients are flown either
to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore.
Embassy Hanoi has a Health Unit, which co-ordinates medevacs,
provides basic outpatient care, vaccinations, etc.
There are three medical facilities in Hanoi approved by the USG
for basic medical treatment: Hanoi Family Medical Practice,
International SOS and the Hanoi French Hospital. In HCMC, the three
approved medical facilities are International SOS, HCMC Family
Medical Practice and the French Vietnam Hospital. All of the above
medical facilities have a number of qualified foreign doctors on
staff that speak English. While each can treat routine illnesses and
stabilize trauma, they are not full-service medical facilities.
Dentists are also available in Hanoi and HCMC and the caliber of
general dental care is considered good.
Health and Medicine
Community Health Last Updated: 8/16/2005 10:13 PM
Non-potable Water. Tap water is not considered safe to drink. All
Mission employees are issued water distillers or filters for home
use. Bottled water can always be purchased in most restaurants and
grocery stores. Consuming ice made from unfiltered water poses a
risk when having refreshments outside the home.
Preparation of Food. The RMO recommends all fruits and vegetables
eaten raw be thoroughly cleaned using an acceptable washing/soaking
procedure. Reports by several Western doctors have noted that
Vietnamese farmers rely heavily on DDT and night soil.
Sewage. The sewage system is inadequate and in many places within
cities is totally nonexistent. Since the majority of Vietnamese
homes in the city do not have indoor plumbing, it is not uncommon to
see the Vietnamese using trees and walls as urinals, or to see the
children use runoff channels in the street next to the sidewalks as
toilets. Spitting, nose picking and nose blowing on the sidewalk,
are also common practices. During the rainy season, the
aforementioned practices are even more of a health hazard due to
flooding on the streets and sidewalks.
Sanitation. Shopkeepers and residents place garbage in small
piles outside in anticipation of the evening garbage collector, who
then hauls away the debris in an open cart. Oftentimes, people can
be seen sitting along the streets sifting through a day’s collection
of garbage to recover recyclable material. A neighborhood site
serves as the pickup point for the city’s garbage trucks.
Health and Medicine
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 8/16/2005 10:16 PM
Be aware of both the medical and physical health hazards in
country. Try to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and/or use mosquito
repellant. Mosquitoes are the most common transmitter for Dengue
fever, Malaria and Japanese encephalitis. Recurring parasitic
infestations (e.g. worms) are a problem. Individuals usually suffer
some form of intestinal disorder (from mild to severe) within a few
weeks after arrival in Vietnam. Diseases prevalent in Vietnam
include Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, Japanese Encephalitis,
Hepatitis, STDs and Malaria. Prophylaxis for some of these diseases
is available through the Embassy and Consulate General. Inoculation
against Cholera and taking Malaria suppressants are not necessary.
It is recommended that both adults and children get vaccinated
against Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, Typhoid and Hepatitis A.
Children should continue to follow their childhood vaccination
schedules. Employees are advised to limit their purchase of
medication to the U.S. Government approved medical facilities, or
the few local pharmacies approved by the Regional Medical Officer/
Regional Nurse Practitioner /Post Health Unit. Most local pharmacies
are known to carry contraband or counterfeit medication. Bring at
least a three-month supply of medicine for chronic conditions, and
over the counter medications (e.g tylenol, pepto-bismol, etc.) and
arrange for regular renewal of supplies to be sent through the FPO.
Contact lenses and solutions are available in Hanoi and Ho Chi
Minh City, though they may be limited in selection, difficult to
find and expensive. With increasing pollution levels, those using
extended-wear lenses may find them inappropriate. If you wear
eyeglasses, however, there are many shops offering a wide variety of
fashionable styles. Acceptable eye care services are available in
Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore.
Pick pocketing and handbag/camera snatching are common
occurrences (much more so in HCMC than in Hanoi), particularly
before the Lunar New Year (late January/early February).
Fortunately, most of these petty crimes are economic and non-violent
in nature. Should you be the unfortunate victim of such petty
crimes, it is wise not to resist. Stolen cameras, wallets and
handbags can be replaced; they are not worth risking life and limb.
While most people are more concerned with threats of infectious
disease, traumatic injuries resulting from automobile or motorcycle
accidents are the greatest hazard. Be sure to bring a sturdy helmet
if you intend to ride either a bicycle or motor scooter in Vietnam.
The Regional Medical Officers and the Regional Psychiatrists from
Bangkok and Singapore visit Hanoi and HCMC approximately every three
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 8/16/2005
The Embassy and Consulate currently have a number of positions
that are generally filled by eligible family members. Other
employment options include full or part-time teaching positions with
the international schools and language institutes, non-governmental
and international organizations, and free-lance work. Speaking
Vietnamese is an advantage, but it is not an absolute for becoming
gainfully employed. There is no bilateral work agreement, but no
special work permits are required. Local wages are low and those who
do not hold a diplomatic passport will be subject to Vietnamese
personal income tax.
American Embassy - Hanoi
Post City Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:12 PM
Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and has
a rapidly increasing population of about three million people. It is
located in the north of the country on an alluvial plain along the
Red River. The city is about 150 kilometers from the coast and is
surrounded by rural countryside consisting largely of rice paddies.
Security Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:12 PM
Cities in Vietnam have the typical crime problems of other large
cities throughout the world. Pickpockets and petty crime occur and
appear to be increasing. Although violent crimes such as armed
robbery are still relatively rare in Vietnam, perpetrators have
grown increasingly bold, and we have received recent reports of
knives and razors being used in attempted robberies in Ho Chi Minh
City. Drug use is becoming more and more of a problem in Vietnam.
The Embassy recommends that travelers’ use only metered taxis.
Traffic in Vietnam can appear chaotic, and there is a real threat of
being involved in a traffic or pedestrian accident. Pedestrians
unaccustomed to walking across the street in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
or other Vietnamese cities, should be extra cautious.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:04 PM
The Embassy staff includes approximately 56 direct-hire American,
12 family member appointment, 6 MSG, 7 U.S. PSC and 267 local
employees. The post is growing, and these numbers are moving
targets. Agencies represented at post are: Department of State
(DOS), Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), Foreign Agricultural
Service (FAS), Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Attaché Office,
Marine Security Guards (MSG) and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command (JPAC), Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease
Control (HHS/CDC), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Embassy is located at 7 Lang Ha, Dong Da District in a
Vietnamese-built, USG-owned nine-story building. The Chancery
building houses all DOS, DAO, and DEA offices. Public Affairs
Section, Consular Section, Medical Unit, HHS/CDC, FAS and FCS are in
the Rose Garden Annex, 6 Ngoc Khanh Street, Hanoi. USAID and JPAC
are located on a separate compounds far from the Embassy.
Negotiations are under way for a new off-site commercial space,
which would consolidate all of the agencies, which require greater
public access, under one roof. The Detachment from Joint POW/MIA
Accounting Command will remain separate from the Embassy due to the
requirement for access by the Vietnamese public.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 7/12/2004 5:47 AM
The Embassy makes every effort to move newcomers directly into
their permanent quarters.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:10 PM
Designated housing is provided for the Ambassador, DCM, and the
Marine Detachment. Centrally located in the downtown area, the
Ambassador’s Residence is the former colonial mansion of the French
Governor of the Bank of Indochine. The DCM’s Residence is presently
located in an apartment building close to a lake. The majority of
Section and Agency Heads and married employees with dependent
children are living in detached homes or spacious apartments. Single
employees and married couples without children are assigned to
Housing assignments are based on the position being filled and
family size. With the increasing availability of four-bedroom
apartments, the Housing Board is assigning families with children to
We currently have personnel living in the following apartment
complexes: Thanh Cong Villas, Rose Garden Tower, Mayfair, Hanoi Lake
View Apartments, and Coco Villa. The Thanh Cong Villas and Rose
Garden Tower are within walking distance of the Embassy. The other
complexes are approximately 10-15 minutes from the Embassy by car.
As the local housing market expands, and four-bedroom apartments
become available, the Embassy is placing families with children in
Vietnam continues to struggle with the problem of quality versus
quantity in constructing homes for foreign occupancy. As the real
estate market grows, the Mission is constantly striving to improve
the housing pool. In recent years, landlords have upgraded
electrical system in some units and have expanded kitchens in
others. Houses are normally furnished with a small garden, a
separate laundry area, and have storage space.
Furnishings Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:11 PM
The Embassy provides employees with basic living room, dining
room, and bedroom furniture procured from Lifestyle in ELSO and/or
the U.S. Appliances include a refrigerator, electric oven range,
microwave oven, water distiller or filter, washer, dryer, air
conditioning units (landlord provides), dehumidifiers, and a vacuum
cleaner. Two telephone sets are provided per residence and are
usually located in the master bedroom and the living/family room.
Only three transformers will be available to each residence. Any
additional units can be purchased by the employee on the local
market at reasonable prices. The Embassy does not provide
televisions, stereos, personal radios, coffee pots, toasters, other
small kitchen appliances, UPS or area rugs.
Only queen and twin beds are available at post, and only one
queen-size bed is provided to each residence. In residences lacking
built-in closet space, the GSO will provide a large wardrobe for
storage of clothes and linens. Other household items the Embassy
will provide are: locally made curtains with sheers and shower
curtains that are off-white in color.
The Embassy provides the standard Welcome Kit, which includes a
television. The employee is required to return the welcome kit when
their airfreight/UAB arrives at post. GSO recommends the following
items incoming employees should include in their air freight/surface
shipment: bathmats, bed pillows, linens, dishtowels and bathroom
towels, ice chests, thermos and lunch boxes for kids, stainless
steel flatware, party decorations and paper goods, personal hygiene
products, children’s toys, sports equipment, clothes, shoes, small
kitchen utensils, and small 220v or multi-voltage kitchen appliances
(220 volt appliances are available in Hanoi, but prices are high).
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:12 PM
Electricity in Hanoi is 220v/50-cycle AC (with two round pin
electrical plugs). Voltage regulators are recommended for most
appliances, especially computers, as electrical power in Hanoi is
unstable and prone to voltage fluctuations, which could damage
sensitive electronic equipment. The Embassy can provide 3
transformers for home use. Small UPS (uninterrupted power supply)
units and a full range of transformers are available on the local
Food Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:14 PM
Local. Local open-air markets sell a variety of fresh meat,
poultry, fish and seafood. If cooked properly there should be no
health problems. However, the local beef is usually not of good
quality. Open-air markets also sell a variety of fresh fruit and
produce either grown locally or imported from the cooler mountain
regions near Dalat or from Ho Chi Minh City, China or Thailand.
Most other basic foodstuffs, including imported fish, seafood and
meats, are available in the western-style supermarkets and
delicatessen. Pasteurized, full-cream fresh milk is available. Long
life UHT milk (whole, low fat, and skim), powdered milk, butter and
imported cheeses are readily available. You may not find a wide
selection of products available at one location.
Thus, from time to time, you will need to shop around before you
find a certain item on your shopping list. There is a duty-free shop
operated by the Vietnamese Government for foreign officials. It is
stocked with some canned sodas, liquor, wine and a very limited
variety of food items and some small appliances.
Pets. A limited and expensive selection of low to medium quality
pet products is available. Post recommends that employees with pets
bring an ample stock of any specialty foods, treats, medicines
(including flea and tick products), and litter.
Bangkok Commissary. As a special favor, the Joint Pacific
Accounting Command (JPAC) allows U.S. Embassy personnel the use of
their military aircraft for occasional "group" shipments of goods
ordered from the Commissary in Bangkok. The goods are brought into
Vietnam duty free. These shipments occur approximately every three
months or so and are coordinated by CLO and GSO. These shipments are
not considered part of your consumables allowance. In order to
participate, you have to be a member of the Bangkok Commissary
Association (ACSA). The membership fee is minimal.
Consumables. Employees posted to Vietnam are authorized to ship
2,500 lbs. of consumable goods.
Clothing Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:14 PM
Dress in Hanoi is very similar to that in Washington, D.C. for
both business and recreational activities. Even though the
temperature may not indicate it, winters in Hanoi can be very
chilly. Include some warm jackets, sweaters, scarves and hats in
your HHE. Also, bring an adequate supply of dress and sports shoes
Men Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:15 PM
Most Embassy officers wear long-sleeved shirts and coat and tie
to the office. Others wear sport shirt and slacks. Bring your tuxedo
since there are a number of black tie functions during the year.
Dress for National Day receptions and most official at-home dinners
are coat and tie. A couple of employees have had suits made locally
comparable to U.S. standards and less expensive than what you can
find in Hong Kong, China or Thailand.
Women Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:15 PM
Business suits, pantsuits and dresses are all acceptable at the
office. There are a number of formal events at which you can wear
either long or short evening attire. Mostly cocktail dresses or
business suits are worn a National Day receptions and dinner
parties. There are a number of reputable women's clothing shops,
which sell off the rack for those who can wear the smaller sizes.
For most Western women however, the only option is to have clothes
made to order with varying degrees of success. There are a number of
seamstresses and tailors who can custom make clothing at reasonable
Children Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:15 PM
Clothes and shoes for children are widely available. The price
for sports shoes is equal to those in the U.S.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:44 PM
Items you may want to include in a consumables shipment are
traditional holiday foods, ethnic foods, dietary products, baby
foods and snack foods and treats for children.
Those who like to cook and/or bake should bring Crisco,
granulated sugar, light brown sugar, chocolate chips, spices and
Clinique and Shisheido make-up and skin care products are
available, but those with specific skin care requirements should
bring their own supply. Bring prescription medicines and vitamins.
Also if you have any preferences on first aid supplies such as
Hydrogen Peroxide (not available on the local market), flexible
bandages, healing ointments ect, it is advisable to bring a supply
of each as well, as the supplies can not be found locally or not at
the same standard of quality as what the U.S. has available.
Breakfast cereals are available, but the variety is limited and
expensive. Most cereals are imported from third countries and may
not taste the same to picky eaters. Although most paper products are
quite acceptable, good quality paper towels are not. If you use
dryer sheets and/or Liquid Laundry soap, it is advisable to ship
those in your consumables as well. Neither is widely available on
the local market and if they can be found it is in small quantities
and for a premium price. Both are available through the Bangkok
For infants and toddlers, good quality disposable diapers are not
available and should be brought to Post. Local infant formula has
sugar added, and the variety of baby food is limited. Good quality
toys are also hard to find and most are dangerous for small
children. Sports equipment for baseball is not available.
Supplies and Services
Basic Services Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:24 PM
Dry cleaning is good and relatively inexpensive. Shoe repairs are
fair. You can get a replacement battery for your watch, but it won’t
last more than six months. Men can get their hair cut on the streets
with a head and shoulder massage thrown in for less than $2. Women’s
hair cuts range from $3 to $25. There are several good unisex beauty
shops in town with both Vietnamese and international hair stylists
offering a complete range of services. Automobile servicing is
acceptable for Japanese cars. However you should bring car parts for
American cars. Picture framing is good and inexpensive.
Supplies and Services
Domestic Help Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:25 PM
The number of staff needed and their salaries differ according to
individual households, with varying emphasis on their responsibility
and ability. Below are examples of staff responsibilities and
average salaries. Salaries are stated in U.S. dollar equivalents and
usually are paid in U.S. dollars. At the higher end of the salary
range are staff that speak good English, demonstrate initiative, and
have several years experience working for Westerners. Giving your
staff a TET bonus -equivalent to one month's salary- is standard
practice in Vietnam. Locally employed domestics do not live in. The
Vietnamese government will allow diplomats to bring in
non-Vietnamese domestics for the duration of their tour of duty.
Cook/Housekeeper. $120-220 per month. Plans the meals with you,
shops for food, supervises any work done in your house, supervises
other household staff, keeps a kitchen account book, does the
laundry, and cleans the house.
Maid. $130-150 per month. Cleans the house, washes dishes, irons
clothes, may prepare meals on the cook's day off, and may do some
marketing. It is possible to have part-time domestic help for a
couple of days per week for well under $100/month.
Nanny. $120-150 per month. Takes care of the children. May help
with some light cooking and general housecleaning if the family is
Driver. $120-150 per month. Acts as chauffeur. Purchases the gas
and oil, keeps your car in good operating condition, may tend the
garden, and may help out during social functions.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:25 PM
Hanoi has a large Catholic cathedral, but the regular services
are only in Vietnamese and French. However, a non-denominational
Christian service in English is held every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on
the Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound. Protestant services in English are
conducted every Sunday in the Daewoo Hotel. Islamic services are
held every Friday. Jewish services are not available.
Education Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:10 AM
At the high and middle school level there are no schools in Hanoi
considered "adequate" by the Office of Overseas Schools. Students
are entitled to the away-from-post allowance.
At Post Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:15 AM United Nations
International School (UNIS). UNIS was established in 1988 and is a
private, non-profit, coeducational, English-language day school.
Most of the Embassy children from pre-kindergarten through grade 12
attend UNIS. Student enrollment for the 2003-2004 school year was
550. The school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
Program (grades 11-12), the IB Middle Years Program (grades 6-10),
and the IB Primary Years Program (Pre K-grade 5). The curriculum
does not follow any specific national system, but draws from a
variety of English-language programs consistent with the needs of an
international student body. Currently, more than half of the 49
full-time teachers are American or Canadian.
The school is fully accredited by the New England Association of
Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and the European Council of
International Schools. Students are not required to wear uniforms.
Classes begin the second week of August and end early June. The
school is scheduled to move to their new campus in the West Lake
area in September 2004.
2C Van Phuc, Kim Ma Road, Hanoi Tel: (84-4) 823-0820 Fax: (84-4)
846-2967 E-mail: email@example.com Website:
Hanoi International School (HIS). HIS offers an academic program
to meet the individual needs of students from pre-school through
high school. The Pre-School program for three and four-year olds
offers a balanced day of free and structured play, story-time, and
directed group time. The school’s International Baccalaureate (IB)
program is divided into IB Early-Years (kindergarten to fifth
grade), IB Middle-Years (grades six to ten), and the two-year
pre-university IB diploma curriculum (grades eleven to twelve). The
school year begins in August and ends in June. All students speak
and study in English. HIS has an international staff of 13 full-time
and 7 part-time teachers from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.
Local - Lieu Giai Street, Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: (84-4) 832-7379
Fax: (84-4) 832-7535 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:
In the U.S. – P.O. Box 2876, Reston, Virginia 20195 No E-mail.
Lycee Francais Alexandre Yersin. Recognized by the French
Ministry of National Education and operated in collaboration with
the French Embassy in Hanoi, the Lycee Francais provides an academic
curriculum in French for pre-school to high school aged children.
LFAY has a teaching staff of 35. Enrollment for the 2001-2002 school
year was approximately 400 (which includes 30% French, 30%
Vietnamese and 40% students from 30 different nationalities).
Classrooms are large and fully air-conditioned. The cafeteria offers
a choice of Vietnamese or Western food. The kindergarten has a
well-equipped playground with flowers and trees. The new school
building houses a gymnasium, two state-of-the-art laboratories, a
well-equipped library, and a research and information center with
multimedia computer equipment. Classes begin in September and finish
around June 20.
Address: Truong Phap Quoc Te, Ptth Hanoi Amsterdam, Giang Vo,
Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: (84-4) 843-6779 Fax: (84-4) 823-2023 Website:
www.ifrance.com/lyceehanoi E-mail: email@example.com
In addition to the pre-K program at UNIS, Hanoi has several good
The Rainbow School, nursery through kindergarten, takes children
as young as 15 months if accompanied by a parent or nanny. Tuition
ranges from $3,000 for part-time nursery to $4,500 for kindergarten.
The Rainbow School is located about 20 minutes from the Embassy in
the West Lake area. Their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morning Star International Kindegarten, nursery through
kindergarten, take children from 18 months to 5 1/2. Tuition ranges
from $2,000 for part-week toddler to $4,000 full-day kindergarten.
The school is conveniently located to the Embassy and to most of the
Embassy housing. E-mail:email@example.com. Website:
Kinderworld International Kindergarten, Pre-nursery through
preparatory level (6 year olds), take children from age 19 months.
Tuition ranges from $3,200 for half day to $4,300 for the full day
program, meals are included. Kinderworld is located about 10 minutes
from the Embassy in a modern high-rise office/apartment complex. The
school's e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
System's Little House, was established in 1992. The Center is
open from 8 am until 3 pm, Monday to Friday. Toddlers 2 - 2 1/2 may
attend the Center 2 or 3 times per week. Children from 3-6 years
must attend 5 days a week. Teacher/child ratio is 1/10-12. Fees are
approximately $4,500 for 2 and 3 year olds, $5,500 for age 4, and
$6,000 for age 5. The school is located in the northern suburb, the
West Lake area. Tel 823-8997, fax 829-0480.
Away From Post Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:16 AM Middle and high
school-aged children of personnel assigned to Vietnam qualify for
Away-from-Post educational allowances. Please consult the pertinent
FAM regulations for details or check with the Family Liaison Office
in the State Department.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:18 AM
Studying Vietnamese Language training is available at the Embassy
and Consulate General and through a number of local resources.
Art Classes The Hanoi Fine Arts Institute offers instructions in
a variety of art mediums, including Vietnamese lacquerware and the
application of watercolor on silk.
Adult Education The Hanoi National University School of Business
offers a two-year MBA program with the University of Hawaii. Classes
are held in the evenings and on weekends. UNIS offers a number of
evening courses. You can study art, learn a foreign language, play
tennis, do aerobics, surf the Internet, and lots more. In the Fall
of 2004, an Australian University, RMIT International University,
will open its doors. They will offer several undergraduate and
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:20 AM
Tennis. There are plenty of tennis courts in Hanoi, but the
demand still exceeds the supply unless you are able to play during
the week in the daytime. Most courts are in good condition and
adequately maintained. Court surfaces are either hard or carpeted.
There are, unfortunately, no indoor tennis facilities. Court fees
vary between $3 and $5 during the day, with evening hours
(5:00-10:00 p.m.) at double rates. If you provide the string, you
can get your racquet re-strung in Hanoi for $1. Most Vietnamese
tennis coaches will charge $10/hour. Major hotels, the Van Phuc
Diplomatic Compound, and a couple of Embassy housing compounds, have
Golf. About 35km west of Hanoi is Kings Island, a scenic 18-hole
golf course. The golf club is situated at the base of Ba Vi National
Park and is surrounded by historic temples and pagodas, natural
caves, waterfalls, hiking trails, hot springs, and ethnic minority
villages. A new highway to the course is almost finished, making it
about an hour’s drive from Hanoi on Highway #11. Facilities include
a fully-stocked pro shop with golf club and shoe rentals, and a
clubhouse which serves both Asian and Western food. Membership fee
is USD 15,000. Green fees for non-members are $70 during the week
and $100 on the weekends.
Swimming. Most of the larger hotels and service apartments have
swimming pools. The schools do not have swimming pools. Avid
swimmers usually join a health club with swimming privileges
included in the package. One of the larger hotels in the city has
the only indoor swimming pool with a retractable roof.
Bowling. There are two large bowling centers. One is located in a
hotel just across from the Embassy (24 lanes) and another within
walking distance. A game will cost $3. Bowling shoes rent for $1.
Volleyball. The American Club has an outdoor volleyball court,
which can be scheduled for use. Regular groups get together on
Sunday afternoons at the Club to play.
Health Clubs. Virtually every hotel has an exercise room with
state-of-the-art equipment, showers, saunas, and whirlpools. Annual
fees range from $550-$2,000. Most also offer massages and
reflexology at a reasonable fee. The Marine House has a fully
equipped exercise room, which Embassy personnel can use free of
Hash House Harriers and Ultimate Frisbee also have regular
activities in Hanoi.
Recreation and Social Life
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:21 AM
Several scenic and historic sights, including national parks and
pagodas, can be done via a day trip from Hanoi. Additional trips
from Hanoi are listed under HCMC Touring Section. Although road
conditions and traffic flow are steadily improving, travel can be a
bit uncomfortable and stressful, due to poor road conditions. There
are also several craft villages within a one-hour drive from Hanoi
to view paper making, snake farming, noodle making and silk weaving.
Popular attractions are the nearby factories for making ceramics,
lacquerware and crystal.
Halong Bay. A three to four hour drive from Hanoi, Halong Bay (a
UNESCO World Heritage sight) is considered by many to be one of the
most scenic areas in Asia. The bay consists of hundreds of small
islands filled with caves and grottoes full of stalactites and
stalagmites. Cat Ba, one of the largest islands in Halong Bay, is
home to one of Vietnam’s national parks and includes a large
seven-acre freshwater lake in the center of the land.
Sapa. Built originally as a hill station, Sapa now is one of
Vietnam’s major tourist attractions in the northern most part of the
country. By road (some of it very bumpy), Sapa is an 11- hour scenic
drive from Hanoi. For those travelers who prefer a more comfortable
ride, the Victoria Hotel, a nine-hour overnight train from Hanoi to
Sapa, has luxury sleepers and a restaurant car. During the weekend,
you can mingle with the colorfully dressed hill tribe people (mostly
women) who come into Sapa to peddle their home-made garments and
textiles. Using Sapa as a base, you can also hike to several
minority tribe villages while taking in the panoramic view of
Vietnam’s Hoang Lien Mountains.
Photography. Vietnam is a photographer’s paradise. Camera shops
are everywhere. Film can be developed inexpensively in a couple of
hours. It is not allowed to photograph military and police
Recreation and Social Life
Entertainment Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:23 AM
Restaurants. There are enough Western restaurants in town to
titillate the gourmet’s taste buds, ranging from traditional French
cuisine to nouveau California fare. There are also some very good
Asian restaurants for Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese
food. For fast-food lovers, Hanoi offers several restaurants/delis
for pizzas, hamburgers and hotdogs, and sub-sandwiches.
American Club. The American Community Association (ACA)
supervises the operations of the American Club. Patrons and their
guests can enjoy an informal meal in the air-conditioned
restaurant/bar area or outdoors in the bamboo pavilion. Also on the
premises are areas set up for a variety of sports, including darts,
billiards, badminton, basketball, and sandlot volleyball, as well as
a playground for the younger children. The facilities are available
for rental and catered functions. Full Membership is automatic for
all Embassy U.S. citizen employees, and Associate/Affiliate
Membership is available to the expatriate business and diplomatic
community ($115 for singles/$225 for families annually). Guest,
corporate, and monthly memberships are also available. The Club
offers a good video selection of movies for both adults and children
at a weekly rental fee of $1 per tape.
Recreation and Social Life
Among Americans Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:24 AM American Chamber
of Commerce (AmCham). The largest business group in Vietnam, AmCham
offers opportunities to help international corporations operate and
thrive here. There are about 330 members in the Hanoi Chapter and
480 in HCMC. Through its committees, AmCham adopts positions on a
variety of general business issues in Vietnam. These committees work
on such issues as reducing tax burdens for U.S. companies,
individuals and their staff. Efforts have also been made to improve
access to foreign exchange and to reduce bureaucracy and red tape in
business dealings with the Vietnamese Government. Both the chapters
in Hanoi and HCMC host a number of working luncheons with keynote
speakers throughout the year. AmCham also organizes social
activities, including an annual formal dinner/dance.
Recreation and Social Life
International Contacts Last Updated: 7/12/2004 6:26 AM The Hanoi
International Women’s Club (HIWC). Open to all foreign women, the
Club has approximately 325 members. The HIWC promotes good will
between the host country and the expatriate community through its
annual Festival Charity Bazaar and work throughout the year with
local orphanages and rural support systems. It also serves as a
great morale booster for non-working spouses by organizing a
multitude of activities, including tennis, bridge, shopping and
sightseeing excursions, foreign language classes, cooking
demonstrations, book reading groups, and aerobics. The HIWC also
organizes monthly luncheons, coffee mornings, and orientation
programs for newcomers. A non-profit organization, the annual
membership fee is reasonable and includes a monthly newsletter. The
Club also publishes a helpful booklet the "Hanoi Guide". Embassy
newcomers automatically receive a copy of the booklet in the CLO
Friends of Vietnam Heritage. FVH is a non-formal group of mainly
Hanoi residents from many countries including Vietnam, whose purpose
is to enhance and deepen the understanding of Vietnam's culture. In
close collaboration with Vietnamese scholars, local experts and
museums, FVH organizes a wide range of activities including study
groups, tours to historical and cultural sites, and lectures. The
group also maintains a reference library.
International Business Women’s Club. A group of Hanoi’s working
women, expatriate and Vietnamese, exchange thoughts and network
during an informal dinner meeting once a month.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:46 PM
Hanoi is a relatively informal post, with few protocol
requirements. Only the Ambassador is required to make formal calls.
Official entertaining usually involves receptions and dinners. Home
entertainment by the Vietnamese is rare.
Junior officers and staff personnel lead an active social life
within the international community. Although they have fewer social
requirements than senior officers, they attend and host official and
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:47 PM
Soon after arrival, all personnel are expected to pay courtesy
calls on to the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission. Senior
officers should make formal calls on their counterparts at the
Vietnamese Ministry and selected Embassies. In making these outside
calls, it is appropriate to leave your calling card. Employees can
come with a supply of calling cards or have them printed here. Hanoi
and HCMC have facilities for printing reasonably priced bilingual
cards and invitations. Exchanging calling cards is a very common
occurrence in Vietnam. You can conceivably go through several
hundred cards in your first year at post.
Special Information Last Updated: 8/16/2005 9:27 PM
Not all sections of the post report will pertain to military
personnel assigned to Vietnam. Military personnel should contact
their respective commands and sponsors for specific information
concerning their assignment, housing, medical and dental care,
privately-owned vehicle issues, etc.
DAO Personnel. All military personnel are required to wear
military uniforms to official meetings with Vietnamese Armed Forces
or foreign military representatives, functions, and designated
social events. Civilian business wear is the normal day-to-day
attire while on duty at the office. Dress uniforms are worn to
formal affairs and ceremonies. All attachés require business cards.
Marine Security Guards. All members of the MSG detachment are
provided with furnished living quarters. Marines wear uniforms only
on duty and on formal occasions such as the annual Marine Corps
Ball. The Department of State provides Marines with a civilian
clothing allowance prior to their departure from the U.S. For
further information, see the annual Marine post report for Hanoi.
Post Orientation Program You will be met at the airport by your
sponsor and an Embassy expeditor and accompanied to your living
quarters. Your sponsor will make sure you have the standard Welcome
Kit to use in your new accommodations and basic foodstuffs will be
on hand. Throughout the following weeks, your sponsor and the CLO
will be available to take you shopping for additional groceries and
on orientation trips around the city. You will receive a Welcome
Folder with information on checking in, which will include health,
medical, and security information, a map of the city, talking cards
and other subjects related to the Mission and life at post.
The CLO arranges for a comprehensive check-in schedule during
your first several days at Post. You will be provided with a
briefing schedule for the Mission offices and agencies upon arrival.
Employees are encouraged to include family members in the check-in
process whenever possible. Sponsors are given liberal car use
privileges to help newcomers get settled in. There is a Saturday
grocery run which newcomers are encouraged to use for food shopping.
Consulate General - Ho Chi Minh City
Post City Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:20 PM
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s largest city and river port,
covering an area of 761 square miles on the Right Bank of the Saigon
River, stretching from the shores of the South China Sea to within a
couple miles of the Cambodian border. With a teeming population of
seven plus million, it is also the economic capital and cultural
trendsetter of Vietnam. There are 22 districts (15 urban and 7
rural) with 75% of the population in the urban districts. Only a few
degrees above the Equator, the city has a tropical, monsoon climate
with an average annual temperature of 83°F. April is the hottest
month with an average temperature of 86°F. There are two seasons—
rainy (from June to November) and dry (from December to April).
Average number of rainy days annually is 159, with 90% of the
rainfall occurring in the rainy season.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual Mean
Temperature 79 79 83 85 84 82 82 81 80 80 79 80 80 Av. Daily Max
Temp (F) 85 86 92 91 88 87 86 86 86 86 86 86 88 Av. Daily Min
Temp(F) 72 72 74 76 76 76 76 76 74 74 74 72 72 Relative Humidity (%)
51 40 52 57 63 65 69 70 71 68 63 57 80 Precipitation (Inches) 1 .5 1
2 9 14 13 11 14 11 5 2 76
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:32 AM
The Consulate General has 35 American personnel (DOS, USFCS, DHS,
USDA) and over 200 Foreign Service Nationals. Most Department of
State offices are located at 4 Le Duan, District 1 (tel: 84–8
822–9433). Offices for DOC, DOA, and DHS are on the 9th floor of the
Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi St., District 1, as is the office for the
DOS Public Affairs section. The office for the RRS (Refugee
Resettlement Section) is currently located on the 8th Floor of the
Diamond Plaza office building, a short 5 minute walk from the
Consulate. CDC is co-located with RRS.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:24 AM
The Consulate makes every effort to move newcomers directly into
their permanent quarters.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:25 AM
Because of the high level of crime in HCMC, Mission policy
requires all USG employees to be housed in apartment buildings with
24–hour security or in single family homes in gated residential
compounds outside of the city. The Consul General has a spacious
representational home outside of the city. The majority of other
Consulate General personnel live in either in the Somerset
Chancellor Court, Somerset HCMC or Indochine Park Tower buildings.
All these serviced apartments have swimming pools, tennis courts or
access to tennis courts, health fitness rooms, common activity
areas, play areas and equipment for children, convenience stores,
and built-in clothes closets. The Somerset Chancellor Court even has
a beauty salon on the ground floor. There is very limited storage
and representational space. Thus, most representational functions
(aside from the Consul General’s) are done outside the home.
Consulate General employees are either in three or four bedroom
apartments, which fall within the allowed USG space requirements.
While residing in these 24–hour security apartment buildings
enhances employee safety, it does reduce one’s privacy and living
environment, depriving families of individual yards for recreational
space. Regarding pets, the management at the Indochine does allow
tenants to have small pets.
Furnishings Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:25 AM
All serviced apartments are fully furnished by the landlord,
including dishes, a television, a stereo, and even the artwork on
the walls. No VCRs are provided. The Consulate can provide employees
with supplemental pieces of furniture, such as beds, bookcases,
china cabinets, and desks. However, swapping existing apartment
furniture for your own or Consulate General-owned furniture is not
an option, because the landlords have no storage facilities. The
Consulate General will provide washers and dryers to employees who
have room for them in their apartments. The Consulate General has
very little space in its warehouse and will not be able to store
excess HHE for anyone. Single family homes are furnished by the
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:26 AM
HCMC experiences frequent power outages. Ranges with ovens are
not standard issue in service apartments; and, due to space
limitations, some tenants only have stove tops. Like the Embassy,
the Consulate General provides water distillers to all housing
units. (See Hanoi section for additional)
Food Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:25 PM
The information on food in Hanoi also generally applies to HCMC.
There is, however, a wider selection of fruits and vegetables
available in HCMC, due to the proximity of HCMC to Dalat, where most
of the fruits and vegetables are cultivated.
Clothing Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:26 PM
Cotton and/or loose clothing is recommended for HCMC. For travel
to the northern part of the country (e.g. the highlands or Hanoi)
during winter months, it is advisable to bring a sweater or light
Men Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:26 PM
High-quality business attire for men is difficult to find.
Imported shoes are expensive and not widely available.
Women Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:27 PM
Locally-made silk clothing is attractive and reasonably priced.
Many fabrics are available here, and tailoring can be done within
few days. The workmanship is hit-or-miss, but in general it is
acceptable and inexpensive. Tailors can copy clothing from pictures
in magazines or catalogues. Locally-made women's sandals and cloth
shoes are inexpensive. Larger sizes (8 and up) are not commonly
Children Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:28 PM
Locally made clothing for children is plenty and reasonably
Supplies and Services Last Updated: 3/31/2003 6:00 PM
See Hanoi for general information.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:30 PM
Western supplies are becoming evermore available in the local
markets and supermarkets. However, what is available this week may
not be the next. The following items are not commonly available or
are very expensive: medications, vitamins, cosmetics, creams,
sunscreens, mosquito repellents, quality paper supplies, chicken
broth, canned soups, wholefood, gourmet or ethnic food items, diet
foods, baking items, spices, and laundry supplies.
Supplies and Services
Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:31 PM
It is relatively easy to find household help, although you may
find yourself having to train someone according to American hygiene
standards. Salaries range from $100-$200 a month.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:32 PM
Houses of worship are available for Buddhists, Catholics,
Muslims, and Protestants, but services for most are conducted in
Vietnamese. Protestant worshipers can attend services in English on
Sunday conducted for foreigners only. There is also a small
international Jewish community that observes Jewish holidays. Our
Lady Cathedral, located downtown, has a bilingual/trilingual
Vietnamese-English and/or French Catholic Mass on Sunday mornings. A
Catholic church on Le Van Sy St. (near the airport) holds mass in
English for its predominantly Filipino congregation.
Education Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:20 AM
The British International School: The BIS has expanded and
establish another campus in An Phu, the suburb of HCMC, in year
2000. It takes approximately 20–30 minutes (depending upon traffic)
from the Consulate General to the An Phu campus. This campus offers
programs and classes for students 1 ½ to 18 years old. The BIS works
within the framework of the National Curriculum for England and
Wales. Class schedule is from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm. Annual school fee
is from USD5000 to USD11, 000. The two Fundino campuses below belong
to the British International School (BIS) in Ho Chi Minh City.
Address: 182 Nguyen van Thu, District 1, HCMC
Tel: (84-8) 822-2324 Fax: (84-8) 829-6416
Address: 225 Nguyen van Huong Street, Thao Dien An Phu, District
Tel: (84-8) 512-2081 Fax: (84-8) 512-2082
Email: anphu@BIS vietnam.com
Website for all three campuses: www.bisvietnam.com
Fundino Preschool: Located approximately 15 minutes drive from
the Consulate General, Fundino provides high quality, innovative
childcare and recreation for children 1and half to 5 years old. The
eye-pleasing, up-beat Clubhouse and grounds are all on one level and
colorfully and cleverly decorated with lots of primary colors using
a dinosaur theme. All students are required to wear the Club
uniform— T‑shirt with a Fundino dinosaur emblem and denim shorts.
Fundino’s staff consists of 6 full-time expatriate teachers (one
with special education training) and 15 Vietnamese assistants.
Indoor facilities include a large floor and wall-padded playroom for
the tots, a small kitchen for lunch and snacks, a library, and
individual rooms for art, music, reading, computer and dance
instruction. The spacious outdoor area includes an elaborate
playground and wading pool for the older kids. Annual school fee:
USD3000, keep in mind that this fee will change to reflex the
Class Schedule Monday through Friday, except for Vietnamese
Play & Learn 8:15 a.m.– 4:00 p.m. (Age 2–3yrs and 3–5yrs)
l:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m. (Age 1 ½ –2yrs)
Address: 11B Nguyen Gia Thieu, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC; also
have classes at their An Phu Campus Tel: (84-8) 930–0514 Fax:
930–0513 E–mail: fundino@BISvietnam.com
Fundino Primary: Serving students 5 to 11 year old under the
British system, which is equivalent to Kindergarten to 5th grade of
the American system. The Fundino Primary’s staff consists of 7
full-time expatriate teachers and 7 Vietnamese assistants. Class
schedule is from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm. Lunch is provided if parents
buy a monthly lunch card. Annual school fee is from USD6500 to
Saigon South International School (SSIS). This is a
pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, coeducational school located in
District 7 (the industrial zone), between 25 to 45 minutes drive
(depending upon traffic) from the Consulate General. SSIS is the
only school in HCMC, which provides an American-based curriculum,
with modifications made to accommodate the school’s non-American
population. Students are required to wear uniforms. Class Schedule:
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.– 3:00 p.m. Tuition: USD3000 to
Address: Saigon South Parkway, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, HCMC
Tel: (84–8) 431-0901 Fax: (84–8) 431-0902 E–mail:
International School Ho Chi Minh City (IS): Operating in two
locations, the Senior Campus for K through 12 is located in An Phu,
approximately 25–45 minutes (depending upon traffic) from the
Consulate General. The Junior Campus for pre-school to grade 1 is in
District 3 about 10–15 minutes’drive from the Consulate General. IS
is a privately-owned, co-educational, non-denominational
institution. It operates an international curriculum with the
International Baccalaureate diploma program offered in grades 11 and
12. All students (except for grade 11) are required to wear
uniforms. Lunch can be purchased from the Schools canteen. For
recess the School provides its students with nutritional snacks.
Tuition: USD3500 to USD14, 000
Senior Campus Address: 649A Vo Truong Toan St., An Phu, Thu Duc,
HCMC Tel: (84–8) 898–9100 Fax: (84–8) 887–4022 E–mail:
Junior Campus Address: 236 bis Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., District 3,
HCMC Tel: (84–8) 822–5858 Fax: (84–8) 822-3337 E–mail:
Website for both campuses: www.ishcmc.com
At Post Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:21 AM International School
(ISHCMC) has two campuses. The preschool campus is in town and is
attended by children from two to six years old (pre-school - grade
1). The campus in An Phu provides a broader range: pre-school from
two years old to six years old (pre-school - grade 1), elementary
(grade 2-5), middle (grade 6-8), and high school (grade 9-12). The
ISHCMC is fully accredited with the European Council of
International Schools (ECIS), which is recognized in the U.S.
through the Recognition Program of the National Association of
Independent Schools (NAIS). The high school of ISHCMC follows a
curriculum that leads to external examinations for either the
International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) or
the International Baccalaureate (IB).
The British International School (BIS) follows the National
Curriculum of England and Wales, and prepares students for
examinations of the International General Certificates of Secondary
Education (IGCSE) and has applied for their International General
Certificate of Secondary Education or the International
Baccalaureate. The BIS has educational programs for children between
twelve months and sixteen years of age. Fundino Pre-school is for
children aged twelve months to four years, and the urban Primary
School is for children from reception (four years old) to year four
(nine years old). These two campuses are located in the downtown
area of HCMC. The campus in An Phu caters for children from
pre-school to year 11, which means from twelve months to sixteen
Saigon South International School (SSIS) offers an American-based
curriculum, pre-school to grade 12. The school plans to seek WASC
The Ecole de Colette offers a French curriculum. Admission is
limited to French speaking children of the Consular Corps.
Kinder World International Kindergarten provides full-day and
half-day childcare services as well as pre-school education for
children from eighteen months to under seven years old.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/17/2005 2:21 AM
RMIT, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, offers bachelor
degrees in several technology majors and a part-time MBA program.
There are opportunities for graduate study leading to MBA programs.
These courses are offered through Vietnamese universities in
partnership with foreign universities.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:38 PM
Tennis. All major hotels and service apartments have either hard
or carpeted tennis courts. However, current supply does not meet
demand, unless you can play during the daytime. Sports center and
service apartment court fees range from $3 (before 5:00 p.m.) to $5
(after 5:00 p.m.). Hotels charge $6 and $12, respectively. Tennis
pro fees range between $5–$8/hour.
Golf. There are three excellent golf clubs in the area. Dong Nai
(18-hole) is approximately 1-1/2 hours drive from the city. The
other two—Song Be (18-hole) and Thu Duc (36-hole) are approximately
45-minute drives. Each golf facility has a clubhouse with a
restaurant. Weekend green fees are $85, with weekday specials
starting at $45. Caddies are available at all three clubs. A fourth
golf club, Saigon South, (9-hole) opened for business in 1999.
Bowling. There are several bowling centers scattered around the
city. Fees are the same as in Hanoi.
Swimming. With year-round temperatures in the mid-80s, swimming
and/or lounging around the pool can be a great stress reliever.
Having said that, you will still, however, need earplugs or a
Walkman to deafen the cacophony of round-the-clock street and
Jogging and biking. Unfortunately, the city's hazardous traffic
conditions preclude all but the foolhardy from jogging and biking
safely anywhere in town. Joggers and bikers are relegated to the
safe interior facilities of health centers or obliged to travel some
distance outside of the city.
Recreation and Social Life
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:40 PM
Hoi An. A 45-minute ride outside of Danang, Hoi An was once a
prosperous trading town frequented by the Japanese, Portuguese,
Dutch, French and Chinese. Hoi An is now a quaint, artistic tourist
attraction. For architecture buffs, there are a number of
well-preserved historic sites in Hoi An over 200 years old,
including private homes, chapels, temples, pagodas, bridges and
tombs. For the shoppers, Hoi An has lots of art and craft shops,
street-side cafes, a large outdoor market, and quality garment
tailors who can produce quality dresses, trousers and shirts quickly
at very reasonable prices.
Dalat. Approximately six hours by road or one hour by plane from
HCMC, Dalat enjoys year round spring weather. Dalat offers something
for everyone. There is an 18-hole golf course, botanical gardens,
ancient palaces and pagodas, and a large central market full of
fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers. After a hearty meal, you can
walk along small paths behind waterfalls or on the streets of the
French Quarter up on the hill.
Hue. The former capital of Vietnam prior to WWII, Hue is
surrounded by a large number of historic Imperial landmarks. Hue is
a two-hour plane ride from HCMC and is probably the largest city in
Vietnam with the least amount of street traffic. Visitors to Hue can
safely explore the inner city on foot. Cycles can be used to tour
the Forbidden Purple City and the Citadel. Bicycles or motor
scooters can be rented from hotels for the short trips to the
numerous Imperial tombs and pagodas.
Nha Trang. This sleepy little resort town has beautiful sandy
white beaches with turquoise water, small outer-lying islands and
coral reefs to explore, and the best fresh fruit milkshakes and ice
cream in Vietnam. You can navigate around town by foot, cycle,
bicycle or motor scooter without a hassle. Nha Trang is a one-hour
plane ride from HCMC.
Phan Thiet. The beach at Mui Ne outside of Phan Thiet is the
relatively cleanest beach within a relatively easy drive of the city
(three-four hours). Most visitors stay in one of the many beachfront
hotels on the seven to eight km long beach, which starts about ten
km north of the city. There are fewer vendors than one would expect,
and tall yellow, white, and black sand dunes stretch along the
length of the beach.
Recreation and Social Life
Entertainment Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:40 PM
HCMC has a larger variety of restaurants than Hanoi, including
fast-food chains (KFC and Jollibees), Tex-Mex, European, Indian, and
Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai) cuisine. There are also
numerous nightclubs (some with live jazz ensembles), discos, and, of
course, karaoke. A couple of the numerous video-rental stores in the
city stock movies in English. HCMC also has three large water parks,
a go-cart track, and one movie theater that shows movies in their
original versions with subtitles.
Recreation and Social Life
Social Activities Last Updated: 3/31/2003 6:00 PM
American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). See Hanoi section.
Saigon International Women’s Club (SIWC). The Saigon Chapter has
approximately 600 members. (See Hanoi International Women’s Club for
Hash House Harriers (HHH). Membership is approximately 50. All
courses are set about an hour’ drive outside HCMC.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 8/16/2005 11:26 PM
The most direct route to Vietnam from the U.S. is by air over the
Pacific. All official travelers are authorized a rest stop along the
way. Personnel assigned to HCMC normally travel to post via a couple
days consultation in Hanoi. Getting to Hanoi sometimes requires an
overnight in Bangkok or Hong Kong to connecting planes.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:43 PM
Only U.S. Diplomatic Passport holders with a Vietnamese
Diplomatic Card are exempt from paying the airport departure tax.
All others, including TDY visitors with diplomatic or official
passports, are now required to pay the tax at the airport. There is
no restriction on the amount of currency that can be imported into
the country, but all currency must be declared. A separate customs
counter is set up at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat International Airports
for individuals traveling under diplomatic/official passports.
USG personnel have duty-free entry privileges for airfreight and
HHE. There are no storage facilities at post and your HHE cannot be
cleared until after your arrival. Do not ship UAB or HHE more than
three weeks prior to your arrival. Non-diplomatic civilian and
enlisted personnel are officially limited to six months of duty-free
import. Address HHE lift vans as follows:
American Embassy Hanoi, Vietnam For (Employees Name)
American Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam For
(Employees Name) American Embassy
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Passage Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:43 PM
Visas. Everyone must have a Vietnamese visa. Diplomatic and
official passport holders should obtain their visas through the
State Department’s Passport Office. This should be done two-three
months prior to arrival to forestall last-day panic. You need to fax
a copy of your application to the Embassy’s Administrative Office so
that a diplomatic note with a parallel request can be sent to MOFA.
The Ministry must approve the visa before it can be issued.
Non-official U.S. passport holders can obtain their visas at any
Vietnamese consular office in the U.S. or in other countries. After
arrival, the office will arrange for visa revalidation and obtain
exit and re-entry permits from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Citizenship. The SRV considers all Vietnamese to be Vietnamese
citizens for life. If you are assigned to post and have not
renounced your Vietnamese citizenship, your visa will be of limited
(six months) duration. More importantly, you will not have the
normal privileges and immunities granted to non-Vietnamese officials
and their families. This renunciation procedure can take up to six
to twelve months, so you should begin the process as soon as
possible. If you or a dependent family member falls into this
category, please contact EAP/BCLTV as soon as possible for
information on how to proceed. Questions on this matter may also be
addressed to post.
No shots are required for entering Vietnam unless you are coming
from a country that has had an outbreak of cholera, smallpox, or
yellow fever. MOFA will issue I.D. cards to all USG personnel, their
spouses, and their children over age 17.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Pets Last Updated: 7/12/2004 11:44 PM
Traveling with pets is becoming increasingly complicated due to
airline regulations especially during the peak travel periods.
Incoming personnel should check with the Overseas Briefing Center
and their airline on current regulations. It is rather easy to
import pets into Vietnam.
All animals must have a certificate of health issued by a
veterinarian, including certification of inoculation against rabies
dated between one to six months before the pet’s arrival at post.
Currently, no quarantine is required. Pets are usually brought in as
excess baggage or as cargo. You should notify post via telegram or
fax as far in advance of arrival as possible to obtain an import
permit. It is very difficult to bring pets in via Hong Kong or
Singapore. Personnel should carefully check with the airlines when
transiting in these cities.
If you are assigned to a detached house, there are no
restrictions on the size of pets. Most service apartments, however,
will only allow small pets -a small dog, cat or bird. Veterinary
services are available in Hanoi and HCMC, but are not up to U.S.
standards. The Bangkok commissary stocks basic supplies for cats and
dogs (e.g. dry mix and canned food, small treats, and flea collars).
Nevertheless, we suggest you include an ample supply of grooming
aids and treats for your little charges in your airfreight and HHE.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 8/16/2005 11:27 PM
Post strictly prohibits the importation of firearms to Vietnam by
USG personnel. Direct inquiries concerning this policy to the
Regional Security Officer, American Embassy Hanoi.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
8/16/2005 11:29 PM
The monetary unit is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). There are new
5,000 Dong, 2,000 Dong and 1,000 Dong coins in circulation. Paper
notes bear the portrait of Ho Chi Minh with the smallest note at VND
100 and the largest at VND 500,000. The rate of exchange fluctuates.
As of November 2005 it was VND 15,800 to 1 USD. The Vietnamese use
the international metric system of weights and measures. Gasoline
and other liquids are sold by the liter, cloth by the meter, and
food and other weighted items by the kilogram. Distance and speed
are measured in kilometers.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/16/2005
USG personnel are exempt from paying local income and airport
(international) departure taxes. We are, however, subject to a 10%
VAT on all locally purchased items. All items imported duty free by
USG employees must be for the exclusive use of the employee and his
or her dependents. Such property may not be imported for the sole
purpose of sale, barter, or exchange. All sales of motor vehicles
must be authorized by the Vietnamese Government and arranged through
the Mission’s General Service Office.
Facilities The Embassy operates a cashier’s office for obtaining
dollars and dong. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.
until Noon. The Consulate offers similar services, and some service
apartment buildings will exchange dollars into dong for their
tenants. There are no U.S. retail banks in Vietnam. The number of
ATM machines is growing and some are now open 24-hours a day. ATMs
accept VISA or Mastercards to obtain cash in dong up to a limit of
2,000,000 dong per transaction, up to a maximum of 20 transactions
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 7/13/2004 0:14 AM
The following titles are provided as a general indication of the
material published on Vietnam. The Department of State does not
endorse unofficial publications.
Abuza, Zachary. Renovation Politics in Contemporary Vietnam.
Boulder: Lynne Riener, 2001.
Anderson, Desaix. An American in Hanoi: America’s Reconciliation
with Vietnam. March 2002.
Chong, Denise. The Girl in the Picture: the Story of Kim Phuc,
the Photograph and the Vietnam War. Penguin, 2001.
Crawford, Ann Caddell. Customs and Culture of Vietnam. Charles E.
Tuttle Co., Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan
Downie, Sue. Down Highway One. Asia 2000, Hong Kong, 1993.
Duiker, William. Ho Chi Minh, a Life. and The Communist Road to
Power in Vietnam. Hyperion, 2001
Westview Press, 1996. Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of
the People’s Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975. University Press of Kansas,
Duong, Huong. Paradise of the Blind. Viking Penguin, 1994.
Elliott, Duong Van Mai. The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in
the Life of a Vietnamese Family. April 2000.
Halberstam, David. The Best and the Brightest. Random House,
Jamieson, Neil L. Understanding Vietnam. Univ. of California
Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. Penguin, 1997.
Lamb, David. Vietnam Now: A Reporter Returns. LLC, 2002.
Langguth, A.J. Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975. Simon & Schuster,
Laurence, John. The Cat from Hue: A 2-wheel Voyage Through the
Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
McDonald, Stuart. Vietnam - For Travellers by Travellers.
McPherson's Printing Group, Australia, 1995.
Morley, James. Vietnam Joins the World. Sharpe, 1998.
Nepote, Jacques. Vietnam, Land of the Ascending Dragon. Passport
Books, Lincolnwood, Illinois, 1992.
Pham, Andrew. Catfish and Mandala, 2000.
Storey, Robert. Lonely Planet: Vietnam 2001, Lonely Planet
Templer, Robert. Shadows and Wind: A View of Modern Vietnam.
Timberman, Thomas M.F. Vietnam: The No BS Business Guide. LOI,
Unger, Ann Helen. Pagodas, Gods and Spirits of Vietnam. 1997.
Wintle, Justin. Romancing Vietnam. Penguin Books, London,
Local Holidays Last Updated: 8/16/2005 11:31 PM
The following Vietnamese holidays, as well as authorized U.S.
holidays, are observed by the U.S. Mission:
New Year’s Day* Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday** Lunar New
Year Festival (Tet)*** (4 days in late January or early February)
President's Day** Victory Day*** International Labor Day*** (May 1)
Memorial Day** Independence Day** Vietnamese National Day***
(September 2) Labor Day** Columbus Day** Veterans Day** Thanksgiving
Day** Christmas Day**
· Vietnamese and American Holiday* · American Holiday** ·
The Lunar New Year Festival (Tet) is determined by the lunar
calendar. According to ancient Vietnamese custom and tradition,
these four days are the most important in the year. Before Tet, the
Vietnamese tidy up, rearrange furniture, decorate the house, and do
more shopping and cooking in order to entertain relatives and close
friends during this holiday period. Incoming personnel should avoid
arriving in Vietnam during Tet. Check with post as the Tet holiday
varies from year to year. Most stores and offices are closed for
four to five days during Tet.