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Vietnam/Cambodia 5th April

Hi,

2 months to go and starting to feel excited. Not been to these countries before.

It looks like a full tour so should be a great group. We are flying out from London (not looking forward to the flights)

Not feeling totally prepared yet. I don't even have a passport!

Getting a little nervous about the spread of the coronavirus. Not too bad yet but keeping an eye on it.

How's everyone else doing?

Hi GaznNic  (Gaz = Gary/Gareth I presume lol).

A bit of info I got from Exodus for the trip - 6 x 2 friends/couple  + 4 x solo.   5M 11F.

  

I've been to Vietnam before (also with Exodus) about 6 years ago..... I regretted not doing the Cambodia extension - but I think both HaLong and Hoi An are easily worth a 2nd visit - so booked a very similar itinerary as before :-)

As a result there might be a couple of days where I break from the group tour plan and do my own thing.... perhaps one day in Hanoi and one day in HCMC (Saigon).

Looks like a nice mix in the group, although we seem to be a bit outnumbered!

My wife Nicola and I have started researching in ernest. We like this itinerary as it is quite varied (not too many temples).

You obviously liked it as you're going back. Any tips you may have about packing, money, eating & drinking, optional activities etc would be very much appreciated.

Gary

I would say pack light, there are 3 internal flights so you are going to be moving bags around a lot.  Leaves luggage room for shopping, plus in Hoi An you can get tailored clothes made quickly and cheaply.... although it seemed every store claimed to the "one that Top Gear visited" when they did their Vietnam special episode.  The south (and especially Siem Reap) will be hot and humid... so light cotton/linen is the way to go - but make sure you pack some clothes that cover legs/arms - mainly for the Angkor Wat temples where its a requirement.

Apart from usual extras, don’t forget to pack mossie repellent (DEET), small torch and small umbrella. 

Money - difficult to say, one persons spend is different to another’s..... I'd say generally spending is about 33% less than normal... depends what you buy I guess.....  As for currency, the rates you get in UK are poor (like 27000 dong per £).... best get nominal amount (say £30 worth or so for emergencies) in UK and rest exchange/withdraw local using sterling notes/ATM cards.   Sterling is accepted in banks for exchange, although if you have some US$ about.... many shops will accept those at a small premium (so long as notes are recent dated and not torn/damaged etc..).     

For meals - the guide normally will offer a standard group option and recommendations on other options.  But if people prefer to do their own thing - the guide will probably point you in the right direction of a good place.  Prices are again, quite cheap vs UK....   Beer is cheap in Vietnam.... "333" is one of the local brands.... a can is about £1-£1.50.

Options:

Ha Long - Last time there was a kayaking option around Halong Bay at sunset - exceptional !  If its available, do it!

Water Puppets - Oddly I didn’t do it last time I was in Hanoi, everyone else told me I'd missed out!  So I will defo be going this time.

My Son - Went last time, interesting place, but area was heavily bombed by Americans and not a lot left intact :-(   It a "work in progress" when it comes to restoration.  Personally I would pass.

Thanks Paul, very helpful.

They aren't cancelling any tours to Vietnam yet, but I do wonder what it's actually like travelling there at the moment.

A friend of mine has just had their Vietnam cruise next week cancelled because of it, but a friend of theirs is there currently and have a brilliant time.

Just have to keep watching it unfold I guess...

I managed to get confirmation of the hotels. Much as expected.

 

 

Day

City

Hotel

Web address

1

Hanoi

Lan Vien hotel

www.lanvienhotel.com.vn

2

Hanoi

Lan Vien hotel

www.lanvienhotel.com.vn

3

Halong

Overnight boat

 

4

Hanoi

Lan Vien hotel

www.lanvienhotel.com.vn

5

Hoian

Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa

http://www.hoianriverresort.com

6

Hoian

Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa

http://www.hoianriverresort.com

7

Hoian

Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa

http://www.hoianriverresort.com

8

HCMC

Sila Urban Living

www.silaliving.com

9

HCMC

Sila Urban Living

www.silaliving.com

10

Cantho

TTC Can Tho

www.ttchotels.com

11

HCMC

Sila Urban Living

www.silaliving.com

12

Siem Reap

Tara Angkor hotel  

https://www.taraangkorhotel.com/

13

Siem Reap

Tara Angkor Hotel

https://www.taraangkorhotel.com/

14

 

End

 

Just a few weeks to go now.... I just did my Vietnam visa (as my flights depart Hanoi so I need to fly REP > HAN and "enter" Vietnam again - hence the need for a multiple entry visa in lieu of visa free entry :-(   £97.    But it was super easy - just walked in, handed over the form (and passport) and paid at the next window.... 3 days they say until its posted back to me.

I hear the group flight arrives around 11.30AM into HAN on the 6th - I'm flying in with Emirates and dont land until 1.15PM I think.... so I probably wont be on the group transfer and will appear instead at the welcome briefing :-)

We are on the group flights with Singapore Airlines so have no need to re-enter Vietnam as we fly from Siem to Singapore. We therefore qualify for visa free entry. Haven't applied for Cambodia visas yet as we are waiting to see how the coronavirus goes. If it spreads in the UK as is feared, Vietnam are likely to refuse us entry as they have with Italy.

Our flights are due in around 11.30am so yes, we will catch up at the briefing.

Still not quite sure what life in Vietnam is like at the moment. I know that tourist attractions are open again, and should be relatively queit without the Chinese, but will we have to wear masks all the time? Will we be checked where ever we go? Do we need to stock up on hand gel and wipes (if we can find any).

It's going to be interesting!

Oh dear..... a fresh COVID19 case in Hanoi today.... someone who just returned from Italy....

I really hope the number of cases in the UK doesnt skyrocket - otherwise I can see Vietnam adopting the same restrictions as they do for travellers from Italy.... i.e. if in UK for past 14 days - no entry to Vietnam :-(

....irony is today I got my passport back with my Vietnam visa in it.

On FCO site today:

"On 8 March, the Vietnamese Government announced plans to suspend the visa waiver programme for UK and other European nationals. This change could be implemented at very short notice. British citizens planning to enter Vietnam on the visa waiver programme should check before travelling."

I thought you already had your visa for Vietnam.

The FCO website says that you can apply for a 15 day e-visa. That may be an option if there is time.

No new eVisas being issued...  http://vietnamembassy.org.uk/index.php?action=p&ct=Notice1

Its all very confusing atm.... will my visa be valid or not?  I emailed the embassy to ask....... all in all its looking negative :-(

It's all a bit vague. Is the UK considered to be a country where the virus is spreading at this time?

Yes, very vague atm.... I think I heard the news before Exodus did, when I spoke to them they seemed surprised at this turn of events.... and I think need time to check the details with the local operator.

As it stands I think *I* am ok to enter Vietnam, but many would select the "visa on arrival" option - and if that is closed and new new visas are being issues - the trip may not have viable numbers to run anyway.....

I'll have to await the call from Exodus to find out......

All in all quite depressing.... was really looking forward to it (even 1/2 packed my suitcase already lolz).

Just seen on the news that Vietnam has now withdrawn our visa free entry.

I wonder how any e-visa application will be viewed......

by now you should have got the email from Exodus about going for a visa (eVisa or full)..... however, I should mention that on the Vietnam UK embassy website they have a "COVID 19" notice that says (among other things):

"Vietnam also temporarily stops issuing e-Visa for foreigners who are in or have recently visited areas where Covid-19 is spreading."

I mentioned this to Exodus, but it does seem at present the eVisa app process is still working - if this message was a mistake by the embassy or a 'heads up' of an incoming change I dont know...

Personally, I already have a paper visa but I were applying again I would get the "paper" visa now 100% either via Travcour or direct if you can (Travcour is £50 per visa on top, and the form is very simple to fill in for the embassy - save yourself cash and go direct.)

Confusion all round it seems...... one thing for sure, if we do make it to the holiday start date, we'll all have stories to tell about the "great Vietnam visa caper". :-)

NOTICE ON COVID 19

10 March 2020

From 0:00 am (UK time) the 12 of March, Vietnam temporarily stops the 15-day visa exemption for people holding British normal passports. Nationals of the UK must have valid visa in order to enter Vietnam.

Beause of covid -19 outbreak in some countries in Europe, the Embassy of Vietnam in London for the time being will not accept requests for visa processing until further notice. Only applicants with visa approval letter from the Immigration Department of Vietnam can apply for visa issuance from the Embassy.

For those who wish to travel to Vietnam, they need to contact with their Vietnamese sponsors/tour-operators for arrangement of their visas with the Immigration Department of Vietnam. Once they get the visa approval letter from the Immigration Department, they can contact Vietnam Embassy for the issuance of their visas.

^ Hopefully Exodus has some sway with this gov department in Vietnam to get this approval........ :-(

We thought this might happen. In Exodus's court now. Let's wait and see......

Reading other posts on the forum it seems a few people got caught by the sudden visa policy change in Vietnam and trips have been cancelled.....  these are March departures only I think.

I guess that Exodus are trying to work out for April trips:

a) who might already have a "paper" visa that Vietnam would honour and;
b) Whether they can get this "exemption" letter for our departure (and others) to allow time for new visas to be applied for/issued.

I guess its all down to the minimum viable numbers needed to run the trip.......

Guess we will know in the next 48 hours or so.....

I said to my Wife last night that some of the March trips had disappeared. We assumed they been cancelled as there was not enough time to arrange visas.

I thought we may have had an update from Exodus just to advise what is going on. With the increases in virus cases over here I would be surprised if they issued any more visas. Hey ho.

"As of 11 March 2020, there is increased disruption and restrictions on British nationals visiting Vietnam. British travellers to Vietnam report uncertainty about the impact of these new restrictions even for those with valid visas.

We understand that the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security has stopped processing e-visa applications for people coming from or in transit through coronavirus hit areas. This is in addition to the suspension of Vietnam’s visa waiver programme for UK citizensfrom 12 March 2020. Anyone travelling ahead of that time should check with their airline in advance as a precaution.

The Vietnamese Embassy in London will cease processing visa applications with effect of 12 March 2020 until further notice. There is uncertainty around the replacement process and timeline for such applications. Anyone planning to travel to Vietnam is advised to get a visa before booking flights.

British citizens arriving in Vietnam will be required to fill in a health questionnaire and undertake basic health tests on arrival. False declarations regarding health history could lead to prosecution."

I guess it must be chaos over at Exodus HQ today..... countries all over the place are closing their borders in response to COVID 19.  India today.... it must be affecting dozens of departures.....    I just hope we get an update soon either way...   
Hopefully Exodus's corp insurance covers them for this sort of unexpected thing - otherwise I can see this costing Exodus a lot of cash :-(

I agree, and it's only going to get worse. Who knows what today's COBRA meeting will produce.

Still, I'd of thought that a quick communication from Exodus following the latest visa announcement would have helped, even just to say that they are looking into it.

The last e-mail said to apply for a visa, but nothing since.

I am booked on to this trip. I managed to get hold of Exodus today via their Live Chat as they are not replying to my emails. They said it was still possible to get a visa but they are not 100% sure of the process for doing so. Then they said information will be sent out to people on trips to Vietnam within the next 24 hours. I was half-way through applying for an e-visa on Tuesday when I received an email from them telling me not to do that and to await their instructions. I am more hesitant than excited about this trip now.

I am booked on to this trip. I managed to get hold of Exodus today via their Live Chat as they are not replying to my emails. They said it was still possible to get a visa but they are not 100% sure of the process for doing so. Then they said information will be sent out to people on trips to Vietnam within the next 24 hours. I was half-way through applying for an e-visa on Tuesday when I received an email from them telling me not to do that and to await their instructions. I am more hesitant than excited about this trip now.

another thing to consider - is if the tourist sites in Vietnam will even be OPEN for the trip dates.  As it stands HaLong cruising (one of the main highlights) is CLOSED to new tourists and will be until the end of March (will that continue into April ?).

tbh - they way this is all looking, I'd rather they just get on and cancel it now, so I can replan a new holiday towards the end of the year.

I feel sorry for Exodus being dumped into all of this - at a minimum they will not make the expected profits on the trips - but who knows... maybe their suppliers cant/wont refund them and they might lose a lot of cash over this instead.....

Update from the embassy today

"From 12:00 (Vietnamese time) the 15 of March 2020, Vietnam will temporarily impose the following suspension:

1. Entry into Vietnam of foreigners including Vietnamese people holding foreign passports who reside in or have traveled to the Schengen area and the UK in the past 14 days.

2. Visa upon arrival.

This suspension does not apply to diplomatic and official passport holders.

 

....what the response would be if I emailed the Vietnam embassy and asked for my £97 visa fee back lolz.

When we get confirmation that the tour is cancelled you should most definately ask for your money back. They have effectivley revoked your visa.

Well we didnt make this trip (no fault of Exodus) and when the options came in I immediatly though the eVoucher would be for me - as I am going to rebook this same trip for a different date (thinking October.... really all depends on what happens next with the virus).

I think Exodus would also appreciate this from a cashflow pov.  I did check if the eVoucher was still a protected fund (i.e. refundable if the worst should happen to Exodus) and I was told it was.... but I also paid my balance via credit card so either way should be fine.

Here's to Vietnam in late 2020 or early 2021 !!

We had pretty much the same idea. We knew that we still wanted to do this tour, but could not commit to a date due to the uncertainty. The e-voucher seemed the best bet, particularly with the 10% uplift (more than we can get on savings at the moment).

We may not end up doing this until 2021 as, virus willing, we already have plans for later this year.

Hope you eventually enjoy the tour. In the meantime, stay safe  

 

 

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