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Travelling by Rail

Vietnam & Cambodia Useful Information

PASSPORT
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Vietnam and Cambodia. Entry is normally refused if you have a damaged passport or pages missing. We recommend that you take with you at least 2 photocopies of your passport and visa (see below).

VISA
Until 30 June 2021 ‘British Citizen’ passport holders travelling for tourism or business can enter Vietnam for up to a maximum of 15 days without a visa. If you have a different type of British nationality – for example ‘British national (overseas)’- you’ll need to get a visa or an e-visa before entering Vietnam.

Entering Cambodia from Vietnam
You can get a visa on arrival in Cambodia from Vietnam. Cost of the Visa is currently $30 plus a $7 administration charge and you will require a passport photo

CLIMATE
Northern Vietnam
Northern Vietnam (from Hue up North) the temperature ranges from 5-6C in winter to up to 35C in summer. The further North it is, the colder it gets. In mountainous regions in the far North (such as Sapa) the temperature sometimes drops below zero. Rainy months are August, October, November. February and March have persistent, light, drizzling rain.
Central Vietnam
Temperatures are high all year round. The temperature tends to be warmer and more humid than the South in the middle of the year and cooler during the dry season from November to April. Flooding may occur from October to December.
Southern Vietnam
Has a distinct dry season (from November to April) and wet season (from May to October). Average temperature ranges from 25-30C. During wet months, heavy and short downpours may occur in mid-afternoons.
Cambodia
The climate can generally be described as tropical. As the country is affected by monsoon, it is hot and humid with an overage temperature around 27.C (80.F). There are two distinct seasons: the Rainy Season and the Dry Season. However, the Dry Season is divided into two sub-seasons, cool and hot. These seasons are the rainy season from June till October 27-35.C (80-95.f); The Dry season (cool) from November till February 17-27.C (80-95.F); The Dry season (Hot) from March till May 29-38.C (84-100.F)

TIME DIFFERENCE
Vietnam and Cambodia are both 7 hours ahead of GMT.

CURRENCY
The local currency is Vietnam Dong (VND), but US dollars are also accepted. It is almost impossible to change VND into US dollars without a flight ticket showing your onward destination.

The Riel is the official currency of Cambodia. Most hotels and many restaurants and shops set their prices in US dollars. Small transactions (less than a dollar) are usually done in riel. Always carry some small riel for motorcycle taxis, snacks, beggars and other small purchases.

Only change money at official money exchange counters or banks, your local representative will advise of these. Changing money elsewhere is illegal and while higher rate may be on offer you may risk losing your money. US dollars can be used and we recommended you take smaller denominations. Most places will refuse old, tatty or damaged US bills when receiving US dollars. Inspect the bills carefully as the tiniest tear in a large US note renders it worthless. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but outside main centres you may find cash the only acceptable currency. It may be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques so we do not advise taking them. Do not exchange all of your cash into the local currency at one time as it is difficult to change back to foreign currency and will often be an unattractive exchange rate.

ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas in Vietnam. ATMs are not widely available in Cambodia and smaller towns and villages in Vietnam, so if you plan to travel to outskirts, it is advisable to carry US Dollar bills in small denominations.

Credit Cards are accepted by most banks or some upscale hotels and restaurants and shops and you will pay 2 – 4% fee.

WHAT TO WEAR?
Lightweight cotton and wool fabrics will be comfortable at any time of year, generally shorts are inappropriate anywhere but a beach resort and you will look out of place on the streets of most cities.
Winter (November to April) can be cool in Hanoi, and a coat may be necessary. During rainy season the rain is often short (20-30 minutes) and sometimes quite sudden here you will find an umbrella is more convenient than a rain coat.
A jacket or jumper may be needed in hotels and restaurants using excessive air-conditioning. A hat and high-factor sun block is advisable as protection against the hot sun when sightseeing.
When visiting temples or pagodas, including those of Angkor Wat, shorts and T-shirts are acceptable. Shoes are generally removed at the entrance to pagodas.
For visits to the Silver Pagoda, which is within the Royal Palace grounds, visitors are asked to dress more formally. Gentlemen are required to wear long trousers and ladies should wear long trousers or long skirts.
Practically every hotel has laundry service, which is usually quite inexpensive. While we try and keep walking to a minimum it is important to have a pair of comfortable shoes or trainers.

HEALTH EQUIPMENT
Firstly please do not forget to bring suitable items with your travelling purpose: Sunglasses, broad-brimmed hat, sun cream and mosquito repellents. It is advisable you take the prescription medicines you take every day, making sure you have enough to last during your trip. Keep them in their original prescription bottles and always in your carry-on luggage. Be sure to follow security guidelines, if the medicines are liquids. It is also advisable to take Iodine tablets AND antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

It is recommended that visitors check with their doctor or a travel immunization clinic to get advice or vaccination regarding protection. Good mosquito repellents and a strict regime is recommended.

TAXI
Taxis with meters are available in most big cities. The current price is about US$ 0.5 per kilometre. Most metered taxi drivers can speak a little English.

ELECTRICAL CURRENT
110-220 volts 50hz A.C
Plug types: Two-pin plugs, both flat pin and round pin
Three-pin UK-style 13-amp plugs
A European-type adapter is recommended.

TELEPHONE
Long distance calls in Vietnam should be made at post offices, hotels or telephone booths (phone cards are available at post offices). Normally, hotels will get 15-20% service charge of the bill.
Internet phone is an alternative choice and much cheaper, with around 0,1USD/minute to Europe or America.
Prepaid mobile phone sim cards are very popular and cheap everywhere (0.08 USD / minute for domestic calls. Vietnam cell-phone networks are GSM and Vietnam operators have roaming agreement with most countries in the world.
Telephone networks in Cambodia consists of satellite, landlines, cellular, GSM and radio systems which connect Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battambang, Kompong Cham and other provinces internationally.
International dialling can be done at main postal offices, private business centres or hotel or at public phone booths, which can be found at postal office, main streets, petrol stations, major restaurants, hotels etc. However, it is quite expensive for an IDD call approx. $3 per minute. If you want a lower rate and clear sound is not a factor, there are many Internet cafés offering International calling for a price less than $0.10 per minute to most developed countries.

INTERNET
Internet cafes with ADSL can be found easily in Vietnam. Surprisingly the cost for an hour is as very cheap at around 0,2US$. In Cambodia the prices are around $1 per hour.

FOOD & DRINK
Vietnamese and Cambodian style of cooking commonly uses fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. Recipes utilize a diverse range of herbs, including lemongrass, mint, long coriander and Thai basil leaves. Traditional cooking is greatly admired for freshness of the ingredients and for the healthy eating style. The most common meats used are beef, pork, chicken, fish, and various kinds of seafood. Both countries also have a strong vegetarian tradition influenced by Buddhist values.

Bottled water and mineral water are obtainable at any shops in most cities. It is advisable to drink boiled water and not to drink ice and tap water.

TIPPING
Tipping is expected in both Vietnam and Cambodia. A tip for good service might be about 5% of the bill in a reataurant. For hotel housekeepers a recommended 1 or 2 US Dollars a day and for a porter 1 US Dollar per bag. For tour guides it is suggested 3 to 5 US Dollars per day.

BARGINING
Bargaining is a way of life in much of South East Asia. Shops don’t always have fixed prices so the shopkeeper will start with a high price which you are then expected to bargain down until you reach a fair price.
Bargaining should always be relaxed and can be a lot of fun but you should remember that it is considered disrespectful to agree a price but then walk away.

CONSULAR SERVICES
British Consulate-General Ho Chi Minh City
25 Le Duan Street,
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Telephone +84 (0)8 3825 1380
Email consularenquiries.vietnam@fco.gov.uk
Office opening hours:
Monday to Thursday: 8:30am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 4:45pm
Friday: 8.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3.00pm

British Embassy Phnom Penh
27-29 Street 75,
Sangkat Srah Chak,
Khan Daun Penh
Phnom Penh
12201
Cambodia
Telephone +855 (0)23 427 124
Email Consular.Enquiriesphnompenh@fco.gov.uk
Office opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

GENERAL DOs AND DON’Ts FOR VIETNAM & CAMBODIA
DOs
• Greetings are no different to western countries, there are no cultural formalities that as a foreigner you would be expected to know or practice. People dress conservatively despite the heat, it is best not to show off too much skin.
• Drink plenty of bottled water, especially when walking around sightseeing. No need to carry huge bottles around with you, a vendor is never far away and no doubt they will find you before you find them. During the summer months you should be drinking a minimum of two litres per day. If you drink tea, coffee & alcohol you should increase you water intake accordingly as these will help to dehydrate you.
• Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Most 4-star hotels have in-room safe, otherwise ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility.
• Take a hotel business card from the reception desk before venturing out from your hotel. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi or cyclo much easier.
• Carry a roll of toilet paper in your daypack on long excursions from your base hotel. You never know when you might need it!
• If invited into a home, always remove your shoes at the front door when entering.
• Ask for permission when taking a photograph of someone. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes.

DON’Ts
• Never carry more money than you need when walking around the streets.
• Do not wear large amounts of jewellery. There are two reasons for not doing this:
1. It is considered impolite to flaunt wealth in public.
2. It is more likely that you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatcher.
• Don’t be paranoid about your security; just be aware of your surroundings.
• Don’t wear singlets, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive.
• Avoid giving empty water bottles, sweets and pens to the local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages. You cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner, and the people have no access to dental health. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community.
• Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone’s house.
• Never lose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanour and you will be reciprocated with the same.
• Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.
• Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages as they are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.
• Physical displays of affection between lovers in public are frowned upon. That’s why you may come across couples holding hands but not hugging or kissing.
• Do not carry your passport. Leave it in the safe in your hotel when possible. A photocopy will suffice if local law states that you need to.