Communications & business hours
About Vietnam information, Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight saving time.
Communication fees in Vietnam are quite high but impeccable. You can use pre-paid card phone services for your hand phone, the sim card costs around 15 US$. Prepaid card costs 100,000, 300.000 and 500.000 VND.
The best International rates are from the post offices that have a pay per call service and a fax service. The central post offices in Hanoi , Saigon and Hue also accept calling cards from various international telecommunications companies. It is not possible to make collect calls from Vietnam .
For lower cost, dial 171+00+ number you want.
Internet and e-mail services are readily available in most major places throughout the country. Some hotels will have this service available and there are many Internet cafes in the major areas. The speed of your connection will vary however depending on the time of day. Average charge for Internet usage is around 4.000 VND per hour in cyber cafe internet.
Several hotels for business travelers in Hanoi and Saigon are equipped internet with high speed access in business center and in room guest.
Government offices and banks are open Monday to Friday. The banks close at 3:30 p.m. If you need to visit a government office do not do it during lunch periods. These usually last 1 to 2 hours. Post offices are open 7 days a week.
Most shops will be open until around 9 p.m. Snacks and bars will close around midnight however there a few new nightclubs in Hanoi and Saigon that stay open into the wee hours.
Shopping in Vietnam
Souvenirs to look out for in Vietnam include lacquer ware, silk, conical hats, woodcarvings, hill tribe fabrics and handicrafts, embroidery, marble, ceramics, silver jewelry, antique watches and paintings. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping but Hoi An in the Centre of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains.
The national electricity system is 220 volts. Connections are either a round two-pin plug or a flat two-pin plug. Beware if you are using electrical appliances and laptop computers, as there are power surges and frequent power cuts.
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in these developing nations. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped.
Vietnamese people are very gracious, polite and generous and will make every effort to have foreign guests feel comfortable. Most cafes and restaurants will have knives and forks as well as chopsticks for example. In the city’s and country towns alike do not be surprised to be invited home to meet someone’s family you have just met, these are the experiences that will enrich your visit to Vietnam.
From the workers simple outfits in the rice fields to western style business suits in the city, the Vietnamese are conservative in their dress. Visitors wearing shorts are tolerated, unless you enter a culturally sensitive area such as a temple or pagoda. Keep in mind that, although tolerant, people may be judgmental.
Unfortunately you can not expect hospitality at every turn and you may still experience some problems with petty theft and pick pockets. This is more prevalent in Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon ) and Nha Trang. In other areas, especially in the north, reports of these activities are extremely minimal. It is not something to be paranoid about but be aware of your surroundings. Below is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you avoid some of the social taboos during your visit. Take heed of these pointers and you will be rewarded with a culturally and socially enriching experience.
Taking photographs of anything to do with the military, airports, police etc. is prohibited. When taking photographs of local people, especially the older folk it is polite to ask their permission first and respect their wishes. We recommend you to develop photos in Vietnam for cheap price but high quality.