Recently Fired? Why not Escape to Vietnam?

Vietnam is a great place to visit in Southeast Asia. If you’ve recently lost your job and are watching your budget, you’ll find Vietnam a very affordable place to stay for a good while and soak up asian culture.

Delicious and healthy pho is plentiful from a variety of street vendors at prices that are a steal. Vietnam is also known for a special type of “egg coffee”. I ate most meals in Hanoi for a price of around $1 to $2. Good luck finding meals for that price in the US! Vietnam is a destination that promises fun, affordability, and culture.

Pho for lunch in Hanoi, Vietnam
Coffee in Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnamese Egg Coffee at a charming little cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam.

If you’re an American that has traveled abroad to several countries you’ll know that there’s a good list of countries Americans can visit with no visa. They will typically allow you to arrive and simply fill out visa on arrival paperwork and you’ll be on your way through the immigration gates to explore a new world. 

Getting a Vietnam VISA

The Vietnam visa process is a bit more complicated. If you’ve done a bit of research online, you may be asking yourself “How do I get a Vietnam Visa on arrival?”

My initial research seemed to provide some conflicting answers so I’ll break out your options clearly. Here’s an overview based on my experience and a fair amount of research to combat the confusion.

Hanoi Streets
The Streets of Hanoi are lively and busy

From my research, I discovered you have two main recommended choices on how to go about getting your Vietnam Visa.

One Country. Two recommended Visa Options

Visa Options for Vietnam

  1. Get an E-Visa

    For many, the best option is to first get an E-Visa. You need to go to the official Vietnam embassy website to get an e-visa. This can take a few days. 

    It’s relatively simple and will cost you just $25 for the e-visa. (It’s worth noting that there are several companies (some reputable some not) that have websites that seem to misrepresent themselves as representing Vietnam.)

    The above site is the true Vietnam embassy site and the only one qualified to issue an e-visa directly. It seems like a great option as long as you have time. If you’re in a hurry, then you may want to consider the “visa on arrival” option below.

  2. Visa on Arrival

    The alternative option is the Visa on Arrival option. If you aren’t a planner and your trip is in a day or two, you’ll probably need to do this option.
    To get a visa on arrival, you’ll need a letter of approval from a travel company and pick up your visa at the airport. You’ll want to work with a company that can get you a letter of approval very quickly, often within one day depending on the company. There are several sites and companies that provide this service. See below for my experience using one.

    Disclaimer: It’s also possible to go to the Vietnam embassy in your home country but I’ve been advised that this method can actually be quite costly. E-Visa is my method of choice.

Getting a Letter of Approval Notes

For option two,”visa on arrival”, there are a variety of sites that can assist with option three. With this option, you’ll pay a fee that varies for your approval letter. And then you’ll also need to pay for your visa on arrival.

This is the best option if you don’t have much time. This means after disembarking from the plane you’ll go to the visa area and you’ll probably need to wait a bit for them to review your letter of approval then process and issue the visa. 

You’ll need to pay $25US or $520,000 Dong to get your actual visa. In my experience, we needed to wait about 30 minutes to get the visa processed and then we were free to head out and explore the exciting things to do in Hanoi

My experience with getting a letter of approval

We chose Vietnam Visa Pro to get our letter of approval. The approval letter really just acts as a sort of required first step to getting your visa on arrival. I’m not being compensated for this review so it’s unbiased. 

The price was good. I got expedited service to get the letter of approval in a day for around $11. It came the next day in an email by PDF.

It should be noted there are several companies that run websites that do this. These sites aren’t government organizations but rather they are companies that are qualified to create your approval letter to make you eligible to get your Visa on arrival. You can’t get a visa on arrival without an approval letter so it’s a necessary step for the third option

Getting Around in Vietnam

It’s worth noting that as of December 2018, Uber is no longer available in South East Asia, including Vietnam. A nice alternative we discovered is Grab which is an Uber-like service. Sign up for Grab here, and get discounted rides. Or you can simply type in referral code: grabqnjfwbw4

Experiencing Vietnam Culture at Home

If you’re currently not up for the challenge of the long flight to get to Vietnam but still would like to try their amazing coffee, you can purchase it on Amazon here:

Once you have this you can easily make some Vietnamese style egg coffee by following instructions on youtube. Here’s a good tutorial. 

If you speak Chinese, here’s a great page to get info on the Vietnam Visa process.

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