Home VietnamHanoi Getting a Visa to Vietnam: Don’t Make the Mistakes I Did!

Getting a Visa to Vietnam: Don’t Make the Mistakes I Did!

by Krista
Get Vietnam Visa

How to get a Vietnam visa


Getting an eVisa for Vietnam Online and Preparing for Your Trip

Citizens from most Western countries including the US and UK can now apply for an e-visa for Vietnam through the official government portal.  (There are some Vietnam visa scams and bogus sites out there that claim to be the government site so be careful.) The Vietnam e-visa gets you a 30-day, single entry visa.  In September of 2018, I applied for a Vietnam eVisa through the government portal using my US passport and everything went swimmingly. It’s now November 2018 and I am updating this post from Nha Trang, Vietnam! When my flight landed from China in Nha Trang airport, I just queued up with my passport and the paper eVisa and waited my turn. The immigration officer reviewed my eVisa, stamped my passport, and then hand-wrote my visa’s expiration date in my passport. I’m keeping the paper copy of my Vietnam eVisa with my passport just in case I need it again. (Update: 28 days later, I left Vietnam and no one asked to see my paper eVisa.) In general, I found the Vietnam eVisa process easy so my review is very positive.

Please note that for some countries, there’s also visa-free travel for 15 days so please make sure you read the rules carefully.

Getting a Vietnam Visa on Arrival

If you don’t plan far enough in advance for an e-visa, you may need to go the “visa on arrival” route. This is where you receive your visa a the airport after registering your details with an embassy or 3rd party agent. Likewise, if you are from a country not on Vietnam’s list of e-visa countries or if you need a longer visa or are just more complicated, you may need to go the visa on arrival route. The rest of this post reviews my previous experience with Vietnam’s visa on arrival system.

Vietnam-eVisa.org Review for Visa on Arrival

For my original Vietnam visa on arrival, I used Vietnam eVisa.org and recommend them as a legitimate and relatively cheap vendor for visas on arrival. I know there are a number of reviews online that talk about visa scams, but my review is positive. I recommend making sure you get Fast Track or VIP Fast Track if you will be arriving at a peak traffic time. (Read on for more on this.) Vietnam-eVisa.org also offers extra services like airport cars, hotel reservations, and tours. (If your hotel doesn’t offer airport pickup, book a transfer to avoid the crazy bad Saigon airport chaos!) Another visa service that comes highly recommended and has positive reviews is Vietnam Visa Online; they offer Fast Track services and airport pickup, they are also fairly cheap, and if you email them, they respond very quickly.

Bear in mind that I applied for my Vietnam visa on arrival through Vietnam-eVisa.org as an American and so if you are of any other nationality, getting a visa for Vietnam 1. might not be necessary or 2. might be harder OR easier than what I describe below. Also note that visa rules have changed since my visit and will continue to change given the rapid increase in tourism to Vietnam.

OK, now for the full Vietnam-eVisa.org review of my visa on arrival experience…

Should I Get a Visa on Arrival in Vietnam? 

Although I loved my time in Vietnam, I learned a few hard lessons in the visa process. Lest you make the same mistakes I did, let me tell you about my visa situation first and then share some of my other mistakes in other posts.

There are two main ways to obtain a Vietnam visa for most people as I mention above: get an e-visa through the government portal or or go the “visa on arrival” (VOA) route. For various reasons, I needed to go for “visa on arrival” for Vietnam. I did some research and read some reviews, but apparently not enough. Because…


Have you ever tried to buy a train ticket at the train station in Italy while the Italians are striking? Go to a U.S. grocery store the morning of the Superbowl? Visit any post office around the world three days before Christmas? This is what it’s like to get a visa on arrival in Vietnam without paying for fast track. Do not do this to yourself. Really. Don’t. Let me give you the logistics and review of my experience.

Firstly, IF you go the “visa on arrival” route, you apply for your Vietnam visa approval letter online in advance through a 3rd party provider. I used Vietnam-evisa.org and I had a good experience and they seemed to be legitimate and not a scam.  Consider this my Vietnam-evisa.org review. I submitted my application online at 8:28 a.m. on Sunday, February 16th. I received my visa approval letter on Monday, February 17th at 4:26 a.m.  which was earlier than they told me to expect a response, which was nice. (They had said  Feb/18 at 18:00 GMT+7)

No matter what, you will need two passport photos. Get those in your offline world.

The Vietnam approval letter is a bit strange in that you will get a letter that includes your name and a bunch of other people’s names from all over the world. My inner stalker kinda wanted to try to find them all on Facebook. (Note that you can pay extra to get a private letter with no other names on it.) OK, no problem. I can print all that. HOWEVER, also in the e-mail was something I failed to review. It said…

This link is for you to download and write down visa form at Airport. (To see the form, go to Vietnam-eVisa,org, click Download Forms on the top right of the screen, and then look at Download Immigration Form entry and exit at the airport.)

Yeah, I didn’t do that. So when I finally got to the window (more on that in a bit), I got sent to the side because I hadn’t filled out the stupid form. But here’s the thing…because I had filled out “a” form on the Vietnam-evisa.org website, I thought I didn’t need to fill out another form that included similar information. Call me a dumbass. I am a dumbass.

Here’s the part that I REALLY totally regretted later. On Monday, February 17 2014 at 2:29 a.m., Vietnam-evisa.org emailed me and said this. (This is their English, just to be clear.)

Dear Sir/Madam:

Thanks for choosing http://www.vietnam-evisa.org/

After taking a long flight, do you feel very tired to get the line to get visa stamp at arrival airport?

You do not want to wait a long time at arrival airport to get line visa stamp, you want to get it ASAP and go to hotel to relax?

Many customers said that it is very uncomfortable to wait for a long time to get visa stamp because there are many people also get visa on arrival like them and it is also very hard to take back their passports because the differences about pronunciation

Many people is very confused at arrival airport in the first time they use visa on arrival because they don’t know where the Immigration Department counter to get visa stamp is

To avoid wasting your valuable time, especially after having a long flight or other personal reasons. We establish additional services to assist you at the airport when you arrived, and will bring to you with the  highest satisfy. You are welcome as highest VIP person, and you don’t need to get line for pick up visa stamp at the airport, let our staff do it for you.

We offer 2 options for you to chose, and let us do the rest for you:

A. Fast Track at the airport  

·         Fast Track: Welcome and help to get visa stamp without get line. More details

·         VIP Fast Track: Welcome and get visa stamp without get line at Immigration checking desk, then staff will escort you to luggage lounge and help you passing the customs checking counter, and after that we will take you to the car park. . More details

*** OK, back to me again ***

Yes! I was very tired! No, I didn’t want to get the line to get the visa stamp! No, I don’t want to wait a long time to get line visa stamp! Yes, I want to go to my hotel and relax! I want highest satisfy!!

But no…I didn’t pay for the Fast Track. I wasn’t highest VIP person. I did not use my personal reasons. I WAS NOT HIGHEST SATISFY!!!

Instead, I chose to STAB MYSELF IN THE EYES. In hindsight, I really wish I had paid for VIP Fast Track for my Vietnam Visa on Arrival. I also wish I had read the instructions more closely and printed out the relevant forms.

Vietnam Visa on Arrival Cost

Currently, Vietnam-evisa.org is charging $12 for normal processing of a one month single entry visa for US citizens. (Pricing could be different depending on your nationality.) Note that you will still have to pay the $25 stamping fee at the airport.

Why You Should Pay for VIP Fast Track for Your Vietnam Visa On Arrival

OK, so I got off my flight from Singapore in Ho Chi Minh Airport and me and a million elderly French hikers and a dozen or two total stoners in flowy pants and flip flops from all over the world all tried to get visas on arrival at the same time. Just like in Italy during a train strike or at a U.S. grocery store before the Superbowl or that day when you decide to go to the post office THREE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS. It was chaos. I was lucky in that I had most of my information ready and got up to the window relatively quickly…but that’s when I learned I didn’t have that stupid form (it’s the N1 form for Vietnam visa) so I had to go fill that out, bring it back and wonder how the two guys behind the window kept track of everything.

And then I had to wait. And wait. And wait.

Then I had to listen to the poor Vietnamese woman try to pronounce all these Western names. And you know, the French only respond when you pronounce correctly, so that worked REALLY well (sarcasm font).

Tip: Make sure the back of your passport is easily recognizable. I’ve been a member of Global Entry for a long time, so I have the old CBP sticker on the back of my passport, along with a lot of general airline security stickers. The only thing that kept me sane was seeing my passport there on the desk and knowing that I was just waiting for them to call my name.

90 minutes later, I had everything I needed and the immigration queues had died down enough that I slipped quickly through. But they were a very painful 90 minutes and I really regret not paying the extra money for VIP Fast Track or regular Fast Track. Also, by the time I got through to baggage claim, my suitcase was one of five sitting next to our baggage claim. Everything else — and everybody else — was gone.

So…Should you get a “Visa on Arrival” in Vietnam? YES! BUT…please please please pay extra for Vietnam E-visa.org Fast Track or VIP Fast Track. Alternatively, try Vietnam Visa Online and ask them about Fast Track as well. This way, when you get off the plane, it is all taken care of and all you need to do is get your luggage. If I give you nothing in life, let my vietnam-evisa.org review give you this. UNLESS YOU WANT ME TO STAB YOU IN THE EYES. (That is a joke. I would never stab anyone and especially not in the eyes.)

Or, well bring a good book.

All the Necessary Vietnam Links

In short, here are all the links you should check out for your trip to Vietnam:

eVisa for Vietnam

Visa on Arrival for Vietnam

Vietnam Guidebooks

The country is changing rapidly so as soon as you’ve read my evisa and vietnam-evisa.org reviews, buy a guidebook! Something published in 2017, 2018, or 2019 please.

Vietnam Tours

Check out Urban Adventures for food and motorbike tours in Hanoi, Saigon, Hoi An, Hue, and Nha Trang. (And see my post on my favorite Saigon tours over here.)

Travel Insurance

You Might Enjoy My Other Posts

Pin It for Later!

Book a Tour in Vietnam

This post contains affiliate links. 

You may also like


s 2014 -

Long time lurker, but never commented before. I have to say I was sorry to hear about your experience with not reading the fine print and the subsequent cost to your sanity, but I was laughing so hard reading this post that I almost peed my pants.

Krista 2014 -

Hah hah! I live to entertain! Thanks for lurking!

ToDeCo 2014 -

Sorry for what you have experienced in getting visa on arrival. But it is not always like that. The situations are diefferent on different days. Many customers of my company got visa on arrival very quickly with no problem.

Krista 2014 -

No worries! It was all part of the experience!!

Catherine 2014 -

I booked with vietnam-evisa.org to and didn’t notice that link in their email either!! Have just printed it now for my trip next week, you’re a life saver. Also just purchased their fast track service cos it sounds like hell otherwise 😛
Thanks again, Cat

Krista 2014 -

Glad I could be of service! Enjoy your trip!

Vegetarian Tourist 2014 -

Krista- I did visa on arrival as well, but I don’t remember my experience to be quite as horrible. I do remember having to wait a bit for my passport, but I was sweating bullets for another reason. Read my visa story here!!!


Krista 2014 -

Ah, the dreaded “must have four blank pages” in your passport rule! I just ran out on my 2nd set. Chicago’s passport office fixed me up with a 3rd set same day!! Also good to know…if your passport is going to expire within six months of traveling, some airlines may not let you on.

VietnamVisaonline 2015 -

Thank you for you information you provided. Currently, applying for Vietnam Visa on arrival is the most convenient and fastest way to get visa for Vietnam. In additon, thanks to the new lower visa stamping fee was applied since November 23rd, the total cost for Vietnam visa on arrival will be cut down up to 47%. Check out the information at: http://www.newswire.com/press-release/vietnam-visa-com-visa-stamping-fee-officially-decreased.

Alex 2016 -

I used a different online company and had no problems at all. So because you missed the one step of filling out the form, the whole e-Visa thing was not a good experience? It’s actually a lot better than sending your passport off to who-knows-where to get it approved, not to mention less expensive.

Krista 2016 -

It was more than just missing the form. It was the fact that I waited about two hours to get my visa on arrival!! I understand my experience was a bit unusual but it was VERY painful.

Tina 2016 -

Hi Alex, what online company did you go through and were there clear direction at the airport telling you where to go?

John 2016 -

I travel often to Vietnam. And at the very first time to the country, I also got problem as I thought it was the same to get visa on arrival to Vietnam and to Cambodia. But actually, it was completely different =))

Teresa 2016 -

You are hilarious. Love what you wrote:-)
I’ve been there and done that too.
This time I’m going for the VIP service. Can’t wait to see what that’s like …lol.
Hopefully everything as they’ve described.
However I must say….be careful when you read their replies. They said to confirm my date otherwise there’s no refund. Thankfully they’ve made a mistake on my date of arrival ( 2 days after)!!!.
So read everything twice …and good luck travellers:-)

Krista 2016 -

Thank you, Teresas! I do try to entertain!!

TNN 2016 -

Thank you for posting this. It has been very helpful and I just used the first company you spoke of with Fast Track. I didn’t purchase the airport pickup though, will that create any problems?

Krista 2016 -

I don’t think you really need airport pickup as long as you know what you’re doing and know how to get to your hotel!

Anubhav Raikar 2016 -

Thank you! I am a VIP now 😀

Krista 2017 -

Awesome! Enjoy your trip!

Marc 2017 -

I enjoyed the misery you described, OOPS!! I mean, thank you for the advice. I wonder if 3 years later it is still such a hassle…Anyway, I wish to inform you, Krista, and all the good people of the world who expand their horizons and knowledge by travel, in Russia, three, two, one day before Christmas, there is little activity at the post office! IF it is open during the ten-day New Year’s holiday, no one would be sending anything as Russian Orthodox Christmas is not the consumer orgy it has become in the rest of the Christian world. It is a holy day, no “celebration” other than going to the church at 10:00 PM until 2: or 3: in the morning.If 30 degrees or minus 30, we have a candle procession outside, usually walking all the way around the church.

Comments are closed.