An idiots guide to getting an Indian visa in Vietnam, Hanoi

On our year-long travel we are visiting India. Due to the way the Indian Government issues visas we had to wait till we were nearer India before getting one. The Indian visa starts when issued. This mean the day you get the visa it starts. I came across information online that it was easy to get a visa in Hanoi for India. Due to the fact there are not many Indians living in Vietnam, unlike Malaysia where we were going to get it.

Filling in the online forms

The first step is to go to the Indian Government online visa application website which is at India visa online https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/

Once you go to this gateway you need to follow the steps in filling out the online application. They ask a lot of questions and it does take a while to complete. There were some questions that threw me, such as what was your last visa number for India. The last time I visited India was 1990 so that passport and visa number were long gone. I found out all you need to do is fill in the number they ask for with all zeros. You also tell the visa officer at the consulate what you have done and they make a notation on the hard copy of your application.

Double check you have filled in your application correctly, you can save drafts as your given a unique number to log back into your application. This means you do not have to do it all in one sitting. Once you have correctly filled in your application print out a hard copy to take along to the consulate in Hanoi. You also need to upload an electronic passport photo with a white background. We did this with our iPhone and it was accepted. You also need to take along a passport photo to the consulate. The dimensions for the photo size are on the website.

The following is a link to help in submitting and filling an Indian online visa application: Indian online visa guidelines for filling in and submitting an application.

Once you have done the online application you need to go to the Hanoi Indian Consulate.

Where is the Indian Consulate in Hanoi

The Indian Embassy in Hanoi‘s physical address is: 58-60 Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam and their phone number is +84 4 3824 4998. It is not far from the Old Quarter in Hanoi. It took us about 15 minutes to walk from our hotel to the embassy.

What next?

After you have done your online application and printed out the form. You need to gather all the information and make photocopies. You also have to give an address in India, we booked a place in India on arrival and used that address and printed out our reservation. There was no problem. We also printed out our flights in and out of India. The embassy opening hours as I recall are 9.30 till 11.30 in the morning. We got their first thing and were the only ones there. We waited a few minutes and then had a short interview with the visa officer. He asked a few questions about where we were going and how long we were going for. We then paid him US$65 each, the price for Canadian and New Zealand citizens. The price varies depending on your nationality. We got a receipt and told to come back a few days later at 11.30 to pick up our passport and visa. It takes around 3-5 days. A couple of things to remember is that the embassy closed in the afternoons for visas and they only accept US dollars.

We went back on the day and time told and were given six month visas.

Recap

Complete online application form – printed and signed.
One passport photo attached to application form
Copies of flight in and out
Copy of reservation at hotel when you first arrive
65 US dollars (Canadian and kiwi’s)
Passport

It takes 3-5 working days. Good luck.

Our big fat Greek Wedding and how Debbie almost became a widow twice

John:

This month is our ninth wedding anniversay. How time flies by. Only seems yesterday we were on a clifftop in Greece getting married.

Originally posted on JohnandDebbieRTWadventure:

Debbie and I were married in May 2006 on the island of Zante in Greece. I met my future wife on a blind date which she did not know about through our friends Mike and Brian in Brighton. They had tried to set us up twice before but we were unable to meet for various reasons and it was third time lucky. I was working in Amsterdam at the time and over for a short visit. A few years later after going back and forth to Holland many times we were on our way to Greece to get married. The decision to get married in Greece was because neither of us wanted to get married in our own countries, Canada or New Zealand. We chose Greece as we had fond memories of the country and wanted somewhere we both liked and Greece fitted that criteria.

The paperwork

Debbie initially tried…

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An idiots guide on how to get a Vietnamese Visa?

We decided to get our visa for Vietnam while we were in Thailand. I also decided to write this blog because I bumped into so many people that were clueless about the Vietnam Visa process. There is always the Vietnam Embassy in your country, however, the online process is quite simple.

What is the process?

The process for getting a Vietnamese visa is relatively simple. The main requirement is a visa on arrival letter which several companies offer a service for online. We went to the Vietnam Government website to get the letter. The cost for each of us for the letter was US$17.

In less than 48 hours the company sends an attachment with the Visa Approval Letter. we received the letter with our passport numbers on it. Do not be concerned if you see other people’s passport numbers as the company issues one letter for people arriving the same day. Your passport must have at least 6 months validity beyond your date of arrival. You need to get 2 passport photos of 04 cm x 06 cm or similar size. The company also sends you a link for one page that you need to also print off for the Vietnamese Entry/Exit forms

Lastly you need to print off a copy of the Visa Approval Letter it can be printed in black and white. Our visa was a single entry for one month or you can get 3 months. Just write down in the Visa Approval Letter process which one you want. Make sure you are clear on whether you want to get 3 months otherwise you automatically get one month.

What do I need to do on arrival at the airport?

The airline you fly with will check at check in that you have the visa on arrival letter. We left from Bangkok to Hanoi. On arrival at the new airport try to get off the plane as quickly as possible or when you book select a seat near the front of the plane. There can be long queues that take over an hour to get to the front at the visa on arrival counter. They also appear to have only two people at the counter, one to collect your letter and passport. The other once it is processed to collect the fee and return your passport. On exiting the plane it is clearly marked where to go for the Visa on Arrival. Do not dawdle. There are two queues at the same counter, one to hand in your passport and letter. The other queue is for people waiting for their name to appear on a screen. When your name pops up on the screen it means your visa is ready to collect. Make sure you have the fee in US dollars. Once your name appears on the screen you go up to the counter and pay the US$45. You then receive back your passport with the visa and your good to go. You then just go downstairs to collect your luggage and exit the airport.

We were lucky and the process took only 20 minutes but I have heard horror stories about people waiting a few hours. Good luck and I hope this blog helps.

Where to stay in Hoi An?

Getting to Hoi An

There are three main ways of getting to Hoi An. If you are coming from Hue then you can hire a car which we did and have several stops on the way to admire the scenery. It cost us US$69 for the trip and it took around 5 hours with lots of stops including lunch in Danang. The other way to get to Hoi An is by train to Danang and then a bus or car. A car cost around US$20. It takes around 45 minutes and if you get a car you also can organise a stop at Marble Mountain which is on the way. If you arrive in the evening on Saturday or Sunday before 9pm then get the driver to stop by the dragon bridge to watch it breathe fire and spout water. It’s a great spectacle. The third way to Hoi An is by bus, we did not do this so I have no idea where they drop you off. An open ticket between Hanoi and Saigon or vice versa will cost around US$60.

Where to stay in Hoi An?

We spent a week in Hoi An exploring the old town and the beaches. We stayed at the Ancient House Resort. If your like us and like comfort then this hotel is an absolutely gem and our room was brilliant. Room 102. The gardens are beautiful and the pool is great to come back to and cool off. Unlike many other hotels we have stayed at this pool is deep enough that it goes over your head in places.

The staff are brilliant from the gardener up to the friendly receptionists always on hand to give you a cool towel when ever you return from somewhere or information. Room 102 was lovely, spacious, good bathroom, air conditioning worked well, in room safe, mini bar and a good choice of channels to watch when the heat of the day gets too much or we just sat on the balcony and read a book. Breakfast was good, I especially liked the passionfruit. We also had a lovely dinner overlooking the garden watching bats swoop in to eat insects while we had our meal. The hotel runs a daily shuttle both to the old town and the beach at scheduled times.

Overall for US$35 a night including a good breakfast this place is a bargain. One other tip next door on your right when you come out of the hotel is a place you can get your laundry done. The woman did a brilliant job and even ironed everything. She charged for five kilos 140000 dong a bit more pricey than some other places in Hoi An, however, our clothes for once came back undamaged and in one piece.

So if you’re looking for a place to stay in Hoi An then you cannot go far wrong staying at the Ancient House Resort.

Hoi An is a great place to visit.

How do you take the bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh?

Our bus adventure

I thought it might be useful to describe our bus trip from Saigon to Phnom Penh. We went with Kumho Samco Bus Line. There is a Kumho Samco forum thread which warns not to ride on this bus line. I think the people that wrote the post have never travelled in Asia before or had high expectations for their US$15 bus ride. Our newish bus was from the 1990s, it did the job. The seats were not the most comfortable but were bearable for the seven hour trip. It cost US$30 for two of us and we got a free bottle of water and free wi-fi on the bus. Others got their tickets on the bus cheaper but only by a few dollars. We also got a free taxi ride from the hotel we were staying at in Saigon with our luggage to the bus stop.

The bus

The first part of the journey is to the border. During the ride the conductor comes around and collects your passports and US$35 for the Cambodian visa. The conductor will not know any speak any English so do not spend your time in trying to ask for an explanation just go with the flow. You do not need a passport photo. We departed at 9.15 am and reached the border at 11.40am. You then exit the bus and go into the custom hall. Ignore the long line on your left and head to the front where it says foreigners. Here you wait until your name is called. They give you back your passport. A custom officer checks it. You then exit the building and give your passport back to the conductor who is waiting outside.

Back on to the bus and you travel a hundred metres to the Cambodian customs. You enter the custom building and sit and wait for the conductor to come back and return your passport with the visa. We only waited a few minutes. The visa was for a month. You then go through Cambodian customs where you are electronically fingerprinted and photographed. You then return to the bus for a short drive to the lunch stop. We shared a chicken and rice meal and survived. Then back on the bus. We left around 12.50. It is then a straight ride through, aside from the occasional stop for anyone who flags down the bus, in our case it happened just twice. We did not have a full bus. It is completely flat to Phnom Penh and you cross over a brand new golden bridge which replaces the ferry ride over the river. We arrived in Phnom Penh around 4pm so it took around 7 hours from start to finish and was quite bearable.

There are other bus companies and from what we have read some are better and some are worse. I thought Kumho Samco did the job quite well and the driver was not a maniac overtaking everything that moved.

We just kept smiling

We just kept smiling

Last two weeks in Vietnam and meeting the oldest letter writer in the world

Last few weeks in Vietnam

Due to weak wifi it has been difficult to write a blog, happily at our current hotel that is not a problem. On our third week in Vietnam we chilled out for a week at Hoi An. We found a great hotel the Ancient House Resort midway between the old ancient town and the Ao Nang beach. Happily they had a free shuttle to both at scheduled times. We also took advantage of their lovely pool and gardens. I can highly recommend this hotel if you ever decide to visit Hoi An.

Nha Trang

We stopped off at Nha Trang for a few days staying at a hotel beside the beach. We took an overnight train from Danang which is near Hoi An. It was really nice to prearranged a car to meet us at the station from the hotel. The view from our room made the stay all worthwhile. We found a lovely spot nearby to watch the beach and the sea as well. There are lots of Russian package tours in Nha Trang and the hotel we chose is four kilometres outside the central Nha Trang beach area. I was glad we chose our spot as it was not noisy and the locals are still allowed to use the beach.

Saigon

We took a day train to Saigon now called Ho Chi Minh City. It was nice to see a bit of the countryside. In Saigon we stayed four days. The highlight for me was meeting an 85-year-old Vietnamese gentleman who has worked the Saigon Post Office since he was 17 as a letter writer in English, French and Vietnamese. He was fluent in English and still goes to the Post office everyday.

The next day we did a scooter tour around Saigon which was great fun. I also visited the War Remnant Museum describing the Vietnam war through photography. There also were a few left over tanks and planes outside. We enjoyed Saigon and met a lovely couple Kanan and Zara from Australia. We all went out one night to a restaurant where you ate in complete darkness. Noir the restaurant also employs visually impaired waiters. It was a great experience, food was good, great company and you are supporting a good cause. We then went on to Phnom Penh by bus a story in itself.

What were our costs were in Vietnam the last two weeks?

In total we spent 58 million dong while in Vietnam for a month. Below the hotels and other costs are in US dollars. Sometimes I paid them in Dong which I have subtracted from the Meal, attractions, etc total to give our total spend.

Ancient House Resort Hotel in Hoi Ann for seven nights cost US$237
VDB Nha Trang Hotel for three nights cost US$162
Sanouva Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City for four nights cost US$192
clothing and sandals in Hoi An cost us US$216
Scooter tour in Saigon cost $80 for two of us
Meals, attractions and transport costs came to a total of 34 million Vietnamese Dong or US$1559.

Our average daily spend for the last two weeks was US$2048 or US$146 per day.