Step 1: Obtain a passport before you plan a trip to Vietnam. Bring your original birth certificate (not a copy), one other valid form of identification and two small passport-sized pictures of yourself to your post office. Note that it can take 4 to 6 weeks to get your passport in the mail unless you pay a significant fee to rush the process.
Step 2: Develop a travel itinerary for your trip to Vietnam. Many tourists center their activities around the two main cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), and arrange for travel between the cities in advance. You may be able to fly into one city and fly back home from the other, or even include Thailand, Hong Kong or China in your flight plans.
Step 3: Schedule a visit with your doctor at least a month before you leave in order to get proper vaccinations, since you will need shots for yellow fever, hepatitis A and B and typhoid. While the risk for malaria is relatively low in the major cities, you may want to bring along malaria tablets if you’re going to be visiting rural areas. Check with the TDS website for latest vaccination requirements (see Resources below).
Step 4: Contact an experienced and knowledgeable travel agent to help you plan a trip to Vietnam. Your agent should be able to help you find the best travel and accommodation packages, and to help make travel arrangements between destinations within Vietnam. You can also use online resources, such as Travelocity, to find the best deals on airfare and hotel rooms (see Resources below).
Step 5: Visit the website for the Vietnamese Embassy and arrange for an application for a travel visa (see Resources below). You will need a valid passport and either a money order or traveler’s check made out to the Embassy of Vietnam. The cost of the visa will depend upon the length of your stay and the number of times that you will be entering and leaving the country.
Tips & Warnings
Since there are no direct flights from the United States to Vietnam, you will probably have to route your flight through other countries, such as Singapore, China, Hong Kong or Thailand.