You need a visa to enter Vietnam before you travel to the country. It’s easy to organise a Vietnam visa in Bangkok if you know where to go.
Vietnam is one of the few countries in the world where you can’t get get entry to the country simply by turning up. You need to make sure you already have a visa organised before you arrive in Vietnam – either by visiting an embassy for the visa to be put in your passport, or by applying online prior to arrival and collecting your visa on arrival at the airport. If you don’t have a visa, they won’t let you in.
You can apply online for a Vietnam Visa which you need to collect on arrival at one of Vietnam’s airports – note that while this is called a “visa on arrival” service, because you get the visa when you arrive at the airport, the application MUST be filed and paid for BEFORE you enter the country. You can read Russ Brooks’ first hand (positive) experience of applying for a Vietnam visa on arrival online here on Travelhappy.
Alternatively, getting a Vietnam visa in Bangkok is pretty easy. Get a taxi or Skytrain to Wireless Road (Soi Wittayu) in the centre of Bangkok. On the Skytrain you get off at the Phloen Chit stop. Walk out through the elevated skywalk and then down the stairs onto Wireless Road going towards All Seasons Place, which is a huge mall and office block. (There is a big map on a board in the BTS station – check it before you go out through the exits to ensure you know where you’re going).
At the bottom of the walkway stairs there is a cluster of shops that can provide you with passport photos if you do not have them already. You will need two for your Vietnam visa application. Get these before you go any further.
Walk along Wireless Road for about five minutes. The Vietnamese Embassy is just along here, but it’s easy to miss because you are so close to it. Look for this door, which is the entry to the Visa Application area.
Once inside, fill in one of the application forms and then submit it at the window along with the appropriate fee. It’s around 1000 Baht ($30 US) for a one entry visa – make sure you request a multiple entry visa if you intend to exit and re-enter Vietnam during your travels, otherwise you’ll have to apply for a second visa all over again. You need to submit the visa application between 8.30am to 11.30 am and 1.30pm to 4.30pm. You can collect it 3 days later or pay a little more and get express service to collect it the next day, but make sure you drop it early in the morning if you want to be sure of this. You can find more info on the quite helpful Vietnamese Embassy website.
Get A Vietnam Visa Without The Wait in Cambodia
If you are travelling to Cambodia and intending to go on to Vietnam afterwards, you can cleverly get a Vietnam visa without any wait at the Sihanoukville Vietnam Embassy. This trick is listed in the Lonely Planet Cambodia and I’ve done it myself (although it was 3 years ago so double check it’s still operational). You simply turn up at the Vietnam Embassy – preferably mid morning when someone will be there and also have time to deal with your request – and they issue the visa on the spot. The gentleman who issued mine and Louise’s visas was certainly a lot more friendly than the harried Bangkok visa staff.
The Vietnam Embassy in Sihanoukville is marked on most maps of the city, although it can take a bit of cruising up and down the road on the back of motorbike taxis to spot its entrance gates.
Note that this immediate issue only seems to happen in Sihanoukville and not any other Cambodian cities, including the capital Phnom Penh. You can still get a Vietnam visa in PP, but you’ll have to wait for it.