Xin Chào! The Vietnam Swans welcome you to Vietnam. We’ve tried to outline some basic information you will need for your stay.
Visas are essential for entry to Vietnam. The list of countries eligible for visa on arrival continues to evolve, so you must check the requirements for your nationality!
If you are Australian, you will need an invitation letter before departing on your flight to Vietnam: they will not let you board the plane if you do not have one. The Swans have found that provides a really good, well-priced service if you need to obtain the invitation letter. Download and fill out this form to save time on arrival when collecting your visa.
Changing cash in Vietnam is relatively straight-forward. Numerous counters at the airport give a very fair rate: if the official rate is 1 USD to 22,300 VND, you will likely get 22,100 VND at the money changers.
These money changers are located just past the customs counter as you exit the sliding doors, before you exit the terminal. There is also several money changing locations around central District 1, including the corner of Đồng Khởi and Nguyễn Thiệp (opposite the Sheraton).
Getting to and from the Airport
Getting in from the airport is simple. There is a taxi rank on the left as you exit the arrivals terminal. Ignore anyone who asks if you would like a taxi, and keep walking until you see the taxi rank (100m). Politely ignore anyone that approaches you for a taxi and ignore the steel grey taxi-rank line.
Importantly, only use Vinasun (green, red and white) or Mai Linh (green) to minimize any hassle. These operators are extremely dependable.
The trip to District 1 is about 30 mins and should cost no more than $10 USD or about 220,000 VND. There is an additional 10,000 VND fee the taxi will add as you leave the airport: this is additional to the charge shown on the meter.
English can be very limited in Saigon, and as the language is tonal, its best to have your hotel address written down for the driver.
UBER is also huge in Ho Chi Minh City and usually only a few minutes away from wherever you are in or around the city centre – Jump on the app and get around this way if you prefer.
The Sportsman’s Lunch, All Asia Cup and Match Day
Kick off your 2016 AFL Asian Championships from 12pm Friday with a casual lunch at Sorrento Cafe overlooking the RMIT University playing fields, featuring a special “On the Couch” Q&A with AFL Legends Andrew Embley (250 games West Coast Eagles, 2006 Norm Smith Medal) and Brad Seymour (133 games Sydney Swans, 1996 GF, Current Swans Board Member).
The All Asia Cup will then be held at RMIT Southern Campus from 2-5pm on Friday. Get along to support the league’s finest local talent!
The Asian Champs will start early on the Saturday at the same venue: RMIT Southern Campus. Teams are recommended to arrive an hour before their first game. If coming from D1, allow 30-40 mins to arrive.
Food, Restaurants and Bars
The match day record will have further information on our tips for food, restaurants and bar during your stay.
Needless to say, Vietnam has some of the best food in Asia. Look for some of these:
- Caphe Sua Da is Vietnamese coffee, served with ice and condensed milk.
- Banh Mi is the classic Vietnamese baguette, with meats, herbs, pickled veggies and pate. Available on most street corners for well under a $1.
- Bun Thit Nuong is barbecued pork on a noodle salad. Epic.
- Pho is the famous Vietnamese noodle soup.
- Banh Xeo is the Vietnamese savoury pancake, filled with pork, shrimps and sprouts.
There is no doubt that Saigon ranks somewhere at the top of the ladder when it comes to nightlife in South East Asia. Whether you wear tight jeans and run long beards, shorts and singlets, or shirt and slacks – The ‘Gon has something for everyone.
General Safety and Security
Vietnam is very safe, but like usual, have your wits about you during your stay. Be careful with your possessions, particularly in the backpacking area around Bùi Viện / Phạm Ngũ Lão.
If you need late night taxis, only use Vinasun (green, red and white) or Mai Linh (green) to minimize any hassle. Be very careful taking a Xe Om (motorcycle taxi) late at night.
While Vietnam is very safe, it has a collective and conservative culture, and is very strict in relation to criminal offences. Arguments with locals can quickly escalate and should be avoided at all times: show respect to any business owners and police officers during your stay.
If you do lose your possessions and need a police report to claim them, you should be aware that you will have to visit the police station in the ward (area) where the crime occurred within 24 hours. You will need a local to accompany you as a translator, your hotel can usually help with this.
Good luck in the champs and we hope you enjoy your stay in Saigon!