Update: As of February 2017, Vietnam has just initiated a new eVisa program for citizens of 40 countries. Unfortunately, that list does not include Australians, New Zealanders, and Canadians.. To compare the eVisa with the usual Visa on Arrival process, CLICK HERE.
Even if you do qualify I urge you to read on below anyway.
Vietnam has a bilateral visa exemption agreement with 60 countries and a unilateral agreement with several more which means citizens of these countries can travel to Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of the country without a Vietnam Tourist Visa. Click Here to see which countries are included in these agreements.
Otherwise all tourists require a passport (valid for at least six months) and a tourist visa in order to visit Vietnam. This includes Australians, New Zealanders, Brits, Canadians, Americans and many BUT NOT all Europeans.
You can obtain the visa yourself by applying to a Vietnamese Embassy/Consulate in your country. Click Here and go to the link on the left hand menu to find the closest one to you.
Another alternative would be to obtain one through a Visa Agency like Visa HQ (see ad below). Just be aware that almost all of these agencies are specific to their own country and don't process passports from other countries. If they do you are likely to incur rather hefty postage and handling charges. Most travel agents use Visa processing Agencies to process visas for their clients. Depending on where you live this is a convenient but rather expensive way to go. They should, however, be aware of all the Vietnam Tourist Visa Requirements and should be able to assist.
A visa may also be obtained in neighboring countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. All have Vietnamese Embassy's and most travel agents in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Vientiane and Luang Prabang can arrange it for you in a couple of days for a small fee or even faster if you pay an express fee.
Starting February 2017, there is now a new eVISA available for citizens of 40 countries. eVisas are only available for 1-month tourist visas BUT can be issued at many more border crossings than the Visa on Arrival (See Below). This new visa is very new and there have been reported teething problems.
You can see a comparison of the normal Visa On Arrival and eVisa process HERE.
If you are flying into Vietnam via HCMC, Danang or Hanoi , THE MOST CONVENIENT WAY to obtain your Vietnam Tourist Visa is still On Arrival. See below
Most Vietnamese travel agencies can assist with the Vietnam Visa on Arrival process and there are several online agencies that specialize in arranging the required documentation. I have included a link below. Apply at least 10 days before you are arriving or you may have to pay an express fee. Most promise to have it within 2 working days and that has been our experience to date. Still you don't want to take chances. Note that this option is not available to those arriving via a land border or by sea. The eVisa is however.
The process has 4 steps:
This Agency also has a Fast Track Immigration service for $25 so you don't have to wait in the queue at the airport which can sometimes be quite long.
If you require a visa, we advise you to obtain and submit an official Letter of Invitation from the conference organizers to help facilitate the visa process. Please note that Letters of Invitation are only issued to registered and paid/approved delegates.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a Letter of Invitation after successful registration.
Disclaimer: The conference organizer are not authorised or obligated to assist with the delegates during visa applciation process. The Letter of Invitation does not financially obligate the conference organizers in any way. All expenses incurred in relation to the conference are the sole responsibility of the delegate. The Letter of Invitation does not guarantee an entry visa to Vietnam.