So, you've decided to take a trip to Vietnam - good choice, it's an amazing country! It's a country that's been through some very dark times, but it has since opened its arms to foreign tourists. Here's a run down of formalities you need to respect.
To be allowed into Vietnam, British passport holders must make sure their passport is valid for 6 months after their visa expiry date. British tourists can visit Vietnam for 15 days without a visa. Visas are required for visits longer than 15 days and both the FCO and Vietnamese Embassy discourage on-line visa applications, as they are often handled by external agencies. Visa prices vary according to length of stay. The Consular Section at the UK Embassy can provide you with details by email. The contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org It's wise to get your visa organised well in advance as the waiting time can be a few weeks. You may be able to obtain one quicker in the case of an emergency, but it will cost more than the standard fee. If you are a UK resident of Vietnamese origin then you, your spouse and chidren may visit Vietnam without a visa for up to 90 days. But it will cost you to organise it. You'll need to apply to the Embassy of Vietnam for a 'Certificate of Visa Exemption'. The cost depends on how long the exemption lasts - a 5-year exemption will cost around £15.
No vaccinations are required for entry into Vietnam. That said being vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Japanese Encephalitis is recommended.
If you are planning to drive or hire a vehicle, it's best to get an International Driving Licence, available from all Post Offices for a £5.50 fee.
You can collect a visa on arrival but you must organise it in advance via a legitimate company/travel agency. The FCO warns applicants that there are a lot of bogus companies offering this service. These agencies can provide you with the necessary paperwork but again, the FCO warns about using on-line services. Although it seems like an easy option it's recommended you apply in advance directly to the Vietnamese Embassy (in person or by post). Indeed the only possible advantage is that a visa to be collected on arrival may be cheaper - but you should check the T&Cs in advance!
If, once you're there, you want to extend your trip, you can go to any travel agency in Hô Chi Minh and Hanoï or apply in person at the Department of Immigration. Visa extensions cost around £15 and take between 3 to 5 days to process.