FLIGHT TIMES: 9.5 hours direct from London Heathrow to Beijing / 12.35 hours direct from Saigon to London Heathrow.
TIME DIFFERENCE: China: +7 hours in summer time / +8 hours in winter time (BST) / Vietnam: +6 hours in summer time / +7 hours in winter time (BST).
CURRENCY: Chinese Yuan (official name Ren Min Bi) £1 = approx. 9 CYN / Vietnamese dong £1 = approx. 31,000 VND
MONEY: You can take Sterling cash with you and exchange in China – hotels and banks all provide a currency exchange service. Credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATM machines for withdrawing cash in local currency.
In Vietnam almost all goods and services are calculated and paid for in US dollars. Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, restaurants owned by foreigners and souvenir shops. Travellers cheques and currencies other than US Dollars are accepted only by major banks. We recommend changing a small amount into local currency on arrival, for drinks and gifts etc.
TIPPING: Tipping is at your own discretion. We recommended £5 (approx. 45 CYN) or $10 per day for your tour guide but it’s entirely up to you based on how good you think your guide and driver are.
VISA: All visitors to China are required to apply for a Chinese visa in advance of travel. Upon booking Emperor Tours will provide visa forms and detailed instructions explaining the application process.
No visa is required for UK passport holders if stay is 15 days or less in Vietnam.
LANGUAGE: The official language spoken in China is standard Mandarin (Pu Tong Hua). The official language spoken in Vietnam is Vietnamese.
BEST TIMES TO VISIT: Generally Spring and Autumn months – end of March to early June and September to early November.
FESTIVALS: Here are the main Chinese and Vietnamese festivals and what you will expect to see and experience during these festivities…
Chinese New Year – 1st-15th of the first lunar month
Scrolls and paper-cut pictures, firecrackers and fireworks, New Year visits to family and friends, eating celebratory dishes.
Mid-autumn Festival – 15th day of the 8th lunar month
Appreciating and offering sacrifice to the moonlight and eating moon cakes.
Vietnamese New Year ‘Tet’ – mid to late February
Vietnamese people gather with their families to exchange best wishes and pray for prosperity over the coming year. In big cities, the streets are adorned with beautiful flower decorations. It’s a great time to see the preparations and immerse in the festive atmosphere before Tet, but travel during the festival is not recommendable.
Mid Autumn Festival (whole of Vietnam) – 15th day of the 8th lunar month in the Chinese lunar calendar
Marked with fanciful lanterns, the festival is a favourite with children, as the occasion calls for more toys, candies, fruit, and entertainment than any other time of the year. Mid-Autumn parties serve cakes, traditional and modified. Lion dances are commonly performed by travelling troupers who go from house to house to perform for tipping.
Reunification Day (whole of Vietnam) – 30th April yearly
Also known as Victory Day or Liberation Day, this national holiday marks the fall of the Saigon government on 30 April 1975. The communist troops captured Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and brought the Vietnam war to an end. This began the process of reuniting the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north and the Republic of Vietnam in the south
National Independence Day (whole of Vietnam) – 2nd September yearly
This day commemorates Vietnam’s declaration of independence from France in 1945. On that day, President Ho Chi Minh, read out the Declaration of Independence. Nowadays, national red flags are raised high everywhere. People are entitled to one day off. Public and official celebrations can be found in all cities.
NOTE: A lunar month is the time between two successive syzygies (new moons or full moons).
FOOD & DRINK: Our Group Tour includes most meals however if you are venturing out to eat on your own all our hotels are in city centres so it’s very easy to find local restaurants. Your guides will be more than happy to recommend restaurants of various cuisines to you. It’s not expensive to eat out – a simple meal in a local restaurant costs around £10 per person.
It’s advisable not to use the minibar in your hotel room as it can be very expensive, and you can find cheap soft drinks, beer and wine in supermarkets. Emperor Tours provide bottled water for guests and your hotel will also provide free bottled water in your room.
SOCIAL ETIQUETTE: China is a fairly relaxed country regarding etiquette, but there are a few things to be aware of:
Greetings and goodbyes – shake hands but never kiss someone’s cheek.
Religion – dress sensitively when visiting Buddhist (especially in Tibet) and Taoist temples, churches and mosques.? You should avoid touching monks, especially women.
Eating and drinking – its polite to help fill your neighbour’s plate at the dinner table and toast the host and others at the table. At the start of dinner, wait until toasting starts before drinking from your glass.
Gestures – don’t use too many hand movements or excessive body language.
People throughout Vietnam are very kind and easy going. People are very relaxed with foreigners and their different habits.
Showing anger is seen as a weakness.
Respect and care should be shown when visiting temples and shoes should always be removed before entering.
HEALTH ADVICE: Before you travel, please make sure that you have obtained appropriate medical / travel insurance. There is no compulsory requirement for vaccination – the common recommendations are Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Visitors are advised to check with their GP or travel immunisation clinic regarding protection. Any essential medications should be brought with you as there is no guarantee they will be available in the areas you will be visiting.
If travelling in Summer months, please bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent etc.
It is not safe to drink tap water in China and Vietnam – please drink boiled water or bottled water only.