List of countries with visa exemption to Vietnam as of July 1, 2015 (Consulate of Vietnam in Sihanoukville)
Visitors from the following countries do not require a visa and can stay for the following number of days.
14 days: Brunei, Myanmar
15 days: Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Russia.
21 days: Philippines
30 days: Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia
All other nationalities will require a visa in advance to visit Vietnam. You can apply for a visa online.
In order to boost tourism, the Vietnamese government has made the island of Phu Quoc a visa-free zone. Those flying there through Ho Chi Minh City or arriving by boat will not need to apply for a visa beforehand. This is regardless of your nationality. Visitors are given 15 days to spend on the island. Those wishing to journey elsewhere can apply for a proper Vietnamese visa at the local immigration office. All passports should be valid for at least 45 days when arriving in Phu Quoc.
Visas can be applied for at most Vietnamese embassies and consulates or online. The cost of applying for a visa depends on your nationality, as well as the embassy or consulate you are applying at. Check with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country of residence for details. If your country does not have a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, a popular alternative would to apply at the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok.
Some Vietnamese Embassies offer a "While you wait service" (May 2008), where a single entry visa can be gained in 15 minutes. This service costs USD92, but approval is instant. You are required to bring a valid passport, passport photo and payment in cash (credit cards not accepted).
Embassies are reluctant to announce fees, as the relatively high visa costs are a tourism deterrent (EU and US) but nevertheless a source of revenue. A reduction in the number of Western tourists has been partially offset by the removal of visa fees for certain nationalities (but not former Vietnamese) resulting in neighbouring countries filling the vacuum, although Visa free travel for neighbouring countries is part of Vietnam's commitment to visa free travel for fellow citizens of ASEAN (The Association of South East Asian Nations)
Foreign citizens of Vietnamese origin can apply for visa exemption that allows multiple entry for 3 months at a time which is valid for the duration of the passport.
An increasingly popular alternative is to arrange a visa on arrival, which is not only considerably cheaper but also alleviates the need for passports to be posted to the Vietnamese Embassy in the country of origin.
In April 2014 a 30 day single entry visa from the Consulate General of Vietnam in Vancouver, Canada cost CAD100. The same visa cost about 115 euros (plus shipping) from the Consulate of Vietnam in Turin, Italy. From the Consulate General of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Sydney, Australia the visa cost i. sept. 2014 was $95.
In February 2017, Vietnam introduced an e-Visa service – temporary and for 2 yr. The online application is available at the website of the Vietnamese immigration office. This procedure is available for 40 different countries, especially most European ones. The regular e-Visa is valid for 30 days, for single entry and has a duration of 4 weeks after entering. It is supposed to take up to 3 days to issue. The automatic email confirmation is not reliable and you have to check for yourself online whether you already have received the visa. Other types of e-Visa, like multiple entry and extended duration, are available with additional documents and information required.
Note that the "Visa on arrival" (VOA) is generally only for urgent and special cases, or in cases where a country does not have Vietnamese representatives/consulate services locally. Hence, the reliability of VOA is not clear, even though, you might just opt for the visa-free 15 days at the airport, and extend later or leave with 15 days again.