VISA. One of the most hated word (in my dictionary) that creates a world of confusions and trouble in our minds when we only start wishing to go somewhere. Being the holder of the 88th rank, a Bangladeshi passport does not get to avail a lot of hassle free visas. This rather long and tiresome process can do a lot to take away the joy or excitement and even sometimes the wish itself to travel to a certain country.
As a Bangladeshi, getting a visa is not easy and gets more difficult if you are unemployed or don’t have enough “dough” in your account. But does that mean only the rich and stable are allowed to travel? I certainly do not hope so. From now onward, wherever I go I will make it a point to write a short post specifically on visas because I won’t let a stupid paperwork get in the way of your travel goals.
So an impulsive (yet probably one of the best) decision got me to buy a ticket to Vietnam from a sale. I had no clue about the visa requirements nor did I know how much it would cost me. How I got my head around the whole process is given below.
- Research: Google is our best friend and there is simply nothing you cannot find here. So before you fret, please google it!
- Ask around and read blogs: Browse through the many blogs and Facebook groups that will give you people’s personal recommendations. I personally got a lot of help and insight from Mijan bhai of Around the world by 2030.
- Prepare: Once you know the process or at least have an idea, get your documents ready according to the requirements.
Here goes my experience with my visa to Vietnam on a Bangladeshi passport.
Essentials and Musts:
For a Vietnam visa , you will first need a visa approval letter. The visa Approval Letter is a issued by the Immigration Department of Vietnam. With this you are legally allowed to enter and exit Vietnam for a given period of time. Without this you are not allowed to apply for the visa at all. It is a MUST.
Once you have the Approval Letter, you can pick up your Visa on Arrival at one of three international airports in Vietnam: Hanoi, Da Nang, or Ho Chi Minh City. Or you can apply for the visa at the Vietnam embassy to get a stamp visa.
Here is what I struggled with. When I wrote to the Vietnamese embassy, I was asked to contact a travel agency. When I contacted the agency, I was told they cannot process the visa for Bangladeshi passports anymore and was asked to contact the embassy. CONFUSION. After a little bit of research and asking around, I found out I could get the visa approval letter and the visa myself by paying online. But somehow I was unable to digest the exuberant fee of $207 and, more importantly, trust the online transaction. Trust me there have been many frauds.
Hence after many what-ifs and buts, I got in touch with a local travel agency here in Bangladesh called GoBdGo.com and I highly recommend them! Professional and smooth. They gave me two options:
OPTION 1: I could apply for both the approval letter and visa.
OPTION 2: I could take the approval letter through them and take a visa on arrival.
Documents I needed:
I chose the second option as that would cost me less. To get the visa approval letter I was asked to send the agency a scan of my passport and my confirmed air-tickets. Yes. You will need your confirmed return flight tickets. If you are working, you will need to send them a visiting card too. The visa approval letter cost me 8000 BDT or $98.
Once you have the approval letter, you can apply for the stamp visa too. Or like me go for an VOA by paying $25 and submitting a passport sized photo at the landing visa counter at the international airport in Vietnam. There is a form called Form N1 that needs to be filled up for VOA. I always prefer to download such forms and fill them up beforehand rather than queuing up only to get this form. You can also find the same at the airport counter.
Stamp visa VS Visa on Arrival:
I heard from a lot of people that “the queue for VOA at the airport is too long” or “why would you want to wait in a queue”. But a stamp visa from here would cost me more than double of what I had to pay for the VOA. Also THERE WAS NO QUEUE OR WAIT TIME! It took me 10 minutes to get my visa and the small queue was very fast moving.
So there you are, all sorted with Vietnam visa for Bangladeshi passport holders. Visas are scary, of course. But if you have the right documents and follow the right procedure, there is no reason why you should not be given the permission to enter a certain country.
Some important info:
International airport in Vietnam: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang
Two types of visa: VOA or Stamped visa
On arrival visa fee: $25
Visa approval letter fee: around $100
Vietnamese embassy in Dhaka: http://www.vietnameseembassy.org/bangladesh+dhaka.html
Website of GoBdGo.com: www.gobdgo.com
My next post will be about the lovely city of Hanoi and how to explore it to the fullest even on a BUDGET. Follow my blog and stay connected with me through social media for updates and tips on traveling the world on a budget.
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