Change of Plan.  We’re in Vietnam-6951

Getting a Vietnam Visa in China

Due to a change of plan in our travel, we found ourselves in Shanghai, trying to get a Vietnam visa in China. Here’s more on how that works.

Up until 10 days ago we were supposed to be in Japan now. Sapporo to be exact.  We would work our way south, spending three or four weeks in what we expect will be the most expensive countries that we travel to.  Then we’ll head to South Korea before heading back into China for the second of our dual entry visit.

We were spending some of our time in Shanghai working out the schedule and itinerary for the next few weeks.  Then we checked on both the temperatures and room availability in Japan. Oh boy. Not only was it hot.  It’s currently 33 degrees in Tokyo!, but it was also very booked and expensive.  Those weeks spent planning in Bulgaria failed to spot a month long festival in Sapporo.  And – worse – the higher costs during July and August throughout most of Japan.

Cue screech to a halt and take another look at what we want to do. After sweating and sweltering our way around Beijing in 95,96 and 7 degree heat, and doing the same in hotter Xi’an it wasn’t a pleasant thought that we’d be doing more of the same through Japan, but paying a lot more for it.

In comes Google. “Best place for rainy season in SE Asia”.  So we headed off to the Vietnamese consulate in Shanghai.

Vietnam Visa in China – Shanghai

Vietnam Visa in China - Shanghai Consulate

Our first attempt at a visa was a disaster.

Directions to the Vietnamese Consulate

Getting to the consulate is easy. From the subway system take the Line 6 and get out at the Yuanshen Stadium.  Exit and head down Yuanshen Road (in the opposite direction from the stadium, towards Pudong Avenue.   The HFC Financial building is situated around 1.3kms down, where the Yuanshen Road joins Pudong Avenue. The Vietnamese consulate is on the third floor.

Forms to Complete – Vietnam Visa in China

Grab a copy of the photocopied visa application form, fill it in, attach a single 4cm x 6 cm photo, pay your fee and come back when they say it will be ready. We had photos, but they were the American size (2 inches squared) – (easy to obtain from any subway station in Shanghai where you can choose the size, but 4cm x 6cm wasn’t an option, we figure we could cut them down if needed).

You Need an Accommodation Adress in Vietnam – and the name of the owner

We hadn’t booked any accommodation, but had a flight booked – which we could cancel without penalty or change if needed, so when the form asked for the address in Vietnam we pulled something out of the Lonely Planet, completed the date requirements and put in all the details of our passports etc and went to the counter.

Vietnamese Consulate Open times – Shanghai

The application counter is open from 9-1130 and then from 2pm until I think 430pm. We handed our first attempt in at 1125.   Nope they said, who is your host ? We’d left that part of the form blank.   We don’t have a host. So how did you book the hotel they asked. Dumbly we replied, well we booked it on the Internet. You need the host name they said.

Need Wifi in Shanghai?
Need Wifi in Shanghai?

Wifi Near the Vietnamese Consulate –  Shanghai

We spent the next two hours at Starbucks (come out of the consulate building, turn left and walk along Pudong Avenue until you get to 720 Pudong. Starbucks here has free wifi – if you had a cellphone that you can get an access code to – or there’s another provider that just lets you on. There are clean pleasant toilets on the 7th floor.

Don’t Leave Blank Areas on the Form!

It appears that the Vietnamese consulate just don’t like blank fields on your form. So we duly booked some accommodation (on the Internet) for real this time and found the names of the owners of the hostel that we’d be staying at in Ho Chi Minh City and put that in.

Bingo. Fill in all the details (either host individual or organization). I have no idea whether they check it or not, but we had the booking so we were kinda of legitimate.

Cost of a Vietnam Visa in China

An express service visa for Vietnam from the Shanghai consulate cost us 640 CNY – which seemed to be more than other travelers reportedly had paid and I do think we paid “over the odds”, but TBH, who the heck knows what the right price is.

There were quite a lot of sites advertising “visa on arrival”, but the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK stated that they had nothing to do with them and couldn’t guarantee that it would work, so we paid our money and ate dumplings in Shanghai for the next two days.  (that’s not a bad way to spend your time in Shanghai).

How Long Does it Take to Get a Vietnam Visa in China?

A day and a half later we had our visas. and that’s why I’m typing this now, on day 6 in a beach resort in Vietnam, sitting by one of the two pools, free WIFI everywhere, in a budget hotel that is costing us US $15 a night – that’s the same price as just the WIFI in the room was at the Shanghai Sheraton Four Points Hotel, so I’m not complaining. Actually, I wasn’t complaining about the Four Points, which was a great hotel and incredibly accommodating to us, (and FREE)  as we blew up some of the SPG awards points we had to spend some times in luxury as we exited China.

We got our visa by going to the embassy direct – it’s not the same process in each country – if you’re using an agency, or even going direct, you’ll want to check and confirm costs – don’t fall victim to scams – check out this great post from Ryazan on a Vietnam Visa scam.

A Few Last Surprises from China
A Few Last Surprises from China

Meanwhile, we have another three weeks of cheap eats, cheap sleeps and a heck of a lot of westerners who all seem impossibly young, tanned and blonde. Lets say we’re doing our bit to up the average age at a lot of places.

Our US $15 a night luxury
Our US $15 a night luxury

Travel Tips for Exploring Vietnam

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