So today is the day we fly to Vietnam! While we hate to leave Chiang Mai and all of its groovyness we all have never been to Vietnam so we were all super excited to go and meet this new (to us) country. We still had some Priority Pass airport lounge passes to use so we decided to head to the airport around 11. That way we could have a free lunch in the lounge and then catch our flight that was scheduled to leave around 2:30. We had a great breakfast right around the corner and checked out of our hotel and caught a Grab car to the airport. Within 20 minutes we were in the airport looking for our Viet Jet ticket booth.
They did not have automated check in so we did it the old fashion way and just went to the agent behind the desk. Julie checked in first. She gave the agent her passport and she also gave her a copy of her Visa to Vietnam. In order to go into Vietnam all US citizens have to have a VISA. There are three ways to get one. You can order it on line through your local Vietnamese Embassy. This costs about $180 and involves you mailing your passport to them. Very expensive and not ideal to have to mail in your passport. The second way is to get a Visa Approval Letter. This letter allows you to fly to Vietnam and then once you get there you go to a special line and they process the letter and actually give you your VISA and you head on through Immigration. It cost about $50 and usually takes 2 to 5 days. The final way that is somewhat new is to get a E-VISA . You apply and receive your VISA completely online.This Visa is only $25 and you actually have your Visa in hand so you do not have to do any processing when you land in Vietnam. This VISA usually takes 3 to 5 days to receive by email. This is the one that all three of us got.
Now back to the story. So after Julie handed everything to the attendant you could tell that something was not right. The attendant actually called someone over to discuss it. We had no idea because they were talking in Thai. As it turns out on the VISA you have to state which airport you will be flying into and Julie had accidentally written Da Nang instead of Ho Chi Minh when she applied so that is exactly what her VISA said. Luckily because we came early to go to the lounge so we had a few hours to get this figured out. No one could really help us there because it was a Vietnam Visa problem not a Thailand problem. If the airline sends you to a country without the right documentation the airline has to pay your way back so they are very strict on this. OK now we have a problem and we all tried to remain calm and figure it out but at the end of the day Lyn and I had to fly into Ho Chi Minh and Julie had to fly into Da Nang to get into Vietnam. We tried to find a way for her to fly to Da Nang go through customs and then come back in the airport and take a domestic flight to Ho Chi Minh. It was too late in the day to pull that off. Finally the only decision that made any since was for Lyn and I to go ahead and have Julie to spend one more night in Chiang Mai and then in the morning catch an 8 am flight to Da Nang and then a domestic flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh in the afternoon. We did not have an option to wait with her because we would have lost our tickets and our direct flight did not even fly on the next day. So after much discussion Lyn and I got back in line to get our tickets. By now the line was long and it took us twenty minutes just to get our tickets. We said goodbye to Julie and made it through security to arrive at our gate with about 10 minutes to spare. Luckily our flight was delayed a little bit so we went to the lounge and got a quick free lunch before we boarded our flight. We were the last ones to board our flight.
Meanwhile Julie got her wits about her and headed back to our hotel hoping they had a room. Not only did they have a room but her exact room was available just the way she had left it. Julie was able to buy her plane tickets and relax maybe just a little bit. (She actually went out for a nice dinner and a massage!) Way to handle the situation Julie! While our flight took off a little late we actually arrived on time. We went to immigration and it was super crowded. It had more of a military feel to it as the agents where wearing uniforms and yelling at people to stay in line. By the way the people needed to be yelled at ha ha. People where jumping in line left and right but once the man yelled at everybody things calmed down. We made it through immigration with no problems. Now we were off to get our SIM card and then catch a taxi to our hotel. I had ordered a SIM card from Klook again. It is so easy. They tell you where to go, complete with pictures. We came out of arrivals looked to the left and there was the store with a person just waiting to install our sim cards. So for $6 each we both received 5 GB’s of data. I had already looked up the taxi fair from the airport and which cabs to use. We hopped in a taxi and only needed to go about 4 miles to the hotel. Of course the Ho Chi Minh traffic lived up to its name so that 4 mile ride took about 35 minutes. We arrived at our hotel the Duc Vuong Hotel. Hats off to all the taxi drivers here. It is totally crazy what they have to fight their way through every day. Lyn and I had dinner on the street of our hotel and then a few drinks on the hotel rooftop bar and called it a night. Tomorrow we will get reunited with Julie and see what this great city has to offer.
So now I would like to do a couple of shout outs here. First to all the people that tried to help us at the Chiang Mai airport. Your patience and helpfulness did not go unnoticed. Second to Julie for getting her traveling wits about her and making it all work out. It would have been an easy time to have a melt down but you handled it well. I think your new motto can be “When the going gets tough the tough go get dinner and a massage.” Well done! And last but not least thank you Chiang Mai for giving my sister a big old Chiang Mai hug and taking such good care of her. Your calm groovy ways will make any situation better! Peace and Grace everyone! We are sure feeling that here! Thanks for following along!