A group of foreign cars travelling through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. PHOTO COURTESY OF THOIBAOKINHTESAIGON
Foreign tourist vehicles will be allowed to travel Vietnam for no more than 30 days after a new government regulation comes into effect December 25.
The vehicles used must have left-hand steering and 9 or less seats. They must be registered in foreign countries with foreign license plates and have have valid safety and environmental certificates.
Car drivers must have passports valid for at least six months after entry. They must also have valid visas.
According to the regulation, foreign tourist vehicles are allowed to stay for ten days more if they experience natural disasters, traffic accidents or breakdowns that cannot be fixed in Vietnam.
It also said that foreign visitors are not allowed to bring their vehicles into Vietnam by themselves and must make all arrangements through tour operators in Vietnam.
The local travel companies will be responsible for seeking permission from the Ministry of Transport before the foreign vehicles enter Vietnam. The Ministry also requires the companies to report after five days of travel.
Groups of foreign visitors traveling by foreign vehicles must be led by cars or motorbikes arranged by the travel agencies in Vietnam.
Tran Xuan Hung, director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Viking Travel and Media Corp., told news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon (Saigon times) that under the new role the foreign tour groups will be licensed upon entry to Vietnam, rather than waiting for their travel agency in Vietnam to obtain permission once they arrive.
He said this was already a norm in the region and it will be advantageous for both travelers and tour companies.
Other local travel agencies praised the new regulation because they will no longer have to get permission from the Vietnam Tourism Organization to have foreign vehicles in Vietnam as was previously the case.