How I Almost Didn’t Get to Vietnam

Travelling always sounds easy, but there are always things that go wrong. Apart from the strangest border crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia (which I will tell you about in another blog post), I also had a pretty hideous start in Vietnam!

How I Almost Didn't Get to Vietnam

It all started off pretty bad with Vietnam. I was on the most beautiful island in Indonesia (read all about my fab time here) and completely forgot to apply for a visa for Vietnam. (I had already booked my flights for in 3 days though!) So I applied for an emergency visa through an agency that was recommended by a girl I’d met. Thankfully it wasn’t a sketchy one that takes your money and does nothing and I had the 1-month visa in my mailbox 4 hours later! I printed it off at the hostel two nights before my flight to Singapore where I stayed for one night before heading on to Hanoi.

Hanoi 25

Well, at least that was the plan! I got to Singapore airport around 6 a.m. as my flight was at 7:30 a.m. and queued for the check-in. Half asleep I could see the couple in front of me checking in for the same flight. The girl who checked them in was then approached by a co-worker and I just heared the word ‘onward flight’ and thought ‘F***!!!’. I went to the check in desk, gave that same girl my passport and boarding number. She then looked at me and asked me if I had booked a flight out of Vietnam. Of course I hadn’t because I had planned on crossing into Cambodia by bus as it was a lot cheaper.

Hanoi - Street Scene

Then came the words of horror: ‘Sorry I can’t let you check in unless you have a flight out of Vietnam’. Soooooo, I basically had no other choice than to book a $140 flight from Ho Chi Minh to Pnomh Penh. I went into a corner and tried to connect to the airport Wi-Fi. Do you know how everyone always raves about Singapore Airport? Well their Wi-Fi is rubbish! I just couldn’t get through to enter my credit card details as the site would always crash.


After half an hour of trying and almost seeing my flight going without me, I was devastated. I asked the lady at the helpdesk for what to do and she was kind enough to share her data with me via a hotspot. I quickly booked that flight and made it to the gate just in time!

Hanoi - Street Scene 2

Exciting story so far, right? Well it’s not quite over yet. I had read before that you need to pay for the Visa upon Arrival in Vietnam and I had just thought that there would be an ATM there to take money out. Turns out there wasn’t! So whilst I was franctically searching for a place to get money out, someone told me that it’s ok to pay in other currencies.

Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

I had exactly 30 Singapore Dollars left and the visa was 36. I couldn’t believe the bad luck I had that day. Thankfully, the guy in front of me also paid in Singapore Dollars and gave me 6. I paid the money, filled out a form that I had forgotten about and waited for another 30 minutes to have my picture taken.

Hanoi - Street Scene 1

That whole visa procedure took around 2 hours and when I collected my bag, I was greeted by a rather grumpy driver from the hostel who had just waited for a loooong time to pick me up.

Ha Long Bay

Fast forward 2 weeks later when I was on the beautiful Cat Ba Island (more here) in the quiet season and went to a restaurant with a few people from the hostel. Who was sitting at a table in the same restaurant? The guy from the airport who gave me 6 Singapore Dollars! At least I got to repay him with a drink now. Like I always say, it’s never goodbye, it’s always ‘See you later!’


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