What is Vietnam’s strict visa policy costing it?

KNOWN FOR ITS untouched beaches, bustling cities, charming old towns, hill-tribe villages, Buddhist pagodas, exquisite cuisine, and warm people, Vietnam is truly one of Southeast Asia’s best-kept secrets.

It’s the Asian perfect escape that’s easy on the wallet and yet has so much to offer.

However, the country doesn’t seem to be getting the attention and inbound tourism numbers it deserves. And they’ve found the “culprit”.

The country’s strict visa policy is preventing it from attracting travelers from many markets.

While many Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, have extended visa waiver policies for travelers, Vietnam is practicing e-visa and visa-on-arrival policies

The fee to obtain a visa to Vietnam is about US$25, but due to low inbound tourism numbers, the revenue from the fee is not that impressive. In fact, it’s lower than the revenue from travelers it could attract.

Vietnam has so much to offer, but why is it not getting enough attention? Source: Shutterstock.

VIETNAMNET quoted Tourism Advisory Council member Ngo Minh Duc as saying, “It is a blunder to set barriers just to glean small coins from the visa fee and waste natural resources and heavy investment in infrastructure.”

Last year, after the country rolled out a visa waiver programme for citizens from five European countries, it saw nearly 13 million foreign visitors – an increase of almost 30 percent. Revenue from travelers in 2017 reached VND510 trillion (US$22,414,500,000).

This goes to show that Vietnam’s visa restriction is likely the only thing that’s holding it back from achieving greater numbers.

Traffic in front of Ho Chi Minh City Hall at twilight. Source: Shutterstock.

Have you, as a traveler, struggled with getting a Vietnamese visa too?

Currently, countries and regions that have visa exemption arrangements with Vietnam include:


  • Singapore (less than 30 days)
  • Thailand (less than 30 days)
  • Malaysia (less than 30 days)
  • Philippines (less than 21 days)
  • Brunei (less than 15 days)
  • Laos (less than 30 days)
  • Myanmar (less than 14 days)
  • Indonesia (less than 30 days)
  • Japan (less than 15 days)
  • South Korea (less than 15 days)


  • Sweden (less than 15 days)
  • Finland (less than 15 days)
  • Denmark (less than 15 days)
  • Norway (less than 15 days)


  • Germany (less than 15 days)
  • France (less than 15 days)
  • Spain (less than 15 days)
  • Italy (less than 15 days)
  • UK (less than 15 days)

Meanwhile, Tourism Advisory Board member Luong Hoai Nam said the tight visa policy is due partly to national security.