I'm flying from Australia to Europe with Vietnam airlines. I think I might have a hidden domestic leg of the flight in Vietnam on the way there, or maybe on both routes. My travel agent says I don't need a visa for this domestic flight. I suspect he is wrong. Has anyone done this flight before who can give me more info?
On my itinerary, it says "Sydney - Hanoi" then "Hanoi - Frankfurt" for the trip there, and "Frankfurt - Ho Chi Minh City" then "Ho Chi Minh City - Sydney" on the way back. But there is also an ominous line for the trip out that says, "There is one stop in this itinerary. Visas are your own responsibility". Since it doesn't say that for the way back, I assumed the "one stop" is an extra stop over and above the stop in Hanoi.
I booked this through a travel agent, not myself on the internet (due to a requirement of my workplace), so I called the travel agent, who seemed to have no idea, but eventually sent me an email saying that yes, there's a hidden domestic transfer from Hanoi to HCMC on the flight over, but no hidden transfer on the way back. He said that I need a visa for the way back, but not for the way there, which is the exact opposite of what I would expect. He said that is because the stop in HCMC on the way back is more than 8 hours. But I would assume in that case I would need a visa in both directions, due to the domestic leg. He said this is not true, but even though I have this in writing from him I'm reluctant to just trust him because it will be a total disaster if I am refused boarding on my flight out.
Has anyone done this flight before and knows for sure whether there is actually a domestic leg on either or both routes, and whether I need visas?
I have a New Zealand passport. I tried to call the Vietnamese Embassy here in Canberra, but the phone number on their website doesn't work. I also emailed the airline, but they replied with a confusing email that basically said to call them, and when I did (an international number) I just ended up on hold.
It would also be nice to know:
(1) how much a visa costs if I get it at the embassy here in Australia
(2) whether any of those "visa on arrival" agents where you pay for a letter in advance and then get a stamp at the airport are legitimate (the Australian travel advice page for Vietnam specifically warns against them)
(3) if they are legitimate, do you have to wait so long for your stamp on arrival that it might cause me to miss my connecting flight? I'm not sure how long I have exactly, but I think it's only around an hour.
(4) I have found reference online to Vietnam Airline's "transit tour program
" (pdf), which looks awesome for the way back when I have 13 hours in HCMC. My travel agent has never heard of it and won't look into it for me. Vietnam Airlines didn't reply to my emailed question about it. Does anyone know the secret of how to book it?
I will go into the embassy in person next week, but I doubt they will know the answers to any of these questions besides how much the visa costs.