Vietnam 30-day-visa cost 80 $/Pax in Germany. You should get it because Visa-Upon-Arrival are offered at airports but only at selected overlanding borders. Furthermore, travelling Vietnam with a third-country-vehicle is a nuisance under regulations more strict than in China and more expensive. Don’t forget that Vietnam still is a Communist country… You need a Vietnam agency for permits, insurance, Import/Export documents, customs deposit and so on. The agency comes with a guiding vehicle plus driver, a guide and an officer for finance and organization. 7 days/24 hour control, fixed schedule on daily basis and pre-booked hotels. Staying overnight in the truck not allowed, same for schedule changes: Impossible.
The agency officer does all the paper-, passport- and Import/Export work at the border. Entry and exit take at least an hour. Officials as well as people strict and bribing. We travelled with VietnamSenses, branch of Asia- and BurmaSenses. As stated by other overlanders before they did a questionable job in Vietnam as well. For our 18-day-trip and 2.600 km through Vietnam we paid 2.300 US$ including hotel, breakfast, paperwork and guide.
Our driver, however, was unable to navigate properly and not speaking any English. Even worse that the guide was unreliable and providing common or false information. He simply had no clue and often did not know where to go and what to visit. Instead, he tried to cope with half-truth and false data, but we had a guide book… Most of the days he pissed off early with the statement “Now you have got time to relax”. Advantage: His bad English was not such a problem, ironically.
Furthermore discussions of problems or changes with the officer were unfruitful, same procedure as before with his words: “Now you got what you wanted, are you happy?” Cultural difference and difficult for both, Asians and Westerners… In adition we were blamed for discussions later in terms of time lost… Not amusing.
Again, most of the information was false. Our contract said we have 3 rest days but actually we had none in Vietnam. Hotel quality was said to be at least *** but we had just one of those but many ** and * plus terrible guesthouses we never ever book. Again, discussion useless, just change into the truck for the night… It seems of minor importance that Road Toll is quite high, road conditions are not as good as expected especcially Northern Vietnam and that police controls are frequent. Advantage: Diesel 50 Euro cents/l.
To make a long story short: AsiaSenses not recommended, La Palanche is by reliable French overlanders. Or just backpack Vietnam, a wise decision.