HANOI, 30 June 2015: Travel companies and event sponsors overseas will be have an easier time getting their overland caravans into Vietnam starting 1 August, if the cars are left-hand drive.
The improvements are not perfect, but they remove a seat capacity obstacle that made it difficult to organise car caravans in Vietnam with cars that had more than nine seats. The government confirmed last week it has amended the regulation on managing foreign vehicles that enter Vietnam for tourism purposes.
It issued Decree 57, 16 June, that replaced Decree 152 that has been effective since 2013.
The previous decree, restricted entry to vehicles with less than nine seats. Only left-hand-drive cars are allowed.
The definition of a caravan was not explained, but it usually refers to a group of vehicles that travel in convoy with a lead car usually a police vehicle as an escort. Permission is granted to the caravan organiser and all cars have to enter and exit together. Considerable paperwork is required if a one vehicle is left behind due to an accident or breakdown.
Police escorts are also obligatory even with motor cycle groups. Laos and Cambodia have left-hand drive vehicles, while Thailan, Malaysia and Singapore have right hand drive vehicles.
The new rule will benefit car companies in Laos who own commuter vans that can now travel into Vietnam as the less than nine seat rule has been scotched.
In addition, the new regulation will cut the time that Ministry of Transport needs to consider licensing vehicles of foreigners from five days to three days if all necessary papers are submitted.
If the ministry rejects an application the car owner can appeal within three days, Saigon Times claimed.
The Ministry of Transport’s approval documents will be sent to relevant ministries and border guards for management and supervision.
The new regulation should help tour operators to tap more arrivals and host caravan tours from neighbouring countries.
It remains a small market that is usually led by automobile associations and specialised motor clubs.
In general, self-drive holidays are not recommended in Vietnam. The preferred way is to hire a car and driver.