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I am planning to visit Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Da Nang, and Hội An in Vietnam in the next week.

I heard that Co To Island (near Ha Long Bay) is really beautiful and worth a visit. When searching for information about the island I found many people say foreign travelers must have a special permit to visit. However, some say it is easier to visit the island now.

I hate waiting for a long time to receive a license when traveling, so my question is: is it possible to visit Co To Island without a special permit now? If not, what is the easiest way to get the special license?

  • From 2015, No need permission to travel to Coto. Just carry your passport. – user66775 Aug 19 '17 at 3:28
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As per Vietnamese regulations, foreigners coming to borderside areas must register with local police.

Due to the military presence on the island a permit is required to stay on the island. The permit needs to be acquired in Ha Long city beforehand. If you arrive without a permit you will either be expected to pay a fine or be sent back to the mainland. (This information does not apply to Vietnamese nationals)
http://wikitravel.org/en/Co_To_Island

Co To is also a border district island so you need to register before coming. Those documentations are often done by tourist companies. However in recent years many foreigners who travel on their own didn't know about the regulation so they bought boat tickets directly to the island without registering first and were not allowed to stay.

If you're working in Vietnam, things are much easier. If not, there are some tourist agencies that will work out the permit for you. You can read some information here Forbiden island: Three documents a foreigner needs for a vacation in Co To

However AFAIK it's possible to get an on-arrival permit because since 10/10/2014 a special group was formed at Van Don port to give permits directly to foreign travelers who didn't have one (source: Vietnamese only).

But if you're visiting Ha Long then I think you should have time to get the permit first. That would avoid many hassle. It wouldn't take much time, because only a few foreigners come to the island each year. Information from Quang Ninh province says that in the first 9 months of 2014 there are only 400 foreigners enter Co To per total 100000 (again Vietnamese only). You can also book a hotel on Co To first and have them get the permit for you

Another nearby island, Co To Con (small Co To), can be visited without any permission

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No - permits are no longer required to visit Co To according to this article dated a few days after your question (and the other answers).

Foreign tourists can now freely visit the border Co To island, said Hoang Ba Nam, Secretary of the Party Committee of the Co To district in the northern Quang Ninh province.

The provincial Police Department, on July 15 [2016], announced that the Co To island district is a local tourism site in accordance with Decision No. 1288/QD-UBND made by the provincial People’s Committee.

There are other border areas that still require a permit, and Phúc's advice still stands for those.

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Last I heard it was still through the permit but the permits were easier to obtain in Hanoi. Although I would expect any assistants you find to charge you an arm and a leg. Im in HCMC so i'm not too sure on how you'd go about it at all.

Honestly there are hundreds of beautiful islands along the way including Cham off the coast of Hoi an. If you are looking for more remote places have a look on google maps and you can see a host of islands all along. Then look into them.

How long are you going for too? I would recommend fitting in some of the southern highlands around Da Lat and Kon Tum if you get time as the coast is beautiful but repetitive. If you are only going for a week to vietnam I would cut out half your places as you wont appreciate any of them.

vietnamcoracle.com might help you

  • Only the first paragraph here actually attempts to answer the question. And it has no sources and contradicts the other answer, which cites plenty of sources. – David Richerby Jul 30 '16 at 10:08
  • Do you have any affiliation with the website you posted? If yes, please say so, it is not a problem but you need to disclose it - otherwise we have to consider this post as spam by our site rules! – mts Aug 2 '16 at 11:06

protected by Community Jan 24 '18 at 8:28

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