Vietnam Visa options for Indians are listed in the Vietnamese Embassy website. This post brings the cost information and recommendations based on my travel experience.
There are two options to get your Vietnam visa for travel.
1. Visa on Arrival: This is only applicable if you arrive by air at international airports of Hanoi, Da Nang, or Ho Chi Minh City. There are two steps involved.
Step 1: Get an approval letter from an agent prior to your travel date.
Cost varies from 8 to 50$ depending on the type of tourist visa and the agency you go with.
Vietnam immigration agency is charging 8 $ as on Aug 2016, while other agents are charging up to 25$ for individual applications, discounts are available for group travelers. Service time varies from 1 to 3 business days after applying online via the agencies.
Step 2: Get the visa stamped at the arrival airport by paying the stamping fee.
Single entry Vietnam Visa stamping fee for a validity of 1 or 3 months is 25$. This can be paid in USD or in Vietnamese dongs. However, I would recommend paying by USD to avoid exchange rate issues.
For the latest fee details ensure to check any of the agency websites. For instance
Vietnamimmigration.org lists the fees and also the date it was refreshed.
2. Get a Vietnam visa prior to the travel; this will give you the freedom to enter Vietnam by land borders too. And you will also avoid the hassle of waiting in immigration queues for VOA stamp. There are two ways of getting the Vietnam Visa stamp.
a. Apply on your own by submitting documents to the Vietnam Embassy in India.
b. Apply for a visa via agents if you are far away from the embassy or want to avoid the hassle of handing the application on your own. You can apply via VFS or any other agency you know of.
Visa processing time (by the embassy) is 4 to 5 business days from the date of submission. Apply two to three weeks prior to your travel date to avoid any last-minute delays and be worry-free.
You can get latest information on visa types, fees and application form on the VFS website.
I crossed over land (from Luang Prabhang) and hence had got my visa processed from India. Vietnam Visa cost (via a local agent) was almost twice the VOA cost; around 75$. However, it worked out cheaper for me considering the savings from flight costs.
If you get a good deal on flights then go for Visa on Arrival else apply in advance via an agency in India. I recommend applying via VFS.