Hours of Operation
Vietnam has a tradition of afternoon siestas (especially in the countryside), which means that all activities except eating tend to stop during lunch, between 11:30 and 2. Urban life is changing rapidly in Vietnam, however, and more and more businesses are staying open during lunchtime to accommodate the increasing number of tourists and office-bound Vietnamese who use their midday break as a time to catch up on shopping or doing chores.
Cafés and restaurants are open all day, almost every day. Most sidewalk stalls serving breakfast and lunch finish by 2 and reopen for dinner about half an hour later. By 10 pm in Hanoi and 11 pm in Ho Chi Minh City, activity starts slowing down; smaller cities die down even earlier. In bigger cities more popular venues stay open much later. You can always find late-night noodle stands. Bars and nightclubs usually close at about 1 am or whenever the last customer leaves.
Banks and Offices
Vietnam for the most part has a five-day workweek. Some offices are open on Saturday morning, but many are not. Most government agencies and foreign-invested companies take the weekend off.
Banks are open on weekdays and on Saturday morning in some larger towns and cities, from 8 am to noon and then from 1:30 to 5 pm. Post offices are open seven days a week.
Vendors sell gas at many intersections in the cities, although you will have trouble finding gas stations open after 8 pm in smaller towns. If you cannot find a gas station, look for a bottle on the street curb.
Museums and Sights
Most museums in Vietnam are closed on Sunday and Monday. Some are also closed on Saturday or are only open Saturday morning. It’s also not uncommon to find some museums and galleries closed for a few hours at lunchtime. Pagodas are generally open from dawn to dusk, later if it's the 1st or 15th day of the lunar month.
Small family-run shops seem to stay open indefinitely, primarily because living and working quarters are often one and the same. Larger stores, such as supermarket chains and department stores, can stay open as late as 10 pm in major cities.
The traditional lunar new year, known as Tet in Vietnam and celebrated throughout much of Southeast Asia, falls in January or February, depending on the lunar calendar. Note that accommodations are scarce and museums, offices, and some shops tend to shut down for days at a time during Tet. Other national holidays only tend to effect banks and government offices, these include New Year's Day, the anniversary of the founding of the Vietnamese Communist Party (February 3); Liberation Day (April 30), commemorating the day the North Vietnamese army took Saigon; International Workers Day, or May Day (May 1, the day after Liberation Day, which means a two-day holiday); Ho Chi Minh's birthday (May 19); National Day (September 2); and Christmas Day (December 25).