Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

 

Vietnam is a country that exudes an exotic charm and inspires wonder. It is a country of distinction and its appeal draws visitors to experience a truly unique holiday. The refreshing Vietnamese hospitality and ancient culture is present throughout the country from its bustling cities to its quiet seaside towns; from its mountain hamlets to its countryside villages. In Vietnam you can experience luxury and relaxation, be fascinated and awed by natural beauty, be enthralled by history and delighted by culture. No matter what type of holiday you seek, you can be sure that the experience offered by Vietnam sets it apart from its neighbours.

General Information

 

Identity Card of the country

 

Office Name

: Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Area

: 331,114 sq. km = 127,243 sq. mi.

Population

: 86 million; (2008 estimate)

Capital

: Hanoi

Religion

: Buddhism (14.38%), Catholic (6.9%),

  Cao Dai (2.8%), Protestantism

  (1.75%), Hoa Hao (1.5%), Islam

  (0.076%), Baha'i (0.007%), and other

  animist religions.

Political party

: Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)

  with over 3 million members, formerly

  (1951-76) Vietnam  Worker's Party,

  itself the successor of the

  Indochinese

  Communist Party founded in 1930.

President

: Nguyen Minh Triet

 

  Prime minister: Nguyen Tan Dungi

Language

: Vietnamese (official), English

  (increasingly favored as a second

  language)

Currency

: Vietnamese dong

Currency change

: (1 dollar = 17 780 VND, 17 780 VND  

  = 1 dollar)

Banks

: Through out the main town.

Food and Beverages

 

Food

Vietnamese food often comes as a wonderful surprise! It has a very distinctive style, although it is also clearly influenced by Chinese and, to a lesser extent, French cuisine. Freshness is of paramount importance so ingredients are bought fresh from the local market on a daily basis. Meals will usually include rice or noodles as staples along with a vast array of vegetables, and meats like chicken, duck, beef, and pork. Good quality seafood (fish, calamari, prawns and crab) is widely available and you’ll find that fish sauce is a condiment which accompanies almost every meal. The most famous Vietnamese dish is spring rolls either deep fried (known as cha gio in the south and nem ran in the north) or served fresh (bi cuon/bo bia) with a combination of raw vegetables and grilled prawns, crab, pork or chicken. Pho (noodle soup) served with either chicken or beef, fresh green leaves, beans sprouts, and red chillies is also found throughout the country. If you are after a snack try a banh cuon, a steamed dumpling stuffed with minced pork or prawns, black mushrooms and bean sprouts. The French colonial period has left a legacy of delicious continental food. Often street cafes have a distinctly French feel with crispy baguettes, pate, creme caramel, banana flambe and sweet pastries on the menu. 

 

Beverages

Tap water could not drinking. Only purify water was recommend.

Tea, similar to Chinese green tea, is one of the most common drinks in Vietnam. Coffee was introduced by the French and is usually strong, thick and served complete with drip filter, so you know it’s fresh! If you ask for milk it will usually be sweet condensed milk. Home brewed rice wine is often offered to guests, but watch out – it is extremely alcoholic! Light lager style beers such as Ba Ba Ba, BGI, Tiger, Carlsberg, Fosters and Saigon Export are commonly available and you may like to try bia hoi, which is home brewed and available cheaply on the streets. Western spirit are available in most big towns and good quality (but very alcoholic!) spirits, such as nep moi (a type of vodka), are also produced locally. 

 

Geography and Climate

Vietnam is approximately 331,688 km² (128,066 sq mi) in area (not including Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands), larger than Italy and almost the size of Germany. The perimeter of the country running along its international boundaries is 4,639 km (2,883 mi). The topography consists of hills and densely forested mountains, with level land covering no more than 20%. Mountains account for 40% of the area, with smaller hills accounting for 40% and tropical forests 42%. The northern part of the country consists mostly of highlands and the Red River Delta. Phan Xi Păng, located in Lào Cai province, is the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143 m (10,312 ft). The south is divided into coastal lowlands, Annamite Chain peaks, extensive forests, and poor soil. Comprising five relatively flat plateaus of basalt soil, the highlands account for 16% of the country's arable land and 22% of its total forested land.

 

Climate

Vietnam spans several climatic zones, resulting in substantial weather condition variations between the north and the south. Average temperatures year round range from 20 to 35 degrees Celsius so there is no particularly good or bad time to visit Vietnam. In southern Vietnam tropical conditions prevail, and there are two seasons – the wet season lasts from May to November and the dry season from December to April. The wet is characterised by high humidity levels and a refreshing afternoon downpour. Humidity in the south during the months of June and July ranges between 75% and 85%. The hottest months are from March to May. Central Vietnam is usually dry from May to October and wet from December to February. October and November may experience unstable weather conditions and flooding. Northern Vietnam also experiences two seasons though conditions can change dramatically throughout the day. The winter months from November to April are usually cold and humid. The months of December and January can be particularly cool with temperatures as low as 8 degrees Celsius. Temperatures can drop to 0 degrees Celsius in Sapa (in the highlands near the Chinese border) in winter. Summer, from May to October, can be quite hot and wet with regular downpours and occasional typhoons. The hottest months are July and August in Hanoi.

 

Clothing

One of the most popular Vietnamese traditional garments is the "Áo Dài", worn often for special occasions such as weddings or festivals. White Áo dài is the required uniform for girls in many high schools across Vietnam. Áo Dài was once worn by both genders but today it is worn mainly by females, except for certain important traditional culture-related occasions where some men do wear it.

 

Health and Security

 

Vaccinations

There are no specific health requirements for entry into Vietnam. However, you should consult your doctor for up-to-date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti-malarial requirements and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Vietnam. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses). Please be aware that for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

 

Safety & Security

Vietnam is generally a safe country, however petty street crime is on the rise as

tourist numbers increase. In Ho Chi Minh City we recommend that as little jewellery as possible is worn and that when on the street your spending money is kept close to your body in a secure place. We further recommended that you take taxis rather than cyclos at night. Taxis are metered and inexpensive. Carry a hotel card so that you can show your taxi driver where you want to go. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes at all times and carry photocopies of your passport, credit card numbers, and airline tickets, and keep a record of your encashed travellers cheques. These papers should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals.

Vietnam was recently voted one of the safest destinations in the world. Women and independent travelers have found it relatively hassle-free and easy to travel throughout the country. Incidents of petty theft and bag snatching are more widespread in Ho Chi Minh City and to a lesser extent Hanoi.

 

Formalities

Passport required 6 months valid.

 

Visa

Only citizens of certain countries can visit Vietnam without Vietnam entry visa. Those countries include:

-Most citizens of ASEAN member countries (Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao, Philipines and Brunei) are no need Vietnam visa for visiting Vietnam within 30 days; 

- Citizens South of Korea, Japan & Scandinavians (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland passport holders)  are no need Vietnam visa for visit Vietnam within 15 days. 

All other citizens are required to get Vietnam entry visa before departure (Vietnam visa issued prior to departure by Vietnamese consulates or embassies) or a pre-approved Vietnam entry visa (visa is issued on arrival at Vietnam’s International Airports) supplied before arrival in Vietnam.


Souvenirs (what to bring/ what you can’t bring back)

Vietnam has a good variety of lightweight, transportable souvenirs. You'll find them on sale in all the main tourist areas, though Hanoi and HCMC probably offer the greatest variety.


Silk is probably high on most people's list, either tailored or as uncut cloth. Hoi An, in central Vietnam, has become the place to get clothes made, but you'll also find good tailors in Hanoi (along Hang Gai) and in HCMC. Beautifully embroidered cottons are another popular choice, as are printed T-shirts in a whole range of designs.

Traditional craft items include laquerware, items decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay, conical hats, carvings made of cinnamon and camphor wood, bronze Buddhist bells and musical instruments. A water puppet also makes a nice memento. Fabrics from the various ethnic minorities are either sold in lengths or made into bags, purses or skull-caps. Minority groups in the south produce wonderful basketry and bamboo pipes.

 

What you can’t bring back

Antiques were not allowed to bring out of the country.

 

Traditions

 

Religion and Beliefs

Viet Nam is a country of many religions and beliefs. The Vietnamese people have a time-honored tradition of practicing their beliefs. Different ethnic groups in Viet Nam have different beliefs linked to their own material and spiritual lives.

 

Traditional beliefs

With the perception that every object has a soul, since the ancient time, the Vietnamese worshiped a large number of gods, especially those related to agriculture such as the sun, the moon, land, mountain, river and forest, etc., for good luck. Each ethnic minority in Viet Nam has its own way of practicing belief, which is still maintained by some ethnic groups such as Tay-Thai, Hmong-Dao, Chinese-San Diu-Ngai, Cham-Ede-GiaRai and Mon-Khmer. 

In addition, the most popular and time-honoured custom of the Vietnamese and some ethnic minorities is ancestor worship and commemoration of death anniversaries.

 

Religions

Viet Nam has a diverse mix of major religions with a large number of followers, religious figures, and monks such as Buddhism, Christianity and Muslim and some indigenous religions such as Caodaism and Hoa Hao, etc.

 

Customs

Be firm, yet diplomatic when dealing with officials who will often be very rigid. In the case of misunderstanding, patience is the best policy.

Small gifts such as cigarette lighters, pens, foreign cigarettes, liquor, perfume and even shampoo are greatly appreciated by anyone you wish to make friends with in Vietnam.

Out of politeness, always ask permission before taking photos of people. The same rule of thumb also applies to photos taken in places of worship. Permission will almost always be granted.

A gentle handshake is the most appropriate manner of greeting.

Be very discrete about giving anything to beggars frequently encountered in Ho Chi Minh City. If anyone is seen giving handouts to a beggar, he or she may end up being pursued by a mob of other beggars. This does not help create a good image for foreigners; it gives them instead the reputation of being easy to hit up for money.

Beware of pickpockets. Keep your ID and passport in a safe place and carry only photocopies of those items.

Remove your shoes before entering Buddhist pagodas. Small donations placed in the boxes found in temples are appreciated. It is acceptable to keep your shoes on within Chinese pagodas.

Never let the soles of your feet face other people or any sacred monument, such as a statue of Buddha.

 

Festivals or events

January 1      Solar New Year's Day

 

January/February: Tet (Tet Nguyen Dan). The most important Vietnamese annual festival. This marks the new lunar year and the advent of spring. This is a three-day holiday, usually at the end of January or the beginning of February (according to the solar calendar)

 

February 3     : Anniversary of the Foundation of the Communist Party of

                   Vietnam

 

April 30         : Liberation Day, the day on which Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) fell to Hanoi in 1975. This holiday is commemorated nationwide.

 

May 01          : Labor Day

 

May 19          : Birthday of President Ho Chi Minh

 

September 2 : National Day of Vietnam

 

Things to know

 

Electricity

220V, 50 Hz AC (some 110V, 50 Hz AC)

 

Languages

Vietnamese is the official language; French, Chinese, English, Khmer and tribal dialects (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian) are also spoken.

 

International Dialing Code: 84

 

Telephone Booth & Telephone Card

Using a telephone booth is an easy way for you to call home. You can find telephone booths at post offices or in the street of major cities. Telephone cards are on sales at GPO, shops, restaurants, book stores. However, it is getting more popular and cheaper to make phone calls over the Internet. These days many Internet Cafes offer you this option.

 

International calls

Costs for direct dialed international calls are still high. However, you can make a phone call to talk with your relatives in your country with half of the cost with 178 or 171 services. With these services, cost is about 0.60USD per minute to most of countries in the world. How to dial it? Very easy:

Dial 171 (or 178) + 00 + country code + city code + number Kindly note if you use this service from your hotel’s telephone, the charge might be a little higher as the hotel will put some service charges over it. Again, making international phone calls by Internet is another relatively cheap option. Mobile phone: In Vietnam, GMS (Global Mobilephone System) is presently operated by three main suppliers: VINAPHONE, MOBIFONE and Viettel. Your mobile phone could be used here by roaming service. These suppliers offer also VINA and MOBI Pre-Paid Card services. The best way for you to use a mobile phone in the country is to buy a pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone. You can also rent a mobile phone at your hotel or at a Mobile Phone Service Center in the street.

 

Business hours

Most Vietnamese are early risers, so businesses and shops open early. Government offices are open from Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm. Most businesses are open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm and on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Lunch time is usually between 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
Many businesses, shops, and all government offices are closed during this lunch period. Shops are open from about 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, with some open longer.