Summary: Vietnam is located in southeastern Asia bordering China, Laos and Cambodia and mostly low and flat with highlands in the center of the country emphasizing the long and narrow country’s shape, 1,650 kilometers from north to south and 50 kilometers at its most narrow point. It took France 29 years to conquer Vietnam and integrate it into French Indochina, from 1858 to 1887, and although it now has a weaker economy, Vietnam has begun making progress because of the commitment to a more free economy, more competitive industries, and reforms to build international trade and exports.
Time Zone: UTC + 7
Languages: Vietnamese, English, French, Chinese, Khmer, Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian
Power: 220 V, 50 Hz
- Currently 1 VND = 0.00005 USD $
Climate: Vietnam has a tropical climate in the south, with monsoon conditions in the north. The north will have a more distinct hot and rainy season from May to September and a warm and dry season from October to March, while the south has more even temperatures.
- Currently 93º, Partly Cloudy
Colourful Vietnam Festival lightens Japan - Vietnam Net - 24 minutes ago
Dutch businesses urged to invest in Vietnam - Vietnam Net - 18 minutes ago
Vietnam monthly inflation seen slowing in Sept - Reuters via Yahoo! Philippines News - 2 hours, 28 minutes ago
AP reporter detained, beaten by police in Vietnam - AP via Yahoo! News - Sep 20 2:31 AM
Vietnam resorts to tariffs to control rice, urea prices - Vietnam Net - 17 minutes ago
| Hanoi: Hanoi not only makes a good jumping point to other parts of Vietnam, but it also hides its own charm. The city’s Old Quarter is over a thousand years old, and the Lenin Park is less than 50 years old, but both are sights to be seen, while the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the Hanoi Museum, and the Temple of Literature and National University, are not only historical but all have cultural significance.|
| Dalat: A gateway to the highlands and popular with local honeymooners, Dalat has the romantic French Quarter made for walking and enjoying, as well as the Valley of Love, just a few miles north of the city, where you can enjoy a small zoo or a quick paddle around the lake, among other pleasantries. Among the other sights to see are the Hang Nga Guesthouse & Art Gallery, nicknamed the Crazy House, and the Summer Palace of Emperor Bao Dai, which can almost be considered a museum itself.|
| Halong Bay: Home to the legendary Tarasque, Halong Bay is filled with 3,000 islands, some with caves, like the three caverns of Hang Dau Go or Thien Cung Caves, and others grottos or beaches. The easiest way to navigate them all is by taking a tour of the area, as the locals will know the best stops, however, you can hire your own boat if you’d prefer. The trip is best done by overnighting in a hotel in the western part of the bay, rather than trying to daytrip from Hanoi.|
| Ho Chi Minh: Ho Chi Minh City, formally known as Saigon, is the largest city in the country and inspires the most with its allure and its history. Sights include the Giac Lam Pagoda, dating from 1744 and where visitors are greeted by Quan Thew Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy, and Reunification Palace, which saw the end of the Vietnam War and has striking architecture. A half-day trip or so outside the city, the brightly colored Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh and the Cu Chi tunnels, a hidden underground complex built to evade the war, are both popular with tourists.|
| Hué: Hue, near the narrowest part of Vietnam, was once the capital of the country and still has the appearance to prove it. Just see the Thien Mu Pagoda, with the moat-encircled Citadel with the two story watch towers over every gate, the Ngo Mon, or Imperial Palace with its gold covered roof tiles, take a trip up Perfume river in a sampan, or head to Thuan An Beach and enjoy the lagoon. |
Local Customs: While here, you may find speaking French helpful, otherwise, consider some of these cultural tips: taking pictures without permission or touching people on the head are both considered rude, you are prohibited from photographic military bases, and avoid discussing religion or politics unless you know your conversation party well.
Safety: Traveling in Vietnam may take a bit more of your attention: most bemo drivers, a rickshaw, are helpful and hospitable, providing directions, but only take them along populated routes – they may take you down a dark alley, make sure you keep an eye on your drink, and there are occasional pick pocketers. The police have made recent reforms and are reliable, however, it is still best to avoid any trouble, so carry copies of your passport and visa documents.
Cash: Although the USD is accepted in some places, the rate of exchange is typically bad, so pay in dong if you can. Traveller’s checks have a better chance of acceptance than credit cards, so check at exchange bureaus, banks, and even hotels if you’re stuck.
When To Visit: The country is navigable enough to make travel easy – bad weather in one location can be skipped over by changing plans and going to a different area. The possibility of typhoons between July and November may have an impact on your travel plans in the north or central parts of the country. The other consideration is the Tet New Year: the good news is that it’s a week long festival in late January or early February that is a pleasure to see, the bad news is that travel and accommodation arrangements become more difficult and expensive and many stores and services shut down for at least a week.
Food: Vietnamese cooking includes vegetarian and meat and fish dishes, with around 500 traditional dishes, some of which are surefire classics, and others are exotic and require… consideration. Spring rolls, steamed dumplings and noodles are some of the side dishes, along with shredded chicken, served with spices, soups and sauces. The fruit, from green dragon fruit, pomelo, three-seed cherry, jujube and water apple are fresh and the coffee, ca phe phin, is often strong and sweet.
Phrases: Yes = có, no = không, please = làm ơn, thank you = cảm ơn, hello = xin chào, good bye = tạm biệt
Tipping: A 10% service charge is often included in the bill, however, follow standard tipping rules for an additional 5%, to be handed discreetly.
|Copyright © 2009 World Travel Tips|