Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese Peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”. The country provides huge opportunities to travel to more remote areas while offering a well preserved and vibrant cultural heritage to immerse in. Though Saigon and Hanoi are madly bustling cities, full of busy citizens making up for lost time, there is plenty of tranquil life in the countryside and on the beaches. From the hill tribes in the far north, to the spectacular karst-riddled Halong Bay, down past sunny white-sand beaches, the incredible wartime tunnels, to the Mekong Delta in the far south, there is a huge variety of things to see and do.
Official name: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Population: ~89 million people
Total Area: 331.212 square kilometers
Major religion: Buddhism
Monetary unit: Vietnam dong
International dialing code: +84
Time Zone - Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +7 hours
The climate of Vietnam varies considerably from region to region and can be divided into three different zones - North, Central, and South.
In the North, there are the traditional four different seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Spring lasts from February to April with warm weather. Summer lasts from May to August with hot and showery weather. Autumn lasts from September to November with cool air, and dry gentle breezes. It can be said that it is the most beautiful season in a year. Winter lasts from November to January with cooler, dry weather. It is the coldest season in a year.
The southern weather is simpler with only two seasons: Wet and Dry. The rainy season lasts from May to September. Showers are often heavy but usually stop quickly. The dry season spans the months of October to April. The weather becomes hotter.
The national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. It is monosyllabic, with each syllable having six different tones that can change the meaning of the word. In recent years, as Vietnam's contacts with Western nations have increased, English has become more popular as a second language; the study of English is now obligatory in most schools. In big cities and in places with many tourists, people can speak basic English.
Traditional Vietnamese cooking is renowned for its fresh ingredients and minimal use of oil It relies mainly on fresh herbs and vegetables, and is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. The most popular dish among the local people is the ph? - a delicious noodle soup with beef or chicken. It can now be found in most major cities around the world. Another specialty is the spring roll, which is found in many versions, with varying ingredients used.
Fruit smoothies – sinh to - made from seasonal fruits are very popular. Fruit such as milk apple, banana, avocado, durian, strawberry, jack fruit, passion fruit, dragon fruit, lychee and mango can be found in fruit stalls.
It is recommended that you buy bottled water rather than drinking tap water. Don't miss out the "bia h?i" (meaning ‘beer gas'), as the Vietnamese cal the local draught beer. Imported brands such as Carlsberg, San Miguel and Heineken are available along with local brands such as Tiger, Saigon, and 333 (pronounced "ba-ba-ba").
The currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Notes are available in denominations of VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000; 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500; and 200 (less used now).
The US dollar is now widely accepted in Vietnam's major cities. Tourists can exchange USD for VND when travel around Vietnam. VISA, MasterCard and American Express cards are accepted in major hotels, restaurants, and shops in the urban areas.
Vietnam celebrates many holidays; however it is rare that shops are closed. The exception is Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year - officially a three-day holiday but many businesses close down for a full week or more. This is by far the busiest time of the year for traveling in Vietnam and hotels, flights and trains are often full and more expensive.
- Tet Holiday 2014: 30 January – 2 February
- Independence Day and Labor Day: 30 April & 1 May
- National Day: 02 September
Most nationals require a visa to enter Vietnam and all travelers must have a passport valid for at least 6 months after their planned exit from Vietnam. A Visa on Arrival service is possible with advance notice to a Vietnamese Travel Agent to prepare all permissions and documents. Processing a tourist-visa application typically takes four or five working days. If you plan to spend more than a month in Vietnam, or if you plan to exit Vietnam and enter again from Cambodia or Laos, arrange a three-month multiple-entry visa.
(VIP airport pick up service is available. Please contact us for requirement.)