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Vietnam

 Area:                 329,314 sqkm

 Population:     94.5 million

 Capital:              Hanoi

 Language:       Vietnamese

 Currency:         VND

Ranking 7th in world’s top 20 fastest growing destinations according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Vietnam is quickly emerging as a hot tourist attraction by its majestic natural beauty, diversified cuisine, attractive culture as well as wonderful historic monuments.
Vietnam Overview

Travel to Vietnam is a continuously hot tendency in recent years, and this country has been remarked as a dramatically bright point in Southeast Asia’s travel destination list. The 'S'-shaped country bordering on Laos, Cambodia, and China, has been divided into three different regions such as The North, Middle, and South which have their own mighty space to display traditional culture as well as magnificent natural scenery well known as a significant strength of Vietnam.

Beside normal Vietnam package tours to visit popular attractions, there are numerous ways to deep exploration of this monsoon tropical country by putting efforts to profoundly understand geography, culture values, and perception changes during history before taking a real Vietnam trip and traveling as “Vietnam expert”.

Vietnam culture and religion
The diversity of Vietnamese culture was clearly manifested by 54 colors of ethnic minority groups. Each of groups has different characteristics, unique costumes, and special festivals as well.
 
Most of Vietnamese residents have the custom of worshipping ancestors as a way to honor them because they always remember “Drink water, remember its source”.

With ten million followers and 20,000 pagodas, Buddhism is undoubtedly the largest established religion; however, Vietnam has a rich and wide variety of religions based on imported faiths and popular beliefs. 
 
Vietnam History
Legend of the Vietnamese Origin
 
It has been telling that Vietnamese Ancestors were Lac Long Quan, a sea God, and his wife Au Co, a beautiful Fairy. After they married and gave birth to 100 children, Lac Long Quan brought 50 people to live undersea and Au Co kept the leftovers living in the land. These children’s descendants were the first Lac Viet residence then. Until now all Vietnamese are taught this story and proud of their origin – children of the Fairy and the Dragon.
 
Chinese influence
 
Perhaps the darkest period in Vietnam history was China’s colony in one thousand years. During 10 decades, people of this country were not treated as a human being; moreover, men were being killed, while women were being constrained to head for purpose of likening Vietnamese to Chinese. Of course, Vietnamese would totally become the slave, and a result of this period has lasted until now in terms of Vietnamese appearance and culture, such as Middle Autumn festival and  Lunar New Year; however, the own charming beauty of Vietnam has been still conserving.
 
Three unique Vietnamese women
 
It is said the most powerful women in China’s history was Wu Ze Tian, Trung sisters were two first women Kings of Vietnam. Two women rose up in the arm at Me Linh in the 40s and gained the victory; however, this frail independence just lasted 3 years later, then Vietnam was dominated and revenge cruelly once again by China. 
Until the year of 248 Trieu sister, a preeminent woman gathered people and soldiers to take the revolution in Thanh Hoa province, but it was just survived one year. This hero died in 249 at 23 years old.
 
Feudal dynasties
 
After the failure of Trieu sister’s fighting, Vietnam has continuously ruled with a rod of iron nearly 700 years until Ngo Quyen King defeated Nam Han army (one of Chinese feudal dynasty) in Bach Dang River. This is one of the most glorious victories during history, it completely put an end to one thousand years settled by China and set up an independent state with the capital in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh.
 
Ngo Quyen's death a few years later ushered in a period of civil strife, but in the early 11th century the first of the great Vietnamese dynasties was founded. Under the astute leadership of several dynamic rulers, the Ly dynasty ruled Vietnam for more than 200 years, from 1010 to 1225.
 
In 1010, Ly Cong Uan, the first King of Ly dynasty moved the capital to Thang Long (Hanoi). He said: ”its location evokes the image of a rolling dragon, a squatting tiger and being situated at an equal distance of the four points of the compass and corresponds to a favorable orientation of the mounts and rivers. There, the site is sufficiently vast and level; the grounds sufficiently raises and well exposes. The population is protected against floods; its economy is well developed and prosperous. All over the country, it is the most favorable position to set up the capital over thousands of generations”
 
After the Ly dynasty, the Tran (1225-1400), Vietnam became a dynamic force in Southeast Asia. China's rulers; however, had not abandoned their historic objective of controlling the Red River delta, and when the Mongol dynasty came to power in the 13th century, the armies of Kublai Khan attacked Vietnam in an effort to reincorporate it into the Chinese Empire. With profound patriotism, Tran’s people bravely struggled and won a lot of glorious victories; however, in 1400s  Tran seemed to collapse because of an exhausted economy and unstable politics.
 
As a result, in 1407 Vietnam was again conquered by Chinese troops. For two decades, the Ming dynasty attempted to reintegrate Vietnam into the empire, but in 1428, resistance forces under the rebel leader Le Loi dealt the Chinese a decisive defeat and restored Vietnamese independence. Le Loi mounted the throne as the first emperor of the Le dynasty. 
 
The new ruling house retained its vigor for more than a hundred years, but in the 16th century, it began to decline. Power at court was wielded by two rival aristocratic clans, the Trinh and the Nguyen. When the former became dominant, the Nguyen was granted a fiefdom in the south, dividing Vietnam into two separate zones. The rivalry was sharpened by the machinations of European powers newly arrived in Southeast Asia in pursuit of wealth and Christian converts.
 
By the late 18th century, the Le dynasty nearly collapsed. Vast rice lands were controlled by grasping feudal lords; therefore, a revolution of angry peasants led by Tay Son brother occurred, and in 1789 Nguyen Hue, the ablest of the brothers, briefly restored Vietnam to united rule. Nguyen Hue died shortly after ascending the throne; a few years later Nguyen Anh, an heir to the Nguyen house in the south, defeated the Tay Son armies. As Emperor Gia Long, he established a new dynasty in 1802 and took Hue as capital of Nguyen dynasty
 
French war 
 
The first French attack at Da Nang Harbor failed to achieve its objectives in 1958, but a second farther south was more successful, and in 1862 the court at Hue agreed to cede several provinces in the Mekong delta (later called Cochin China) to France. In the 1880s the French returned to the offensive, launching an attack on the north. After severe defeats, the Vietnamese accepted a French protectorate over the remaining territory of Vietnam, and officially rule Vietnam savagely.
 
Until the early 1920s, nationalist parties began to demand reform and independence. In 1930 the revolutionary Ho Chi Minh formed an Indochinese Communist party. Until World War II started in 1939, such groups labored without success.
 
The victory of the revolution in August 1945, Vietminh forces arose throughout Vietnam and declared the establishment of an independent republic in Hanoi, but the French did not admit and continuously raised difficulties and found any ways to destroy The North’s peace.
 
In 1954, Dien Bien Phu campaign happened and got successful, but drove the Vietnamese to another way. The French government could no longer resist pressure from a war-weary populace at home and in June 1954 agreed to negotiations to end the war. 
 
American war 
 
After 1954, Vietnamese took the escape from French rule; unfortunately, they continuously faced to Imperialism, especially the direct threat from the United States. During 21 years later, the Vietnamese kept on fighting to achieve a completed independence, and they totally united two sides of the country in 1975 after Ho Chi Minh Campaign. 
 
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
 
More than 40 years since Vietnam was united and liberated, Vietnam is still a poor country and limited development of many social aspects; however, this is safe and peaceful country. Vietnamese people has been living with a tradition of being grateful to one’s benefactor.
 
The rise and fall of this nation during 4000 years of history has cultivated a rich traditional culture and unique custom as well. Additionally, it is undeniable that Vietnam owns a huge plenty of impeccable scenery which deep touches the soul of people loving nature. All beauty of this nation drives travelers not wait for more to have a Vietnam holiday.
 
Vietnam climate & best time to visit
Because of differences in geography, the climate tends to change greatly from north to south with three distinct climatic zones. The climate in north Vietnam is humid and subtropical, while south Vietnam enjoys a tropical climate all year round. Central Vietnam lies somewhere in between. As Vietnam is a long, narrow country, climate conditions vary considerably, with temperatures ranging between 20-35°c.
There is no perfect time to visit Vietnam. Generally speaking, destinations in the north such as Hanoi and Sapa are great in October, November and December, as you'll experience little rain but clear skies and temperate conditions.
The coastal stretch from hue down to Nha Trang is great in the first half of the year, from January to July, while Saigon and the Mekong Delta are best from November through to February or march.

 
Vietnam Transportation
Vietnam's road network is extensive and growing because of government heavy investment in highway construction and upgrades recently. As a result, public transportations, such as bus are growing rapidly and become favorite ones to locals. However, motorbikes are still the main of transports in this country and seem to be so crazy to cross roads there!

In terms of delta regions, a vast network of navigable rivers and canals is integral to local transportation. These waterways are generally inaccessible to larger vessels and their cargoes, as are the numerous seaports that dot Vietnam's coasts. 
 
Airlines are prior development,  international airports have operated in many cities, namely Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang; besides, flexible domestic routes connects a number of smaller cities easily with affordable price, even cheap. 
 
Because of dramatical competition among types of transports, train system also makes a lot significant improvements, more convenient and comfortable for the long journey.
 
Cruises are seemed to be one of famous tourism products in Vietnam, but definitely, it is worth money. Ha Long Cruise tour or Mekong cruise tour may drive travelers insane by the combination of luxurious facilities and beautiful sceneries which draw a picture of serving King and Queen.
 
Things to do and see in Vietnam

Beside take a sightseeing to famous attractions, such as Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An and Da Nang as a normal Vietnam trip, the huge plenty of activities are waiting to explore from mountain cycling to cooking class in local house of tribe hills, from a true farmer in rice fields to a fisherman in sea, from relaxation in resort to adventure in caves as well. Additionally, Vietnam is well known as “Heaven of gastronomy”; there is no far distance between luxurious restaurants and street stands in terms of tasty and fresh quality; however, hygiene, decoration as well as services are the consideration. One more thing, please do not read only, just pack luggage and discover, this Vietnam holiday will be a new chapter in your travel story.

 
Vietnam Travel Tips

In case you are obtaining your pre-arranged visa on arrival please proceed to the Visa counter and read our visa information document

ATMs

ATMs for withdrawing Vietnamese Dong are available at major airports, hotels, towns and capitals of provinces throughout Vietnam. Most ATMs have an English language version. Ask your tour guide for help when you need to locate an ATM

CLOTHING

Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for traveling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and an umbrella can also offer useful shade from the sun.

Evenings in the north and the center can be quite chilly so bring a sweater and a good jacket especially from November to February.  Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other revealing clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries. Shoes must be removed before entering some religious building or a private home.

CREDIT CARDS

Most credit cards are accepted in Vietnam. VISA and MASTERCARD are the most widely accepted. JCB and AMERICAN EXPRESS are also accepted in some outlets. Not all hotels, commercial centers, shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Check with the cashier before making any purchases.

Bear in mind that in some places a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases: VISA and MasterCard approx 2.2%, JCB: 2.75% surcharge, American Express: 4% surcharge.

NOTE: Surcharges can change without prior notice. Check the percentage charged before you pay.

ELECTRICITY

Vietnam mainly uses 220V but in some areas, 110V is also used.  A mixture of flat and round 2-pin outlets are used throughout the country. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor.

ENTERTAINMENT

There are plenty of entertainment options in Vietnam and restaurants/bars and nightclubs open until late at night/early in the morning. A wide variety of restaurants is on offer with everything from Vietnamese, Asian, Italian, French cuisine, etc. to fast food.

FOOD

The cuisine of Vietnam comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors and is definitely a part of the Vietnam experience not to be missed. One of the characteristics of Vietnamese food is that it is always fresh being bought the same morning straight from the market. Food is usually prepared with a minimum of oil and served with the ubiquitous fish sauce called nuoc mam. Typical Vietnamese dishes you can expect to try to include pho, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast, Cha Gio (Nem in northern dialect), deep-fried spring rolls and Goi Ngo Sen, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps, and peanuts. Due to the strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available however more so in Southern Vietnam 

HEALTH

No vaccinations are mandatory except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However, visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus, and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions, especially if traveling off the beaten track. Medical facilities are limited and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.

Consult your doctor for up-to-date information and prescriptions for vaccinations, anti- malarial tablets and any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Vietnam. Some vaccination courses may need time to be completed. If you plan to take anti-malarial tablets, you usually need to start one week before arrival. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).

HOURS OF BUSINESS

Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 07:30 or 08:00 until 17:00 or 18:00 and often close for lunch between 11:30 and 13:30. Some offices also open Saturday morning. Shops open early and close anytime between 18:00 and 22:00. Most shops are open 7 days a week.


INTERNET

Major hotels have Business Centers with PCs connected to the Internet. Some of them have wireless broadband access in rooms or public areas. Cybercafés are available everywhere and are easily found in major towns and cities. Prices are reasonable, usually below US$1 per hour. Most Internet cafés are equipped with webcams, headsets, and microphones. Vietnam has an exceptional amount of cafés and restaurants offering free WIFI connections if having a meal or a drink internet fees are waived.

LANGUAGE

The national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. In big cities and in places with many tourists, people will speak basic English. The younger generation will be more adept at speaking English, while the older generation still speaks some French. Because Vietnamese has six different tones, it is a difficult language for most foreigners to speak despite the fact that the Roman alphabet is used in modern Vietnamese. The same word can have six different meanings depending on the tone used to pronounce it. Russian and Chinese are also spoken by some people.

MONEY

The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). US Dollars and Euros are accepted in some hotels, restaurants, and shops. Please note that they are not normally allowed to collect foreign currency since 2012. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 05:00 and some on Saturday morning. In the major cities, there are some exchange offices open long hours near places frequented by tourists and most hotels will change US Dollars and Euros at very reasonable rates.

Current exchange rate (Jan 2017) 1 USD = 22,533 VND.

You receive a slightly better exchange rate for $100 and $50 notes than for smaller denominations. Vietnamese Dongs come in the following forms: Bank notes: 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20.000; 50,000; 100,000; 200,000;500,000.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Normal print films are available in Vietnam as well as professional quality films (like slide films).  Digital photos can easily be downloaded and loaded onto a CD-ROM in case you run out of memory.

SAFETY

Vietnam is a safe country to visit. As a global rule, never leave your valuables unattended in the vehicles and always maintain eye contact and a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags. In Saigon (HCMC) there has been a surge in drive-by snatching so keep a lookout around you and never stay close to the road’s edge with a bag, gold chains or handling a phone or camera as these are the favorite objects.

Avoid cycling late at night and choose reliable metered taxi companies (they are really cheap and air-conditioned). Choose Mai Linh Taxi, Vinasun, Vina Taxi in Saigon (HCMC) and Hanoi Taxi and CP Taxi in Hanoi. Best to avoid other brands on the street.

SHOPPING

Souvenirs to look out for in Vietnam include lacquerware, silk, conical hats, woodcarvings, hill tribe fabrics and handicrafts, embroidery, marble, ceramics, silver jewelry, antique watches, and paintings. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping but Hoi An in the center of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains.

TELEPHONE

If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the costs before using it abroad - it may be expensive. Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible to send faxes from hotels and post offices although these services are expensive. It may not always be possible to make international calls in remote areas.



 
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