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Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam Locator Map

Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”. The northern half of Vietnam was a part of Imperial China from 111 BC until 939. Vietnam flourished under imperial dynasties for over 900 years until being conquered by France and becoming a part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by communist forces under Ho Chi Minh. The country was later divided into the communist North and anti-communist South until being reunited once again after the Vietnam War in 1975. The main two cities in Vietnam are Hanoi its capitol and Ho Chi Minh, which is still referred to as Saigon. There are many beautiful natural areas in the country including the incredibly picturesque village of Sapa in the NW mountain range near the Chinese border and the Unesco World Heritage Site of Halong Bay with its fascinating limestone formations, coves for nighttime excursions and scores of small islets. Other popular UNESCO sites include Hoi An Ancient Town, one of South-East Asia's main sailing ports from the 17th to the 19th century and the former capitol of Hue.

Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia

Border countries (4): West (Cambodia and Laos) and North (China)

Area: 331,210 sq km (127,880 sq miles)

Comparative: About three times the size of Tennesee; slightly larger than New Mexico

Population: 95,261,021Million (ranked 15th in the world)

Currency: Dong (VND) is the unit of currency in Vietnam. Note denominations are 500,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, 500, 200 and 100 VND. Coins are issued as 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500; 200 denominations. Throughout the country American dollars are widely accepted, however the bills must be relatively new with no markings or tears.

Electrical Adapters: Vietnam plugs have a voltage of 220V and a frequency of 50 Hertz. The plugs have 2 round-prongs.

Religions: Buddhist 7.9%, Catholic 6.6%, Hoa Hao 1.7%, Cao Dai 0.9%, Protestant 0.9%, Muslim 0.1%, none 81.8%

Languages: Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

Unesco World Heritage Sites (8): Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi (2010), Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (2011), Complex of Hué Monuments (1993), Hoi An Ancient Town (1999), My Son Sanctuary (1999), Ha Long Bay (1994), Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (2003) and Trang An Landscape Complex (2014)

Travel options: Tours (Women Only, Couple and Family), Custom Travel, Mekong Cruising, Vietnamese Cooking Classes

Sources: CIA 2017, UNESCO 2017

Popular Destinations in Vietnam

Hanoi

HanoiHanoi has shaken off its once hostile attitude to travellers to become one of the most beguiling cities in Southeast Asia. It's slow paced yet quick to charm, with a lovely landscape of lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and French colonial architecture. Hanoians are crazy about exercising and the 'Dancers of Hanoi' have become an integral part of its early morning scene. Stroll around the hotbeds of Hoan Kiem Lake or West Lake and you will find groups of women of all ages following the lead of an instructor, dancing to all types of different music. If you’re a lover of food then you’re in for a treat with Vietnamese cuisine, especially the traditional PHO - pronounced “fa” - noodle soup and the special Hanoi dish of Bun Chá. Attraction highlights include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, House on Stilts, One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature.

 

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long BayHa Long Bay is one of Vietnam's most popular and beautiful areas in the country. Located 165 km (103 miles) from the capital of Ha Noi in the Gulf of Tonkin, Halong Bay meaning 'Bay of the Descending Dragons' covers an area of 434 sq km (168 sq miles) and is made up of fascinating limestone formations, coves, grottoes, arches and over 1600 islands and islets. In 1917, Emperor Khai Dinh plied the waters of the Bay in a wonderful wooden junk. Almost a century later travelers can embark on their own voyage through time - in ships recreated from the original designs and with impeccable service fit for a King. Cruise companies offer 1, 2 and 3-night trips in a variety of options from basic to luxury. Depending on the cruise, guests enjoy a wide range of services and amenities including meals, excursions and an array of activities including kayaking and fishing. Ha Long Bay received UNESCO World Heritage status in 1994.

 

Hue

HueHue is the cultural, religious and educational heart of the country and often regarded as the "Third Capital" of Vietnam. Hué pronounced "Hway" and not as one of the main properties of a color, was well known as the ancient imperial capital under the Nguyen dynasty. The seat of the Nguyen emperors was the Citadel which occupies a large walled area on the north side of the Perfume River. Inside the Citadel was a Forbidden City where only the emperors, concubines, and those close enough to them were granted access; the punishment for trespassing was death. Hué's complex of historical monuments was modeled after Beijing's very own Forbidden City, and received UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1993. Hué was not only the political but also the cultural and religious center of the country until a Communist government was established in Hanoi in 1945. Highlights include a cruise along the Perfume River, visit of the Citadel and the many tombs of past emperors.

 

Hoi An

Hoi AnThe Ancient Town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. It was a good material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international commercial port, and is still exceptionally well preserved. The town's old quarter has retained a unique character, as there are still a thousand of very concentrated historical structures, and no modern development. Highlights include the many merchant houses and the 400 year old Japanese Bridge, which separated the Chinese and Japanese communities. Hoi An has something for everyone: exquisite silk embroidery shops, art galleries, custom tailoring shops, and of course thousands of iconic Hoi An silk lanterns. If you're a foodie, you should definitely take part in a Vietnamese cooking class at one of the many restaurants located in town. Hoi An is a quiet and friendly place where you can still be transported one hundred years ago to a colorful past.

 

Mekong Delta

Mekong DeltaOne of the world's largest delta, the Delta Region is formed by the various tributaries of the mighty Mekong River which begins its journey to the sea in Tibet and winds its way for 4500 km through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Southern Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is one of two ‘Rice Baskets’ in Vietnam, the other being the Red River region in the north. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice in the world, with the Mekong Delta accounting for over half of the country’s yearly rice production. Life in the Mekong Delta revolves around the water, with locals toiling on the life-sustaining river for their livelihoods. The area is densely populated and intensively farmed, with rice paddies, fish farms and local orchards dominating the numerous river tributaries and canals. The Mekong Delta area is famous for its floating markets, held every morning from 5h00 till about 11h00. Hundreds of local traders converge in their boats to buy and sell mostly fruits, coconuts, vegetables and fish.

 

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh CityAt 8 million people, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city and the economic hub of the country, making up for 20% of the national GDP. Ho Chi Minh City was renamed in 1975 after the 'Fall of Saigon', in honor of Ho Chi Minh who was the Vietnamese Communist revolutionary who led the independence moment against the French and American forces beginning in 1941. Highlights of the city include the Reunification Palace, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the French-colonial General Post Building, which was designed by famous French architect Gustave Eiffel. Ho Chi Ming City has been greatly influenced by its French colonial past, with its wide elegant boulevards, 'banh mi' baguette sandwiches and the very popular Vietnamese ice coffee, which is made with sweetened condensed milk.

 

Sapa

SapaSapa is a former French outpost and an incredibly picturesque village that lies on the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, nicknamed 'the Tonkinese Alps' near the Chinese border in NW Vietnam. Nestled among steep terraced hillsides, the 'cloudy town' as Sapa it's often referred to because of its morning clouds, is renowned for its great charm, impressive scenery, and rich cultural diversity. The area is home to many hill tribe people, their villages and local markets. A popular place to visit is Bac Ha, home to the famous Sunday market which is the largest and most colorful in the area. It's not simply a place to buy and sell, but rather an opportunity for villagers from the surrounding hill tribes to reunite, catch up, and show off their intricate handmade traditional creations they have so proudly made. Popular activities in the area include soft treking to nearby hill tribe villages, trying your hand at batik-making and the traditional technique of H'mong dying or even taking part in a local cooking class.

Vietnam Travel Options

Vietnam Travel | Vietnam Tours | Women Only Vietnam Tours | Couples Only Vietnam Tours | Custom Vietnam Travel | Cruising | Rail Journeys | Cooking Classes

 

 Sources: CIA 2017, UNESCO 2017