329,560 sq km
Ho Chi Minh city, Haiphong, Danang
- Viet group account for 87 %
The remaining are different ethnic
groups who settle down mainly in hilly
and mountainous area.
Buddhism 80 %, Catholic 8 %, Muslim 1%,
Situated on the East Coast of the
Indochinese Peninsular, Vietnam stretches over 2000
km from north to south. It borders China to the
north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. The
country has tow low-lying fertile rice producing
regions at either end - the Red River Delta in the
north and the Mekong Delta n the south. Heavily
forested mounted mountain ranges regions
Free market orientated economy with
ongoing industrialization and building
programs. The country is very rich in
Mainly 220 volts , but in some areas 110
volts is also used. Sockets are usually
of the two flat-pinned variety.
Visiting Vietnam is not a spectator sport,
it's an adventure! A trip to Vietnam will
literally change how you look at life.
Whether you come for a week or a month, you
will be cheated, cajoled, and harassed, but
you will also be welcomed, celebrated, and
made to feel like family. You will
experience intense emotions from pure joy to
profound sadness. Vietnam will grab hold of
your heart and won't let go.
The US State Department describes Vietnam as a
poor, agrarian country. While certainly
accurate, that description doesn't begin to
convey the incredible pride and genuine
warmth of its people, the richness of its
culture, the depth of its tradition and the
diversity of its landscape. These are the
reasons to come to Vietnam.
From the densely-populated canals and rivers
comprising the Mekong Delta to the
magnificent limestone peaks rising out of
Halong Bay, Vietnam offers a variety of
geographies and climates to entice the
visitor. There is an abundance of flaura and
fauna for nature lovers and spectacular
vistas for photographers.
Wherever you go, you will be welcomed by
the Vietnamese. Proud, warm and outgoing,
they are eager for contact with foreigners,
especially Westerners. You will be greeted
with smiles, waves and shouts of "hello!"
I've been given flowers by children on the
beach, invited to play badminton by
strangers, entertained in the homes of
villagers and invited to dine with the
families of Vietnamese friends.
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Visa are required by all nationalities.
Regulations and costs change from time to
time so it is advisable to check the current
rules. Visa are refused without explanation
to those the authorities consider a
It is also a good idea to carry 2-4 passport
sized photos with you when traveling to
Vietnam, as sometimes these are requested by
Immigration officials. Those who travel
overland from Cambodia will be crossing at
Moc Bai border gate, from Laos at Lao Bao
and Cau Treo border gates, from China at
Hakau, Huu Nghi and Mong Cai border gates.
You must ensure your visa specifies entry
" international border gates". Further more
your visa must be " multiple entry " If you
want to fly out from Hanoi or Saigon after
your extension trip to Angkor Wat or
More info on visas arrangement
The local currency in Vietnam is Vietnam Dong
( VND ). At the time of writing, 1 USD is around
15,720 VND. Local VND or USD are both accepted.
Banks are open Monday to Friday and some open
on Saturday morning. In main cities, travelers'
cheques can be exchanged at banks and some exchange
bureau, but this can be very difficult in small
ATMs can only be found in Hanoi and Ho Chi
Minh city, so do not depend on any kind of bankcards
( e.g. credit cards...) as your main source of
On entering Vietnam all visitors must complete
an entry/exit card ( white/blue color ) and a
customs declaration form ( white/yellow). It is
important that you keep both of these forms and
present them to Customs and Immigration upon
If you have booked an arrival transfer or are
on one of your designed group tour, please look for
our representative who will be holding a sign with
your name on at Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city airport.
Taxi: If you have not arranged for an
arrival/departure transfer, you can always take a
cap which is available at the airport and at
the hotel. Whether you are arriving at Hanoi or Ho
Chi Minh city it is best to take a metered taxi to
the hotel. Driver may want to negotiate a price
before leaving the airport, but do not agree to
this. Rather you should make sure they switch the
meter on and pay the amount it displays when you
reach your destination. Taxi fares vary according to
the type of vehicle ( i.e. a modern A.C car is more
expensive than an older non A.C vehicle ). As a
guideline you should expect to pay the following
amounts for a taxi from the airport to your
Hanoi: $ 10-15 US
$ 7-10 US
During your free time there may be occasion to
use local taxis. These are inexpensive, about 11,000
VND for a 2 first km.
More infos on transfer/Transport
Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is
possible to send faxes from hotels and post offices
although be warned these services are expensive .
Away from the major cities it may not always be
possible to make international calls. Cyber cafes
are becoming popular in the major cities in Vietnam,
and many travelers now prefer to keep in touch by
e-mail. Post cards can be bought at all the main
tourist sites and stamps are available from post
offices and some hotel reception desks.
The voltage in the cities
and towns is generally 220V, 50 cycles, sometimes
110V in the rural areas. Electric sockets are
standard European or American. If you bring a
computer to Vietnam, you must use a surge suppresser
to protect your circuits. Large voltage
regulators can be bought at computer stores in
Vietnam to give greater protection. It is a good
idea to bring adapter plugs in case your plugs do
not fit the sockets, which are sometimes two round
pins, other times three pins. If you do not have the
correct size plug, however, it is easy to buy one at
many markets or electronics stores. Batteries are
available in the major cities.
Offices are usually open Monday to Friday from
8:00 until 17:00 or 18:00, and some also open on
Most shops open 7 days a week around 9:00am
until late as 20:00 or 21:00.
Vietnamese food comes as a wonderful
surprise and is definitely not to be missed!
It has a very distinctive style, although it
is also clearly influenced by Chinese and ,
to a lesser extent, French cuisine.
usually include rice or noodles as staples
along with a vast array of vegetables, and
meats like chicken, duck, beef and pork.
Dishes feature a wonderful fusion of flavors
and you will find that fish sauce is a
condiment accompanying almost every meal.
Anther unexpected delight is the
availability of good quality seafood (
fish, calamari, prawns and crabs) which is
caught along Vietnam's extensive coastline.
Freshness is of paramount
importance in Vietnamese cooking, so ingredients are bought fresh from local
market on a daily basis.
The fact that many
Vietnamese are completely omnivorous, has lead to some very exotic dishes - such
as barbecued frog legs which can be found in food stalls in many local markets (
perhaps this is how the French come to introduce frog legs into their cuisine).
On the other hand, there
is also a strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam which means that vegetarian food
is also widely available.
Here are just a few
examples of the fantastic dishes you can expect to find in Vietnam.
Noodle soup made with either chicken or beef. It is served with a plate
of fresh green leaves (e.g., basil, bok choi), beans sprouts, and red
chilies to add as you please.
Deep fried spring roll( in the south)
/nem ran (north)
Fresh spring rolls made from raw vegetables and grill prawns,
crab, pork, or chicken wrapped in rice paper. The ingredients are
usually served separately, leaving you to assemble the rolls yourself!
A steamed " ravioli" style dumpling ( although somewhat larger), stuffed
with minced pork or prawns, black mushrooms and bean sprouts.
GOI NGO SEN
A delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps, and peanuts.
Cubes of fish cooked on the table in butter, you add all ingredients,
veggies, noodles and corianders etc... this is authentic northern dish
A combination of soup with meatballs and spring rolls, another typical
of the legacies left over from the French colonial period include crispy
baguettes, pate, hard boiled quails eggs, crème caramel, and banana flambé.
On the subject of deserts,
we should point out that they are not particularly common. However an amazing
assortment of fresh tropical fruits is usually on offer, which will round off a
Tea, similar to Chinese green tea, is one of
the most common drinks in Vietnam. Coffee was
introduced by the French and is very good. It is
thick and strong and is served complete with drip
filter, so you know it is 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 larger
style beer is more commonly available, Ba Ba Ba,
Hanoi beer being the most well known local brands.
Spirits, such as nep moi ( a type of Vodka) , are
also produced locally but once again, be cautious as
these are very strong.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in
Vietnam, but bottled mineral water is safe and
available everywhere. Ice in drinks is generally OK
in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is
best to avoid it on street stalls or in country
Malaria is not a problem in big cities, but
care should be taken in remote areas,
especially in the rainy season when
mosquitoes breed. If spending time in the
countryside (below 1,200 meters al), contact
a doctor about anti-malarial drugs. Try to
avoid getting bitten, cover up after dark,
wear insect repellent, burn mosquito coils
and sleep under a net.
Diarrhea: This malady is common. If it occurs,
maintain a diet of bland foods of fluids only. If severe, consult a physician.
Many of the drugs sold in small pharmacies are copies of have expired. Stick to
Vietnam offers a wide range of souvenirs and
shopping in the various local markets around
the country can be great fun. Good
bargaining skills are essential and as high
quality souvenirs or genuine antiques are
difficult to find, prices should generally
be low. Here are some of the items which
make their way onto many people's shopping
list: Clothes ( e.g. T-shirt, polo-shirt,
trousers, shorts, skirts,) beaded shoes,
conical hats, single-cup coffee filters,
sleeping bags, CDs, embroidered table
cloths, carving in wood or marble, lacquer
ware ( e.g. pictures , trays, trinket
boxes), and traditional style paintings and
sketches. Handicrafts produces by the people
of the hill tribes in the north are also
very popular. These include fabrics,
jewellery, embroidered bags, and wickerwork.
It is also possible to buy tailor-made
cloths. These are made to order and are
usually available for collection within 24
hours. Once of the best places to buy tailor
made items is Hoian.
As Vietnamese has six different tones, it is
a difficult language for most foreigners to grasp.
The same word can have six different meanings
pending on the tone used to pronounce it.
Nonetheless we encourage you
try to speak a few words of the local language. The locals will certainly
appreciate your efforts!
Although Roman script is used for modern Vietnamese, the words and phrases below
are spelled phonetically to help you with pronunciation.
I don't understand
Anh ( Chi)
Nha ve sinh
Nya vay sing
toy kom beet