Vietnam

From bustling Hanoi to tranquil country villages & World Heritage sites like Ha Long Bay, is Vietnam the most underrated country in Southeast Asia?

Vietnam

Capital City: Hanoi

Vietnam Key Facts

  • Flag

  • Size

    332,698 km²
    (65th largest)

  • Population

    90,493,352

  • Vietnam Location

    Southeast Asia

  • Travel Insurance

    For Vietnam travel insurance, select Asia Region

  • International Calling Codes

    84

  • Cities

    Ho Chi Minh City

    Mekong Delta
    Sapa

     

  • Language

    Vietnamese

  • Religions

    45.3% Vietnamese folk religion
    29.6% Non-religion
    16.4% Buddhism

  • Currency

    ƌȏng

    Get current exchange rates from

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  • Driving

    In Vietnam they drive on the right side of the road

Tourism website: 

vietnamtourism.com

When is the best time to visit?

 

The best times to go are from February to March (going from Saigon north) or from October and November (going from Hanoi south)

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Transport Information

Airports (34 domestic, 3 international), railway, highway, ports and harbours.

 

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World Heritage Sites

  1. Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi, which was built by the Ly Viet Dynasty in the 11th century
  2. Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, built in the 14th century this building bears witness to the spread of neo-Confucianism in the 14th century
  3. Complex of Hué Monuments, which became the capital in 1802 and was also Vietnam's cultural and religious center until 1945
  4. Hoi An Ancient Town, a great example of a southeast Asian trading port established in the 15th century
  5. My Son Sanctuary, the remains of the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom
  6. Ha Long Bay, is a site of stunning beauty consisting of some 1,600 islands and islets
  7. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which contains the oldest major karst area in Asia
  8. Trang An Landscape Complex, a stunning landscape that is also culturally and archaeologically very important
  • Average Annual Temperature

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    26 degrees

  • Average Annual Rainfall

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    2008 mm

Climate Information

Due to its topography, Vietnam's climate differs from region to region. The north of the country experiences cool temperatures in winter (November to March) as well as frequent rain, while summer (May to October) has high temperatures and late summer brings heavy rains and occasional typhoons. The south of the country offers a humid tropical climate. May until November is the rainy season and it will rain every afternoon and floodings are not uncommon. Temperatures from December to March are pleasant, while it may get very hot as of February before the monsoon starts and brings colder temperatures. 

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Official Holidays

  • January 1 - International New Year's Day
  • January 2 - New Year's Day holiday
  • February 15-17 - Tet holiday
  • February 19 - Vietnamese New Year's Eve
  • February 20 - Vietnamese New Year
  • February 20-23 - Tet holiday
  • April 27 - Public Holiday
  • April 28 - Vietnamese Kings' Commemoration Day
  • April 29 - Public Holiday
  • April 30 - Liberation Day/Reunification Day
  • May 1 - International Labor Day
  • September 2 - Independence Day
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Why Visit Vietnam?

Vietnam is a stunning country with a rich history and it gives travellers the sense of exploration and wonder. While very popular, for many it still constitutes a destination off the beaten track. Vietnam does offer luxury travel, but is really better for backpackers and budget travellers.

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Things To Do In Vietnam

  • Explore Hanoi
  • Spend a night in a junk in Halong Bay
  • Explore the temple complex in my Son
  • Peruse the markets in the Mekong Delta
  • Have a bowl of Pho
  • See Ho Chi Minh City 
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Travel Tips For Vietnam

  • A gift here is a gesture of goodwill or an apology, and it is best to accept them with a smile.
  • Try the street food, just make sure the places are popular.
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Vietnamese Food

Traditional Vietnamese cuisine relies on fresh ingredients as well as herbs and vegetables, and uses minimal amounts of oil. Common herbs used include lemongrass, ginger, mint and basil, and commonly found ingredients are fish sauce, shrimp paste and soy sauce. A staple of the diet is rice, but you will also find a lot of noodle based dishes. Similar to the cuisine of Thailand, Vietnamese chefs aim for combinations of the fundamental tastes of salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and spicy. Popular dishes in Vietnam include bún riêu, which is a tomato based broth with thin rice noodles, com hén, which is rice with clams, bánh bao, a steamed dumpling with various fillings, and gió thu, a traditional snack made of fresh bacon, pig's ears, scallions, black fungus, fish sauce and black pepper. Generally speaking Vietnamese cuisine is quite mild as they prefer black pepper to chilies. 

Vietnam Travel Safety and Warnings

  • Vietnam is generally safe for travellers, with the major problems being pickpockets, thieves and scammers in major cities or on very popular beaches. It is recommended to have travel insurance for Vietnam.
  • Avoid getting into any arguments or raising your voice, as this is an insult in Vietnamese culture.
  • Consider getting yourself a bike, it helps with exploring and getting around in the back country
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About Vietnam

 

Easily the most underrated destination in Southeast Asia is the small country of Vietnam. While most think of visiting while en route to somewhere else, Vietnam is actually a destination to visit in its own right offering breathtaking landscapes, friendly locals, great food, amazing hiking, stunning beaches, and great festivals.

More than 30 years after the war with the US ended, Vietnam is beginning to flourish as more and more travellers come to the shores of this spectacular country and discover that there is much more to this country than just the war. Get your travel insurance for Vietnam sorted, start planning, and go explore this amazing destination.

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, and with a history going back 1,000 years, there’s lots to see in this city. The Old Town is the beating heart of the city, and is often called '36 old streets', as traditionally trades would all be grouped into streets, which means walking around you will find a street for silk, a street for silver, and a street for wrappings, paper and decorations.

Nowadays there are a few more than just 36 streets, nonetheless this is a really fun area to explore. 

Some great sites to visit are:

  • The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, made in the image of the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow.
  • The Ho Chi Minh Museum which has many interesting exhibits and gives you a slightly different view of the war with the US.
  • The Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution if you want to find out more about French colonial times,
  • The Museum of Ethnology, which is an excellent destination to find out more about Vietnamese cultures and customs.
  • There are also many temples in Hanoi, most notably the Temple of Literature, which is the country's first university established in 1076. 

When you need a break from seeing the sites, make sure to try some of the excellent food here. Pho, a delicious rice noodle soup, is perhaps Hanoi's most beloved dish and no trip is complete without having tried it.

For more adventurous eaters, you can also find cobra blood or any other cobra part you may want to eat, boiled duck egg fetus, or an extract made from giant water bugs, which gives a very unique flavor to dishes.

 

Not far from Hanoi is Ha Long Bay, which is famed for its stunning limestone karst and ocean landscape and often cited as one of the natural wonders of the world. If you jump on a cruise you can go island hopping and hiking. From endangered cats to thick forest, from diving at beautiful coral sites to exploring grottoes and caves, there’s a lot to see.

A nice way to spend the night here is on a converted junk in the middle of the bay, where the sea rocks you to sleep and the sunrise is truly a sight to behold.

Another site to explore while in northern Vietnam are the Ban Gioc Waterfalls, which are in the Cao Bang province. Located at the border with China, this is an absolutely spectacular site to visit, with some beautiful opportunities to hike. If you want to meet the neighbors, take a boat out to the base of the falls and you will see Chinese tourists doing it from their side too. Nguom Ngao Cave is also not far away. While not as big as Phong Nha-Ke Bang, which is in central Vietnam and worth the journey, it’s still a beautiful cave with lots of mineral formations.

You will also find some hill tribes in this area, which have managed to remain intact and have kept their customs alive. They are open to tourists and a great way to see the living history of Vietnam. Before setting off on any large exploration though, sort out your Vietnam travel insurance.

As you travel towards Ho Chi Minh City, do make sure to stop in central Vietnam and investigate some of the stunning sites, such as the biggest cave in southeast Asia (Phong Nha-Ke Bang), the beautiful temple ruins of My Son, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the cities of Hue and the beautiful coastal town of Hoi An.

Ho Chi Minh City is the economic hub of Vietnam, the former capital, and a busy city. There’s a lot to explore here, from museums to temples, and you’ll also find a bigger focus on the US war. 

The War Remnants Museum will be of interest to you if you want to find out more about Vietnam's perception of the US war, but a place everyone should see is Cu Chi, located about 40kms from the city. This is the where you can see the underground system of tunnels and chambers dug during French occupation and used during the Vietnam War - a heart breaking and impressive site at the same time.

For more information on Vietnam, visit the Vietnam Tourism Website.

 

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