Vietnam Info



Geography: Vietnam covers an area of approximately 330,000 square kilometers and shares borders with China to the north and Laos and Cambodia to the west. The terrain is quite hilly in general, with long, flat deltas near Saigon and substantial mountains in the north. Rice terraces are the predominant feature throughout rural areas. Hanoi is the national capital. Saigon is the largest city in the southern part of the country.

vnmap History: Vietnam has endured more than two thousand years of foreign occupation. China held Vietnam as a vassal state for more than 1600 years until the Portuguese, and then the French, established colonial rule. The battle at Dien Bien Phu, in 1954, ended a century and a half of French control of Vietnam. Following the partitioning of Vietnam in 1954, communist forces in the North fought US-backed forces in the South for almost 20 years. The war officially ended early in 1973, but tensions between Vietnam and the US would last 20 more years. Today, Vietnam is a country focused on the future.

Population & People: Vietnam is home to more than 80 million people, with 85-90% being Vietnamese. The Chinese make up most of the rest of the population, with Thai, Muong, Nung, Meo, Man, and Montagnard people living mostly in the Northern Highlands.

Religion & Customs: As a result of so many different nationalities having come together in Vietnam, religion here is a complicated and fascinating blend of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The amalgamation of these three faiths forms the religion of Tam Gao. Many travelers are surprised to find that there is a strong Roman Catholic community in Vietnam and some of the cathedrals here are spectacular.

Language: Vietnamese is the official language and is fairly complicated. Chinese, French, and English are fairly common second languages, especially in the cities.

Food & Drink: Vietnamese food is one of the country’s main attractions. There are hundreds of delicious dishes based on rice or noodles and an amazing variety of exotic seafood’s and meat dishes. Vietnam lets travelers be as gastronomically adventurous as they dare; from familiar rice-and-vegetable dishes to exotic feasts. The French colonial influence is particularly evident in Vietnamese cooking.

Entertainment: Vietnam’s markets are not to be missed; everything from traditional clothing to handicrafts are available to buy. Try to see the water puppets in Hanoi and don’t miss a chance to see the Basket Boat races. Nightlife, especially is Saigon, can be as wild as your imagination.


Safety Considerations: Vietnam is a very safe country, provided travelers take care to safeguard their valuables in the larger cities. Pickpockets and purse snatchers can be thwarted with a little common sense.

Money: The unit of currency in Vietnam is the dong. Banks offer the best exchange rate. US dollars and Euro are the best currency to bring to Vietnam, but make sure to convert as much as you need in tourist areas, as foreign exchange services are not generally found in smaller towns. Credit card accepted in most places

Shopping: Silk goods of all varieties are incredibly popular in Vietnam, as are crafts, art, and clothing. Shopping in Vietnam’s markets is a highlight for many visitors.

Transport in Country: Air services in Vietnam are good. Most destinations of interest to travelers are fairly accessible. Bicycle touring in Vietnam is an increasingly popular way to explore the countryside. Traffic in cities can be chaotic.

Time Zone: GMT +7 hours.