Vietnam

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Vietnam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia. Its neighbouring countries are China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west.

Population: 92,477,857 people
Area: 331,210 km2
Highest point: 3,144 m
Coastline: 3,444 km
Life expectancy: 72.65 years
GDP per capita: $3,600
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About Vietnam

History

Vietnam's history is one of war, colonisation and rebellion. Occupied by China no fewer than four times, the Vietnamese managed to fight off the invaders just as often. Even during the periods in history when Vietnam was independent, it was mostly a tributary state to China until the French colonisation. Vietnam's last emperors were the Nguyễn Dynasty, who ruled from their capital at Hue from 1802 to 1945, although France exploited the succession crisis after the fall of Tự Đức to de facto colonise Vietnam after 1884. Both the Chinese occupation and French colonisation have left a lasting impact on Vietnamese culture, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese social etiquette, and the French leaving a lasting imprint on Vietnamese cuisine.

After a brief Japanese occupation in World War II, the Communist Viet Minh under the leadership of Hồ Chí Minh continued the insurgency against the French, with the last Emperor Bao Dai abdicating in 1945 and a proclamation of independence following soon after. The majority of French had left by 1945, but in 1946 they returned to continue the fight until their decisive defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Geneva Conference partitioned the country into two at 17th parallel, with a Communist-led North and Ngo Dinh Diem declaring himself President of the Republic of Vietnam in the South.

US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the Southern Vietnam government, escalating into the dispatch of 500,000 American troops in 1966 and what became known as the Vietnam War - although the Vietnamese refer to it as the American War. What was supposed to be a quick and decisive action soon degenerated into a quagmire, and U.S. armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, on April 30, 1975, a North Vietnamese tank drove into the South's Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and the war ended. An estimated 3 million Vietnamese and over 55,000 Americans were killed.

The American Vietnamese war was only one of many that the Vietnamese have fought, but it was the most brutal in its history. Over two thirds of the current population was born after 1975. American tourists will receive a particularly friendly welcome in Vietnam, as many young Vietnamese are admirers of American culture.

Climate

Vietnam is large enough to have several distinct climate zones.

  • The south has three somewhat distinct seasons: hot and dry from Mar-May/Jun; rainy from Jun/Jul-Nov; and cool and dry from Dec-Feb. April is the hottest month, with mid-day temperatures of 33°C (91°F) or more most days. During the rainy season, downpours can happen every afternoon, and occasional street flooding occurs. Temperatures range from stifling hot before a rainstorm to pleasantly cool afterwards. Mosquitoes are most numerous in the rainy season. Dec-Feb is the most pleasant time to visit, with cool evenings down to around 20°C (68°F).
  • The north has four distinct seasons, with a comparatively chilly winter (temperatures can dip below 15°C/59°F in Hanoi), a hot and wet summer and pleasant spring (Mar-Apr) and autumn (Oct-Dec) seasons. However, in the Highlands both extremes are amplified, with occasional snow in the winter and temperatures hitting 40°C (104°F) in the summer.
  • In the central regions the Hai Van pass separates two different weather patterns of the north starting in Langco (which is hotter in summer and cooler in winter) from the milder conditions south starting in Da Nang. Northeast monsoon conditions Sep-Feb with often strong winds, large sea swells and rain make this a miserable and difficult time to travel through Central Vietnam. Normally summers are hot and dry.

Activities

Motorbiking is popular with locals and tourists alike. Given that motorbikes are the main mode of transport in Vietnam, they can give a particularly authentic view of travelling through the country.

Renting or buying a bike is possible in many cities. Also consider Motorbike adventure tours, which involve being guided on multi-day drives to remote regions of the country. Most tours include accommodation, petrol, helmets, drivers and entry tickets to local places of interest. Guides usually speak good English or French and offer customised tours if desired. Motorbike Sightseeing Tours are similar but have a more local range specific to one city or area and can focus on food, shopping or sightseeing.

Food

Food is at the very core of Vietnamese culture: every significant holiday on the Vietnamese cultural calendar, all the important milestones in a Vietnamese person's life, and indeed, most of the important day-to-day social events and interactions - food plays a central role in each. Special dishes are prepared and served with great care for every birth, marriage and death, and the anniversaries of ancestors' deaths. More business deals are struck over dinner tables than over boardroom tables, and when friends get together, they eat together. Preparing food and eating together remains the focus of family life.

Vietnamese cuisine varies slightly from region to region, with many regions having their own specialties. Generally, northern Vietnamese cuisine is known for being bland, while southern Vietnamese cuisine is known for being spicy.

At the same time, the Vietnamese are surprisingly modest about their cuisine. (An old proverb/joke says that, "a fortunate man has a French house, a Japanese wife, and a Chinese chef.) High-end restaurants tend to serve "Asian-fusion" cuisine, with elements of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese mixed in. The most authentic Vietnamese food is found at street side "restaurants" (A collection of plastic outdoor furniture placed on the footpath), with most walk-in restaurants being mainly for tourists. Definite regional styles exist -- northern, central, and southern, each with unique dishes. Central style is perhaps the most celebrated, with dishes such as mi quang (wheat noodles with herbs, pork, and shrimp), banh canh cua (crab soup with thick rice noodles) and bun bo Hue (beef soup with herbs and noodles).

Many Vietnamese dishes are flavoured with fish sauce (nước mắm), which smells and tastes like anchovies (quite salty and fishy) straight from the bottle, but blends into food very well. (Try taking home a bottle of fish sauce, and using it instead of salt in almost any savoury dish -- you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.) Fish sauce is also mixed with lime juice, sugar, water, and spices to form a tasty dip/condiment called nước chấm, served on the table with most meals. Vegetables, herbs and spices, notably Vietnamese coriander or cilantro (rau mùi or rau mgò), mint (rau răm) and basil (rau húng), accompany almost every dish and help make Vietnamese food much lighter and more aromatic than the cuisine of its neighbouring countries, especially China.

Vietnam's national dish is phở (pronounced like the fu- in funny, but with tone), a broth soup with beef or chicken and rice noodles (a form of rice linguine or fettuccine). Phở is normally served with plates of fresh herbs (usually including Asian basil), cut limes, hot chilies and scalded bean sprouts which you can add according to your taste, along with chili paste, chili sauce, and sweet soybean sauce. Phở bò, the classic form of phở, is made with beef broth that is often simmered for many hours and may include one or more kinds of beef (skirt, flank, tripe, etc.). Phở gà is the same idea, but with chicken broth and chicken meat. Phở is the original Vietnamese fast food, which locals grab for a quick meal. Most phở places specialize in phở and can serve you a bowls as fast as you could get a Big Mac. It's available at any time of the day, but locals eat it most often for breakfast. Famous phở restaurants can be found in Hanoi. The phở served at roadside stalls tends to be cheaper and taste better than those served in fancier restaurants.

Street side eateries in Vietnam typically advertise phở and cơm. Though cơm literally means rice, the sign means the restaurant serves a plate of rice accompanied with fish or meat and vegetables. Cơm is used to indicate eating in general, even when rice is not served (i.e., An cơm chua?- Have you eaten yet) Though they may look filthy, street side eateries are generally safe so long as you avoid under cooked food.

In rural and regional areas it is usually safest to eat the locally grown types of food as these are usually bought each day from the market. It is not uncommon that after you have ordered your meal a young child of the family will be seen running out the back towards the nearest market to purchase the items.

Most restaurants/cafes in Vietnam will have a bewildering variety of food available. It is very common for menus to be up to 10-15 pages. These will include all types of Vietnamese food, plus some token Western food, possibly some Chinese and maybe a pad Thai as well. It is generally best to stick with the specialty of the area as this food will be the freshest and also the best-prepared.

In restaurants it is common practice for the wait staff to place a plastic packet (stamped with the restaurant's name) containing a moist towelette on your table. They are not free. They cost between 2,000-4,000 dong. If you open it, you will be charged for it. Also, peanuts or other nuts will be offered to you while you are browsing the menu. Those are not free, either. If you eat any, you will be charged.

Vegetarian food is quite easy to find anywhere in Vietnam due in large part to the Buddhist influence. These restaurants will run from upscale to street stall. Any Vietnamese dish with meat can be made vegetarian with the addition of fake meats. Besides the Buddhist influence of two vegetarian days a month, Cao Dai people eat vegetarian for 16 days, and followers of Quan Yin sect eat vegan daily. Look for any sign that says Com Chay or simply remember the phrase An Chay.

Coffee, baguettes, and pastries were originally introduced by the French colonisers, but all three have been localised and remain popular. More on cà phê below, but coffee shops that also serve light fare can be found in almost every village and on many street corners in the bigger cities. Bánh mì Hanoi are French bread sandwiches, freshly baked white bread baguettes filled with grilled meats or liver or pork pâté, plus fresh herbs and vegetables. Most pastry shops serve a variety of sweets and quick foods.

Vietnamese waters are in danger of collapse from over-fishing. Nevertheless, for the moment if you like seafood, you may find bliss in Vietnam. The ultimate seafood experience may be travelling to a seaside village or beach resort area in the south to try the local seafood restaurants that serve shrimp, crab, and locally-caught fish. Follow the locals to a good restaurant. The food will still be swimming when you order it, it will be well-prepared, very affordable by Western standards, and served in friendly surroundings often with spectacular views.

All Vietnamese restaurants are controlled by the government, and some are fully owned by the government. Most restaurants' hours are 10:00-22:00. Some open at 07:00 and some at 06:00 or 08:00. In 24-hour restaurants, there will be two prices. Prices are normal from 06:00 to 22:00, then doubled from 22:00 to 06:00. For example, rice usually costs 10,000 dong, but if you order after 22:00, the price will be 20,000 dong. This policy is government-mandated, to discourage people from eating late. Some dishes are not served after 22:00.

Drinks

Drinking in a Vietnamese bar is a great experience. One of the interesting things is that during the day, it is almost impossible to see a bar anywhere. Once the sun goes down though, dozens appear on the streets out of nowhere.

Watch out for ice in drinks. Factory-made ice is generally safe, but anything else can be suspect. Factory ice has a hollow, cylindrical shape. Avoid irregular chunks of ice as it may be unclean.

Beer

Don't miss out on bia hơi, (literally "air beer"), or draught beer made daily. It's available throughout Vietnam, mostly from small bars on street corners. Bia hoi bars give you the opportunity to relax, drinking in a Vietnamese bar surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Every traveller can easily find these bars to experience what the locals are enjoying. Only 3,000-4,000 dong each. The beer is brewed daily and each bar gets a fresh batch delivered every day in plastic jugs. It's a very light (3% alcohol) refreshing lager at a fraction of the cost of draught or bottled beer in the Western-style bars. Bia hoi is not always made in sanitary conditions and its making is not monitored by any health agency. Though fun for the novelty factor, it is not particularly good tasting and may produce awful hangovers.

The most popular beer (draught, bottle or can) among the southern Vietnamese is Saigon Do (Red Saigon). For the northern Vietnamese Bia Hanoi (Hanoi beer) is the most popular brand, whereas central Vietnamese prefer Festival beer or Bia Huda. 333, pronounced "ba-ba-ba" is a local brand, but it's somewhat bland; for a bit more flavour, look for Bia Saigon in the green bottle and a bigger bottle than Bia Saigon Special. Bia Saigon is also available as little stronger export version. Expect to pay about 20,000-30,000 dong per bottle of Saigon or Hanoi, slightly more for other brands. Bière Larue is also good, and you can find local brands in every larger city.

It's common for beer in Vietnam to be drunk over ice. This means that the cans or bottles need not be chilled. If you are drinking with Vietnamese people it is considered polite to top up their beer/ice before re-filling your own drink. It is also considered necessary to drink when a toast is proposed: "mot, hai, ba, do" ("one, two, three, cheers"). Saying "Mot tram" implies you will empty your glass.

Coffee

Another popular drink among locals and tourists alike is the coffee (cà phê). Do be careful when drinking locally-prepared coffee as the locals tend to drink it incredibly strong with about 4 teaspoons of sugar per cup. It is usually served black or with sweetened condensed milk. Definitely an acquired taste.

Vietnamese coffee beans are fried, not roasted. If you are picky, bring your own coffee.

Soft drinks

Coconut water is a favourite in the hot southern part of the country. Nước mía, or sugar cane juice, is served from distinctive metal carts with a crank-powered sugar cane stalk crushers that release the juice. Another thirst quencher is the fabulous sinh tố, a selection of sliced fresh fruit in a big glass, combined with crushed ice, sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk. You can also have it blended in a mixer. You could place any fruit-type after the word sinh tố, e.g., sinh tố bơ (avocado smoothie) or sinh tố dừa (pineapple smoothie). If you prefer to have orange juice, you won't use the word sinh tố but nước (literally: water) or nước cam if you would like to have an orange juice. Juices are usually without condensed milk or coconut milk.

Wine and liquor

Vietnamese "ruou de" or rice alcohol (ruou means alcohol) is served in tiny porcelain cups often with candied fruit or pickles. It's commonly served to male guests and visitors. Vietnamese women don't drink much alcohol, well at least in public. It's not recommended for tourists.

Dating back to French colonial times, Vietnam adopted a tradition of viticulture. Dalat is its centre, and you can get extremely good red and white wine for about USD2-3, however this is very hard to find. Most restaurant wine is Australian and you will be charged Australian prices as well, making wine comparatively expensive compared to drinking beer or spirits.

Rice spirits and local vodka is cheap in Vietnam by Western standards. Local vodkas cost about USD2-4 for a 750 ml bottle. Russian champagne is also common. When at Nha Trang, look for the all-you-can-drink boat trips for around USD10-15 for an all-day trip and party with on-board band.

Shopping

The national currency is the dong (đồng, VND), which is difficult to find or exchange outside Vietnam; change money on arrival and try to get rid of any leftovers before leaving the country. Continuing inflation and a series of devaluations continues to steadily push down the value of the dong, with USD1 fetching over 21,000 dong (Feb 2012). Notes are available in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 dong. In 2003, coins were also introduced in denominations of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 dong, although these are rarely seen.

Prices are widely advertised in U.S. dollars, namely because of the unstable currency valuation of the dong, but unlike neighbouring Cambodia, for instance, payment is often expected in dong only, especially outside major tourist destinations. It is also easier to bargain with dong, especially since dollar prices are already rounded. Dollar bills in less than perfect condition may be rejected. USD2 bills (especially those printed in the 1970s) are considered lucky in Vietnam and are worth more than USD2. They make a good tip/gift, and many Vietnamese will keep them in their wallet for luck. USD50 and USD100 notes get a higher exchange rate than notes of lower denominations.

Most visitors opt to keep the bulk of their cash in U.S. dollars and exchange or withdraw dong as needed. There is often a considerable spread in dong buy/sell rates, and sometimes the same hotel has different rates for different services. In addition to banks and official exchange counters, you can exchange most hard currencies (Sterling, Yen, Swiss Francs, Euro etc.) at gold shops, often at slightly better than official rates. This is illegal, but enforcement is minimal. Hotels and travel agencies can also exchange money with differing exchange rates so look for the best rate.

For credit card payments, there is usually a 3% surcharge, so cash may be advantageous for large transactions.

Traveller cheques of well known companies are widely accepted, but usually a small fee is charged. Fees might also be the only thing that would keep you from getting cash advances on Visa- or MasterCard at most banks. Through both ways you can also get hold of U.S. dollars, though there will be even higher fees. There are mentions in some popular travel books about Vietcombank not charging any commission fees to cash AMEX travellers cheques. However, this is no longer true.

ATMs are becoming more and more common and can be found in most bigger cities and every tourist destination. They will accept a selection of credit and bank-cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro or Cirrus and several other systems. Typically withdrawals are limited to 2,000,000 dong per transaction, and will incur a 20,000 dong service fee.

  • EXIMBANK allows up to 2,000,000 dong per transaction with no charge. (Mar 2012)
  • ANZ Bank allows up to 4,000,000-10,000,000 dong per transaction (15,000,000 dong per day) with a 40,000 dong charge.
  • Vietcombank allows up to 2,000,000 dong per transaction with a 20,000 dong charge.
  • Techcombank allows up to 15,000,000 per transaction with a 20,000 dong charge.
  • BIDV Bank allows up to 3,000,000 dong per transaction with a 20,000 dong charge.
  • Agribank allows up to 5,000,000 dong per transaction (25,000,000 dong per day) with a 20,000 dong charge. (Dec 2010)

There are branches of money transfer companies like Western Union, but this is always one of the more expensive ways to get money.

On most land borders connecting to Cambodia, China and Laos there are freelance money changers to take care of your financial leftovers, but be assured they'll get the better of you if you don't know the going rate. Note for travellers departing from Hanoi airport: There are no money exchange establishments once you finish your immigration, so exchange your dong before you enter the departure hall unless you plan to shop.

As you travel about, you will find there are clusters of shops all selling similar goods, such as 20 sewing machine shops together, then 30 hardware shops all together, 200 motorcycle repair shops in the same block. Prices are competitive. Be wary of watch shops selling original authentic fakes. Other fake watches are available but not as cheap as other surrounding countries. Pirated software is oddly, very hard to find and not sold openly. However Movie DVDs of indifferent quality are widely available from USD1, although not all may have an English language option. The local post office will strictly not allow them to be posted abroad.

Bargaining

Overcharging has long been an issue in Vietnam tourism. It can happen anywhere on anything from an hotel room, a ride on taxi, coffee, meal, clothing, basic grocery stuff. Your coffee suddenly becomes 100% more expensive and a restaurant may present you an English menu with inflated prices. A friendly local who spent 30 minutes talking with you may also feel like overcharging you on anything.

Vietnamese hold a diverse view on this issue but in general it is more common in Vietnam than other neighbouring countries to see it socially acceptable to overcharge foreigners. They may argue inflated prices are still cheap and they may blame on the cheap cost of living which attracts a lot of backpackers with bare-bone budgets. According to this school of thought, if tourists complain about it, it's because they're stingy. Rich tourists should not have a problem being overcharged.

The good news is that standard price is much more common than early 90s. You will absolutely spoil your travel if you assume that everyone is cheating you, just try to be smart. In a restaurant, learn some common dish names in Vietnamese, insist that you need to read Vietnamese menu, and compare it. If owners argue that the portion of dishes in the English menu is different, it's definitely a scam and move to other places. Learn some Vietnamese numbers and try to see how much a local pays a vendor. Also try basic bargaining tactics: Think how much it is back home, ask for big discount and walk away, pretending that the price isn't right. Many products tend to be standardized and compare more.

Try to be as clear as possible on the agreed price. You may agree 20,000 dong with a "xe om" driver for a specific trip, but at the end he may claim you are due 40,000 dong. Then you pay 20,000 dong, smile and say goodbye, because you have a good memory.

Costs

  • Vietnam is cheap by most standards. A month's stay can be as cheap as USD250 using basic rooms, local food, and public transportation.
  • Tipping is not expected in Vietnam with the exception of bellhops in high-end hotels. In any case, the price quoted to you is often many times what locals will pay, so tipping can be considered unnecessary in most circumstances. To avoid paying an involuntary tip when a taxi driver claims he doesn't have small change always try to carry small denominations.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Vietnam on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Vietnam

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Ho Chi Minh City , commonly known as Saigon or by the abbreviations HCMC or HCM, is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

Interesting places:

  • Bach Dang Wharf
  • Ho Chi Minh City Hall
  • Ben Thanh Market
  • Ho Chi Minh City Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
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407 hotels in this place

Hanoi , the capital of Vietnam, and also its second largest city, is a fascinating blend of East and West, with Chinese influence from centuries of dominance, and French je ne sais quoi from its colonial past. It was largely unspoiled by the modern architecture of the 1970s and 80s, and is now undergoing a ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Ngoc Son Temple
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Trang Tien Plaza
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
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160 hotels in this place

Nha Trang is Vietnam’s most famous seaside resort-town. It's more lively and urban in character than other beach destinations like Mui Ne and Phu Quoc. It's also the scuba diving center of Vietnam.

Interesting places:

  • Nha Trang Cathedral
  • Tram Huong Tower
  • Vinpearl Land
  • Nha Trang Night Market
  • Sailing Club Nha Trang
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153 hotels in this place

Hoi An is a beautiful city in Vietnam just south of Da Nang. The Old Town of Hoi An is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interesting places:

  • Hoi An Ancient Town
  • Japanese Bridge
  • Central Market
  • Quan Cong Temple
  • Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation
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80 hotels in this place

Phan Thiet is a city in Vietnam.

Interesting places:

  • Duc Thanh School
  • Mui Ne Sand Dunes
  • Phan Thiet Beach
  • Ocean Dunes Golf Club
  • Fairy Stream

Hue

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Hue is in the central region of Vietnam and is the former imperial capital.

Interesting places:

  • Imperial City
  • Truongtien Bridge
  • Dong Ba Market
  • Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts
  • Thien Mu Pagoda
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69 hotels in this place

Phú Quốc is a large tropical Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia. It is only accessible from Vietnam.

Interesting places:

  • Dinh Cau
  • Dinh Cau Temple
  • San Van Dong Duong Dong Stadium
  • Phu Quoc National Park
  • Phu Quoc Beach
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67 hotels in this place

Dalat, also Da Lat , in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, was originally the playground of the French who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast and of Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City.

Interesting places:

  • Dalat Flower Gardens
  • Tuyen Lam Lake
  • Truc Lam Zen Monastery
  • Valley of Love
  • Xuan Huong Lake
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58 hotels in this place

Halong City is a town on the northern side of the Ha Long Bay Archipelago of Vietnam. It's the capital of Vietnam's Quang Ninh province.

Interesting places:

  • Cho Bai Chay
  • Tuan Chau Beach
  • Tuan Chau Amphitheater
  • Dolphin Club
  • Nha Tho Hon Gai Temple
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Sa Pa is a town in a beautiful, mountainous region of northern Vietnam on the border with China.

Interesting places:

  • Sapa Cathedral
  • Fan Si Pan
  • Sapa Lake
  • Sapa Market
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Vung Tau is a city in Southern Vietnam, about 125 km from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Its nearness to Saigon and its beauty and fresh air makes it a very popular destination for weekends.

Interesting places:

  • Back Beach
  • Linh Son Co Tu
  • Golf Vung Tau
  • Dinh Co Temple
  • Minh Dam Mountain
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Can Tho is the biggest city of the Mekong Delta, in Vietnam with an estimated population of 1.5 million in 2012. The name comes from "cầm thi giang", river of poems. It is also referred to as "Tay Do" meaning "western capital". The city is famous for its floating markets, Buddhist pagodas, delicious food, ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Ho Chi Minh Museum
  • Ong Pagoda
  • Ninh Kieu Park
  • Can Tho Museum
  • Cai Rang Floating Market
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16 hotels in this place

Haiphong is Vietnam's third largest city, a port near Hanoi.

Interesting places:

  • Hai Phong Opera House
  • Lach Tray Stadium
  • Hai Phong Museum
  • Cat Co Beach
  • Trung Trang Cave
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Ninh Binh is the capital of Ninh Binh Province in North Vietnam, famous for the nearby karst scenery and the village of Tam Coc. There is nothing to do in Ninh Binh itself aside from drinking beer with the locals. The town is more useful as a base for the surrounding countryside.

Interesting places:

  • Bai Dinh Temple
  • Phat Diem Cathedral
  • Bich Dong Temple
  • Cuc Phuong National Park
  • Tam Coc Bich Dong
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Interesting places:

  • Binh Chau Hot Springs
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Interesting places:

  • Chop Chai Mountain
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Con Dao is an island off the southern coast of Vietnam.

Interesting places:

  • Phu Hai Prison
  • Dam Trau Beach
  • Dat Doc Beach
  • Con Dao National Park
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Interesting places:

  • Doc Let Beach
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Dong Hoi is the capital city of Quang Binh Province in Central Coast of Vietnam. Dong Hoi on the Nhat Le River and by the South China Sea with its 12 km of white sandy beaches.

Interesting places:

  • Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
  • Nhat Le Beach
  • Son Doong Cave
  • Da Nhat Beach
  • Thien Duong Cave
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Quy Nhon, aka Qui Nhon, Quy Nhơn, Qui Nom is an important city in the South Central region of Vietnam.

Interesting places:

  • Quang Trung Museum
  • Long Khanh Pagoda
  • Banh It Tower
  • Qui Nhon Stadium
  • Emperor Quang Trung Monument
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Chau Doc is a city in the heart of the Mekong Delta, in Vietnam.

Interesting places:

  • Sam Mountain
  • Lady Chua Xu Temple
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Interesting places:

  • Lac Canh Dai Nam Van Hien Theme Park
  • Dai Nam Open Zoo
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Rach Gia is the capital of the province of Kien Giang, in the Mekong delta region of Vietnam. For most tourists it is mainly of interest as a jumping-off point for trips to Phu Quoc island.

Interesting places:

  • Nguyen Trung Truc Temple
  • Tam Bau Temple
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Phan Rang - Thap Cham is the capital of the Ninh Thuan province in the Southern Region of Vietnam.

Interesting places:

  • Nam Cuong Sand Dune
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Dong Ha is a city in central Vietnam. It's the closest major city to the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone, the area around the former border between North and South Vietnam.

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Lao Cai is a town in northern Vietnam. It is on the border with China, adjacent to Hekou.

Interesting places:

  • Thuy Hoa Park
  • Den Mau Temple
  • China-Vietnam Border Crossing
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My Tho, is the capital of Tien Giang Province in southern Vietnam. It is the first city in the Mekong Delta travellers from Ho Chi Minh City arrive at and hence a popular spot for dropping tourists off for one of the many Mekong boat tours. For its proximity to Ho Chi Minh City everything is more expensive ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Vinh Trang Pagoda
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Interesting places:

  • Hon Tai
  • Vem\'s Rock
  • Nudibranchs house
  • Hon Trau Nam
  • Mui Ganh
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Interesting places:

  • Bach Ma National Park
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Cai Be is in Mekong Delta.

Interesting places:

  • Cai Be Catholic Cathedral
  • Phu Chau Pagoda
  • Cai Be Floating Market
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Da Nang is Vietnam's fourth or fifth largest city, and is on the South China Sea coast, midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the largest city of Central Vietnam. The city itself has neither the ambiance of Hanoi nor the hustle-bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, but has its share of sights and is close to ... (read more)

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panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Vietnam

Vietnam will show you sides of Asia that you've dreamed of. Lush rice fields at the bottom of stunningly gorgeous highlands, colourful water markets on the streams of the Mekong Delta and the endless bustling city life of Hanoi, where anything from school kids to fridges and huge piles of vegetables are transported on the back of countless motorcycles. Although Vietnam's huge cities are rapidly transforming into modern Asian metropolises, traditional culture is never far away.

City life

Head to Hoi An with its Venice-like canals and beautiful old town for some top sightseeing. Enjoy the old port, wander through its endless winding alleys and take a pick from its countless fine restaurants and shops, or relax on the beach. Once a fishermen's village, this town's now well-protected by preservation laws and has turned into a major hot spot for visitors. Hanoi is of course the summit of Asian city life. It's an incredible myriad of ancient traditions, old and modern architecture, sounds, smells, bustling commerce and famously crazy traffic. It's chaotic and enchanting at once - a great place to discover both ancient and contemporary Vietnam. Most sights are in the Old Quarter, including the famous Hoan Kiem Lake and the beautiful Bach Ma Temple. Spend a day or two in Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, the country's largest city. Nowhere are contrasts between old and new more ubiquitous and alive than here, where you'll find ancient pagoda's and traditional street life at the feet of giant skyscrapers. Top sights include the Reunification Palace and Giac Lam Pagoda. Also well worth visiting is the former imperial town of Hue, with its beautiful Citadel and the Tombs of the Emperors along the Perfume River.

Landscapes and nature

Few countries are blessed with landscapes as captivating as those of Vietnam. For many travellers, the country's awe-inspiring limestone scenery, perfect beaches, islands, mountain ranges, rice fields and lakes are its greatest treasures. One of Vietnam's top attractions, Ha Long Bay, boasts thousands of limestone pillars and islands topped with dense jungle vegetation. Among the bustling port life, you'll find floating fishermen's villages, caves, and island lakes. Neighbouring Lan Ha Bay is as spectacular, but less busy. Head to Sa Pa and the Muong Hoa valley to get take in the views of local rice fields against a background of bamboo forests. Also in the north is Tam Coc near Ninh Binh. This area is famous for its karst scenery, rice fields, and caves and is best explored by hired boat.

Phu Quoc, off the Cambodian coast, is the largest island in the country. Its delightful palm-lined beaches and tropical forests can compete with any in the world. Most famous in the south is of course the Mekong Delta. Here, the Mekong River empties into the South China Sea via a maze of smaller streams. It's a lush, green region and the source of half of Vietnam's agricultural produce. It offers scenic views of the rivers and rices fields as far as the eye can see. Here, natural landscapes and culture go hand in hand as life revolves around the water. The Mekong streams are a major means of transportation and host floating markets.

Some best picks in terms of natural wonders can be found in the country's national parks. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its natural caves and grottos, with underground rivers and cave beaches as well as stunning stalagmites and stalactites. For wildlife, try Cuc Phuong National Park.

Museums

For better insight in Vietnam's ancient traditions, culture and history, visit one of the many museums, some with truly excellent collections. The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City will leave a lasting impression, particularly the chilling collection of war photography. Although not exactly neutral in tone, there are English labels. The HCMC Museum is in a building worth seeing on its own, and gives a nice overview of the city's history. For a broader history collection, try the fine History Museum, which has artefacts from several Vietnamese cultures on display. In Hanoi, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is an excellent place to dive into the life of the country's tribal people. In the centre of town is the Fine Arts Museum has all kinds of arts on display, from high-quality wood and stone carvings to fabulous ceramics and textiles. Descriptions in English.

Bach Dang Wharf - Ho Chi Minh City

Hoan Kiem Lake - Hanoi

Imperial City - Hue

Hai Phong Opera House - Haiphong

Hoi An Ancient Town - Hoi An

Nha Trang Cathedral - Nha Trang

Dalat Flower Gardens - Da Lat

Ho Chi Minh Museum - Can Tho

Sapa Cathedral - Sapa

Back Beach - Vung Tau

Tuong Dai Chua Kito Vua - Ba Ria

Marble Mountains - Da Nang

Ho Chi Minh City Hall - Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market - Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City Notre Dame Cathedral - Ho Chi Minh City

Ngoc Son Temple - Hanoi

Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica - Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Central Post Office - Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Skydeck - Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - Hanoi

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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