About Vietnam

84,155,800 (April 1, 2006)
Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese
Ethnic Groups
Kinh (Viet) 86.2%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.7%, Muong 1.5%, Khome 1.4%, Hoa 1.1%, Nun 1.1%, Hmong 1%, others 4.1% (1999 census)

Country and Vietnamese People

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a sovereign and reunified independent country, has a high percentage of territorial waters. Looking at the map, Vietnam is located in the centre of the Southeast Asia, and is shaped like the letter "S". The country lies in the eastern part of the Indochina peninsula, bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, and the East Sea and Pacific Ocean to the southeast. Vietnam's coast line is 3,260 km long and its inland border measures 3,730 km. The country's total length is 1,650 km from the northernmost point to the southernmost point.

Its width, stretching from the eastern point to the western point is 600 km at the widest point in the north, 400km in the south, and 50 km at the narrowest part in the Quang Binh province on the central coast. Vietnam is also a transport junction from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Despite Vietnam's ongoing economic liberalization and the pressures of rapid development, this dignified country has managed to preserve its rich civilization and highly cultured society. Most visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country's natural setting: the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats. There are some divine beaches along the coast too, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which are cloaked by dense, misty forests. Vietnam offers an opportunity to see a country of traditional charm and rare beauty rapidly opening up to the outside world.


Vietnam is located in both a tropical and a temperate zone. It is characterized by strong monsoon influences, but has a considerable amount of sun, and a high rate of rainfall and humidity. The annual average temperature ranges from 22ºC to 27ºC. In Hanoi, the average temperature is 23ºC, in Ho Chi Minh City it is 26ºC, and in Hue it is 25ºC.

In the North, winter lasts from November to April with temperatures averaging 10o - 16oC. Fog and drizzle can be encountered in February and March. The summer begins in May and lasts through October with an average temperature of 30oC.Therefore, tropical and washable cottons are worn all year. Rainwear is essential during the rainy season.

Sightseeing in Vietnam

Sapa - The Foggy City
Located at 1,500 m above sea level, Sapa has many natural sites such as Thac Bac, Thuy Cung Grotto, Gio Cave, Troi Gate, and Truc Forest. Sapa is also the starting point for many climbers and scientists who want to reach the top of Fansipan Mountain, the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143 m. Hoang Lien Son Mountains is also called the Alps of the North Sea area since Fansipan Mountain is not only the highest peak in Vietnam, but also in the Indochina Peninsula. The pyramid-shaped mountain is covered with clouds all year round and temperatures often drop below zero, especially at high elevations.

Halong Bay - The World Heritage
Situated in the North-East region of Vietnam, Halong Bay is a bay in the Gulf of Tonkin comprised of regions of Halong City, the township of Cam Pha, and a part of the island district of Van Don. Halong Bay borders Cat Ba Island in the southwest, the East Sea in the east, and the mainland, creating a 120 km coastline. Halong Bay is made up of 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. There are two kinds of islands, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the southeast (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay), and the southwest (belonging to Halong Bay).

Hue Imperial City
With the legendary attraction, phoenix-like Hue is now rising again, showing a dynamism that has partly been stimulated by UNESCO's attention to its monuments since 1983.
Whatever changes, Hue Imperial City's tradition is alive, seen in the sampans poled along by women, in the houseboats with their tiny rooftop shrines, in the superb Hue porcelain, and in the delicacies of imperial cuisine. Hue Imperial City with a gracious landscape of gardens, terraces, palaces, and pavilions deserves a heritage of the world.

Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, lies between the Mekong Delta and South Vietnam. It is 1,730 km from Hanoi and 50 km from the East Sea. The city is the second most important in Vietnam after Hanoi. The main ethnic groups populating the area are the Kinh and Hoa.
This region is crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers and canals, the largest being the Saigon River. The Port of Saigon, established in 1862, is accessible to ships weighing up to 30,000 tons, a rare advantage for an inland river port. It's a bustling, dynamic and industrious centre, the largest city in the country, the economic capital and the cultural trendsetter.

Nha Trang – Paradise of love
Beach Life - this pretty much sums up the exciting yet charming resort town of Nha Trang, which lies on the coast about eight hours' drive north from Saigon, and two hours east of Dalat. The town is surrounded by green hills, and its deep-blue bay is fringed with a glorious crescent of golden-white sand. It is this beach which lends Nha Trang its "picture-postcard" image, and it is this beach around which life in the town revolves.


Hanoi: A City of Thousand-Year Culture

Hanoi, one of the ancient capital cities in the Southeast Asia, is the only one city in the region that boasts a time-honored and continual history of thousands of year.

Than Long - Hanoi's history is linked to the valiant history of the nation. This characteristic has created the deepest and most splendid beauty of the beloved capital city. Hanoians are creative, industrial hospitable and polish. This nature beams all the more radiantly amidst spacious nature with the land position of rolling dragon and sitting tiger, the immense, silty Red River, nice trishaws and ancient, curved roofed pagodas amid busy streets.

It has been written in history, in prose as well as in poetry, the magnificent temples and royal palaces built in the past. Ashes mixed in archeological vestiges were evidence of the invasion launched by the most atrocious empires that burnt down these royal palaces.

The greatness of the capital city lies not only in the deep cultural significance of existing work like the one-pillared pagoda and the temples of literature with their humanism and harmonious beauty, perfect in all aspects and philosophical beauty. This still finds its expression in work that have once existed, that been devastated on whose foundations have been uncovered in an excavation made by the Vietnam Academy of Social Science's Archaeology in 2003.

This archaeological excavation on a largest-ever scale in Southeast Asia has been unearthed a complex, rich and diversified system of vestiges and relics which enables us to imagine the monumental scope and specific face of the capital city more than thousand years ago from whence a continual history through many dynasties of Thang Long-Hanoi may be set up again. These archaeological ruins comprises of foundations, column bases, spaces with hundreds of meters in length and width, drainage system, wells, old streams, octagonal pavilions, etc. It is clear that the foundations are not of grandiose royal palace but a complex of archaeological structures of the ancient imperial citadel.

Attractions in Hanoi
The ancient name of Hanoi, Thang Long, means ascending dragon. In fact, cultural and historical remains of the city bear the mark of a rich past and many heroic legends. In Hanoi, visitors will enjoy an incomparable combination of tradition, elegance and progress. Followings are some of the "must go" places:

Sword Lake

Sword Lake is to Hanoi what Central Park is to New York City. It is a place for people to meet and what makes the city such a joy to live in. The name of the lake means Lake of the Restored Sword and comes from the legend about such a magical instrument given the a Vietnam's Emperor.    

Hanoi - The old quarter

What a wonderful place to wander, get lost and absorb the experience! This area, traditionally 36 streets named after each of the crafts practised there, is full of people, traffic, colour, noise, shops and people going about their everyday lives. The streets and buildings are narrow, adding to the charm and chaos.

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda is a cultural and historic relic, built in 1049 and called Dien Huu. Legends said that King Ly Thai To did not have any sons. One night the Goddess of Mercy in his dream sitting on a lotus gave him a son. Later he married a young country girl and had a successor. The king thanked the Goddess of Mercy by building this pagoda in the form of a lotus.

Thang Long Water Puppet Show

Thang Long Water Puppet show was excellent. Even though you may not understand any Vietnamese language, you will still be able to see those puppets in action. There are 17 series of scenes telling some stories about Vietnamese life represented by carved and painted wooden puppets held on sticks by people standing in a pool of water hidden behind the screen.

Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam

Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam is a famous historical and cultural relic consisting the Temple of Literature and the first university of Vietnam dating back to the Eleventh Century and was where mandarins were trained in the Confucian manner. It has several courtyards, one of which contains a number of stone tortoises bearing stele inscribed with the names of graduates. The inner most courtyard contains the temple dedicated to Confucius.


Visas and Documents

Most visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country. Businesspeople from a number of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies will be granted easier access to enter Vietnam as the country has officially joined the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) program.


The Vietnam Dong (VND) is the official currency in Vietnam. Exchange rate is approximately 1 USD = 16,047 VND (Dec 24, 2007). Most of foreign currencies can easily exchanged into Vietnam dong. The U.S. dollar is considered the most widely accepted. You may bring in an unlimited amount of foreign currency as long as it is declared on the forms provided by customs officers. Foreign currency can be exchanged for VND at your hotel or at any bank of Vietnam

Mobile Phone

In Vietnam, GMS is presently provided by several operators. These suppliers offer Pre-Paid Card service. The best way for you to use mobile phone in the country is to rent a mobile phone and buy a pre-paid card. It is easy to rent a mobile phone at your hotel.
Credit Cards

If you have VISA, MASTERCARD, JCB and AMERICAN EXPRESS cards, you can pay for goods and services quickly and conveniently at nearly 2000 card payment agents including Hotels, restaurants, tourist centers, shops, supermarkets, booking offices...

Particularly for VISA, MASTERCARD and JCB cards, you are able to withdraw in cash easily at offices and ATM network.

Dining and Drinking

Vietnamese food varies from region to region. Almost 500 traditional dishes have been recorded! Rice and noodles are staple foods, served with nearly all meals. The most popular dishes are nem rán (spring rolls), bún thang (noodles with sliced pork, eggs, shredded chicken and shrimp), shellfish steamed with ginger and sea crabs fried with salt.

Imported beer is available in Vietnam, although a number of domestic beers are brewed. Rice wine is very popular, and there are many brands available. There is a variety of fruit wines such as apricot, orange or lemon. Soft drinks are processed from the many varieties of tropical fruits available.

Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but it is appreciated. Avoid tipping too much, as it will set a precedent for others.
- Porters: Porters, if they are
  available, can be tipped with
  American coins.
- Hotel maids: Some hotels catering
  to tourists charge an automatic
  10% service fee.
- Taxis: Generous tips are not
  necessary. A small gratuity,
  however, is expected by cab

Internet Access

Access to online services or ADSL internet is now available through cyber-cafes and in hotels.


Electric current in Vietnam is 220 volts at 50 Hertz and most outlets are two flat pins. The rest are two round pins.

General customs

  • Small gifts such as cigarette lighters, pens, foreign cigarettes, liquor, perfume and even shampoo are greatly appreciated by anyone you wish to make friends with in Vietnam.
  • Out of politeness, always ask permission before taking photos of people. The same rule of thumb also applies to photos taken in places of worship. Permission will almost always be granted.
  • A gentle handshake is the most appropriate manner of greeting.
  • Keep your ID and passport in a safe place and carry only photocopies of those items.

Things to know

Time: GMT +7

Emergency Number

  • Police: 113
  • Fire Brigade 114
  • Ambulance 115
  • International telephone service 110
  • International telephone service rate 112
  • General inquires 1080

List of foreign Embassies and Consulates General in Vietnam

Add: 8 Dao Tan Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Tel: (84-4) 8317755
Fax: (84-4) 8317711
Email: austemb@fpt.vno

Add: Tung Shing Square, 2 Ngo Quyen Str. Hoan Kiem - Hanoi
Tel: (84-4) 9351147/48
Fax: (84-4) 9351150
Email: embajadal@chile.org.vn

Add: 16th Floor, Fortuna Tower6B Lang Ha Str. Ha Noi 
Tel: (84-4) 831 3400
Fax: (84-4) 831 3402
Email:  mwhanoi@hn.vnn.vn

Papua New Guinea
Email: kdujkt@cbn.net.id

Add: 27B Tran Hung Dao Str.
Tel : (84-4) 943 7873
Fax: (84-4) 943 5760
Email: phvn@hn.vnn.vn

Add: 41 Tran Phu Str.
Tel: (84-4) 823 3965/ 6
Fax: (84-4) 733 7627
Email: singemb@hn.vnn.vn
Brunei Darussalam
Add: 27 Quang Trung Str. Hanoi
Tel: (84-4) 943 5249/50/51
Fax: (84-4) 943 5201
Email: Bruemviet@hn.vnn.vn

Add: 50 Ngo Quyen Str.
Tel: (84-4) 825 3353/ 7969
Fax: (84-4) 825 9274
Email: komhan@hn.vnn.vn

Add: T11, 14 Thuy Khue Str.
Tel: (84-4) 847 0948
Fax: (84-4) 847 0949
Email: embvietnam@sre.gob.mx

People's Republic of China
Add: 46 Hoang Dieu Str.Hanoi
Tel : (84-4) 845 3736
Fax: (84-4) 8232826 
Email: eossc@hn.vnn.vn

Republic of Korea
Add: Daeha Business Center. 4th floor, 360 Kim Ma Str.  Ha Noi
Tel : (84-4) 831 5111/ 6
Fax: (84-4) 831 5117
Email: korembviet@mofat.go.kr

Add: 63-65 Hoang Dieu Str.
Tel: (84-4) 823 5092/ 4
Fax: (84-4) 823 5088
Email: thaiemhn@netnam.org.vn
Add: 31 Hung Vuong Str, Hanoi
Tel: (84-4) 734 5000
Fax: (84-4) 734 5049
Email: hanoi@international.gc.ca

Add: 27 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi, Vietnam
Tel: (84-4) 8463000
Fax: (84-4) 9463043
Email: kazuhiro.ichihara@mofa.go.jp

New Zealand
Add: Level 5, 63 Ly Thai To Str.
Tel: (84-4) 824 1481
Fax: (84-4) 824 1480
Email:  nzembhan@fpt.vn

Add : Hanoi 30 Lê Ngọc Hân
Tel : (84-4) 9729867/8
Fax: (84-4) 9729992

Add: 191 La Thanh Road
Tel: (84-4) 833 6991/ 2
Fax: (84-4) 833 6995
Email: moscow.vietnam@hn.vnn.vn

United States
Add: 7 Lang Ha Str.
Tel : (84-4) 772 1500
Fax: (84-4) 772 1510
Email: mwhanoi@hn.vnn.vn




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