Vietnam has surged in popularity since it opened
its doors to tourism at the start of the 1990s
and is now one of the leading destinations in
Asia. One visit is never enough with such a range
of attractions and many of our guests like to
concentrate on the north or south, often linking
together a trip to neighbouring Laos or Cambodia.
Vietnam has everything to offer the visitor, from
the colourful highland minorities of the north
to some of the best beaches in the region in the
south, not forgetting the natural wonder of Halong
Bay, the charming architecture of Hoi An, the
dazzling greens of the Mekong Delta, and, of course,
two of the region’s most dynamic cities
in the shape of Hanoi and Saigon. A visit to Vietnam
is a visit to the best of Asia.
Socialist Republic of Vietnam was born in July
1976, uniting the divided north and south. The
government is run by the Communist Party of Vietnam,
which espouses a Marxist-Leninist philosophy while
allowing free market economics.
rapidly growing population is now about 80 million,
making it the 13th most populous country in the
world. 82% of the population are ethnic Vietnamese,
while the remaining 18% is made up of sizeable
Cham, Chinese and Khmer communities, as well as
a large number of ethno-linguistic minorities
such as Hmong, Jarai, Tai, Muong, Dao and Ede
inhabiting the highlands of central and northern
Vietnamese is the national language in Vietnam.
Chinese (urban areas), Khmer (Mekong Delta) and
minority languages are also spoken in certain
parts of the country. English is the first language
among young students, while French is spoken by
the older generation.
spiritual life has been influenced by four great
religions or philosophies: Confucianism, Taoism,
Buddhism and Christianity. With the passage of
time, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism have been
mixed together to create Tam Giao or the Triple
Religion, a sort of Vietnamese Buddhism. Catholicism
came to Vietnam with the French and is now followed
by about 10% of the population. There are also
perhaps one million Muslims among the Cham and
Khmer communities. Finally there is the syncretic
religion of Caodaism, which blends all the religions
above with philosophy and is popular in the south.
is an immesely long country, stretching for more
than 1600km over a land area of 329,566 sq km,
bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia
to the west and the South China Sea to the south
and east. Vietnam’s climate varies dramatically
from one part of the country to the other and
is governed by two monsoons. The winter monsoon
comes from the north-east between October and
March and brings wet chilly weather to everywhere
north of Nha Trang but dry, warm weather to the
south. From May to October, the south-west monsoon
brings warm, wet weather to most of the country
except the north. Between July and November, major
typhoons can strike the coast between Nha Trang
and Hanoi with serious consequences. Average daytime
temperatures in Saigon range from 25C to 30C,
while in Hanoi it ranges from as low as 15-20C
to 30-35C depending on the season.
Local time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus seven
vaccinations are required to enter Vietnam. However,
it is recommended that all visitors be innoculated
against typhoid, tetanus, and hepatitis A and
B. It is unwise to drink tap water. Prescription
drugs are available in urban areas. Precautions
against malaria, such as doxycycline or larium,
are not necessary for major towns and cities,
but are recommended when visiting remoter areas.
Travellers should consult their doctor before
leaving for Vietnam.
cuisine is well-known for its delicate flavours
and huge variety of traditional regional dishes.
Fish and seafood dishes are particularly popular
thanks to the huge coastline. Chinese and other
Asian cuisine is also common throughout Vietnam,
as is a variety of western cuisine in tourist
centres. Dining out is a highlight of any visit
urban areas have minimum electricity, which is
usually 220 volts, but can be 110 volts. Rather
confusingly, sockets are never marked!
offers some pretty good shopping, but visitors
must be prepared to bargain very hard to get a
fair price. Some of the more popular items include
lacquerware, ceramics, embroidery, silk and oil
paintings, jewellery, leatherwork and the elegant
local costume known as the Ao Dai. There are many
‘antiques’ on sale in tourist centres,
but many of these are fake and the few real items
might be confiscated by customs. Even for non-shoppers,
Vietnamese markets offer a fascinating insight
into daily life and culture.
are now three international gateways to Vietnam,
Hanoi in the north, Danang in the centre and Saigon
in the south. Airlines currently serving Vietnam
include national carrier Vietnam Airlines, local
Pacific Airways,plus international carriers Thai
Airways, Bangkok Airways, Siem Reap Air, Silk
Air, Malaysia Airlines, Dragon Air, Lao Aviation,
Air China, China South-west, China Yunnan Ailines,
Eva Air, Korean Air, Air France, Lufthansa, Qantas
and JAL. Direct flights to Vietnam are available
from Bangkok, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap,
Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Guangzhou,
Kunming, Macau, Seoul, Taipei, Dubai, Melbourne,
Sydney and Paris.
are extensive domestic services in Vietnam, linking
the three principal cities with other regions
of the country. The most popular regional airports
are Hue, Nha Trang, Dalat and Phu Quoc.
for international flights.
50,000d for domestic flights.
Tourist visas allow visitors to enter and exit Vietnam at Hanoi, Saigon and Danang airports or at any of its land borders with Cambodia, China and Laos. You’ll need at least one passport-sized photograph to accompany the visa application.
Tourist visas are valid for a single 30-day stay. Depending on where you acquire it, prices for single-entry tourist visas cost around US$30 to US$60. Hanuman can arrange a visa on arrival through our travel office in Vietnam. We will need passport details in advance and will send a confirmation for the visa to be issued at the airport of arrival. This is not currently possible at land border crossings.
Dong is Vietnam’s official currency (US$1
= 15,300d), but US dollars are still widely accepted.
Most hotels accept international credit cards
such as Visa and Master Card and travellers checks
can be easily cashed.