Vietnam Place of Interest

This section covers many valuable resources on Vietnam such as the travel guides or tips to travelers. Some of the topics contain links to the other related sites of similar subjects. In certain topic, we include lists of useful contacting address for your information.



Conventional Name - Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Local Name - Cong Hoa Chu Nghia Vietnam
Capital - Hanoi
Independence - 2 September 1945 from France
Constitution - 15 April 1992
Population: - 78,773,873 (year 2000
Sex Ratio - 0.96 male/female
Birth Rate - 2.16%
Death Rate - 0.63%
Labor Force - 38.2 million
Literacy - 93.7% (Age 15 and over)
Currency - called Dong
Exchange Rate - approx.15,000 Dong / US$
Time - GMT+7
Airport Tax - US$ 10 for International, Us$ 2 for Domestic
Electricity - 110 and 220 Volts AC. (Voltage Surges are common)
Business Hour: Banks - 08:00-16:30 Mon-Fri and 08:00-12:00 Sat
Official - 07:30-12:00 & 13:00-16:30 Mon-Fri
Shops - 07:30-12:00 & 13:00-16:30 Mon-Sun

+ GEOGRAPHY – Vietnam is not a war, but a country. After the liberalization and re-unification, it becomes an attractive spot for tourism. From North to South, you can feel differences in topography, history, cultures, and people. Lying on the Indochina Peninsula - the country borders on China, Laos, Cambodia with a long coastline of 3,300 km, land area of 331,689 square kilometers. Due to long standing history, it has highly well-developed civilization flourished since the time of Hung Kings and over 2,000 years of culture.

The Vietnamese people comprises of 56 ethnic groups with totaling over 70 million - all living in harmony. The Viet race occupies more than 80% of the people.

Besides various terrains including natural forest, rolling mountains, immense plains, long coast, roughing hills... The traditional custom and culture, normal life-style and recent war relics have been all the attractions towards tourism. You can enjoy many magnificent places such as Halong Bay with wonderful grottoes, Hanoi with historical scenic monuments, the national park of Cuc Phuong and Cat Ba with many extinct flora and fauna, the historical old capital of Hoa Lu, Hue with ancient architectures of temples, Danang with immense mountain areas, Nha Trang beach with sparkling white sand, Dalat with quaint highland fresh weather, Hochiminh City - renowned Saigon with its underground Cu Chi Tunnel and the scenic Mekong Delta.

All in all, travel to Vietnam is one of the most fascinating place to visit in Asia.

+ CLIMATE – In general, rain falls between May and November in the South and between April and October in the North. Before the monsoons start in the North, there is a hot period caused by the winds blowing in from Laos. It can be cold between December, January and February in the North. The winter average temperature is about 16 degree Celsius. South central Vietnam and the delta wetlands have an annual average temperature of 27-30 degree Celsius. The warmest period is March to May.

+ CLOTHES – In the North and Central: Warm clothes, gloves, shoes and woolen hats are advised in the cold period (December to February). The remaining of the year is hot and requires summer clothes, raincoat or umbrella.

In the South: Only light summer clothes, hat and sun glasses. The weather is rainy and humid from April to November or December. Raincoat or umbrella is advised.

+ PEOPLE – Vietnamese is consisted of 56 ethnic groups with the majority of Viet race 85-90%, Chinese 3% and other minorities - Muong, Thai, Mee, Khmer, Cham, H'mong, and Dao.

The origin of the Vietnamese people is Mongoloid as its brethren in North and East Asia.

Due to its long history, they receive great influence from the ancient Chinese and India cultures.

+ RELIGION – The major religions in Vietnam are Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam Cao Dai, Hoa Hoa and other indigenous beliefs.

Buddhism entered Vietnam around 4 B.C. and reached its peak it Ly Dynasty in 11th century. With the domination of Chinese over 11 centuries, the teaching of Confucianism and Taoism was prevailed and many of its aspects were blended with that of Buddhism. This combined religious practice, called Tam Giao (Triple Religion) has great influenced on the social life and culture of the nation. Around 70% of the present day Vietnam is Buddhists.

Before the colonial period, Christianity entered Vietnam in 17 century with Roman Catholic at the lead. About 10% of population is Catholics. Protestant is also observed, but less than half a million.

Islam is observed by the Cham minority group with less than a hundred thousand followers.

Another two sects evolved at the beginning of 20th century - Cao Daism in 1926 and Hoa Haoism with about 2 million and 1 million followers, respectively.

+ LANGUAGE – Major Languages are Vietnamese (official), Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese), French, English, Khmer and other minority tribal language.

A blend of Khmer-Mon and Chinese derived into the Vietnamese language. The Chinese language had been primarily used and written during the Chinese rule, and after its departure, a unique ancient written system called Chu Nom was developed from Chinese scripts around the 10th century. Chu Nom had been widely used for many centuries later in daily life and literatures before it vanquished.

The arrival of Portuguese missionaries in early 17th century had a great influence on Vietnam written language. Attempting to spread the gospel, they incorporated the Roman scripts into Chu Nom for translation of the Bible and a new derivative called Quoc Ngu arise. Later on Alexandre de Rhodes, a French Jesuit published Quoc Ngu dictionary which is the translation of Vietnamese-Portuguese-Latin. Quoc Ngu was used mainly by missionaries and some Vietnamese scholars at that time and had undergone further development.

In 1867, the French colonialists introduced Quoc Ngu into the educational system of Vietnam, and not until early 20th century, Quoc Ngu became widely used among the Vietnamese.

+ ECONOMY – Vietnam is still a poor and densely populated country. After the end of Cold War, it had lost the financial support from the Soviet Bloc, which led to the structural reforms in economy and tourism. Many of its rigid rules and regulations were relaxed and there were influx of foreign capitals for investment. Over the past 10 years, Vietnam experienced a substantial growth; however the decline began when inflow of foreign investment is delayed by some legal barriers and administrative intervention. With the economic downtown of the region in 1997, its growth slump from 8.5% in 1997 to 4% in 1998 with trade deficit of over US$ 3 billion. Moreover, Vietnam also faced tough competition and more advanced managements of its foreign competitors. The unemployment rate is expected to be over 20%.

GDP - US$ 143.1 Billion (1999), and constitute of 26% Agriculture, 33% Industry and 41% from Services.
Inflation Rate - 4% (1999)
Agricultural Products - rice, corn, potatoes, rubber, soybean, coffee, tea, bananas, poultry, pigs, fish
Industries - food processing, garments, shoes, machine building, mining, cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, coal, steel, papers
Exports - Crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garment, shoes.

Vietnam currency is Dong comprising the following bank notes: 200d, 500d, 1000d, 2000d, 5000d, 10000d, 20000d, and 50000d.

Exchange rate in 1998 - 13,900 Dong / USD vs 11,100 Dong in 1995 and 8,100 in 1991.

Visitors may encounter difficulties exchanging other currencies. Traveler cheques and credit cards such as American Express, Visa and Master are not yet widely accepted but can be used with banks, hotels, major restaurants and shops.

+ PUBLIC HOLIDAY – 1 January - Solar New Year's Day
Vietnamese Traditional Lunar New Year's Festival or Tet Holidays. It is a 4-day holiday (the last day of the Lunar year and the first three days of the next). Tet is usually at the end of January or the beginning of February of the Solar Calendar.
30 April - Anniversary of Saigon's Liberation Day
1 May - International Labor Day
2 September - National Day of Vietnam.

+ BUSINESS AND SOCIAL HINTS – Business is conducted fairly formally and lightweight clothes should be worn. It is advisable for French-speaking delegates to attend meeting as English may not be widely spoken. Social life is reasonably informal & conservative sportswear is recommended. Alcohol is available and smoking accepted.

+ OTHER USEFUL TIPS – A drive from Tan Son Nhat Airport to downtown Hochiminh costs about USD 10 by airport taxi.
Fresh, unexposed film is available at cheap price in Saigon.
Do not exchange money on streets
Leave all valuables in hotel's safe box
Tourists should check in at the airport 2 hours before taking an Vietnam international airport and 1 hour before domestic flight.


All foreign visitors visa before entering the countries. Visa can be applied at the Vietnam Embassy or consulate in your country with an application form, original Passport and 3 photos. Now, travelers may also obtain visa upon arrival at the airport with special requirement. The fees do vary depending upon the country. For complete information, please refer to Vietnam Visa.

Vietnam has become more liberalized now in issuing its visa to the foreign visitors. In many countries, you can apply direct to the Vietnam Embassy or Consulates, and generally, it takes about 4-10 days. Now the visitors can also obtain the visa upon arrival at the airport with special requirement.

1. Application of Visa at Vietnam Embassy
Fill in an application form and submit it with your original Passport, 2-3 photos with visa fees to the Embassy or Consulate, who in turn, has to send the information to get the approval from Hanoi. After 4-10 days depending upon the country, you will get the visa stamp onto your Passport.

Special Note:
For our clients, we will process the visa authorization with Hanoi in advance, and then fax to you the pre-approval letter, of course, Free of Charge! This will facilitate you to get Vietnam visa stamp from the Embassy in your country at a much shorter time - generally within 2-3 days (Submit this pre-approval letter with the signed application form, Passport, 2-3 photos, and visa fees).

2. Getting Vietnam visa at the Airport
The most important document that you need to have before travel is the special pre-approval letter to authorize visa upon arrival at the airport in Vietnam. We are able to provide this pre-approval letter if the tour was booked with us (min. 3 days). Extension of your own stay is possible.

Note: For our clients, we will provide this special pre-approval letter, Free of Charge! However, you will have to pay USD 25 per person to the immigration for visa stamp fee upon arrival. This is highly recommended as it is time-saving - you do not have to travel at least twice to the embassy. It takes us at least 5 working days to process this letter. (You can find specific procedures at

Visa Fees
Single Entry Tourist Visa: USD 25 (or more)
Multiple Entry: USD 40 - USD 100

Although the official rates announced by Vietnam Authority are posted as above, we experienced that these rates are quite inconsistent and might be varied in different country. For more specific fees, you can call to the Vietnam Embassy or Consulate in your country.

Visa Validity
Maximum 30 days (but please also read our advice)

Vietnam Visa Approval Letter On-line Service
To get pre-approval letter for Vietnam visa, we require the following information, which can be sent to us by E-mail or by Fax:

Family Name and Giving Name
Title (Mr., Mrs., Miss)
Passport Number
Date of Passport Issued
Date of Passport Expiry
Date of your Birth
Date of Arrival in Vietnam

You also have to specify - WHERE you would like to get your visa stamp - at the airport upon arrival or at the Embassy in your country. Once processing starts, it could not be changed without extra cost, and more delay.

Once approved, we will fax to you this pre-approval letter.

Information Update
More than 5 years ago, the Embassy no longer accepts visa application with Passport photocopy and did not issue the Vietnam visa on a piece of paper as they had done before. However, sometime we still received enquiries about this type of application as some tourists had gotten this information from old guidebooks. We, therefore, confirm here that this procedure does no longer exist.

Important Notes on Vietnam Visa
During your filling up of Vietnam Visa application form, there are a few points that you should know:

1. Date of Entry and Exit in Vietnam
You have to specify the above information on the application form. The visa validity is generally given in accordance with your specified in and out date. Since a maximum stay of 30 days is allowed to a foreign tourist, you should apply with full use of it. For example, if you were to enter Vietnam on 20 September 1999, we recommend that you fill in the exit date on 19 October 1999, though you just stayed for a few days.

Beware of the Entry Date! You could not enter Vietnam before the specified Entry Date. In contrast, you should not depart Vietnam after the specified Exit Date.

2. Port of Entry and Exit of Vietnam
Just fill in Hochiminh City for entry and Hanoi for exit; you will be allowed entry and exit at both points. From our experience, it seems that the consulates issue the visa with the above ports by default. If you were to enter from the other points, such as Danang (new international entry/exit point), or Mocbai (a border point between Cambodia and Vietnam), you must specify it clearly. Do not forget to check if this border point was clearly stated on your visa in your Passport, otherwise, you will have a big problem during border crossing.


Things brought subject to declare while entering Vietnam
a) Amount of Foreign exchange is over USD 5,000 (including currencies, gold, silver, precious stones, and jewelry).

b) Goods, movie camera, TV, radio, cassette recorders, compact disc, communication, recorded tapes and disc, handicraft, books, newspapers, photographs, pictures, magazines....

Notes: Cultural articles put in handbag for easy check

c) Alcohol over 2 liters, cigarette 200, cigars 50 and tobacco over 250 grams


Traveling to Vietnam is as safe as traveling to any other Asian countries nowadays. You do not have to take any vaccination before entry to the country, as health certificate is not required. Nevertheless, you should take some preventive measures regarding your health while visiting any developing countries, so that you would not lose your precious time during holidays.

The first rule is not to eat anything that is “raw” such as raw meat, raw fish or raw vegetable including salads. Try to dine in the clean restaurants or hotels, and ensure that the food is properly cooked and clean. Avoid any food that has been prepared beforehand and kept in room temperature for a period of time, such as the food with condiments. You should completely avoid the precooked foods in the street stalls. Boiled rice, hot noodles, coffee and tea should be fine and safe. As of fruits, it is recommended that you take those that you peel by yourself.
Taking the bottled mineral water with seal intact is the best recommendation, I supposed. If this is not available in remote area, try to take at least the purified or boiled water. Some experienced travelers bring along with them the Halazone tablets and mix it with the drinking water to kill the bacteria. Do not drink any milk unless you are sure it has been pasteurized. Contaminated food and drink can cause vomiting, diarrhea, typhoid and Hepatitis A.

+ Local Pharmacies - The local pharmacies in Vietnam can almost be found on every corner of the streets in the major cities. Purchasing the drugs over-the-counter is very easy and does not require any prescription. You should be aware that most of the medicines sold over-the-counter are often counterfeit or expired. Many antibiotics available here are generally obsolete and the diseases can be drug-resistant.

+ Prescription - Before traveling to Vietnam, consult your doctor for the prescribed medicines in case you have a chronic illness. In addition to taking along the drugs with you, ask your doctor to write down the generic names of the drugs and keep it properly. This will help to avoid any confusion in case you need to buy that medicine in Vietnam, since the alias may be different. Some Western clinics and major hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and in Hanoi do have imported and authentic medicines.

Other Health Risks
+ Mosquitoes –
You should take preventive measures against the mosquitoes as in any tropical country such as wearing long sleeves and long pant, especially at dusk. Generally, the anti-malarial pills like Chloroquine and Mefloquine are recommended, however if you were going to the remote area, then Doxycycline may be a better choice. Mosquitoes repellent are available locally and can help a lot from insect disturbance.

+ Diarrhea - The newly arrival visitors to Vietnam can be more prone to diarrhea than the local people. Bring along with you Imodium (or Lomotil) and the Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) like Pedialyte can be a good idea in case of mild diarrhea. In severe case, consult a physician in Vietnam is the only alternative.

+ Rabies - If you were bitten by dog, cat or monkey, try to locate its owner so that the animal can be tested. Vaccines should be taken in case of doubt.

+ Some Basic Facts - In Vietnam, there are approximately 800 hospitals, providing around 40,000 beds. Most of the hospitals are publicly owned, but less than 20% are under the control of the Ministry of Health. The patient occupancy rates can range from 50% to 120%, as the beds are limited.

+ Our Recommendation -
 Health insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is recommended, as international standard healthcare is minimal, especially in rural areas.

List of Western Clinics Hospitals in Vietnam:
Ho Chi Minh City

1) OSCAT/AEA International Clinic
65 Nguyen Du, District 1
Tel: 848 829-8520
Fax: 848 829-8551

2) Columbia-Gia Dinh International Clinic
01 No Trang Long, Binh Thanh District
Tel: (848) 803-0678.

1) Hanoi Family Practice
A1 Van Phuc, Suite 109-112
Tel.: 843-0748
Fax: 843-1750

2) AEA International Clinic
31 Hai Ba Trung
Tel.: 934-0555
Fax: 934-0556

3) AEA International Services
(emergency medical evacuation)
Tel.: 821-3555

4) Vietnam International Hospital
Phuong Mai
Tel.: 574-0740, 574-1111
Fax: 869-8443.


This section covers the different parts of Viet Nam from North, Central, to South with the information of each city or destination.

North Vietnam
Cuc Phuong National Park
Tamdao National Park
Cat Ba National Park
Dien Bien Phu

Central Vietnam
Da Lat
Buon Me Thout
Nha Trang
Hoi An
Phong Nha Cave
Thanh Hoa

South Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City
Cu Chi Tunnels
Song Be
Cat Tien
Vung Tau
Bin Chau
Con Dao

Mekong Delta in South Vietnam
My Tho
Long An
Vinh Long
Dong Thap
Chau Doc
Ca Mau
Rach Gia
Phu Quoc Island


The pre-historic era could be dated back to over 23,000 years ago in Paleolithic Age, as the relics of Homo Erectus were found in the caves of Lang Son and Nghe An province. Gradual evolution emerged to Bronze Age when inhabitants produced bronze tools, and arms with the raising of domestic farms of buffaloes, oxen and pigs. Three cultural groups developed during this age:

Pre-Dong Son Culture - lived in the North around Ma River, Ca River and Red River Delta
Pre-Sa Hyun - live in Southern area of Central Vietnam
Those inhabited in Dong Nai River
During Iron Age, only Pre-Dong son culture developed into Dong Son culture.

Birth of Vietnam
The first nation of Vietnam being recorded is the Van Lang Nation, founded by the ancient Viet race in the North. The most famous king is Hung King.

In 3 B.C, another nation was found by Au Duong Vuong and named Au Lac Nation. The historical remain of Co Loa Citadel is the evidence.

In Central Vietnam, another kingdom of Champa emerged from Sa Hyun culture around 2 B.C.

Chinese Domination: (111 BC - 936 AD)
The Au Lac Nation was first lost to Nan Yue in 179 BC, who in turn was conquered by the mighty Chinese Han Empire. In 111 BC, the Han Empire dominates the Au Lac Nation. This domination lasted over a thousand years with successive Chinese dynasties such as Sui and Tang. The Chinese domination had left great influence on Vietnam philosophy, culture, religions and almost every aspect of Vietnamese life. Many rebellions did occur, but all were cracked down. Not until 936 AD, the Chinese troop was defeated at Bach Dang River and ends the Chinese rule.

Independence from China:
After the liberation from Chinese domination, successive dynasties followed by Ngo, Dinh and Pre-Le Dynasty with the period from 939-1009 AD. Over this time, Chinese Empire made many invasions, but repulsed.

1009-1400 AD - Ly Dynasty and Tran Dynasty.
During this period, Vietnam rose into a powerful nation with much development in various fields such as agricultures, trading, religions, and cultures with prevailing of Buddhism and Confucianism. They were able to resist the assaults from Chinese Sung Dynasty as well as Mongolians.

1400-1407 AD. Ho Dynasty and 1408-1428 AD Chinese Domination
The decline began since late Tran Dynasty which was overthrown by Ho Dynasty who took power during 1400-1407, but Ho did not last long. Vietnam once again was conquered by Chinese invasion under Ming Empire who ruled Vietnam from 1408-1428. The Chinese Ming Army met strong resistance from the Viet patriots and lose its conquests to Le Loi at the battle of Lam Son. This led to new era of Vietnam History.

1428 - 1788 AD - LE Dynasty
The Chinese rule over Vietnam completely ended with the establishment of Le Dynasty in 1428 AD which lasted until 18th century. Trades, industry, agriculture, cultures, and literatures flourished, however, in 16th century, the nation was divided into two feudal states under Le Dynasty - Trinh State in the North and Nguyen State in the South.

1788 - 1802 TAY SON DYNASTY
During the late 18th century, the 3 brothers of Nguyen led the famous Tay Son Revolution, and overthrew the two feudal states of Trinh and Nguyen, and then the Le Dynasty. The new dynasty of Tay Son lasted for 14 years and was subdued to Nguyen Anh Gia Long who was supported by the French army.

Nguyen Anh Gia Long succeeded the throne, and became the first monarch of Nguyen Dynasty. The country revived into a healthy state with expansion of economy. Trades, irrigation, agriculture, literatures and cultures again flourished. Vietnam began to open up new trades with western countries like France, England, and also Indonesia and India. Later on, gradual conflicts with its foreign counterparts piled up. In 1857, its rulers made a false move to closed-door polity and drove away oversea diplomats, which was a great turning point of Vietnam History and had its impact till present-day Vietnam. This led to French conquest and the establishment of the so-called Indochina.

French Domination (1887 - 1954)
After the breakup of diplomatic tie, the French military troops started to invade Vietnam. Although being more organized and having superior weapons, the French army took 30 years to overcome repetitive Viet patriotic resistance and had its final conquest. In 1887, French Royal Decree ordered the establishment of Indochina - an aggregated French colony consisted of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The Nguyen Dynasty did survive but became powerless under French domination.

Not until early 20th century, the French seriously activated the social and economic welfare of Vietnam. Mining industry and big plantations of coffee, tea and rubber were popped up and exploited on a large scale, bringing huge benefits to the French. This had also bear a strong negative effect over the Vietnam society with clear separation of Vietnamese elites and the low working class.

The hidden resentment of the Vietnamese people was ignited, when the French colonialists ordered a land structural reform in 1904 with high taxation over the farmers. This led to many resistant movements against the French rules and resulted in the death or imprisonment of its leaders. Having strong support from the farmer class, Nguyen Ai Quoc succeeded to establish the Vietnam Communist Party in 1930. The world knows him in the name of Ho Chi Minh.

Birth of To-Day Vietnam & Seed Of Vietnam War
At the end of World War II, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam Independence on 2 September 1945. The last French troop was crushed in the battle of Dien Bien Phu, resulted in the half liberalization of the Vietnam. The Geneva Accord had divided the country into the North, ruled under communist system and the South under democratic one.

President Ho was half satisfied, and determined to re-unite the country by invading the South. Being the world democratic leader, Americans entered the scenario and attempted to stop the communist's expansion in Southeast Asia against the Domino Theory. This had led to the Vietnam War (the Vietnamese called it - the American War!). Unable to fight against the powerful military strength of the Americans, North Vietnam military, called Vietcong, used guerrillas tactics. This war had turned out to be too costly for the Americans in term of life, social welfare and economy. Receiving heavy pressure at home, the Americans decided to withdraw its troops, resulted in the fall of South Vietnam. Finally, Vietnam became re-unified once again on 30 April 1975 and the Communist regime rules until the present day.
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