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Overview
+ Official name: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
+ Area:330,900 sq. km
+ Capital: Hanoi
+ Population:  91,5 million (7/2012)
+ Major cities: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Hai Phong, Halong, Hue, Dalat, NhaTrang, Can Tho
+ Local time:  GMT + 7 hours
+ International dialing code: +84
+ Electricity: 220V AC 50 Hz
+ International Airport: Noi Bai/Hanoi (HAN); Tan Son Nhat / HCMC (SGN); Danang (DAD)

Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia. Spreading along the eastern edge of the Indochinese Peninsula, Vietnam covers a land area of 330,900 sq. km with the legendary world of Halong Bay, the colorful charm of Central Highlands and the criss-cross waterways of the Mekong Delta. The country boasts a marvelous coastline of 3,260km dotted with white sandy beaches, tranquil bays and vivid coral reefs. Vietnam also shares land borders of 3,700km with Laos, Cambodia and China. Moreover, with a tropical monsoon climate, all parts of the country are mostly warm the whole year round, which is ideal for those who love sunny weather.

History
Vietnam’s history is a long, exciting and fascinating one, with the oldest archaeological findings in the Bac Son grotto, Lang Son Province, at Do Mountain, Thanh Hoa Province and artifacts of the Phung Nguyen, Dong Dau, Go Mun and Dong Son cultures as well as the Ngoc Lu bronze drums showing that people have been living there as far back as about a half million years ago - making them among the very first East Asians who practiced agriculture in that area.Vietnam’s history can be divided into the  main periods as below:

  •     Prehistoric Era : including Pre-Paleolithic Age and Neolithic Age between 10,000 to 30,000 years ago
  •     Foundation of the Nation: About 4,000 years ago.
  •     Northern Kingdom’s domination from the 1st century BC to the year of 938.
  •     National construction and defense for independence from 938 to 1858.
  •     National independence and socialist from 1858 to 1975.
  •     Reunification from 1975 – 1986.
  •     Period of Renovation ( Doi Moi ) since 1986.

Culture
Vietnam is proud of an age-long and special culture that is closely attached to the history of the formation and development of the nation. With 54 ethnic groups living across the country and each ethnicity having its own cultural color, the Vietnamese culture is a diversified unification.

People
The Vietnamese nation was formed through a process of two major ancient cultures, the Chinese and the Indian.  At present there are 54 different ethnic groups inhabiting Vietnam, in which Kinh (Viet) people make up nearly 90% of the whole population, and 53 other ethnic groups represent over 10%. . The 54 different ethnic groups inhabiting Vietnam can divide into 8 eight different groups.

Religions & Belief
In Vietnam Buddhism is very popular and most Vietnamese worship their ancestor. There are some other religions in Vietnam such as Caodaism, Hoa Hao sect, Catholicism and Protestantism, Islam.

  •     Buddhism : First introduced to Vietnam in the 2nd century, and reached its peak in the Ly dynasty in the 11th century.
  •     Catholicism : Introduced to Vietnam in the 17th century.  About 10 percent of the population are considered Catholic.
  •     Protestantism : At about the same time as Catholicism. At present most Protestants live in the Central Highlands. The number of Protestants living in Vietnam is estimated at 400,000.
  •     Islam : Islamic followers in Vietnam are primarily from the Cham ethnic minority group living in the central part of the central coast. The number of Islamic followers in Vietnam totals about 50,000.
  •     Caodaism :First introduced to the country in 1926. Settlements of the Cao Dai followers in South Vietnam are located near the Church in Tay Ninh. The number of followers of this sect is estimated at 2 million.
  •     Hoa Hao Sect : First known in 1939. More than 1 million Vietnamese are followers of this sect. Most of them live in the south-west of Vietnam.
  •     Mother Worship: Researchers describe the Vietnamese mother-worship cult as a primitive religion. The custom of Mother worship originated from the north. In the south, the religion has integrated the local goddesses such as Thien Y A Na (Hue) and Linh Son (Tay Ninh). In fact, the Mother worship cult was influenced by other religions, mainly Taoism.

Climate - Best times to visit
Vietnam can be visited year-round. The busiest time is November to April and we recommend booking four to six months in advance. The monsoon season, from May to November, is warm and humid with refreshing afternoon showers, and rarely affects travel. December to February in the north can be cool, especially highland areas. Halong Bay can be cool and drizzly from February to April, with fog that reduces visibility but adds a mysterious air to this magical landscape. While tropical storms are frequent during summer months, sunny days may be interspersed with clouds or rain at any time of year. Central Vietnam is usually dry from February to May and wet from August to January. October and November may experience unstable weather and local flooding.

Visa
You must have the Vietnam visa or the per-approved letter before you travel and you can get the Vietnam visa by one of the below arrangements. Visa is single entry and valid for 30 days.

    Apply for a Visa at an Embassy by yourself

  •     Get the Vietnam visa stamp at the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country of residence with the per-approved letter arranged and sent you by your local agent
  •     Get the Vietnam visa on arrival by sending to your local travel agent your passport information and your international flight to arrange the visa on arrival per-approved letter before you travel.
  •     Print this letter, bring with you to show at departure flight check-in counter and at the “visa on arrival” at Vietnam International Airports (at Tan Son Nhat Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, at Danang airport or Noi Bai international airport, Hanoi )  for visa stamp.  Please also provide one (1) passport photo and US$45 each for fee. 

Citizens of Australia, UK, US, EU Countries, New Zealand and Canada require a visa to visit Vietnam.  Other nationalities should check with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
Please ensure you have a multiple entry visa if you are entering Vietnam twice.
Vietnam Visa Exemption: Country and its citizen do not need Vietnam visa:

  •     Asian Countries: Thailand (exempt validity: 30 days), Indonesia (30 days), Singapore (30 days), Malaysia (30 days), The Philippines (15 days), Laos (30 days), Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam (30 days), Japan (15 days), South Korea (15 days), Cambodia (14 days)
  •     European Countries: Sweden (15 days), Denmark (15 days), Finland (15 days), Norway (15 days), Russia (15 days)

Health
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against Polio, Meningitis, Hepatitis A&B, Tuberculosis, TABT (typhoid, paratyphoid A&B and tetanus), Cholera, Malaria, and Japanese Encephalitis. In addition, we suggest you contact your personal physician or clinic specializing in international travel.

Clothing
Light, comfortable, easy to launder clothing is recommended. Your travel time is in Feb so sweater or light jacket will come in handy. Good walking shoes and sandals are recommended especially when visiting temples and people's homes.
Ensure you have suitable clothing packed for visiting temples and pagodas that you can cover up, e.g. shirts and long pants. No dresses, shorts, singlets, string tops or revealing clothing should be worn to temples and pagodas.

Tipping
Although it is not obligatory, tipping is widely practiced and expected

    Porters : USD 1per bag/check-in/check-out
    Waiters in restaurants: 5-10% of total bill.
    Taxi drivers : 10% of total bill .
    Tour guides : USD 4 – USD per client per day
    Drivers : USD 2 per client per day

 

 

 

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