Vietnam Fast Facts

Vietnam stretches over 1600 km along the eastern coast of the Indochina peninsula from 8' 34"N to 23' 22" N. The land mass is 329,566 square kilometers, making it larger than Italy and slightly smaller than Japan. Vietnam is a country of immense beauty and geographical diversity. The country is roughly divided into three main areas: North, Center and South.
The main feature of the North of Vietnam is mountains and forests along with the vast Red River Delta. The North is also home to the Gulf of Tonkin and a maze of islands and islets in the bay. Central Vietnam is made up of agricultural plains wedged between the Truong Son Mountains and the East Sea (South China Sea) making some dramatic mountain passes overlooking ocean vistas. The Mekong Delta dominates the south of the country.

Time: Vietnam
is GMT + 7 and does not operate daylight-saving system.

Country code: ++84

Vietnam Population
The population of Vietnam is about 86 million people with 54 ethnic groups. The biggest group is the Viet people, comprising of 87% of the population. The rest belong to 53 minority ethnic groups.

Vietnam Economy
Market economy is applied. Especially Vietnam just became a member of WTO (World Trade Organization) so the country now is on-going industrialization and building programs. Vietnamese population is very young: more than 53 million are under 30 years old. The country is very rich in national resources.

Vietnamese People
The majority of the population is comprised of the Viet or Kinh (87%); people who speak the tonal Vietnamese. The minority population is made up of 53 ethnic hill tribe people who mainly live in the central and northern mountainous areas of the country. The best-known hill tribes are the Tay, Nung, Hmong, Zao, White and Black Thai (both mainly from the north), and the Hoa... Each hill tribe has its own unique customs and dialect and some are able to speak Vietnamese.

Vietnam Cuisine
A typical Vietnamese meal consists of rice or noodles with soup, a stir-fry, and another main dish and is eaten on a communal basis. The dishes are usually not spicy and are accompanied with chili sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce. The traditional Vietnamese breakfast is Pho – a large bowl of rice noodles flavored with sliced beef or chicken and fragrant broth and garnished with fresh coriander and bean sprouts. The countries 3 main regions, the North, the Center and the South each have distinct cuisine. Generally the North is best known for its noodle soups and meat and seafood stir-fries. The central region especially around Hue has some of the most elaborate dishes and many of the dishes are influenced by Royal cuisine. In the south, where there is a greater abundance of spices the food tends to be a little hotter. With over 3,000km of coastline the seafood here is both delicious and varied. Crabs prawns, crayfish and squid are in plentiful supply, not to mention hundreds of varieties of fish.

Clothing when travel to Vietnam
Light, comfortable, easy to launder clothing is recommended. The temperature during winter months in Hanoi and the rainy season in the central region can be cool; a sweater or a light jacket can be handy. Good walking shoes and sandals that can be easily removed are recommended, especially when entering temples and local houses.

Shopping in Vietnam
Vietnam offers a wide range of souvenirs and shopping in the various local markets around the country can be great fun. Good bargaining skills are essential and as high quality souvenirs or genuine antiques are difficult to find, prices should generally be low. Here are some of the items which make their way onto many people's shopping list: Clothes (e.g. T-shirt, polo-shirt, trousers, shorts, skirts,) beaded shoes, conical hats, single-cup coffee filters, sleeping bags, CDs, embroidered table cloths, carving in wood or marble, lacquer ware (e.g. pictures, trays, trinket boxes), and traditional style paintings and sketches, Vietnamese green tea, coffee. Handicrafts produced by the hill tribes people in the north are also very popular. These include fabrics, jewellery, embroidered bags, and wickerwork. It is also possible to buy tailor-made cloths which are made to order and are usually available for collection within 24 hours. Once of the best places to buy tailor made items is in Hoi An.

Vietnamese Language
Vietnamese, the official language, is a tonal language that can be compared to Chinese - Mandarin, but there are more tones. With each syllable, there are six different tones that can be used, which change the definition and it often makes it difficult for foreigners to pick up the language. There are other languages spoken as well such as Chinese, Khmer, Cham and other languages spoken by tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions. Although there are some similarities to Southeast Asian languages, such as Chinese, Vietnamese is thought to be a separate language group, although a member of the Austro-Asiatic language family.

Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to show tones. This system of writing called Quoc Ngu, was created by Catholic missionaries in the 17th century to translate the scriptures. Eventually this system, particularly after World War I, replaced one using Chinese characters (chu Nom), which had been the unofficial written form used for centuries.

Public holidays
New Year's Holiday (January 1)
Ancestor Worshipping Anniversary (on the 10 of 3rd Lunar month)
Liberation of Saigon: (April 30)
International Worker's Day: (May 1)
Vietnamese National Day: (September 2)
The Vietnamese Lunar New Year: Tet (4 days)
There is no more colorful time to be in Vietnam than during the days leading up to Tet Nguyen Dan, the most important festival of the year for Vietnam's Kinh ethnic majority.

Weather of Vietnam
The north of Vietnam and Hanoi have distinct winter and summer seasons. The mainly dry winter lasts from November to April with average temperatures of 18-20°C. Summer is from May to October and it is hot and humid with temperatures around 30°C. Hue and Danang, in the center of the country, have very hot, dry weather from February to August with temperatures reaching the mid 30°C, but can experience some heavy rainfall between September and January. Ho Chi Minh City and the south have a hot, dry season from December till April with average temperatures around 28°C and a warm rainy season from May to November. In the rainy season, most rain comes in short, heavy bursts. So all year round is good season for somewhere.

Visa to Vietnam
Most visitors to Vietnam require a visa to enter the country. For tourist from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland traveling to Vietnam and staying for 15 days or less don’t have to apply for entry visas, provided that their passports are valid for at least three months and they can show their return ticket. Those who wish to stay longer than 15 days will need to apply for a visa. For Thai, Indonesian, Lao, Malaysian and Singaporean do not need a visa for a visit up to 30 days. Philippines passport holders do not need a visa for a visit up to 21 days. Japanese and South Korean passport holders do not need a visa for a visit up to 15 days.

A single entry tourists visa, which means that if you, exit Vietnam, you will require a new tourist visa to enter Vietnam again.

All travelers must have a passport valid to 6 months after their planned exit from Vietnam.
The above information may change without prior notice. It is your responsibility to check whether or not you are subject to a tourist visa for Vietnam.

Tourist visa validity
A one-month tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors though it is possible to arrange 3-month and 6-month multiple entry visas. If you arrive to Vietnam by land, it is NOT possible to get a visa on arrival. You must obtain the visa beforehand.

Collect your visa before arrival from your closest Vietnamese embassy or consulate. For collect your visa on arrival at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Danang International Airports.
We can help you obtain your visa prior to arrival or upon arrival. We strongly recommend you obtain your visa before arrival to avoid long delays and possible complications at the airport.

Visa upon arrival
Visitors must obtain visa approval prior to entry. We offers the visa approval service. The procedure can be summarized as follow:
- Passport details and arrival, departure dates are to send to us no later than 14 day prior to your departure. (You can send by email, fax or snail mail; we need: full name as stated in passport, gender, date of birth, passport number, expiry date, nationality, arrival & departure date, place to receive your visa-please advise which Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate where your want to get your visa stamped)
- We then go ahead and submits these details to the Vietnamese Immigration Department.
- The Immigration Department will confirm us of visa approval and send it by fax/telex approval to the Embassy or Consulate in the country of visitors' residence
- We send you the approval document via email.
- You bring your passports & 2 passport sized photos (4 x 6cm) to Vietnamese embassy to get the visa stamped (stamp fee will be paid by yourselves).

Visitors can obtain a visa upon arrival in Vietnam. However, we recommend this option only in cases of emergency as it’s more expensive than a regular visa.

Health care in Vietnam
The majority of the population is comprised of the Viet or Kinh (87%); people who speak the tonal Vietnamese. The minority population is made up of 53 ethnic hill tribe people who mainly live in the central and northern mountainous areas of the country. The best-known hill tribes are the Tay, Nung, Hmong, Zao, White and Black Thai (both mainly from the north), and the Hoa... Each hill tribe has its own unique customs and dialect and some are able to speak Vietnamese.

Vietnam Money – Currency
The official currency in Vietnam is the VND or in Vietnamese "Dong". The basic unit is the VND (also known as "Dong"). Paper currency 1000 VND, 2000VND and 5000 VND. Plastic currency (similar to AU dollars) comes in 10,000 VND, 20,000 VND, 50.000 VND, 100.000 VND, 200.000VND and 500,000 VND.  There are also: 100 VND, 200 VND, 500 VND,  but these are used as they have no purchasing power but for donations in pagodas. 1000 VND, 2000 VND and 5000 VND in coins are common used.

Travelers’ Cheque
American Express Travelers’ Cheques can be changed into Vietnamese Dong or US Dollars. Note that a 3 % commission is charged. Banks such as CitiBank, ANZ Bank. HSBC and Vietcombank can change your Travelers’ Cheques for VND or US Dollars but a commission applies (1% to 2%). Very few shops, hotels or restaurants accept Travelers’ Cheques.

NOTE: Travelers’ Cheques can be difficult to change outside of the major cities.

Using Credit cards in Vietnam
Most credit cards are accepted in Vietnam. VISA and MASTERCARD are the most widely accepted. JCB and AMERICAN EXPRESS are also accepted in some outlets. Not all hotels, commercial centers, shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Check with the cashier whether card is accepted. Bear in mind that a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases. VISA and MasterCard: 3 % surcharge

JCB: 3% surcharge
American Express: 4% surcharge

NOTE: Surcharges is subject to change without prior notice. Check the percentage charged before you buy.

ATMs in Vietnam
ATMs can be a choice as it’s very popular in most of tourist destinations now. Vietcombank (VCB) has the best network in the country. Withdrawals are issued  in Dong (50,000d and 100,000d only). There is a  limit of 2,000,000d (about US$125) for each withdrawal and a daily limit of 20,000,000d. Fee is 50,000d (US$3) each time.

Cash in Vietnam
US dollar is widely accepted while most major currencies can be exchanged at leading banks in Vietnam (Vietcombank, ANZ, ACB, VIB Bank…) or some hotels and jewelry shops. The official rate of exchange is approximately VND18,900 to US$1. With the relatively low value of Dong, you are recommended to carry US dollar in small notes; it will help you to change easily.

Safety
Vietnam is the safest country in the world. But be careful is better so you should never put your belongings out of your sight. Avoid cyclos late at night and choose reliable metered taxi companies. Ask your Viet Vision Travel guide for advice on safety issues.

Telecommunications

Telephone:
Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms and it is possible to send faxes from hotels and post offices although these services are expensive. It may not always be possible to make international calls in remote areas.

If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the costs before using it abroad as you may have to pay for listening or dialing as well

Internet in Vietnam:
Most of the hotels in the cities connected to the Internet. Some of them have wireless broadband access in rooms or public areas. Cyber cafes are becoming popular and are easily found in major towns and cities. Prices are reasonable, usually below US$1 per hour. In many Internet cafes, you can buy pre-paid international phone cards to dial from a computer to a landline or mobile phone worldwide. Most Internet cafes are equipped with web cams, headsets and microphones.

Mail: Postcards are sold at all main tourist sites and stamps are available from post offices and some hotel reception desks. A postcard to Europe costs VND 9,000 to send and takes up to two weeks to reach the country of destination.

Vietnam Transportation

Vietnamese law does not allow foreigners to rent and drive a car. It is highly advisable to rent a car with a driver who knows the roads and can speak Vietnamese in case of any problems. Traffic and roads conditions may be very different to what you are used to even if you have International driving license.

In Vietnam, drivers can speak very little English. Tour guides need to be licensed by the National Tourism Authority. Tour guides are the only persons legally entitled to escort tourists. We specializes in arranging tours with private drivers and qualified professional tour guides.
Other News