VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDES & HIGHLIGHTS OF VIETNAM
Vietnam - the officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a long, thin and letter “S” shaped country in Southeast Asia. Its neighboring countries are China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west as well as Vietnam has a long costal line, which is pure, charm and attractive to all travelers and tourists.
History of Vietnam Country
The country has more than 4,000 years history passing many timelines with the hero of a braved country. The Vietnamese
first appeared in history as one of many scattered peoples living in what is now South China and Northern Vietnam just before the beginning of the Christian era. According to local tradition, the small Vietnamese kingdom of Au Lac, located in the heart of the Red River valley, was founded by a line of legendary kings who had ruled over the ancient kingdom of Van Lang for thousands of years. Historical evidence to substantiate this tradition is scanty, but archaeological findings indicate that the early peoples of the Red River delta area may have been among the first East Asians to practice agriculture, and by the 1st century BC they had achieved a relatively advanced level of Bronze Age civilization. There will be many things for you to discover the history of Vietnam when you come to visit.
People of Vietnam – Vietnamese
Most people in Vietnam are ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh), though there is a sizeable ethnic Chinese community in Ho Chi Minh City, most who are descended from migrants from Guangdong province and are hence bilingual in Cantonese or other Chinese dialects and Vietnamese. There are also numerous other ethnic groups who occupy the mountainous parts of the country, such as the Hmong, Muong and Dao people. There is also a minority ethnic group in the lowlands near the border with Cambodia known as the Khmer Krom.
Buddhism, mostly of the Mahayana school, is the single largest religion in Vietnam, with over 85% of Vietnamese people identifying themselves as Buddhist. Catholicism is the second largest religion, followed by the local Cao Dai religion. Other Christian denominations, Islam, and local religions also share small followings throughout the southern and central areas.
Culture of Vietnam
Due to its long history as a tributary state of China, as well as several periods of Chinese occupations, Vietnamese culture is heavily influenced by that of Southern China, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese language also contains many loan words from Chinese, though the two languages are unrelated. Buddhism remains the single largest religion in Vietnam, though like in China but unlike in the rest of northern South east Asia, the dominant school of Buddhism in Vietnam is the Mahayana School. Nevertheless, Vietnamese culture remains distinct from Chinese culture as it has also absorbed cultural elements from neighboring Hindu civilizations such as the Champa and the Khmer empires. The French colonization has also left a lasting impact on Vietnamese society, with baguettes and coffee remaining popular among locals.
Climate & Weather of Vietnam
Vietnam is large enough to have several distinct climate zones.
The North has four distinct seasons, with a comparatively chilly winter (temperatures can dip below 15°C/59°F in Hanoi), a hot and wet summer and pleasant spring (March-April) and autumn (October-December) seasons. However, in the Highlands both extremes are amplified, with occasional snow in the winter and temperatures hitting 40°C (104°F) in the summer.
In the Central regions the Hai Van pass separates two different weather patterns of the North starting in Langco (which is hotter in summer and cooler in winter) from the milder conditions South starting in Danang. North East Monsoon conditions September - February with often strong winds, large sea swells and rain make this a miserable and difficult time to travel through Central Vietnam. Normally summers are hot and dry.
The South has three somewhat distinct seasons: hot and dry from March to May/June; rainy from June/July to November; and cool and dry from December to February. April is the hottest month, with mid-day temperatures of 33°C (91°F) or more most days. During the rainy season, downpours can happen every afternoon, and occasional street flooding occurs. Temperatures range from stifling hot before a rainstorm to pleasantly cool afterwards. Mosquitoes are most numerous in the rainy season. December to February is the most pleasant time to visit, with cool evenings down to around 20° (68°F).
Highlights of Vietnam, suggested places to visit in Vietnam
Vietnam is a nice country, there are many things to dicover and many things to see, it has a rich culture and rich nature as well, Charming Indochina Travel would like to advise and suggest you all highlights to discover in Vietnam as:
The North of Vietnam:
Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, within Quang Ninh Province, in the northeast of Vietnam, is165 km from the capital of Ha Noi. Covering an area of 43,400 ha and including over 1600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabitated and unaffected by humans, it forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars and is an ideal model of a mature Karst landscape developed during a warm and wet tropical climate. It includes some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest. This place is a must-go to all travelers.
Located 38km from Lao Cai City and some 400km from Hanoi capital (Charming Indochina Travel advises you to tarvel by nught train from Hanoi), Sapa is a mountainous district of Lao Cai Province. Sapa District is very well-known with Sapa Townlet, a beautiful and romantic resortSa Pa is a frontier town and capital of Sa Pa District in Lào Cai Province in northwest Vietnam. It was first inhabited by people we know nothing about. They left in the entire valley hundreds of petroglyphs, mostly composed of lines, which experts think date from the 15th century and represent local cadastres. Then came the highland minorities of the Hmong and Yao. The town is one of the main market ones in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giáy, Pho Lu, and Tay live. groups, as well as by smaller numbers of Tày and Giay. These are the four main minority groups still present in Sa Pa district today. The Kinh (lowland Vietnamese) never originally colonised this highest of Việt Nam’s valleys, which lies in the shadow of Phan-Xi-Pǎng (Fansipan, 3143 m), the highest peak in the country. This is an interesting option for those who would like to do trekking and visiting the minorities.
The countryside of Vietnam
Vietnamese people mostly follow the Buddism, this is the reason why there are many temples and pagodas in both cities and countryside. A short visit to visit Huong Pagoda (Perfume Pagoda) or taking a gentle rowing boat in Tam Coc - Trang An in Ninh Binh is a nice day trip when you are nesting in Hanoi city. You can also pay a short excursion to the handicraft villages around Hanoi like Bat Trang ceramic, Painting village, Silk village, Carpentry village etc… The Vietnamese government has recognized about 1500 handicraft villages, of which about 300 are traditional handicraft villages. These villages maintain the country's handicraft heritages.
The Center of Vietnam
Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha-Ke bang is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Bo Trach and Minh Hoa districts of central Quang Binh Province in the North Central Coast region, about 500 km south of Hanoi. The park borders the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in Khammouane Province, Laos to the west and 42 km east of the South China Sea from its borderline point. Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park is situated in a limestone zone of 2,000 km2 in Vietnamese territory and borders another limestone zone of 2,000 km2 of Hin Namno in Laotian territory. The core zone of this national park covers 857.54 km2 and a buffer zone of 1,954 km2. The park was created to protect one of the world's two largest karst regions with 300 caves and grottoes and also protects the ecosystem of limestone forest of the Annamite Range region in North Central Coast of Vietnam. The park derives it name from Phong Nha Cave, containing many fascinating rock formations, and Ke Bang forest. The plateau on which the park is situated is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia. This national park was listed in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2003 for its geological values as defined in its criteria viii. In April 2009, the world's largest cave, was discovered by a team of British cave explorers of British Caving Association. This place is suitable for adventuorous people.
Thien Duong Cave – Paradise Cave
Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave) is a cave in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, UNESCO's World Heritage Site, 60 km northwest of Dong Hoi City. Thien Duong Cave is located on an elevation of 200 meters above the sea level, near the west branch of Ho Chi Minh Highway, in Son Trach Commune, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam. The cave was discovered by a local man in 2005 and 5 first km of this cave was explored by explorers from British Cave Research Association in 2005, the whole 31 km was explored and publicly announced by the British cave explorers. This cave is 31 km long, longer than Phong Nha Cave which had been considered the longest cave in this national park. The height can reach to 100 m and 150 wide. The limestone formation is also more spectacular than that of Phong Nha Cave. The British cave explorers were impressed by the beautiful and spectacular stalactites and stalagmites inside this cave and they named it Thien Đuong Cave (Paradise Cave).
DMZ - Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone
The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone was established as a dividing line between North and South Vietnam as a result of the First Indochina War. During the Second Indochina War (popularly known as the Vietnam War), it became important as the battleground demarcation separating North Vietnamese territory from South Vietnamese territory. The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone ran from east-west near the center of present-day Vietnam (spanning more than a hundred kilometers) and was a couple of kilometers wide. It ran along the Ben Hai River for much of its length, and an island nearby was controlled by North Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War. Although it was nominally described as being at "the 17th parallel," almost all of the zone lies to the south of the parallel, with only a small portion of the zone near the eastern shore actually including the parallel. It was around a hundred kilometers north of the city of Hue City. This place is suitable for those who would like to know about war history and batterfeilds.
Hue City – Nguyen Dynasties
Hue city is some 1 hour fly from Hanoi city. Palaces and pagodas, tombs and temples, culture and cuisine, history and heartbreak – there’s no shortage of poetic pairings to describe Hue (pronounced ‘hway’). A Unesco World Heritage site, this deeply evocative capital of the Nguyen emperors still resonates with the glories of imperial Vietnam, even though many of its finest buildings were destroyed during the American War. Hue owes its charm partly to its location on the Perfume River – picturesque on a clear day, atmospheric even in less flattering weather. There’s always restoration work going on to recover Hue’s royal splendour, but today the city is very much a blend of new and old: modern homes sit cheek by jowl with crumbling century-old Citadel walls, and sleek new hotels tower over stately colonial-era properties.
Hoian is some 135km from Hue city. Hoi An was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, and a visit to this old-world gem is a sure cultural highlight of any tour in Vietnam. From the 16th to the 18th century, the city was Vietnam's most important port and trading post, particularly of ceramics with nearby China. Today it is a quaint old town of some 844 structures protected as historical landmarks, and the unique influence of Chinese and Japanese traders who passed through (or settled) can still be felt. It's a picturesque town, small enough to cover easily on foot, with lots of good nooks and crannies, shops, and gastronomic delights to discover.
The South of Vietnam
Nha Trang Beach
Nha Trang is the capital of Khanh Hoa province with a population of over 350.000 inhabitants. This resort town is located in the South of Vietnam, 1287 km south of Hanoi, 624 km south of Hue and 442 km from Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). The average temperature in Nha Trang is 26 C. Nha Trang also has the lowest level of humidity in all of Vietnam. Today, Nha Trang ranks among the top of all beaches in Vietnam, one of the 10 most beautiful beaches of the world. The city is flanked by nearly ten kilometers of prime beach where the water is warm year round. Nha Trang has several famous islands of which the most notable are Hon Tre, Hon Yen, Hon Rua and the Spratly islands. Off shore are a score of attractive islets which contain craggy eaves and caverns and provide home to the swallow, who built their nests which are used for the famous delicious swallow-nest soup. Warm and clear water the all year round and an unspoiled environment, Nha Trang Bay is ideal for scuba diving. Within the city are historical sites such as the thousand years old - Cham Ponagar Temple, the Long Son Pagoda with its huge white Buddha statue, the Pasteur Institute which is famous Dr.Yersin's Museum. Nha Trang is one of the Vietnam's major culture centers.
Located in Central Highland of Vietnam, 135km from Nha Trang and 50 minutes flying from Ho Chi minh city. Known as "Le Petit Paris" by the early builders and residents of this hillside resort town, Dalat is still a luxury retreat for city dwellers and tourists tired out from trudging along sultry coastal Vietnam. In Dalat you can play golf on one of the finest courses in Indochina, visit beautiful temples, and enjoy the town's honeymoon atmosphere with delightfully hokey tourist sights. At 1,500m (4,920 ft.), Dalat is mercifully cool year-round -- there's no need for air-conditioning. The town is a unique blend of pastoral hillside Vietnam and European alpine resort. Alexander Yersin, the Swiss geologist who first traipsed across this pass, established the town in 1897 as a resort for French commanders weary of the Vietnamese tropics.
Mui Ne Phan Thiet Beach
Mui Ne is some 225km from Ho Chi Minh city and can drive there by car. Mui Ne is a coastal resort town in the Binh Thuan Province of southeastern Vietnam. The town is close to the city of Phan Thiet. Mui Ne has many resorts on the beach, as well as restaurants, bars and cafes. Mui Ne is a popular destination for Russian tourists, and many of the restaurants and resorts are Russian-owned. Mui Ne Beach is a popular tropical beach. Strong sea breezes make it very popular for kitesurfing and windsurfing. The tourist season is from December to May. The average temperature is 27°C, and the climate is hot and dry for most of the year.
Ho Chi Minh city – Saigon City
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam from 1955–75. South Vietnam was a capitalist and anti-communist state which fought against the communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, with the assistance of the United States and other countries. On 30 April 1975, Saigon fell and the war ended with a Communist victory. On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Dinh Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after Ho Chi Minh City (although the name Saigon is still commonly used).Today, Ho Chi Minh City is a mesmerising gateway for visitors to Vietnam where traditional and modern influences live side by side. Imagine incense-filled pagodas filled with a constant stream of worshippers; streets buzzing with the engines of countless motorbikes and pavements teeming with street vendors, barbers, dentists and cafés selling steaming bowls of noodle soup by the roadside. The city is an entry-gate for all International flights to Vietnam.
Mekong Delta of Vietnam
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of 39,000 square kilometres . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season. The Mekong Delta has recently been dubbed as a "biological treasure trove". Over 10,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored areas of Mekong Delta, including a species of rat thought to be extinct. The famous and attractive sites here is the floatong market especiall very famous with Cai Be & Cai Rang Floating markets where you also have a chance to taste, test and enjoy the full smell of fruits. Vietnam's Mekong Delta is a vibrant, lush landscape of increasingly modern cities amid sprawling rice fields and jungle. The Mekong River and its branches shape life in the region. People live, shop, sell and eat from and in their vessels and homes on the water.