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General Information of Vietnam
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    GENERAL INFO VIETNAM  

General Information of Vietnam

Most visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country's natural setting: the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats. There are some divine beaches along the coast, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which are cloaked by dense, misty forests. Vietnam also offers an opportunity to see a country of traditional charm and rare beauty rapidly opening up to the outside world.

With a multitude of altitudes and latitudes there's always somewhere that is pleasantly sunny and warm if you're prepared to find it. Temperatures are usually hot and humid, around the low 30°Cs (high 80°Fs), but if you head north and along the coast they cool down to comfortable temperatures towards January. The weather is determined by two monsoons; the winter monsoon comes from the northeast between October and March bringing wet chilly winters to all areas north of Nha Trang, but dry and warm temperatures to the south. From April or May to October, the southwestern monsoon brings warm, humid weather and buckets of rain to the whole country except for those areas sheltered by mountains.

TOURS IN VIETNAM
The exotic Orient beckons, with its timeless traditions, magnificent architecture, majestic scenery, pristine beaches, culinary delights and warm friendly faces. Experience the contrast between old and new, traditional and modern. Encounter ancient cultures and sample tantalizing cuisine. Discover history and hidden bargains at every corner of the meandering streets and alleys.

From blissful spa vacations to back-to-nature adventures. From enchanting honeymoons to inspiring family holidays. From spectacular underwater explorations to unforgettable golf experiences. Whatever your wish for the perfect holiday, Adventure Silk Road Inc. will exceed your highest expectations. Get ready to experience the trip of a lifetime!

There are no good or bad seasons to visit Vietnam. When one region is wet, cold or steamy hot, there is always somewhere else that is sunny and pleasant. Basically, the south has two seasons: the wet (May to November, wettest from June to August) and the dry (December to April). The hottest and most humid time is from the end of February to May. The central coast is dry from May to October and wet from December to February. The highland areas are significantly cooler than the lowlands, and temperatures can get down to freezing in winter. The north has two seasons: cool, damp winters (November to April) and hot summers (May to October). There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November, affecting the north and central areas.

Travellers should take the Tet Festival (late January or early February) into account when planning a trip. Travel (including international travel) becomes very difficult, hotels are full and many services close down for at least a week and possibly a lot longer.

TREKKING IN VIETNAM
The term trekking is traditionally applied to overland journeys made on foot, usually involving the support of a trek crew to carry personal belongings, along with any tents, food and cooking equipment that may be required. Over the last 20 years KE has developed a superb range of trekking adventures including: treks to Everest Base Camp, following the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu; climbing Mount Kilimanjaro; alpine walking on the Tour de Mont Blanc and the classic Haute Route.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING IN VIETNAM
Our unique biking trip in Vietnam takes place against a backdrop of endless lush green paddy fields and irregular tree-covered limestone hills. Here, the friendly local people, working the fields with their water buffalo, are genuinely surprised to see you. Providing a fleeting insight into the traditional lives, tribes and landscapes of north-west Vietnam, our trip also delivers surprisingly good riding. There are technical sections that will challenge the most competent of riders, hills to keep the roadies amongst us happy, huge flowing descents for the downhill junkies and some glorious single track for the soulful bikers - there's something for everyone in Vietnam.

FESTIVALS IN VIETNAM
Over eighty percent of Vietnam's population lives in rural areas where intricate community relations are maintained. The spirit, first of all, is the community spirit in the family and clan. Nuclear families or semi nuclear families are common in Vietnam, though joint families can be found among ethnic groups inhabiting Northwest Vietnam and the Central Highlands. It is the traditional water rice agricultural economy that associates individuals with families. The first associated link is a natural one bonded by consanguinity which was continuously regenerated. Therefore, the family community came into being at an early period and existed on a lasting and widespread basis in rural and urban areas. A Vietnamese saying stresses this bond: "a drop of blood is more valuable than a pond of water". Many family groups have set their own rules with regards to mutual assistance in production and study, and the values in relation to mutual respects, discipline, honesty and generosity.

A community spirit is also appreciated among neighbors living in and around the village. Each village has a number of lanes along which smaller units called hamlets are located. Generally, each village has over 1,000 inhabitants distributed in to four or five hamlets. Each hamlet is a small community, where inhabitants live in close to one another. The hamlet community provides timely and efficient material and spiritual assistance to member families in time of need. During busy periods of field work labour exchange teams are required. Peasants have to rely on each other. Assistance also includes lending money to members who wish to start a business. In times of difficulties and dangers assistance again plays an important role.

For thousands year, festivals in Vietnam is an occasion for celebrating and reminding the young about the tradition of the nation. Together with common festivals in the year, each ethnic community in Vietnam has its own traditional worship services.


Name of the Festival & Month Details of Festival

Tet (Lunar New Year Festival)
Nationwide
Beginning of February This is the New Year celebration when family members reunite and bring offerings to the family altar in order to honour their ancestors. It also the most important festival in the Vietnamese calendar. On New Years Eve, at the stroke of midnight, are problems from the previous year are said to be left behind. This is also when the celebrations begin in earnest. Banks, offices and government builds will all close during Tet. Also many shops and restaurants may also close for 4 to 7 days.

Dinh Mai Festival
(North Vietnam)
Beginning of February Takes place in Ha Tay province and is in memory of Ha Khoi who joined Dinh Bo Linh in quelling the rebellion of Do Canh Thao.

Thai Duong Village Festival
(Central Vietnam)
Early February Takes place in Thuan An commune, Thua Thien Hue, and is dedicated to Spirit Thai Duong.

Cua Ong Temple Festival
(South Vietnam)
Early February Held in Cua Ong Temple, Quang Ninh Province, in memory of Tran Quoc Tang, the third son of Tran Hung Dao, who defeated many enemies and brought peace to the region in the 13th century.

Dong Da Festival
(North Vietnam)
Early February Held in Dong Da District, Hanoi, to celebrate the Dong Da victory by which King Quang Trung defeated the Quing invading army, in 1789. The festival involves the procession of the "Fire Dragon".

Co Loa Festival
(North Vietnam) Takes place every year at An Duong Vuong Temple, in Dong Anh District, on the outskirts of Hanoi. Co Loa commemorates Thuc Phan An Duong Vuong, to whom the 18th Hung King gave his throne. Twelve hamlets take part in a procession for the Spirits. The festival includes many games and competitions plus Tru and Cheo performances.

Perfume Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid February to Early May Also called Huong Pagoda Festival. Thousands of pilgrims and visitors come to admire the beautiful landscapes, grottoes, caves and pagodas in this mountainous area.

Eel catching Festival
(North Vietnam)

Mid February This festival is held during the Perfume Pagoda Festival.
Vieng Market
(North Vietnam)
Mid February Held in Vu Ban and Nam Truc Districts, Nam Dinh Province. This spring market displays handicraft products and ornamental plants. All kinds of goods are bought and sold. People come to the market not only to buy products and wish for a prosperous and lucky year.

Trieu Khuc Village Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid February The festival is organized every year to commemorate the Phung Hung and to glorify the weaving profession. This is a cultural activity in the traditional handicraft village of Trieu Khuc, Tan Trieu Commune, Thanh Tri District, Hanoi.

Sinh Village Wrestling Festival
(Central Vietnam)
Late February Sinh is situated on the south bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Phu District, Thua Thien Hue Province. Thousands of young people from Hue and other districts come to take part in the wrestling competitions.

Cau Ngu Festival
(Central Vietnam)
Late February Celebrated in Huong Hai Commune, Huong Dien District, Thua Thien Hue Province, to celebrate the memory of Truong Qui Cong.

Lim Festival (Quan Ho Folk Song Festival)
(North Vietnam)
Late February Takes place in Noi Duc Commune, Tien Du District, Bac Ninh Province. The Lim Festival commemorates Hieu Trung Hau, the founder of Quan Ho. A procession, singing performances and many other games and competitions are held during this festival.

Va Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late February Takes place annually at Va Temple (Trung Hung Commune, Son Tay Town, Ha Tay Province), in honour of the Sprit of the village who is credited with having defeated the Flood Genius.

Con Son Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late February to Early March Takes place twice a year at Con Son Pagoda, Chi Linh District, Hai Duong Province. The first celebration (on the 16th to 22nd day of the 1st lunar month) is held in memory of the Buddhist monk Huyen Quang and the second one (on the 15th to the 20th day of the 8th lunar month) is held in memory of Nguyen Trai, a famous scholar from the 15th century.

Long Tong Festival (North Vietnam)
Late February to Early March The festival of the ethnic groups living in the North around Cao Bang, Bac Kan and Lao Cai marks the beginning of the new harvest. The festival includes lion dances, Chinese chess, and ethnic songs.

Ba Den Mountain Spring Festival
(South Vietnam)
Late February to Early March Takes place in Tay Ninh province, at the foot of Ba Den mountain at Ba Den temple. Very popular and celebration that takes place after the New Year's holiday.

Perfume Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid February to Early May Also called Huong Pagoda Festival. Thousands of pilgrims and visitors come to admire the beautiful landscapes, grottoes, caves and pagodas in this mountainous area.

Con Son Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late February to Early March Takes place twice a year at Con Son Pagoda, Chi Linh District, Hai Duong Province. The first celebration (on the 16th to 22nd day of the 1st lunar month) is held in memory of the Buddhist monk Huyen Quang and the second one (on the 15th to the 20th day of the 8th lunar month) is held in memory of Nguyen Trai, a famous scholar from the 15th century.

Long Tong Festival (North Vietnam)
Late February to Early March The festival of the ethnic groups living in the North around Cao Bang, Bac Kan and Lao Cai marks the beginning of the new harvest. The festival includes lion dances, Chinese chess, and ethnic songs.

Hon Chen Temple Festival
(Central Vietnam)
Mid March Takes place twice a year: during the 2nd lunar month and the 7th lunar month in Hon Chen Temple, Ngoc Tran Mountain. It is celebrated in honour of Thien Yana who, according to Cham legend, created the land and the trees. This is a popular ceremony in Hue and attracts thousands of visitors and worshippers.

Dong Nhan Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid March Organized annually in memory of two heroines, the Trung sisters, who instigated a rebellion against invaders in the first century B.C. in Dong Nhan Temple, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi

Chu Dong Tu Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late March Takes place in Chu Dong Tu Temple in Da Hoa and Da Trach villages, 25 km from Hanoi. A dragon procession, martial arts competitions, lion dance, and cheo performances are held during the festival.

Duong Lam Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late March Organized in honour of King Phung Hung, a leader of the peasant revolt in the 3rd century. Duong Lam Village, located about 4 km from Son Tay Town, in Ha Tay Province.

Ba Den Mountain Spring Festival
(South Vietnam)
Late February to Early March Takes place in Tay Ninh province, at the foot of Ba Den mountain at Ba Den temple. Very popular and celebration that takes place after the New Year's holiday.

Perfume Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid February to Early May Also called Huong Pagoda Festival. Thousands of pilgrims and visitors come to admire the beautiful landscapes, grottoes, caves and pagodas in this mountainous area.

Elephant Race Festival
(Central Vietnam)
Mid April to Early May Takes place in spring in Buon Don (Dac Lac). The racetrack is wide enough for 10 elephants and is 1 to 2 km long. It is the biggest cultural event of the Central Highlands.

Quan The Am Festival
(Central Vietnam)
Beginning of April Quan The Am Pagoda stands at the foot of Kim Son Mountain, part or the Marble Mountain near Danang. Includes a religious ceremony consisting of flower offerings and prayers, plus cultural performances, folk songs, chess playing, music, painting, carving, lion dancing, and offering lamps on the river.

Ba Trieu Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Beginning of April Organized in memory of Ba Trieu who raised a rebellion against Ngo invaders. The festival takes place at Ba Trieu Temple in Hau Loc, Thanh Hoa Province.

Phu Giay Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid April At Kim Thai Commune, Vu Ban District, in Nam Dinh Province. The main ceremonies are the Holy Mother procession and the display of Chinese characters. Other performances include cheo, hat trong quan, hat xam, hat van, a wrestling competition, cock fighting, and chess playing.

Thay Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid April Thay Pagoda, is devoted to the cult of Buddha Cakyamuni and of Tu Dao Hanh, a Buddhist monk who cured King Ly Than Ton of a serious illness and was later appointed by the King as Royal Teacher. He also created Vietnamese puppetry. During the festival many water puppet shows are held.

Lang Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid April Takes place annually to celebrate the memory of Tu Dao Hanh. The festivities include a grand procession and folk games held at Lang Pagoda in the Dong Da District of Hanoi.

Truong Yen Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid April Held in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh Province. This is an important event in attracting many participants. The festival commemorates King Dinh Tien Hoang, who reunited the country, and King Le Dai Hanh, who defeated foreign invaders. The three main events are offerings of joss-stick, a mock battle and an exhibition of Chinese characters.

Den Hung Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid April Organized at Hung Kings Temple Nghia Linh Mount, Hy Cuong Commune, Phu Tho Province. The festival is regarded as a nationwide event with a representative of Vietnam's government and the People's Committee of Phu Tho Province taking part in the incense offering ceremony. There is a procession with traditional banh chung and banh day cakes, bronze drum beating, a sword dance, and Xoan folk song contest.

Do Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late April Held annually in Do Temple, in Tu Son District, Bac Ninh Province, in commemoration of the 8 Kings of the Ly Dynasty. It lasts four days and involves a procession, folk games, human chess contest, and wrestling competition.     

Perfume Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid February to Early May Also called Huong Pagoda Festival. Thousands of pilgrims and visitors come to admire the beautiful landscapes, grottoes, caves and pagodas in this mountainous area.

Elephant Race Festival
(Central Vietnam)
Mid April to Early May Takes place in spring in Buon Don (Dac Lac). The racetrack is wide enough for 10 elephants and is 1 to 2 km long. It is the biggest cultural event of the Central Highlands.

Po Nagar Temple Festival
(South Vietnam)
Early May In Po Nagar Temple on a hill, located on the bank of the Cai river mouth, north of Nha Trang, to commemorate female goddess Po Nagar who gave the land and the rice to the local people. The festival is divided into two parts: the Thay Y (clothes changing ceremony), and the Cau Cung ceremony. The ceremonies are followed by a flower offerings dance, and traditional opera.

Dong Xam Festival
(North Vietnam)
Early May Held at Dong Xam Temple, Dong Thai Commune, Kien Xuong District, Thai Binh Province in honour of Nguyen Kim Lau. The festivities include a boat race and cheo and ca tru performances.

Dau Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid May Held in Dau Pagoda to commemorate Man Muong who is credited with fighting a "drought" in Thuan Thanh District, Bac Ninh Province. It involves a procession and many folk games.

Giong Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid May In Phu Dong village, Gia Lam District, Hanoi. Celebrated in memory of the mythical hero and his mother who defeated the An invaders. It involves a procession and a mock battle against the An Troops.     

Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival
(South Vietnam)
Early June Takes place every year at Sam Mountain on road 10 from Long Xuyen to Chau Doc. The ceremony, also called Via Ba ceremony, attracts a great number of tourists.

Chem Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late June Held in Thuy Phuong, Tu Liem District, Hanoi to celebrate the Ly Ong Trong, a legendary hero who helped the Chinese Emperor Tan Thuy Hoang hold in check the Mongolian invaders. The entertainment includes a water procession.

Tra Co Village Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid July Held in Quang Ninh Province, in memory of the establishment of the ancient fishing village of Tra Co, founded about 600 years ago.

Quan Lan Village Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late July to Early August Located on Quan Lan Islet, Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province. The festival is held in memory of Tutelary god Tran Khanh Du, a general of the Tran Dynasty, who defeated Mongolian invaders in 1288.     

Quan Lan Village Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late July to Early August Loacted on Quan Lan Islet, Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province. The festival is held in memory of Tutelary god Tran Khanh Du, a general of the Tran Dynasty, who defeated Mongolian invaders in 1288.

Tet Trung Nguyen (Wandering Souls Day)
(North Vietnam)
Late August The festival involves offerings of food, shoes and dresses made of paper for the dead and wandering souls who have no families. Also known as Vu Lan by Buddhists.

Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival
(North Vietnam)
Mid September Held in Do Son, Haiphong. Buffaloes fight in pairs locking each other with their horns. The one that runs away is declared the loser. The buffaloes are slaughtered at the end of the festival and their meat distributed to all participants as a gift from the spirits.

Mid-Autumn Festival
(All Areas)
Mid September Celebrated with moon cakes made of sticky rice filled with lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, the yolks of duck eggs and sugar. Singing, dancing, beating drums, eating pastries and parading colourful lanterns in the shape of the moon or stars, are the main activities.

Nghinh Ong Festival
(South Vietnam)
Late September The biggest water festival of its kind is held fishermen in Ba Ria, Vung Tau Province. Takes place at Thang Tam Communal House, in Vung Tau City. On festival days, the temples are decorated with flower garlands and colourful lanterns are hung during the night. Classical drama performances and folk song performances are the main attraction.

Kiep Bac Temple Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late September Takes place annually in Hung Dao Commune, Chi Linh District, Hai Duong Province. In commemoration of Tran Hung Dao, a pre-eminent general of the Tran dynasty, the festival consists of a ceremony and navy procession on the Luc Dau River.     

Keo Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late October Held in honour of Buddhist dignitary Duong Khong Lo, who cured King Le from a serious illness. People take part in many religious rites and games, attend artistic performances reflecting the lifestyle of the population that lives along the Red River Delta.

Co Le Pagoda Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late October Organized in memory of Zen Buddhist, Nguyen Minh Khong, a founder of the bronze the casting profession. Held in Co Le Town, Truc Ninh District, Nam Dinh Province

Kate Festival
(South Vietnam)
End of October to Early November The biggest in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan Provinces, where many Cham people live, takes place at Poklong Garai Tower, Po Rome Tower, Po Nagar Tower on the 1st of the 7th month according to the Cham calendar. Held in memory of national heroes, King Poklong and King Porome of the Champa kingdom. People from the surrounding areas gather at the towers to attend the ceremony. Excerpts from Taoist books are read, prayers are spoken followed by folk songs.     

Kate Festival
(South Vietnam)
End of October to Early November The biggest in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan Provinces, where many Cham people live, takes place at Poklong Garai Tower, Po Rome Tower, Po Nagar Tower on the 1st of the 7th month according to the Cham calendar. Held in memory of national heroes, King Poklong and King Porome of the Champa kingdom. People from the surrounding areas gather at the towers to attend the ceremony. Excerpts from Taoist books are read, prayers are spoken followed by folk songs.

Oc Om Boc Festival and Ngo boat contest
(South Vietnam)
Mid to Late November Organized by the Khmers in the south of Vietnam, in Soc Trang Province. The main purpose of this festival is to ask the Moon deity to bring abundant crops and catches from the rivers. People place trays of offerings in the pagoda yard. The festival also involves a race of "Ngo" boats, which are wooden boats curved at both bow and stern.

Don Ta Festival
(South Vietnam)
Early to Mid November Held in the Mekong River Delta.

Nguyen Trung Truc Temple Festival
(South Vietnam)
Late November Held at Long Kien Commune, Cho Moi District, An Giang province, in memory of Nguyen Trung Truc, a commander of the revolt against the French in the south. It involves a ceremony and games.

Nhi Khe Village Festival
(North Vietnam)
Late November Organized in Nhi Khe Commune, Thuong Tin District, Ha Tay, in honour of Doan Van Tai, a founder of the wood and horn carvers.

INTERESTING PLACE TO VISIT IN VIETNAM

In general, the best way to travel Vietnam is to fly or take an overnight train between urban centres and use them as a base to explore the areas in and around them. Long distances and the country's limited transport infrastructure makes road travel impractical if visitors want to experience more than one or two of Vietnam's regions and have limited time.

Hanoi: Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi, is just over half the size of its southern counterpart. Like Ho Chi Minh City, it is expanding. It's more stately and calmer than its boisterous offspring, with tree-lined boulevards and large colonial villas, many of which are now embassies or government buildings, and its prices are more reasonable. It is surrounded by many ‘craft villages', each specialising in a specific traditional craft.

Haiphong: Vietnam's third city is Haiphong, with just under two million people. Also in the north, about a hundred kilometres from Hanoi, it is the country's main seaport. Hai Phong is close to Cat Ba Island and is an entry point to Ha Long Bay.

Ha Long City: Ha Long City has a population of about 200,000. It is a comparatively recent amalgamation of a major tourist area with a heavy industrial mining town: initially uneasy bedfellows, the two elements are now fusing. Apart from being the main access point for Ha Long Bay, it is also a centre for Quang Ninh Province and the northeast.

Dien Bien Phu and Sapa: These two small towns are the main centres for the northwest mountains.

Ho Chi Minh City: Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, is by far the largest urban centre in Vietnam. It has a population of around five and a half million, a figure that is expanding rapidly as poor people migrate to the wealth of the metropolis. Saigon is the country's main commercial area: brash, noisy and, in Vietnamese terms, expensive. People seldom seem to be indifferent about it - they either love or hate the place.

Can Tho: Can Tho is a city of about 300,000 people and is regarded as the 'capital' of the Mekong Delta area.

War Crime Museum: This museum exhibit crimes committed by the Americans during the war. Photographs of the famous My Lai massacre, human embryos, genetically deformed babies and innocent civilians being tortured can be seen on display. An array of US armored vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons are displayed in the courtyard. You can also see a guillotine used by the French to de itate troublemakers in the riots of the 1920s and a model of the famous tiger cages used by the South Vietnamese to house VC prisoners on Con Son island. The War Crime Museum basically reveals a different side of the stories about wars - the innocent victims of modern warfare.

Historical Museum: Built in 1929 by the Societe des Etudes Indochinioses, it was formerly named Blanchard dels Brosse. A big statute of President HoChiMinh stands in the main lounge of the museum. The museum has an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the primitive age, bronze age, the Tran dynasty and the Le Dynasty. Take a look at the array of musical instrument especially the special monocord of the one string musical instruments. There are many valuable relics taken from Cambodia's Angkor Wat.

Reunification Palace: In 1868, the Norodom Palace (original name) was built for the French Governor-General of Indochina. A striking modern architecture was built when the original buildings were damaged by bombs. Rebuilt in 1962, it comprises of a ground floor, 3 main floors, two mezzanines and a terrace for helicopter landing. The palace includes many tastefully decorated rooms such as the reception room, the cabinet reference room, the study rooms, the credentials presentation room and the banquet room. It also has a basement with a network of tunnels connecting to the telecom centre and war room and one of the longest tunnels which stretch all the way to the Revolutionary Museum. The grounds outside contain one of the first tanks to burst through the gates of the palace to signify the end of the Vietnam War as well as the fighter plane which dropped further bombs towards the end of the war. Independence Palace was renamed the Unification Palace to denote the spirit and strong will for national independence and reunification

Ben Thanh Market: The Ben Thanh Market, formerly the main railway terminal, is the largest of the markets scattered throughout the city. A wide variety of goods are available, from imported electronics to imported perfumes.

Notre Dame Cathedral: This Catholic church was constructed in 1883 and is located near the Tu Do (Dong Khoi) Street, the former red-light district.

Presidential Palace: This building is now called the Reunification Hall. The center was built as a modern administration center and is where the war and the American involvement in Vietnam ended in April 1975, with tanks invading the compound. Guided tours will take visitors through the various rooms within the complex.

Cholon: Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown. Sights include the Binh Tay Market, the An Quang Pagoda (District 5) and the scenic Thien Hau Temple.

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda: A modern Japanese-style Buddhist temple, easily one of the largest and most impressive in Ho Chi Minh City.

Cu Chi Tunnels: An extensive network of nearly 200 miles (322mi) of Viet Cong tunnels used in the French Indochina war and American war. The tunnels have complete facilities, from kitchens to printing presses and even street signs, all of which were used to aid the NLF (National Liberation Front) military. Tours involve a description of the tunnels, after which tourists are allowed to crawl about the maze. Located in Tay Ninh (suburb of Ho Chi Minh City), 24 miles (39km) northwest of central Ho Chi Minh City.

Cao Dai Temple: Cao Daism seeks to create the ultimate religion by fusing Buddhist, Taoist, Confucianist and Catholic beliefs into a synthesis of its own. Witness the solemn ceremony of the unique religion - Caodaism at Caodai Holly See at its noon tide prayer service with followers dressed in red, blue, yellow and white robes. There is the divine eye above the altar, the religion's official symbol. The temple has nine levels which signify the nine steps to heaven, each level marked by a pair of multicoloured dragons.

Mekong Delta: One of the world's largest delta, the Delta Region is formed by the various tributaries of the mighty Mekong River which begins its journey to the sea in Tibet and winds its way for 4500 km through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Southern Vietnam. The Vietnamese name for the Mekong is Cuu Long which means "nine dragons" and this is represented by the nine exit points of the Mekong River as it flows into the sea. The land of the Mekong Delta is renowned for its richness. Known as Vietnam's breadbasket, it produces enough rice to feed the entire country with a sizeable surplus leftover. Take a sampan ride that meanders through small villages and experience the simple lives of the Mekong people

Vung Tau Beach: Located at the mouth of the Saigon River is the popular Vung Tau beach resort. Pineapple Beach is probably the most pleasant, with its villas and generally tranquil atmosphere. The temples are a definite must-see. The Niet Ban Tinh Xa is the largest temple in Vietnam. Tourist accommodations are available at the Hoa Binh Hotel, as well as the Thang Loi, Thang Thai and Tho Nguyet.

Nha Trang: The central region near Nha Trang features some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. The ocean waters are transparent, and the sands immaculate, attracting more and more visitors in recent times. Tours cover the Cham Ponagar complex, the north tower of which was built in 817 A.D. Ruins of the long-deceased Champa still stand as a testament to this once prominent kingdom.

Dalat: The mountain resort among the Central Highlands has scenic surroundings as well as remnants of the French colonial era. The Ethnic Minority Museum is certainly worth visiting for those interested in the costumes, gongs, ornaments and other artifacts collected by locals from the Lam Dong province. As another point of interest, there is even an old abandoned nuclear power plant.

Danang City: Known as Tourane under the French, Danang is a seaport of endless stretches of unspoiled sandy beach midway between Ha Noi to the north and Ho Chi Minh City to the South. The city was also the center of civilization of the Champa Kingdom, a kingdom which flourished In the area as early as the 2nd century A.D. Appealing stone sculptures (from the 4th-14th centuries) of Vishnu , Shiva and other Gods of this Kingdom can still be found in the Cham museum located in the center of the city Towards the coast south of Danang are five large hills known as the Marble Mountain. Mysterious caves within the mountains shelter altars dedicated to Buddha, Bodhisattvas and The different genies arising from the popular beliefs of the area's inhabitants. With its own international and domestic airport, Danang provides an ideal stopover based for excursions to the ancient town of Hoi An, the imperial city of Hue and My Son-site of the Ruins from the Cham civilization.

Cham Ruins: For those interested in seeing all that these fifteen towers have to offer, plan on spending a minimum of one day. These towers are located at My Son in the Duy Xuyen district.

Cham Museum: The Cham Museum built in 1915, expanded in 1935 , completed in 1936, is in a lovely setting And has large, open well lighted rooms with around 296 statues and artifacts of the Cham People dated back to the 7th century.

Marble Mountains: Consisting of five limestone peaks, about five (8km) miles south of town. They can be explored by following the paths leading to the peaks.

Non Nuoc Beach: China Beach, one the most wonderful beaches of Vietnam , was once an in country rest and Recreation centre for the US military during the Vietnam War.

Hoi An Ancient Town: Forty-five minutes by land south-east of Da Nang is the ancient town of Hoi An, which was one of the most important trading ports in Southeast Asia for merchants from China, Japan and afar for a couple of centuries ago. Originally a seaport in the Champa Kingdom, by the 15th century It had become a coastal town under the Tran dynasty. Also served as the hub of East-West cultural exchange, Hoi An's ancient past is superbly preserved in its fascinating temples, pagoda, shop houses and home which make up the town's old quarter. Walking in the streets of this ancient town, one can observe the influence of the architecture, Sculpture and decorative styles of China and Japan and the skill of former Vietnamese architects Who have absorbed their influences and created something similar yet somehow uniquely different.

Hue: Hue, the imperial city, the citadel-city of Phu Xuan was originally built up during the end of 17th Century and became a political capital as well as the Imperial City of Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 till 2nd September 1945 when the Communist Party, leaded by President Ho Chi Minh had declared the Independent of the Nation and took over the power from the defeated Japanese Governor. Nowadays, this small & poetical city of 280.000 habitants becomes one of the main tourism site of Vietnam destination by its splendid tombs of the Nguyen emperors, several notable pagodas especially the Thien Mu Pagoda, the remains of Citadel as well as the romantic Perfume River where a cruise tour with Hue music performance in the moonlight was always provided since long time ago. Normally, visiting Hue within a day is a bit rush but still enough time to cover the main attractive sites such as The Citadel, The museum of antique, the tombs of Khai Dinh and Tu Duc emperors and a 02 hours cruise with stop over at Thien Mu pagoda.

Citadel & Forbidden City: This forbidden city of 10km. perimeter has 4 main entrance gates and well defended by kilometers of rampart was built in 1804 by the first emperor Nguyen Anh on a site chosen by geomancers and look likes a Chinese forbidden city in Beijing. Some parts of this forbidden city were totally destroyed during the war where now are under reconstruction providing UNESCO & Japanese non-government associations' fund. Lucky thing is most of the main area such as the citadel (the Imperial Enclosure), Flag Tower was remaining intact where received hundred of visitors daily.

The Museum of Antique (Imperial museum): This beautiful hall which houses the Imperial Museum was built in 1845. The most precious artifacts were lost during the war (1954-1973) and the liberation day (1975) but ceramics, furniture and royal relics are remaining until the present time.

Khai Dinh Emperor's Tomb: This is the final monument of the Nguyen Dynasty. The complex features ceiling murals, frescoes and a dragon staircase. Located on the slopes of the Chau E Mountain, six miles (10km) south of town. It takes almost 10 years (1920-1931) to finish this grandiose concrete tomb which is completely unlike the others tombs where there was a mixture of typical Vietnamese & French colonial architecture. After climbing 36 steps passing by rows of elephants, horses, civil & military mandarin you will be reached the main building where a full original artifacts are displayed to the public.

Tu Duc Emperor's Tomb: The most impressive of the tombs and pagodas at Hue. Located at the tributaries of the Perfume River, seven miles (11km) south of Hue, this complex has beautiful architecture, intricate decor and military statues. This majestic and serene tomb with lake view, grove of pines, temples, living house area is the most expensive tomb which was completely terminated after 5 years by thousands of labor-worker (1863-1868) for this intellectual-poet emperor.

Minh Mang Emperor's Tomb: The most impressive of the tombs and pagodas at Hue. Located at the tributaries of the Perfume River, seven miles (11km) south of Hue, this complex has beautiful architecture, intricate decor and military statues.

Thien Mu Pagoda & Perfume River Cruise: Unlike the typical boat used to provide in the past the present Hue cruise is providing a motorized boat which carries a 2 hours cruise along Perfume River including a 30 min stop over Thien Mu pagoda. This pagoda located on the hillock overlooking the Perfume River, built in 1844 by Thieu Tri emperor, 21m-high octagonal tower with seven-storey is one of the most famous structures in all over the country and become an unofficial symbol of Hue until now.

One Pillar Pagoda: Built in the 11th century, this pagoda sits on a stone pillar in the middle of a pond. This is one of the more unusual structures in Vietnam.

Lenin Park (Thong Nhat Park): Built over a former marsh, this park surrounds a large lake containing a statue of Lenin, often the object of jokes among the locals. The park itself is quite beautiful.

National Preserve of Cuc Phuong: This national park is one of the last tropical primeval forest reserves on Earth. There are 64 species of fauna and thousands of species of flora, many of which are extinct everywhere else in the world. Bizarre and fascinating species of animals from flying lizards to monkeys dwell within the park's 61,000 acres. Caves and grottoes, where various artifacts have been discovered, are located in the mountains within.

Cat Ba: This island is the largest in the Cat Ba archipelago. It is potentially one of the major beach destinations in Southeast Asia. This region has beautiful beaches and pristine waters. Within the mountains are caves and grottos. Located 36 miles (58km) east of Haiphong.

Halong Bay: One of Vietnam's most beautiful areas, Halong Bay has fascinating limestone formations, coves for nighttime excursions, sheer cliffs, grottoes, arches and scores of small islets.

GENERAL INFORMATION OF VIETNAM

Full name: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Mainland Territory: 329,241 sq. km
Population: About 78 Million People
Climate: Vietnam lies in the tropics and monsoon
Topography: Three quarters of Vietnam's territory consist of mountains and hills
Administrative Units: Vietnam is divided into 64 provinces and cities
National Capital: Hanoi
Flag: The flag of Vietnam is red with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center.

Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter "S". China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south.

The country's total length from north to south is 1,650km. Its width, stretching from east to west, is 600km at the widest point in the north, 400km in the south, and 50km at the narrowest part, in the centre, in Quang Binh Province. The coastline is 3,260km long and the inland border is 4,510km.

Latitude: 102º 08' - 109º 28'  east
Longitude:  8º 02' - 23º 23'  north

Vietnam is also a transport junction from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Vietnam borders with China in the north, Laos and Kampuchea in the West, and the Pacific Ocean in the east. Its lies in the centre of South-East Asia. Vietnam's territory stretches from Lung Cu village (Ha Tuyen province) in the north to Rach Tau hamlet (Minh Hai province) in the south. It is a S-shaped pennisula, with thousands of off-shore islands and archipelagoes; the biggest of which are the Hoang SA (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes. Vietnam's mainland covers 331,689 square kilometres .

According to archaeological discoveries made at Do Mountain, it is believed that life in Vietnam began as far back as 300,000 years ago. Officially, the history of Vietnam stretches back 4,000 years when it was founded by the Hung Kings. It was then named Van Lang.

When speaking upon the history of Vietnam, it is important to note the large role played by the French in Vietnam. It began in 1858, when the French took over Danang in southern Vietnam. Over time, more and more territory was won over by the French. It wasn't until 1954, when the French surrendered to the Viet Minh, ending the French Indochina War that the French colonial control in Vietnam ended.

The immediate image in the minds of most people at the mention of Vietnam is that of the war fought against the United States some twenty years ago. Most people think of the country only in terms of the American conflict in Indochina. The war ended nearly twenty years ago, and today, despite lingering signs of past American involvement, the situation in Vietnam is markedly different. People have finally begun to look at the country from another perspective, now that travelers and tourists from the West are being welcomed into what was once a forbidden country. It may take a bit more effort and tenacity to plan an excursion into Vietnam than it would for another Southeast Asian country, but Vietnam has much to offer in terms of culture and sights.

Weather Conditions
 The weather in the southern part of Vietnam is tropical. It is monsoonal in the north, bringing a hot, rainy season from mid-May to mid-September and a warm, dry season from mid-October to mid-March. Occasional typhoons from May to January bring extensive flooding to the middle regions of Vietnam.

People And Culture
The vast majority of the population is Vietnamese with minute percentages of Chinese. The Viet culture originated on the delta of the Red River and the Ma River where the Viet people cultivated paddy fields. They led a simple farming life in small villages, usually living around a communal house. Today the people living in the countryside follow this lifestyle. The Viet people are influenced by Confucianism, in particular the principle of respect for their elders.

In spite of the immense suffering of the Vietnamese and the somewhat ruined state of the country, they are generally warm and friendly, and surprisingly, the Vietnamese bear little if any resentment or bitterness toward Americans. Children in the streets will commonly greet visitors with the name Lien Xo, which means Russian, but they will easily be corrected if you respond, "Hello!" or "Good morning" and explain you are an American, European or Australian, etc.

Ethnic Groups:
The country is predominantly 85-90% Vietnamese, 3% Chinese, ethnic minorities include Muong, Thai, Meo, Khmer, Man, Cham, and other mountain tribes.

Languages:
Vietnamese is the official language; French, Chinese, English, Khmer and tribal dialects (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian) are also spoken.

Religion:
Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs, Islamic and Protestant.

Local Customs
Be firm, yet diplomatic when dealing with officials who will often be very rigid. In the case of misunderstanding, patience is the best policy.

Small gifts such as cigarette lighters, pens, foreign cigarettes, liquor, perfume and even shampoo are greatly appreciated by anyone you wish to make friends with in Vietnam.

Out of politeness, always ask permission before taking photos of people. The same rule of thumb also applies to photos taken in places of worship. Permission will almost always be granted.

A gentle handshake is the most appropriate manner of greeting.

Be very discrete about giving anything to beggars frequently encountered in Ho Chi Minh City. If anyone is seen giving handouts to a beggar, he or she may end up being pursued by a mob of other beggars. This does not help create a good image for foreigners; it gives them instead the reputation of being easy to hit up for money.

Beware of pickpockets. Keep your ID and passport in a safe place and carry only photocopies of those items.

Remove your shoes before entering Buddhist pagodas. Small donations placed in the boxes found in temples are appreciated. It is acceptable to keep your shoes on within Chinese pagodas.

Never let the soles of your feet face other people or any sacred monument, such as a statue of Buddha.

Currency
The Dong (D) is the official currency in Vietnam.
Exchange rate is approximately 1 USD = 15,000 Dong

Bank notes currently in circulation are in denominations of 100 / 200 / 500 / 1,000 / 2,000 / 5,000 / 10,000 / 20,000 and 50,000 Dong

Notes under 200 Dong have little value and are rarely used.

The U.S. dollar is more or less a second currency in Vietnam. Other foreign currencies are not readily accepted. A large supply of US$1, US$5 and US$10 are almost essential for tipping, for small expenses and for hotel bills. US Dollar is so common that change will frequently be given in dollars.

You may bring in an unlimited amount of foreign currency as long as it is declared on the forms provided by customs officers. Foreign currency can be exchanged for dong at your hotel or at the State Bank of Vietnam.

Things To Know
Shop Hours: Shops run from 7 or 8am to 11 or 11:30pm. Some are open from 1 or 2pm to 4 or 5pm.

Bank Hours: Most banks are opened from 7am or 8am to 11am or 11:30am Some are open from 1pm or 2pm to 4pm or 5pm.

Holidays
January 1: Solar New Year's Day
January/February Tet (Tet Nguyen Dan): The most important Vietnamese annual festival. This marks the new lunar year and the advent of spring. This is a three-day holiday, usually at the end of January or the beginning of February (according to the solar calendar)
February 3: Anniversary of the Foundation of the Communist Party of Vietnam
April 30: Liberation Day, the day on which Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) fell to Hanoi in 1975. This holiday is commemorated nationwide. 
May 1: Labour Day 
May 19: Birthday of President Ho Chi Minh 
September 2: National Day of Vietnam

Time:
+7:00, Vietnam is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and 14 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

Tipping:
Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but it is enormously appreciated. A 5-10% tip for a meal is a very small amount of money, but to the average Vietnamese, it could easily equal a day's wages. Avoid tipping too much, as it will set a precedent for others.

Restaurants:
Government-run restaurants catering to tourists add a 10% service charge to the bill.

Porters:
Porters, if they are available, can be tipped with American coins.

Hotel maids:
Government-run hotels catering to tourists charge an automatic 10% service fee.

Taxis:
Generous tips are not necessary. A small gratuity, however, is expected by cab drivers.

Visas And Passport 
Passports and visas are required for entry into Vietnam. The best place to obtain a visa for Vietnam is Bangkok. The visa will specify where you will be arriving and where you will be leaving, in addition to how long you can stay.

Formerly, tours had to be booked to obtain a visa, but this is no longer the situation. Potential visitors to Vietnam must fill out three applications for entry and exit visas, accompanied by three passport photos 4cm x 6cm. One of the applications must be sent to the most convenient diplomatic or consular mission of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The other two applications/photos are carried with you and handed in at the first point of entry.

If you require Asia Travel to assist you in the application, please send an email with the following information to: Adventure Silk Road Inc.

Surname and first name
Date and place of birth
Nationality
Present place of residence
Profession
Time and point of entry and exit

Customs Regulations
Duty Free Items
Visitors may import 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, 1 liter of wine, 1 liter of liquor and an unlimited amount of film. Commercial goods and items of high value being taken out of Vietnam require export permits from the Customs Service. Antiques may be confiscated permanently. No local currency may be taken out of the country.

The Customs Service Headquarters
21 Ton Duc Thang St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel 90095

Airports
Noi Bai International Airport
Hanoi
Tan Son Nhat Airport
Ho Chi Minh City

Fares are significantly lower for those flying to Ho Chi Minh City. Although flights are available from the capitals of most Southeast Asian countries as well as from Sydney and Melbourne, the best place is from Bangkok as visas are easiest to obtain there.

Airlines
Vietnam Airlines (International)
116-118 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 292118

Vietnam Airlines (Domestic)
27b Nguyen Dinh Chieu St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 299980

Air France
Dong Khoi and Le Loi St. (Caravelle Hotel)
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 241278

Aeroflot
4H Le Loi St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 93489

Thai Airways
116 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 292118

Philippine Airlines
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 292200

MAS
116 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 30695

Trains
There are currently no train lines running between Vietnam and its neighboring countries.

Buses
Traveling by road from Cambodia is a slow and expensive alternative to flying. It is highly advisable that travelers fly in instead.

Ships and Ferries
There are no official passenger services. Travelers may be able to ride on a cargo ship to Ho Chi Minh City, Danang or Haiphong from Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and France. Check with the local shipping and travel agencies for rates and availability. A ferry service runs from Cambodia to Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta.

Travel Within The Country
Cars: Car rentals are currently not in existence. Cabs, which are unmarked cars without meters, can typically be rented for the day for US$30 to US$40. Trains
The Vietnamese railway system runs from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi along the coast and links with Haiphong and the regions further north. Odd-numbered trains travel South, and even-numbered trains travel north. The fastest trains take at least 36 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Reservations should be made a day or more in advance. The major setback to the railways is that tourists are charged many times more than Vietnamese people in the form of an outrageously high surcharge. For long distance traveling, it is best to fly.

Buses: The bus system runs almost everywhere within the country, with stations built around the country dividing the territory into regions. Buses tend to be slow and unreliable.

Dining & Drinking
Vietnamese food varies from region to region. Almost 500 traditional dishes have been recorded! Rice and noodles are staple foods, served with nearly all meals. The most popular dishes are nema rán (spring rolls), bún thang (noodles with sliced pork, eggs, shredded chicken and shrimp), shellfish steamed with ginger and sea crabs fried with salt. Among common ingredients used are: shark fin, duck, pork paste, fish, spices, fruits, vegetables, crab meat, lobster and oysters.

Imported beer is available in Vietnam, although a number of domestic beers are brewed. Rice wine is very popular, and there are many brands available. There is a variety of fruit wines such as apricot, orange or lemon. Soft drinks are processed from the many varieties of tropical fruits available. Water from the tap should be avoided, even though it has already been filtered and sterilized at 10ºC. If you must drink it, boil the water first.

Entertainment
Vietnam is not the place to go for the latest in nightspots, but a number of large hotels have nightclubs and dance halls. Bars are fairly easy to find, even in smaller hotels. Try asking the locals for the current popular spots.

Emergency Numbers
Police: 03
Ho Chi Minh City Police Station
161 Nguyen Du, Quan 1
Tel 99398 or 97107
Open from 8am-11am and 1pm-4pm
Hanoi Police Office for the Registration of Foreign Visitors
63 Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi
All visitors must register with the police within 48 hours of arrival. If you are on a tour, this should have been taken care of (but check anyway).
Fire Department: 08
First Aid: 05
International Dialing Access: Available at major tourist hotels and post offices
Country Code: 84
City Codes: Hanoi: 04 / Ho Chi Minh: 08
When calling from within the same city, delete the city code from the number. When calling to another city from within Vietnam, use the entire city code. When calling from outside Vietnam, delete the first digit (0) from the city code.

Useful Phrases 
Greetings - Chao ong (ba)
How are you? - Ong (ba) co khoe khong?
Fine, thanks - Cam on rat tot
My name is ... - Tên tôi là ...
I don't understand - Tôi không hiêú
Restaruant - nhà hàng
Telephone - diên thoai
Hotel - khách san
 
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