WHY TO VISIT VIETNAM
With a rich and unique culture and unforgettable scenery, Vietnam will surprise you in many different ways.
Hanoi, the capital, is built on the shores of the Red River and will seduce you with its charming colonial houses, its shady parks, its lakes, the narrow streets of the old city and its Temple of Literature which dates from the 11th century.
Discover also the Mekong Delta, one of the largest in the world, which provides rice for the whole country.
Another site to explore, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon and the largest city of the country, is a paradox between modernity and tradition, vivacious and secular, where you can visit Chinatown, Giac Lam Pagoda and the War Memorial Museum.
Another city rich in history, Hué, is a cultural and religious centre, where you will find the extravagant tombs of thirteen Nguyen Dynasty emperors, and the remains of the citadel.
Halong Bay is not the least of her attractions; this site fully justifies its reputation with its 3,000 islands spread over 1,500 square kilometres of beautifully coloured waters on which the junks sail aganst the dark red canvas.
WHAT TO SEE IN VIETNAM
Top destinations in Vietnam are:
- Ha Long Bay
- Hoi An
- Nha Trang
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
- My son
WHEN TO GO TO VIETNAM
Best period to visit Vietnam is from December to April.
The climate of the country is subject to two monsoons per year, but the very different altitudes and latitudes cause extreme differences around the country. In the north, the mountains experience harsh winters; cold and snowy.
The south has an almost constant heat, accompanied by high humidity. To visit the north, the period between November and April is preferable for visits, when temperatures are cooler, especially at night, so avoiding the hot weather and typhoons from May to October and violent rainstorms in July and August. In the south, the dry and sunny season is from December to April.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Vietnam.
Keo Pagoda Festival: The annual Keo Pagoda Festival lasts three days during which lots of religious and traditional rituals and customs are held in celebration of the Buddhist monk who rendered great merits to the people and the country.
Co Loa Festival: On the afternoon of the 5th day of the first lunar month, all of the eight communes (including Co Loa Commune and the establishing relations between seven communes) hold the incense offering ceremony at the communal house.
Elephant Race Festival: The Elephant Race Festival takes place in springtime, normally in the third lunar month. In preparation for the festive day, people take their elephants to places where they can eat their fill. Apart from grass their food also includes bananas, papayas, sugar canes, corns, sweet potatoes.
Leaving the Tomb Festival: The leaving the tomb Festival is the most important one reserved for the deceased held by their family members. All the local villagers attend the festival that lasts for three or four days. It involves two to three slaughtered buffaloes and hundreds of small jars of liquor.
OocOmBok Festival: Ooc-Om-Bok Festival is a religious service that worships the moon deity of the Khmer minority group and prays for good luck, happiness, good weather and bumper crops. The festival is usually held when the dry season begins and rice are ripening on the fields.
Thay Pagoda Festival: The Thay Pagoda Festival is held on the seventh day of the third lunar month in remembrance of his merits.
Huong Pagoda Festival: Approximately 70 kilometers southwest of Ha Noi, Huong Son boasts quite a few pagodas built in the Posterior Le Dynasty. Until the beginning of the 20th century, there have over 100 pagodas
Chu Dong Tu Festival: The festival annually takes place from the 10th to the 12th day of the second lunar month at two temples, Da Hoa and Da Trach, in Khoai Chau, Hung Yen Province.
Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival: The Buffalo Fight in Do Son (Haiphong City) is officially held every year on the 9th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.
Hung King Temple Festival: The festival begins with a palanquin procession performed by three villages of Co Tich, Vi Cuong and Trieu Phu.
Khau Vai Love Market Festival: During these three days, Khmer people go to visit each other and wish good health, good luck and prosperity to each other. They also join in fun activities.
Lim Festival: The Lim Festival takes place every year on 13th day of the first lunar month. Visitors come to enjoy the festival and see the performances of "lien anh" and "lien chi".
Cold Goods Tet: Cold goods Tet or Tet han thuc is celebrated on 3rd day of the third lunar month in almost regions of the Viet. Tet han thuc offers glutinous rice flour cakes stuffed with plum of brown sugar (banh troi), glutinous rice flour cakes stuffed with green bean paste (banh chay) to worship ancestors. Tet han thuc also is an occasion for people to visit and tidy the burial graves of relatives and have funs in spring.
The Mid-Autumn Festival: Every year, on the 15th day of the 8th month in lunar calendar, the children throughout the country in Vietnam are given permission by their parents to march in a procession and carry their lanterns, to eat the Mid-Autumn Festival cakes and to perform the dragon (unicorn) dance, oh, how great and uproarious they are!
Killing the Inner Insect Festival: This festival take place on 5th day of the fifth lunar month in every house of the Kinh (Viet). This is the middle year festival for the prevention of disease and ward off evil spirits (the day of changing weather from spring to summer, this is the time easy to get pathogen). On the day of “killing inner insects”, every one has to get up early, eat fermented sticky and fruits. The worshiping is held at noon, hour of Ngo.
Trung Nguyen Festival: Trung Nguyen Festival, also called “xa toi vong nhan” (forgive the loss souls), originates from Buddhism’s Vu Lan Festival which is aimed at saving and freeing souls from sufferings. It is believed that criminals in hell are released on lunar July 15th so that people usually prepare plain gruel, popcorns, votive papers, etc. to offer them. They also place offerings in temples, communal houses’ yards, banyan tree’s foot for forsake spirits. After worshiping, the offerings are given to children and poor people and votive papers are burned to send to the world of the death.
Tay Son Festival: Martial arts demonstrations in Tay Son District, plus garlanded elephants on parade. Fifth day of first lunar month; late January to mid-February.
Water-Puppet Festival: As part of the Tet celebrations a festival of puppetry is held at Thay Pagoda, west of Hanoi. Fifth to seventh days of first lunar month; February.
Lim Singing Festival: Two weeks after Tet, Lim village near Bac Ninh, in the Red River Delta, resounds to the harmonies of “alternate singing” (quan ho) as men and women fling improvised lyrics back and forth. Thirteenth to fifteenth days of the first lunar month; February–March.
Hai Ba Trung Festival: The two Trung sisters are honoured with a parade and dancing at Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung temple. Sixth day of the second lunar month; March.
Perfume Pagoda: Vietnam’s most famous pilgrimage site is Chua Huong, west of Hanoi. Thousands of Buddhist pilgrims flock to the pagoda for the festival, which climaxes on the full moon (fourteenth or fifteenth day) of the second month, though the pilgrimage continues for a month either side; March–April.
Den Ba Chua Kho: The full moon of the second month sees Hanoians congregating at this temple near Bac Ninh, to petition the goddess for success in business; March–April.
Thanh Minh: Ancestral graves are cleaned and offerings of food, flowers and paper votive objects made at the beginning of the third lunar month; April.
Phat Dan: Lanterns are hung outside the pagodas and Buddhist homes to commemorate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and the attainment of Nirvana. Eighth day of the fourth lunar month; May.
Chua Xu Festival: The stone statue of Chua Xu at Sam Mountain, Chau Doc, is bathed, and thousands flock to honour her. Twenty-third to twenty-fifth day of fourth lunar month; May.
Tet Doan Ngo: The summer solstice (fifth day of the fifth moon) is marked by festivities aimed at warding off epidemics brought on by the summer heat. This is also the time of dragon-boat races; late May to early June.
Trang Nguyen: (or Vu Lan) The day of wandering souls is the second most important festival after Tet. Offerings of food and clothes are made to comfort and nourish the unfortunate souls without a home, and all graves are cleaned. This is also time for the forgiveness of faults, when the King of Hell judges everyone’s spirits and metes out reward or punishment as appropriate. Until the fifteenth century prisoners were allowed to go home on this day. Fourteenth or fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month; August.
Kate Festival: The Cham New Year is celebrated in high style at Po Klong Garai and Po Re Me, both near Phan Rang; September–October.
Trung Thu: The mid-autumn festival, also known as Children’s Day, is when dragon dances take place and children are given lanterns in the shape of stars, carp or dragons. Special cakes, banh trung thu, are eaten at this time of year. These are sticky rice cakes filled with lotus seeds, nuts and candied fruits and are either square like the earth (banh deo), or round like the moon (banh nuong) and containing the yolk of an egg. Fourteenth or fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month; September–October.
Whale Festival: Lang Ca Ong, Vung Tau. Crowds gather to make offerings to the whales. Sixteenth day of the eighth lunar month; September–October.
Oc Bom Boc Festival: Boat-racing festival in Soc Trang. Tenth day of tenth lunar month; November–December.
Da Lat Flower Festival: An annual extravaganza in which the city shows off the abundance of blooms grown locally; December.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH VIETNAM
For transport within the country, the train is fairly convenient, although rather slow. You can easily rent a motorcycle or bicycle, or you can use the rickshaws.
by plane, main airports are:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON VIETNAM
country entry requirements: passport + visa (on arrival, check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice.
local currency: Vietnamese Dong
local time zone: GMT+7
electricity: type A, C and F (220 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN VIETNAM
typical food in Vietnam
- Pho: An omnipresent noodle soup, usually with meat
- Nem: Spring rolls with pork, noodles, eggs and mushrooms wrapped in rice paper, sometimes fried and served hot
- Banh chung: Sticky rice wrapped in large leaves and cooked for up to 48 hours, to be eaten cold at any time
- Nuoc mam: Fermented fish sauce, widely used
- Bun cha: Grilled pork with cold rice noodles and a big bowl of salad leaves
- Banh bao: A steamed dumpling typically stuffed with onions, pork and other ingredients
- Com hen: Rice served with clams. Popular in Hue
- Lau: Vietnamese hot pot
- Bia hoi: Fresh beer produced daily and served cold in small, local bars. It is not particularly alcoholic but very refreshing
- Coffee: Vietnam is the world's second largest producer of coffee and the local brew is usually served with condensed milk
souvenirs in Vietnam
- wooden water puppets
- colorful hill-tribe bags
- hand-painted silk greetings cards
- tailor made clothes
- Hoi An silk lanterns
- boxes of cinnamon
- ceramics, pottery and porcelain
- silk paintings
- wicker baskets
Hello: Xin chào
Goodbye: Tạm biệt
How are you?: Bạn khỏe không?
Thank you: Cảm ơn bạn
What is your name?: Tên của bạn là gì?
How much is it?: Bao nhiêu là nó?
Sorry: Lấy làm tiếc