Vietnam is a country that is utterly compelling and astonishingly exotic with natural beauty and ancient ruins that are well worth exploring on the Vietnam tour packages. This South East Asian country is shaped much-like an elongated S and has a coastline stretching 3,260 km.
In the west, Vietnam is bordered by Laos and Cambodia, in the south west by the Gulf of Thailand, in the south and east by the South China Sea, in the east by the Gulf of Tonkin and in the north with China.
Tourists travelling to Vietnam are certain to be amazed and curious by the wide-ranging historical remnants, which include the temples, tombs, museums and other historical sites.
Even though Vietnam is positioned within the tropics, the country is able to benefit from a climate that varies from one region to the next. On average, the temperature in Vietnam is 22º C to 27º C because of its landscape. The city dwellers of Ho Chi Minh City are inclined to be seeking refuge from the midday heat, while those living in Sapa or other mountainous regions are more likely to be in search of shelter from the snow.
The weather in the north of the country is quite varied with four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The climate in the spring (February-April) is pleasant and warm with spells of fine drizzle that is appreciated for the growth of plants and flowers. The summer (May-August) is a period of hot weather (sun shining most days) with showers. Plus, the summer can experience the thunderstorm that is sudden and helps to make the intense heat more comfortable. The autumn (September-November) has lightly windy, dry and cool air. The coldest season is winter (November-January) which is mostly dry and cold. Plus, there is the risk of snow in mountainous regions (1000 m or more above level sea).
The south of the country experiences two major seasons: dry season and wet, rainy season. The dry season (October-May) has the hot and warm weather with the sun shining every day – though it will cool in the evening. The wet, rainy season (April-September) still has the warm weather, but with rain showers in the afternoons. Most of the showers are quite heavy, but are in relatively bursts. The most stable weather on the Vietnam customized tour is generally found in the south of the country.
Vietnamese is the official language and is spoken by the vast majority of the country, which amounts to nearly 85% of the entire population. Also, it is the second-language of the country’s ethnic minority groups. Vietnamese is a type of monosyllabic language with the syllable varying in relation to tone which can impact the word meaning. Because of the different tones, this can make learning the language quite difficult. Beyond the official language, the various ethnic minority groups throughout the country have maintained their standard dialect that has been preserved over the years.
Vietnam is a total area of nearly 329,560 sq km with 54 different ethnic groups that inhabit the country with the majority based on the Kinh (Viet) people that account for approx 85% of the entire country, while the remaining 15% is made up of the ethnic minority groups that are located throughout the country. Each group has its personal traditions and customs. However, they are easily able to coexist and are most friendly and love peace.
The dining scene in Vietnam can range from the street stalls to the high-end restaurants. The Vietnamese food is seen as healthy and delicious and includes a variety of different vegetables. Rice or noodles can make the staple of a dish. One of the most popular local dishes is called pho which is a noodle soup that includes ingredients like chicken or beef, salt, fish sauce, onion, bean sprouts, cinnamon, and ginger. Pho is widely available at the food stalls and relatively cheap at less than $1 per bowl. The spring roll is a further specialty and varies with ingredients and versions with the different regions of the country.
Most of the restaurant menus consist of non-vegetarian dishes with a lot of the local cuisine including beef, fish and pork. Plus, for the tourist on the Vietnam holiday, there are a variety of western restaurants that serve up decent quality fare inspired by American, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, or French traditional dishes.
Fruit is popular with mango, lychee, dragon fruit, passion fruit, jack fruit, strawberry, durian, avocado, banana, sugar apple, and custard apple widely available at the stalls in the cities. Bottle water is favoured ahead of drinking tap water, which should be avoided. Plus, there are plenty of brands of alcohol including beer from local brands like 333, Saigon and Tiger, as well as imported brands such as Heineken, San Miguel and Carlsberg.
Vietnam has plenty to offer the shopaholic with its street stalls and markets to luxury boutiques and shopping malls. For the authentic fare, a trip to Hanoi’s Old Quarter is great for souvenirs with little shops selling handbags, embroidered items, clothes and other items. The quality of the handicrafts produced by the local villages continues to improve, with the particularly high-quality souvenirs in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Great souvenirs include hand-painted greeting cards, clothes (tailor-made ao dais) silk paintings, ceramics and marble figurines. Central highland hill tribes create a great selection of colourful items of clothing and woven bags. A visit to Ho Chi Minh City on the Vietnam tours is great for leather work, carpets and jewelery.
The local currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) with bills in denominations between 500 and 500,000 Dong (500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20, 000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000). Although there are a few places that accept US dollars, the local currency is preferred, so when on the Vietnam travel packages it helps to have a useful supply of dong while travelling.
Cash is the prominent payment method, but American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in the major stores, restaurants and hotels in the city areas. There are plenty of moneychangers across the country, while Travellers cheques are quick to change in banks.