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   VIET NAM

Country name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Population: 83.6 million ( UN, 2005)
Capital: Hanoi
              Biggest city: Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon)
Land area: 329,247 sq km ( 127,123 sq miles)
Major language: Vietamese
Major religion: Buddhism
Ethonic minorities: 54 minorities, Viet (King) people making the majority of 87%
Internet domain: .vn
International dialling: +84
         
         Vietnam (Vietnamese: Việt Nam), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost nation on the Indochina Peninsula. It borders China to the north, Laos to the northwest, and Cambodia to the southwest. On the country's east coast lies the South China Sea. With a population of over 85 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous country in the world. The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies; according to government figures GDP growth was 8.17% in 2006, the second fastest growth rate among countries in East Asia and the fastest in Southeast Asia.
The capital of Vietnam is Hanoi (it had served as the capital of French Indochina and North Vietnam), and the largest and most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). Vietnam is subdivided into 59 provinces and 5 province-level cities, which are further subdivided into districts and municipalities. Provincial governments are expected to be subordinate to the central government. Often, the Vietnamese government groups the various provinces into eight regions: Northwest, Northeast, Red River Delta, North Central Coast, South Central Coast, Central Highland, Southeast, Mekong River Delta.

          Mention the name Vietnam, and most people assume you mean the war, thirty years since the end of the war, it is a country at peace, with spectacular geography,  a vibrant culture, and genuinely friendly people. it is in reality a country filled with captivating natural beauty and tranquil village life. Its highlands and rainforest regions, far from being devastated, continue to yield new species and team with exotic wildlife. Its islands and beaches are among the finest in all of Southeast Asia, and its cuisine is very possibly the most delicious you will ever find.

          Verdant patchworks of rice paddies, pointed lampshade-style hats, a country ravaged by war, and economic repression - these are the international images of Vietnam, seen on worldwide television and read about in the newspapers. But there are other scenes to be found, ones of natural beauty, ethnic culture, and imperial history, of timeless traditional villages, idyllic sea resorts and dynamic cities. The impact of Japanese and Chinese trade, French occupation and American intervention has left its stain on Vietnam, smeared over a period of more than two thousand years of recorded history. However, the country has also been left with a vivid legacy from different cultures evident in the character of its towns, as well as in the architecture and food. The quaint town of Hoi An, once a major trading port, boasts the perfectly preserved architectural influences of the Asian merchants from the north, while the broad leafy boulevards of the capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are reminiscent of France. Menus offer Chinese variations of spring rolls, steamed dumplings and noodles. Hue is the old imperial capital of Vietnam with its royal palaces and palatial mausoleums, and nearby the battle sites of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) are reminders of the brutality of war.

          Shaped like an elongated ‘S’, Vietnam stretches along the east coast of the Indochinese Peninsula and is likened by its people to a long bamboo pole hung with two baskets of rice, represented by the two fertile regions at either end of the country. Between the lush Red River Delta and the highlands in the north, known for their magnificent scenery and colorful hill tribes, and the agricultural plains and floating markets of the Mekong Delta in the south, lie miles of white sandy beaches, towering mountains, rivers and dense forests, and the thousands of bizarre rock and cave formations on the islands of Halong Bay.

          Ancient temples and colorful pagodas are scattered throughout the urban centres, while among them stand hotels of modern luxury, and the development of tourism infrastructure is a booming business. Vietnam is a perfect balance between ancient times and the here and now, a country that reveres its past heroes, a nation that has collectively put the woes of war behind it, and people who welcome visitors to their country with open arms and friendly smiles
Travelers rave about Vietnam's incredibly friendly people, unique 54 traditions, beautiful landscape and countryside.
In charming Hanoi, dine in one of the French colonial villas converted into gourmet restaurants. Shop at fashionable boutiques and galleries featuring traditional and contemporary artists. Explore the fascinating maze of 36 streets in the Old Quarter. Farther south, in the UNESCO- designated river town of Hoi An, tour centuries-old merchant houses, visit busy silk and fish markets. Nearby, in Danang, relax at Furama Resort near famous China Beach.
In Ho Chi Min City (former Saigon), Vietnam's dynamic commercial center, explore colorful produce markets, or perhaps stop in a designer shop to order a haute couture ao dai .Venturing outside the city, cruise along dramatic limestone islands in Halong Bay, visit remote hill tribe villages and terraced rice fields in Sapa, or cruise the narrow canals of the Mekong Delta. Our Vietnam tours feature:
Rooms in Vietnam's premier luxury hotels and resorts
Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
Highly personalized itinerary plans
Expert advice from our native luxury specialists
24 hours/7 contacts, access to our offices throughout Vietnam
Regional flights and private airport transfers
Private boat cruises 
          
           Upon request, restaurant reservations, meetings with artists, cooking instructors and designers, shopping recommendations, spa reservations, tours with special-interest lecturers, and exclusive access to local activities and cultural events 
          All tours are private, depart daily, and can be customized to suit individual interests and schedules. Call us any time at ++84.90.8847.024 or ++84.8. 9321472 (10 lines) for planing your dream vacation to Vietnam.

FESTIVAL AND HOLIDAYS
Vietnamese Lunar New Year (known as Tet) falls in late January or early February for 03 days.
* New Year's Day   - 1st January
* Nation Day   - 2nd Semtemper
* May Day    - 1st May
* Buddha's Birth Day   - Eighth day of the fourth moon (June)
* Christmas    - 25 December
* Wandering Souls Day  - Fifteenth day of the seventh moon
* Mid-Autumn Festival  -  Fifteenth day of the eighth moon

HANDICRAFTS AND SOUVENIRS
Vietnam is particularly known for its various styles of lacquer ware (mother of pearl inlay, duck shell etc.) and for its growing silk industry. A wide array of other handicrafts it also available, including quality hand embroidery, woodcarvings, brass or marble figurines and ivory or tortoiseshell accessories. Paintings, silk screens, and hand-painted ceramics can be found in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. War paraphernalia, such as army helmets, are popular souvenirs, as are the old cameras, watches, stamps and coins sold on side streets in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam Weather & Climate


 

Vietnam is essentially tropical country with a humid monsoon climate. The annual mean temperature is over 20 degrees Celsius throughout the country ( Hanoi 23.4 C,. Hue 25.1 C,. Ho Chi Minh City 26.9 C).

In July, the average temperature in Hanoi is 28.6 C. in Hue it is 28.9 C and in Ho Chi Minh City, 27.6 C. Lowland areas receive around 1,500mm of rain per year, while mountainous areas receive 2,000mm to 3,000mm. Humidity can reach 90 percent in the rainy season.

Vietnam has also two seasons: cool and dry from November to April and hot and rainy from may to October. The difference between summer and winter temperatures is dramatic in the north ( varying up to 20 degrees Celsius), the south is warm all year round, with seasonal variations in temperature averaging just three degrees Celsius.
 

Vietnam weather chart
Month
Hanoi (North)
Danang (Centre)
Saigon (South)
Av.Temp (C)
Av. rainfall (mm)
Av.Temp (C)
Av. rainfall (mm)
Av.Temp (C)
Av. rainfall (mm)
January
17
18
22
101
27
15
February
18
28
22
31
28
4
March
20
38
24
12
29
13
April
24
81
27
18
30
42
May
28
197
29
47
29
221
June
30
238
30
42
29
331
July
30
322
30
99
28
314
August
29
343
28
117
28
268
September
28
252
26
447
27
334
October
26
98
24
530
27
268
November
22
42
22
221
27
114
December
19
21
21
208
27
56

Currency

The Vietnamese currency is the DONG ( VND). Notes come in 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10.000, 20.000, 50,000, 100.000, and the new, plastic  500.000 denominations. Larger notes are available in " Bearer Bond" from the local banks. The currency is being slowly devalued against the US dollar which will currently buy around 16,000 dong.
Exchange kiosk are extremely rare in Vietnam, basically limited to the international airports, hotels and a few banks in major towns. Dollars can also be exchanged for dong in most gold and jewelry shops, and on the streets, though later is not advisable as customers are often cheated.
Travelers' cheques can be exchanged in most banks and a few hotels, but cash in US dollars is favorite. Credit cards are generally accepted only in westerns oriented hotels, shops and restaurants in larger cities, while cash machines (ATMs) are few in numbers and currently limited to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi.

Government controlled banks in Vietnam
 - Vietnamcom bank ( Vietnam Commercial Bank)
-  Agribank (Vietnam bank for agriculture and rural development)
 
Joint stock banks

- ACB bank (Asia Commercial bank)
- Techcombank (Technical commercial bank)
- VIB Bank (Vietnam International bank)

 Foreign banks
- ANZ Bank ( Australia and New Zealand Bank)
- United Oversea Bank
- HSBC Bank ( Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank)
- City bank ( American Bank)

Clothing
Light, comfortable, easy to launder clothing is recommended. Winter months in Hanoi and rainy season in the central region can get cool so a sweater or light jacket will come in handy. Good walking shoes and sandals that can be easily removed are recommended especially when visiting temples and people's homes. Ensure you have suitable clothing packed for visiting temples and pagodas that you can cover up with. E.g. Shirts and long pants. No dresses, shorts, singlets, string tops or revealing clothing should be worn to temples and pagodas.

What to Pack
Vietnam is generally a casual country by western standards although people do like to dress in their Sunday best whenever the opportunity arises therefore simple and casual clothes are appropriate for almost any occasion.
The year round heat and humidity in the south, especially Ho Chi Min City makes lightweight quick dry clothing the most appropriate. The north and central highlands get cool enough for sweaters or light jackets for much of the year but the northern highlands will require cold weather clothes in the winter.
If you are not participating in any trekking tours sandals and lightweight shoes are sufficient. If trekking is included in your itinerary you will need trekking boots.

Food/Cuisine
Vietnamese cuisine is known for its common use of fish sauce, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Vietnamese recipes use many vegetables, herbs and spices, including lemon grass, lime, and kaffir lime leaves. Throughout all regions the emphasis is always on serving fresh vegetables and/or fresh herbs as side dishes along with dipping sauce. The Vietnamese also have a number of Buddhist vegetarian dishes. The most common meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are pork, beef, prawns, various kinds of tropical fish, and chicken. Duck and goat/lamb are used much less widely.
The cuisine of Vietnam is excellante. Rice and noodle dishes are the staple of Vietnamese food and are garnished with aromatic lemon grass and/or fresh coriander. Fish, chicken, and/or pork dishes along with cooked vegetables and rice form a typical meal. Asian and European food are available throughout the country.

Phở originated in northern Vietnam and spread to southern and central Vietnam in the mid-1950s, after the defeat of the French and the eventual partitioning of the country. The communist government of North Vietnam forcibly closed many private phở businesses in the 1950s, opening government-run eateries in their place, which tended to offer phở of rather inferior quality. Northern Vietnamese fleeing communist rule for South Vietnam introduced phở to their southern counterparts. Unlike in Hanoi in North Vietnam, the phở business flourished in South Vietnam, especially Saigon.
SPRINGROLL

Description

Springroll dish is the most common food in Vietnam that has the origin from the South.
Springroll is a kind of fast food for most parties. It is the starter beside salad.
Springroll recipies may be varied a little when it goes to the north of Vietnam.

The main materials for springrolls are

- Rice paper that should be thin enough for wrapping and frying.
- Prawns or ground chicken or ground pork
- vegetables like carrots or tablioka or sweet potatoes, mushrooms

The side materials are

- Pepper
- Vercimili
- Chicken eggs
- Sugar
- Salt

Springrolls can be done 30 minutes before guests come to the parties so they are still crumpy and warm. Springrolls will be served with fish sauce.
Drinks
Drinking tap water or ice is not recommended. Bottled water is readily available but remember to check the seal for possible tampering. You should be drinking a minimum of 1.5 liters of water per day. This should increase as the temperature increases or you are engaging in physical activities.
Vietnamese coffee is usually very strong and has a punctuated mockup aroma and flavors. It is usually served in a small glass or cup with a drip filter and additional hot water in a thermos. As the filter empties you top it up from the thermos until you have the required amount of coffee. Condensed milk is added as a whitener and sweetener as it is usually not possible to find fresh milk away for the main cities.
Beer is available just about everywhere. Most places stock a selection of local and some imported brands. Draught beer comes in two varieties, Beer Hoi or Beer Tuoi. Beer Hoi is draught beer found on the street stalls and poured straight from the keg. Vietnamese quite often add ice to their beer when drinking. Beer Tuoi is found in the bars and restaurants and is chilled and served under pressure from the keg in a more conventional method.

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