Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Vietnamese dong (VND)
Vietnam is currently the world’s 13th most populous country and occupies 331,211 square kilometers. Today, although scarred by its past, Vietnam is a fast-growing economy helped by tourism that its interesting history and beautiful sights draw in.
One frequent thing to hear is that it has not yet been subjected to the western influence that Thailand and, to an extent, Cambodia have been. The Vietnamese still tend to prefer their traditional cuisine to the fast food chains that seem to be taking over the world.
Aside from the beautiful countryside of the north, rice fields and beaches, Vietnam is a country that is very much on the move. Roads are being upgraded, new hotels are opening everywhere and its cities are fastly developing.
Due to the country’s land mass, its climate varies from region to region. On average, temperatures range from 22-27°C year-round with a generally warm and humid climate. Although temperatures don’t vary much in the southern parts of Vietnam, the northern areas can get quite cold during the winter.
Tropical monsoons can be expected between October and April in the centre of Vietnam and from May to September in the north and south. Outside of these rainy seasons it remains almost completely dry.
Although Vietnamese culture is rooted in the ancient indigenous Dong Son culture with wet rice agriculture as its economic foundation, certain aspects of its culture have Chinese influence. In more recent times, the country has been exposed to Southeast Asian, European and American culture as well as their media.
Having said this, it is safe to say that Vietnam has not yet absorbed as much western culture when compared to some of its neighbours.
Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by the Asian principle of 5 elements which correspond to the five elements: wood (sour), fire (bitter), earth (sweet), metal (spicy) and water (salty). This yin and yang principle is an art of balance to make food beneficial to the body.
Traditional Vietnamese cooking is known for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, plentiful use of herbs and vegetables and what’s more, it is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.
Typical dishes might include rice vermicelli noodles, jasmine rice, dried shrimp, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame seeds, and bean sprouts to name a few!
There are plenty of transport options in Vietnam and it is, on the whole, fairly cheap to move around.
Vietnam has 21 airports. Prices do vary depending on when flights are booked, but it is still a cheap option and the best way to travel quickly over long distances.
A common way to travel for longer distances (locally, taxis are usually the preferred option). You should try and buy tickets from the bus stations where possible as the price will be fixed and reasonable. If tickets are bought during the journey, you run the risk of being overcharged.
Taxis are mostly metered and very cheap. They are the most popular way to get around in the towns/cities especially when carrying luggage!
Practical way of getting around but not so effective with luggage. You will need to bargain a price beforehand.
Similar to the Cyclos. Make sure to set a price beforehand to avoid being overcharged.
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