Southeast Asia is becoming a hugely popular destination for British holidaymakers.
Thailand and Singapore have typically become hotspots for the younger generation, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos are favourites among backpackers, but there is one nation that has crossed over all different tastes - Vietnam.
From its stunning temples and pagodas to the glorious scenery around Sa Pa to cruising on the Mekong River, Vietnam is such a wonderful country to visit. So what do you need to know about this corner of Southeast Asia? Read on for our Vietnam fact file.
Vietnam is situated on the furthest eastern point of the Indochina Peninsula and is bordered by China, Laos, Cambodia and shares a coastline of the South China Sea. It has a population of around 90 million with the Kinh people making up the majority of its ethnic demographic.
The country was originally part of Imperial China but became independent following victory against the Chinese in the Battle of Bach Dang River in AD 938. Over the years Vietnam has been occupied by the French and Japanese before expelling the former in the First Indochina War.
Following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 both North and South Vietnam were reunited with Hanoi being named as the capital city. Nowadays it welcomes people from all over the globe as they visit historic Citadel in Hue, the Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang and, of course, the mighty Mekong.
Customs and Tradition
The Vietnamese are hospitable, proud people and over 4,000 years of civilisation has developed a number of customs and traditions. One of which is to recite a myth which says they descended from the dragon lord Lac Long Quan and the female heavenly angel Au Co.
Such is their hospitality that should you be invited into their homes at meal times they will share whatever food is available. They are also prone to providing guests with the best portions as a gesture of close friendship. If you happen to be a visitor in their home you should come prepared with a gift.
Religion plays a huge part of Vietnamese culture with the majority of people in the country practising Vietnamese folk religion. This form is not an organised religious system but more local worship traditions devoted to the than, translated as spirits and gods.
Vietnam deals in the Vietnamese Dong with the current exchange rate having 33,654 dong to the pound.
Vietnamese food is one of the huge plus points about visiting the region. This is quintessential Southeast Asian cooking and is a delicious treat when rounding a full day of sightseeing or river cruising.
Make sure to try Pho, a noodle soup which is a staple of Vietnam containing vegetables and either beef or chicken, Ca Kho To, a caramelised fish dish served in a clay pot, Banh xeo, a savoury sizzling or even Banh Cam, one of the most beloved desserts the country has to offer.
Rice Fields in Vietnam
While Vietnam is a relatively safe place for tourists you need to be aware of thieves and pickpockets, especially at some of the nation's most famous sights. Areas such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Nha Trang are home to thieves who snatch handbags, mobile phones, cameras etc. Be sure to do your research as the country is susceptible to scamming so be careful when shopping and eating in places which don't have the price written down. Make sure you take some extra cash with you to cover for any unforeseen eventualities.
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