Scenic natural wonders, beautiful temples and a rich culture await you in this fascinating country. Find tranquility and relaxation whether its strolling through the beautiful rice paddies or trying world-renowned Vietnamese dishes.
Vietnamese cuisine is recognized throughout the world for its flavor and freshness. Vietnamese cuisine uses very little oil and many vegetables. The main dishes are often based on rice, soy sauce and fish sauce. Its characteristic flavors are sweet, spicy and sour flavored by a variety of mint and basil. Exotic foods are also found in abundance in Vietnam. Food plays a central role in a Vietnamese life. Different dishes are prepared and served for almost every separate occasion.
Famous Dishes include:
- Pho-(pronounced “fuh”) Pho is undoubtedly the most famous dish in Vietnam. Culinary enthusiasts love pho so much they go on adventures to find the best pho. However, the pho in Vietnam, its home, is sure to trump to them all. The dish consists of broth, flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, greens (basil and cilantro) and onions. It can also be served with a choice of meat.
- Banh Mi- Using French influence, Banh mi is a Vietnamese baguette sandwich. The Vietnamese sandwich comes with meat such as pork belly, fish cakes, meatballs and fillings like pickled carrots, daikon and chilies.
- Goi Cuon- Goi Cuon are translucent springs rolls. They are symbolize the rich and fresh taste of Vietnamese cuisine. The traditional rice paper is filled with greens, coriander, various vegetables, herbs, and a choice of meat or seafood.
- Bun Cha- You cannot miss bun cha if you are ever in Vietnam. This is partially because it is literally everywhere and one of the most popular lunch dishes there. It is essentially pork patties barbecued over charcoal fire. The meat is served over a plate of rice.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and may very well be the most famous attraction of Vietnam. The city is pleasant, charming and tranquil with beautiful lakes, public parks, tree line boulevards, bustling markets and well preserved narrow streets of Old Quarter. Visit Ho Chi Minh City and take a sightseeing tour featuring Notre Dame Cathedral. There are so many attractions in Vietnam. A boat ride on Ha Long bay serves some of the best sceneries Asia has to offer. With pristine waters and unique islet formations, this bay quickly became a must visit spot in Vietnam. Other attractions include age old temples and structures constructed in distinct Vietnamese style architecture.
- Ha long Bay- Made up of around 1,600 islands, Ha Long Bay offers a stunning scenery. Located in the Gulf of Tokin, the bay was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Visitors can see the flowing emerald waters with limestone islands that are covered by green forests. The spectacular scenery is both enchanting and surreal. The bay also hosts natural caves, beaches, coral reefs, swamps and forests. Many visitors enjoy swimming, kayaking, riding a boat and exploring the diverse natural attractions.
- Cu Chi Tunnels- These tunnels are not only a display a part of Vietnam’s history but also signify the Vietnamese spirit. These were tunnels dug by Communist troops during the Vietnam War. Stretching from Saigon to the Cambodian border, the 120km tunnel helped the Viet Congs fight during the war. To make underground life sustainable for days, the tunnel contained rooms, weapon facilities and even hospitals. Visitors can witness the life of Vietnamese soldiers within this war museum.
- Temple of Literature- Emperor Ly Thanh found the temple in 1070 and dedicated it to the Chinese philosopher, Confucius. The temple is an example of traditional Vietnamese architecture.
In addition, the site became home to Vietnam’s first university. Although noble children were only accepted at first, gifted children from different social backgrounds attended the university by the 15th century. Visitors can find the “Well of Heavenly Clarity”, a pagoda and various statues of Confucius within the grounds.
- One-Pillar Pagoda- Emperor Ly Thai Tong built this historical pagoda in the 11th The emperor built the pagoda as a gratitude to Avalokiteshrvara (deity of compassion) and Quan Am (goddess of mercy) after his son’s birth. According to stories, the deity visited the heirless emperor in a dream to give him a baby resting on a lotus flower. The pagoda is a wooden structure on top of a single stone pillar which resembles a lotus blossom.
The Vietnamese government rebuilt the pagoda after the French destroyed the original structure in 1954.
The fun does not stop when the sun goes down in Vietnam. There are plenty of venues to enjoy your night at Vietnam’s biggest cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh’s nightlife is filled with rooftop bars, casinos, jazz bands and entertainment. Apocalypse Now is one of the most popular nightclubs in Ho Chi Minh. Keep in mind that as much as this place is fun, it is also popular and going to be very busy. Hanoi is another great destination with clubs and bars. However, Hanoi has stricter laws and most businesses close at midnight.
You cannot talk about Vietnamese nightlife without talking about bia hoi, Vietnamese draft beer. The draft beer is famously known as one of the cheapest beers in the world and it is Hanoi’s drink of choice.
The main currency of Vietnam is đồng. It previously used 10 hào and 10 xu, but is no longer used (coins). Most retail shops will no longer accept it, but only a few will accept it. The term đồng derives from the Chinese bronze coins that was used during the period of China and Vietnam. Notes come in denominations of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 đồng.
Customs & Languages
Vietnamese is the official language. Parts of their vocabulary is borrowed from the Chinese. As one of the oldest culture in Southeast Asia, they were heavily influenced by Chinese (due to Chinese rule) and Europeans (French colonial). These culture influenced Vietnam’s culture, affecting politics, government, art, religion, and many more. A few tips when traveling to Vietnam are to not wear a huge amount of jewelry. It indicates that you are trying to flaunt your wealth to others, and it is impolite. Do not wear skin-revealing clothing to temples and pagodas. It is considered rude and offensive.
Here are some helpful words/phrases:
- Thank you — Cảm ơn bạn
- Please — Xin vui lòng
- Hello — Xin chào
- Excuse me — Xin lỗi
- How much? — Bao nhiêu?
- Where is the restroom? — Đâu là nhà vệ sinh?
Go to Vietnam!
Although many westerners still imagine Vietnam through the lens of war, 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. Over two decades have passed since Vietnam was officially united, and in that time it has done a remarkable job of healing its wounds. Today, this gracious and graceful country is an outstanding travel destination.