Amidst the long-year struggle of freeing themselves from foreign invaders, it’s impressive how the Vietnamese are still warm and welcoming to outsiders. Vietnam’s reigning independence is attained after several wars and bloodshed. People have been grappling for their freedom since the 3rd century BC, and it was only until 1945 that they attained true independence.
Vietnam is an independent country in Southeast Asia surrounded by the Thailand Gulf, South China Sea, and Cambodia. It occupies a land area of 331,212 square kilometers and is home to 98 million residents, about 83,000 ex-pats included.
Now, Vietnam is using its newly obtained freedom and natural resources to rise as one of the growing countries in Southeast Asia in terms of tourism and economy.
Climate in Vietnam
Dry and humid are the most common seasons in Southeast Asia brought by the monsoons. However, Vietnam’s climate differs per region.
Vietnam’s northern region experiences a combination of rainy and dry climates. It is usually warm from April to September and cold from October to March. If you wouldn’t like to visit during the peak season, it is best to come in October to November since the climate is more bearable.
The central and southern region experiences dry season almost throughout the year. Vietnam’s central region is homestead to the country’s scenic beaches, so the climate is made more humid by the sea breeze.
Vietnam’s mountainous regions, though, experience occasional snow.
Vietnamese government spends a spare budget on improving their transport system each year. You can get around the country by their various modes of transportation like riding a bus, train, renting a motorbike, a car, or hailing a taxi.
The most common mode of transport to locals is by bus, which is the cheapest. If you would like to experience the day-to-day life of Vietnamese people, you can take a bus for less than a dollar. However, if you intend to pass by the country’s picturesque mountains, it is highly recommended for you to take the train.
Traffic is also typical in Vietnam, and if in a hurry and want to explore the small corners of the city, renting a motorbike can be the best decision. You can rent motorbikes for as low as $8 a day.
Vietnam is teeming with delicate architecture and natural resources – the reason why it has once been a target of foreign invaders. In the 7th century BC, Van Lang, the first state in Vietnam, was established, and creativity also became an innate part of the Vietnamese culture.
These creativity and natural wonders are making Vietnam a self-sufficient country and a sought-after destination among travelers. Vietnam has 63 provinces, and you will not run out of spots to set foot on. Here are a few must-visit spots you should not miss out on.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam for a reason. It houses all the grand architectures of the country and the best foods to try. Hanoi is divided into two districts called “Old Quarter” and “French Quarter.”
Vietnam’s culture is reflected in the Old Quarter architectures made lively by shops and busy street markets while French Quarter is where the National Museum of Vietnam can be found, cradling 50,000 artifacts.
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
The park is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites and Vietnam’s pride. It has a fantastic cave system ranging 1256 km, which is the world’s largest. There are also interconnected streams and rivers inside the cave that adventurous travelers can explore.
- Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is another UNESCO heritage in Vietnam known for its limestone karst, islets, and calm waters. Ha Long Bay’s out-of-this-world beauty also captured filmmakers’ attention as it is also a famed filming location for Hollywood movies.
With a variety of ingredients put in one dish, Vietnamese’s love of food is evident. They even have a food philosophy to incorporate the five elements to their cuisine – metal for spicy, wood for sour, fire for bitter, water for salt, and Earth for sweet.
If it is your first time ordering Vietnamese cuisines, it can be a bit tricky. Here are a few recommendations on the traditional dishes of Vietnam.
- Goi Cuon – is a combination of cold rice noodles, veggies, shrimp, and pork wrapped in rice paper. Vietnamese call these “summer rolls,” often eaten with a spicy peanut sauce on the side.
- Pho – is Vietnam’s national dish often eaten by locals for breakfast. It is a noodle soup with either chicken or beef slices made tastier by basil, onion, and ginger.
- Banh Mi – is a Vietnamese version of a sandwich typically made of baguette stuffed w/ grilled pork, beef, or chicken, pickles, onion, and cilantro. What makes Banh Mi more delicious is the spread called “Pate” made of chicken liver.
Lively Street Markets
You can purchase fun souvenirs, taste street foods, and meet friendly locals in the lively street markets of Vietnam. The largest and oldest market in Vietnam is the Ben Thanh market, established in the 17th century. Here, you can find fresh produce, food stalls, souvenir, and even electronic shops.
Due to its abundance of rivers, Vietnam also came up with floating markets. Floating markets are prevalent in the Southern part of the country, where busy vendors sell fresh produce while rowing their colorful boats.
Other Facts About Vietnam
- Vietnam is the major exporter of cashews and black pepper in the world.
- 40% of Vietnam’s population use the last name “Nguyen.”
- Snake wine is typical in Vietnam – a drink in which a snake is literally submerged in a jar of wine or alcoholic beverage.
- Vietnamese are considered as one of the happiest people in the world.
- Anyone can purchase and drink alcohol in Vietnam, regardless of age.
- Vietnam produces the most coffee among nations worldwide, next to Brazil.
- Sixteen percent of the world’s species can be found in Vietnam.
- Vietnamese believe in superstitions.
- Vietnam has a low unemployment rate and high literacy rate.
- Vietnam’s culture is molded by a combination of Chinese and European traditions.