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Get to know Vietnam

Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, and the South China Sea to the east. The capital and largest city is Hanoi, while the second largest city is Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The population of Vietnam is over 96 million people. The official language is Vietnamese, and the currency is the Vietnamese Dong. Vietnam has a long history, and has been ruled by various dynasties and empires throughout its history. In the 20th century, Vietnam was divided into North and South by the French, and later became a communist country after the Vietnam War. Today, Vietnam is a socialist republic and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Get to know Vietnam
Get to know Vietnam

Vietnam has a diverse culture, with influences from China, India, and France. The country is known for its traditional art, music, and cuisine. One of the most popular dishes is pho, a type of noodle soup. Vietnam is also known for its coffee and tea production, as well as its silk and textiles.

Vietnam has a diverse landscape, ranging from mountains and forests in the north to beaches and low-lying deltas in the south. The country is home to many national parks and protected areas, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay.

Vietnam has a rapidly growing economy, with a focus on manufacturing and exports. The country has become a popular destination for tourism, with visitors attracted to its history, culture, and natural beauty.

Vietnam’s history is complex, with a long-lasting struggle for independence and self-rule. The country has been occupied by various imperial powers over the centuries, and most recently by the French and the Americans. The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, lasted from 1955 to 1975, and resulted in the unification of North and South Vietnam under communist rule. Since then, Vietnam has undergone significant economic and political changes, and is now considered to be a developing nation with a rapidly growing economy.

Vietnam is a one-party socialist republic, with the Communist Party of Vietnam as the only legal political party. The President of Vietnam is the head of state, and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The National Assembly, which is the legislative branch of government, is composed of members elected by popular vote.

Vietnam has a mixed economy, with a combination of state-owned and private enterprises. The country has been undergoing economic reform since the late 1980s, and has seen significant growth in the manufacturing and export sectors. Vietnam has also been successful in attracting foreign investment, and has become an important player in the global supply chain.

Despite its economic progress, Vietnam still faces a number of socio-economic challenges. These include income inequality, environmental degradation, and poor infrastructure in rural areas. The government has been implementing policies to address these issues, but more needs to be done to ensure sustainable and equitable development for all citizens.

Vietnam’s culture is a unique blend of indigenous and foreign influences. From the ancient kingdom of Funan to the colonization of the French, the country has absorbed and adapted cultural elements to form a distinct identity. The traditional arts, music, and literature of Vietnam are rich and varied, and many festivals and holidays are celebrated throughout the year. The country’s cuisine is considered one of the most diverse and delicious in Southeast Asia, with a wide range of flavors and ingredients.

Vietnam is a popular tourist destination, known for its rich culture, history, and natural beauty. Some popular attractions in Vietnam include:

  • The ancient town of Hoi An: This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its well-preserved architecture, including traditional houses and pagodas. Visitors can also explore the town’s markets, tailor shops, and restaurants.
  • Halong Bay: This stunning bay, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, is known for its thousands of limestone islands and cliffs rising out of the water. Visitors can take a cruise on a traditional junk boat to explore the bay and its caves and grottoes.
  • The imperial city of Hue: The former capital of Vietnam, Hue is known for its royal tombs, temples, and the Citadel, a massive walled fortress. Visitors can also explore the city’s markets, and sample its famous cuisine.
  • The Mekong Delta: This region in the south of Vietnam is known for its vast network of rivers and canals, as well as its lush vegetation and floating markets. Visitors can take a boat trip to explore the region’s rural villages, and sample local fruits and sweets.
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): The largest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is known for its vibrant street life, colonial architecture, and museums, such as the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace.
  • Sapa: A mountainous region in the northwest of Vietnam, Sapa is known for its terraced rice fields, traditional hill tribe villages, and beautiful landscapes. Visitors can trek through the region and meet the ethnic minorities who live there.
  • The Old Quarter of Hanoi: This historic district is known for its narrow streets lined with traditional houses and shops selling a wide variety of goods. Visitors can explore the area on foot, and visit landmarks such as the Hoan Kiem Lake and the Temple of Literature.
  • The Cai Rang Floating Market: The largest floating market in the Mekong Delta, Cai Rang is a great place to experience the local way of life and see the region’s agricultural products. Visitors can take a boat trip to explore the market, and sample local foods and fruits.
  • The My Son Sanctuary: This UNESCO World Heritage site is a complex of Hindu temples dating back to the Champa Kingdom. Visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history of the Champa people, who once inhabited the region.
  • The Bao Dai Villas: Located in the central coastal city of Nha Trang, these villas were built in the 1920s as a summer residence for the last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai. Visitors can explore the villas, and learn about the history of the Nguyen Dynasty.
  • The Perfume Pagoda: This complex of temples and shrines is located in a limestone mountain range near Hanoi. Visitors can take a boat trip up the river to the base of the mountain, and then hike to the temples.
  • The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the world’s largest limestone cave, Son Doong Cave, and many other caves, as well as beautiful landscapes, including tropical forest and limestone mountains. Visitors can take guided tours to explore the park and caves.

Vietnam is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine. Some popular Vietnamese dishes include:

  • Pho: A type of noodle soup made with rice noodles, herbs, and meat or seafood. It is considered the national dish of Vietnam and is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Banh Mi: A type of sandwich made with a crispy baguette and filled with various meats, pickled vegetables, and herbs. It is a popular street food and can be found at many food stalls and vendors throughout Vietnam.
  • Goi Cuon: Also known as fresh spring rolls, these are made with rice paper, herbs, and various fillings such as shrimp, pork, and rice vermicelli. They are often served with a peanut dipping sauce.
  • Bun Cha: A dish of grilled pork, vermicelli noodles, and herbs, often served with a side of dipping sauce. It is a popular dish in Hanoi, and is often eaten with pickled vegetables.
  • Com Tam: Broken rice dishes, it’s made with broken rice, grilled meat, and a variety of side dishes such as pickled vegetables and egg rolls.
  • Cha Ca: A dish of grilled fish, usually made with the snakehead fish and served with vermicelli noodles, herbs, and a special sauce made with peanuts and turmeric.
  • Banh Xeo: A type of savory crepe made with rice flour, filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts, it’s often served with a variety of herbs, lettuce and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.
  • Cao Lau: A dish from the ancient town of Hoi An, made with thick wheat noodles, pork, and greens, it’s often served with a side of crispy crackers.
  • Nem Ran/Cha Gio: Fried Spring Rolls, stuffed with a variety of fillings such as minced pork, mushrooms, and vegetables, it’s a popular appetizer and street food.
  • Bun Bo Hue: A spicy noodle soup from the central region of Vietnam, made with rice noodles, beef, and lemongrass, it’s known for its complex flavors and spiciness.
  • Banh Cuon: Steamed Rice Rolls, made with a thin layer of rice batter filled with ground pork, mushrooms, and onions, it’s often served with a side of fish sauce.
  • Xoi: Sticky Rice, it’s a popular breakfast dish and can be found in many street food stalls, it’s often served with various toppings such as mung beans, peanuts, and dried shrimp.
  • Che: A sweet soup or pudding made with various ingredients such as beans, fruits, and glutinous rice, it’s often served as a dessert or a snack.
  • Do Chua: Pickled Vegetables, it’s a staple of Vietnamese cuisine, and it’s often served as a side dish or used as a topping for various dishes such as Banh Mi and Pho.

These are just a few examples of the many delicious and diverse foods that Vietnam has to offer. Vietnamese cuisine is known for its balance of flavors and use of fresh herbs, it’s a big part of the culture and daily life in Vietnam, and it’s a must-try for any traveler visiting the country.

Vietnam has many festivals and holidays throughout the year that are celebrated by different ethnic groups and regions. Some popular festivals include:

  • Tet Nguyen Dan: Also known as the Lunar New Year, Tet is the most important holiday in Vietnam. It is celebrated in late January or early February and marks the start of the new lunar year. During Tet, people clean and decorate their homes, give gifts, and visit family and friends.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival: This festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, usually in September or October. Children carry lanterns and play games, and families enjoy mooncakes, a traditional pastry.
  • Hung King Temple Festival: This festival is held in the northern province of Phu Tho in April, it commemorates the legendary founders of Vietnam, the Hung Kings. People come to pay their respects and offer sacrifices to the kings, and there are many traditional rituals and ceremonies.
  • The Hoi An Lantern Festival: This festival is held on the 14th day of the Lunar New Year, in the ancient town of Hoi An. During the festival, the streets of Hoi An are decorated with colorful lanterns and people release lanterns on the Thu Bon river, it’s a beautiful sight to see.
  • The Perfume Pagoda Festival: This festival is held annually in February or March, and it attracts thousands of visitors who come to visit the pagoda complex and participate in religious ceremonies.
  • The Hue Festival: Held every two years, it’s a cultural festival that showcases the rich heritage of the city, and it includes music, dance, and art performances from both Vietnam and other countries.
  • The Vietnam International Film Festival (VIFF): This festival takes place in Hanoi in November, it showcases the best of Vietnamese and international cinema, and it provides a platform for film industry professionals to network and exchange ideas.
  • The Vietnam Heritage Photo Awards: The Vietnam Heritage Photo Awards is an annual event, it’s held by the Vietnam Heritage Magazine, it’s a celebration of the best photographs capturing Vietnam’s culture, nature and people, taken by both professional and amateur photographers.
  • The Vietnam Traditional Craft Festival: This festival is held annually in Hanoi, it showcases the best of Vietnam’s traditional crafts, such as lacquerware, ceramics, textiles, and woodcarving. Visitors can see the artisans at work and purchase traditional crafts.
  • The Vietnam International Fashion Week: This event is held in Hanoi, it’s an annual showcase of the latest fashion trends and designs from both Vietnamese and international designers.
  • The Vietnam International Balloon Festival: This festival takes place in the city of Da Lat in December, it features hot air balloon rides, kite-flying competitions, and many other activities, it’s a great event for the whole family to enjoy.
  • The Vietnam Culinary Culture Festival: This annual festival is held in Hanoi, it’s a celebration of the country’s rich culinary culture, it features cooking demonstrations, workshops, and tastings of traditional Vietnamese dishes.
  • The Vietnam Lantern Festival: This festival takes place in the northern province of Quang Ninh, it’s a celebration of the full moon, during the festival, thousands of colorful lanterns are released into the sky, creating a magical atmosphere.

Those are just a few examples of the many festivals that take place in Vietnam throughout the year. Each festival offers a unique and colorful cultural experience, if you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, it’s worth trying to plan your visit around one of these festivals to experience the local culture and customs.