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Vietnam Country Information


Formal Name:SocialistRepublic of Viêt Nam
Capital City: Hanoi
Main Cities: Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Quang Ninh Hai Phong, Da Nang, Can Tho                    
Population: 86,000,000 (2007)
Area: 331,114 km2
Currency: Dong (16,000 dong to 1 US dollar in Sep 2007)
Languages: Vietnamese
Religions: Buddhist, Roman Catholic
Calling Code: 84
Time Zone: GMT+7


National Flag of Vietnam

 



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Proportions: 2:3Vietnamese Flag Description: The flag of Vietnam consists of a red base with a yellow, five pointed star in the center.
Vietnamese Flag Meaning: The red base represents blood spilt during the country's fight for independence. The star represents Vietnam's unity and the points on the star represent the union of the workers, peasants, soldiers, intellectuals and young people working together in building socialism.
Vietnamese Flag History: The Vietnamese flag was adopted on November 30, 1955, after gaining independence from French rule in 1954. The basic design of the Vietnamese flag originates from the 1940s and was used by liberation forces fighting for independence against Japan. When the Vietnamese flag was adopted in 1955, it was only used by the communist-led North Vietnam. The southern half of the nation was called the Republic of South Vietnam. The south was re-united with north in 1975 and the country was unified under the name the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Interesting Vietnamese Flag Facts:Vietnam had been under the rule of China, Japan and France before gaining independence. When under French rule Vietnam's flag was yellow based. The flag of South Vietnam was also yellow based.

Practicalities

 

Electricity: The usual voltage is 220V, 50 cycles, but sometimes you encounter 110V, also at 50 cycles. Electrical sockets are usually two-prong.

Weights & measures: The Vietnamese use the metric system for everything except precious metal and gems, where they use Chinese system.

 Internet Access: Internet is widely available throughout towns and cities in Vietnam. There is everything from trendy cybercafés to computer terminal in the lobbies of hotels and guesthouses plus public Internet access in many Vietnamese post offices. Prepaid Internet-access cards are sold in most cities. Laptop travelers should buy a universal AC adapter, which will enable you to plug it in anywhere without frying the innards

 Telephone & Fax: International and long-distance calls can be made at hotels, but it’s expensive. A cheaper alternative is to make these calls from the post office, which have handy display telling you the cost of the call. Most post office and hotels offer fax services. Post office is a cheaper option.

 Post: Every city, town, village and rural sub-district in Vietnam has some sort of post office, which is open from about 6.30am to 9pm including weekends and public holidays. Nowadays, Vietnam has a reliable post service. International postal service rates are similar to those in European countries.

 Exchange Money, Credit cards, Traveler Checks and ATM: Most major currencies can be exchanged at leading banks in Vietnam. Vietcombank is the most organized for the local bank. Visa,MasterCard and JCB are now widely acceptable in all major cities and many tourist centers. However, a 3% commission charge on every transaction is pretty common. Traveler Checks can only be exchanged at authorized foreign-exchange banks, but these are not found throughout Vietnam. ATM is available the large cities and main towns.

 

Visas and Visa Extensions:Tourist visas are valid for 1 month from projected date of arrival. Visas can be extended for an additional month, at extra cost, in the bigger towns which can be easier arranged by a travel agency.

 

* Note: We are able to arrange visa on arrival at international airports (contact us for more details).

 

Insurance: We highly recommend traveler to have travel insurance prior to departure. You can also buy short term travel insurance on your arrival.

 

Airport Tax: US$10 for international departures and US$1 for domestic flights

 

When To Go

 

There are no good or bad seasons to visit Vietnam. When one region is wet, cold or steamy hot, there is always somewhere else that is sunny and pleasant. Basically, the south has two seasons: the wet (May to November, wettest from June to August) and the dry (December to April). The hottest and most humid time is from the end of February to May. The central coast is dry from May to October and wet from December to February. The highland areas are significantly cooler than the lowlands, and temperatures can get down to freezing in winter. The north has two seasons: cool, damp winters (November to April) and hot summers (May to October). There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November, affecting the north and central areas.

Travelers should take the Tet Festival (late January or early February) into account when planning a trip. Travel (including international travel) becomes very difficult, hotels are full and many services close down for at least a week and possibly a lot longer.


Security Issues

Unexploded ordnance reported in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri is issue travelers should be aware of in Vietnam.

 

Weather Overview

 

With a multitude of altitudes and latitudes there’s always somewhere that is pleasantly sunny and warm if you’re prepared to find it. Temperatures are usually hot and humid, around the low 30°Cs (high 80°Fs), but if you head north and along the coast they cool down to comfortable temperatures towards January. The weather is determined by two monsoons. The winter monsoon comes from the northeast between October and March bringing wet chilly winters to all areas north of Nha Trang, but dry and warm temperatures to the south. From April or May to October, the southwestern monsoon brings warm, humid weather and buckets of rain to the whole country except for those areas sheltered by mountains.


Events Overview

 

Special prayers are held at Vietnamese and Chinese pagodas on days when the moon is either full or the merest sliver. Many Buddhists eat only vegetarian food on these days. Some of the major religious festivals follow a lunar calendar. They include:

Tet (Tet Nguyen Dan) The Big One! It takes place in late January or early February, the most important festival of the year, which lasts a week (with rites beginning a week earlier, a offering to the Kitchen God that presents prosperity and happiness), marking the new lunar year.

Wandering Souls Day (Trung Nguyen), held on the fifteenth day of the seventh moon (August), the second-largest festival of the year, when offerings of food and gifts are given to the wandering souls of the forgotten dead;

Summer Solstice Day (Tet Doan Ngo) in fifth day of the fifth month (June) which sees the burning of human effigies to satisfy the need for souls to serve in the God of Death’s army;

Mid-Autumn Festival (Ram Trung Thu) held on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon (September), the largest festival for children, a fine time for moon cake of filled sticky rice filled with lotus seed, watermelon seed, peanuts, the yolks of duck eggs, raisin and other treats;

And Holiday of the Dead (Tet Thanh Minh) in the fifth day of the third month (April), it is time to honour the ancestors with a visit to graves of deceased relatives

* Taboos: Do you know during the first day of Tet, Vietnamese people Do Not: Give fire away which means giving away good luck. Sweep the floor means throwing away wealth. Borrow or lend is not advised because of fear of losing money in the coming year. Drop a pottery or mirror means bad luck. Lose temper that bring bad luck to the family, ague during those days are not advised. They Do: Eat certain food to prevent trouble. Buy salt to prevent bad spirit from the house

 

Health

     

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is mandatory for tourists more than 1 year old who arrive within 6 days of traveling to infected areas. Cholera is a risk in Vietnam and precautions are highly recommended. Vaccination against typhoid is recommended. Malaria risk is present all year round everywhere aside from urban areas.

Food & drink: All water should be considered as being possibly contaminated. Milk should be boiled as it is un-pasteurized. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is recommended, but make sure that it's reconstituted with clean water. Avoid dairy products that may have been produced from un-boiled milk. Only eat well-done meat and fish, ideally served hot. Pork, salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Fruit should be peeled and vegetables cooked.


Other risks: Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is endemic in the Mekong delta. Don't swim or paddle in fresh water. Chlorinated and well maintained swimming pools are safe. Japanese encephalitis is a risk in rural areas and in Hanoi. A vaccine is available and travelers should consult their doctor before departure. Hepatitis A, B and E occur; take precautions. Dengue fever frequently occurs, and filariasis is always present in some rural areas. Typhoid fevers, amoebic and bacillary dysentery sometimes occur. Trachoma and plague rarely occur. Rabies is present. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival is recommended. If you are bitten, seek medical advice immediately.