Vietnam overview

Welcome to Vietnam – another world where the colors are more vivid, the culture is richer, and the history more compelling. Vietnam has been blessed bountiful harvests by nature with soaring peaks and a killer coastline. Explore Vietnam, where modern Asia meets a medieval Asia. For culinary adventurers, Vietnam is a treasure trove of more than 500 different dishes. People of Vietnam communicate an atmosphere of peace. Throughout the country, you will always meet smiley faces. 
Time difference
GMT: + 7 hours

Voltage & Electricity
Vietnam operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz.
3 associated plug types can be used:
- Type A: two flat parallel pins
- Type C: two round pins
- Type F: two round pins with two earth clips on the side

Language
Vietnamese is the national language, spoken by around 87% population as the first language. However, there are regional and intra-regional variations in dialect throughout the country. Some speak English and French.

Currency & Money
The Vietnamese currency is the dong (VND).
ATMs are found throughout the country, even in small towns. Cash is mainly used but debit and credit cards are accepted in many places.

Tipping
A service charge is usually included in larger restaurants and hotels. So tipping is highly appreciate in smaller restaurants but not customary. You can eventually tip baggage porters, drivers and guides.

Visas
Visa exemptions (can apply E-visa):
30 days maximum: Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos
21 days maximum: Philippines
15 days maximum: Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Finland
Free visa 15 days, can apply E-visa after 15 days: France, Netherland, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Norway.
No free visa, can apply E-via: Armenia,Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bruney, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Chine (Not apply to Chinese e-passport holders), Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Timor Leste, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela
No free visa, can apply E-visa: Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Turkey

Conditions
Valid passport with expired date of more than at least 3 months to immigration date
Booked international flight ticket

Ways to apply
1: You might get it at the embassy
2: Apply E-Visa on the official website: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/
3: Asia Top Travel do a visa invitation letter/visa approval letter (contact us for more information and price details)

What to pack
You don’t need to over pack as you will be able to buy things in Vietnam. Make sure to bring some quick dry clothes, a rain jacket, a hat, and a good pair of trainers.

Public Holidays
Jan 1: New Year’s Day
Feb 3: Founding Day of Communist Party of Vietnam
Apr 30: Liberation Day of South Vietnam & Saigon
May 1: Labor Day
May 19: Ho Chi Minh’s birthday
May 28: Holiday in commemoration of the birth, the enlightenment and the death of the Buddha
Sept 2: National Day
Sept 3: Day to commemorate the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1969
Nov: Birthday of Confucius (movable holiday depending on the moon calendar)

Opening hours
Banks & administrations: 7am to 11am – 1pm to 5pm
Shops: 6am to 8pm every day (closed the 5 first days of lunar year)

Rules of good conduct
- In Vietnam, we greet ourselves with a hand check, even both hands sometimes.
- Avoid wearing provocative clothes especially in the countryside and in the temples & pagodas as a sign of respect.
- Take your shoes off at the entrance of houses, pagodas & temples.
- Never take photos of people without asking them first.
 
 
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Climate
Vietnam is located in both a tropical and a temperate zone. It is characterized by strong monsoon influences, but has a considerable amount of sun, a high rate of rainfall, and high humidity. Regions located near the tropics and in the mountainous regions are endowed with a temperate climate.
The monsoon climate also influences to the changes of the tropical humidity. In general, in Vietnam there are two seasons, the cold season occurs from November to April and the hot season from May to October.


Festivals in Vietnam
Another good reason to come to Vietnam is the festivals. This is a good way to immerse yourself in the culture. The following festivals are held every year, the exact date depends on the Lunar Calendar.

1. Tet Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year) – one week between January and February
Back thousands of years, Vietnamese farmers were celebrating Lunar New Year (called Tet in Vietnam) to thanks gods for the arrival of spring.
Today Vietnamese are welcoming the New Year with prayers, dinners, gift exchanges between family members.
During the biggest Festival of the year, streets are filled with people performing traditional dances with drums, bells, gong and firecrackers. You might also find locals practicing religious celebrations (visiting temples, lighting fireworks, etc… ).
This is best to be in larger cities to celebrate Tet, especially in Hanoi.

2. Lim Festival – Mid-February
Lim Festival is where you can see UNESCO-listed quan ho folk singing performances and other traditional games. It is celebrated in Lim Village, only 18 km from Hanoi.

3. Perfume Festival – mid-February/March
The Perfume Festival is pilgrimage from all over Vietnam to Hanoi’s Perfume Pagoda where the Festival takes place.

4. Hue Festival – every 2 year in April, May or June
Enjoy a wild range of cultural events, games and performances in UNESCO listed Hue City. Hue Festival is one of the most popular in Vietnam because it recreates the traditional customs of the Nguyen Dynasty.

5. Buddha’s Birthday – Early May
On the 8th day of the 4th lunar month, temples are decorated with fruits, flowers, and various Vietnamese dishes. The best place to enjoy this festival is Hoi An for its monks procession and evening parade.

6. Wandering Souls Day – Early September
The locals believe that the spirits of their ancestors are able to visit their home on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. On the eve of the festival, families make their way to Buddhist temples and graves to offer gifts and prayers to their ancestors. The best place to attend to this festival is Hue even if it’s celebrated all over the county.

7. Mid-Autumn Festival – mid-September
This festival features many different street performances such as colorful lantern processions, lion dances, arts exhibitions and food booths.
The best place to enjoy this festival is the UNESCO-listed Ancient Town of Hoi An.

8. Hoi An Lantern Festival – 14th day of every month
This is a monthly event transforming the UNESCO-listed Site and especially the Ancient Town into a colorful display of paper lanterns.
Hanoi capital
The capital of Vietnam is situated on the banks of the Red River. This is usually the first or last stop for travelers coming to Indochina, but this is more than a transit door so don’t rush and enjoy the beautiful city of Hanoi. From the colonial architecture and ancient pagodas, you can tell it’s one of the most ancient capitals in the world. The history lovers will be delighted by the unique museums in the centre. The vibrant city is also famous for its delectable cuisine and the street food. Hanoi is on the move but remains true to its essential personality. 
View tours to Hanoi capital
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), still called Saigon, is an energetic city. Indeed, this is the business and financial hub of the country. An elegant architecture from French colonial times can be appreciated as well as modern office skyscrapers. The dynamic city is considered the best place for entertainment. The bustling city is better to visit on a motorcycle but you can also enjoy a walk in some district.
View tours to Ho Chi Minh City
Hoi An
Hoi An is a well-preserved and peaceful city located in center Vietnam, very much appreciated by the travelers. Unsurprisingly, Hoi An is listed as UNESCO Heritage site. The only way to get to the traditional town is by road so the traffic and pollution are almost entirely absent. Hoi An is traditional and has preserved old merchant houses, temples and ancient tea warehouses. The historic town is also close to some wonderful beaches. 
View tours to Hoi An
Sapa
Close to the Chinese border, Sapa is a small mountain town in the northwest Province. On clear days, Sapa offers spectacular views over the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains including Fan Si Pan peak (the highest of Vietnam). There is even more than the iconic rice terraces landscape to see in Sapa. Local ethnic groups fill Sapa with colour and hikers will enjoy a trek in the forest. 
View tours to Sapa
Mekong Delta
The “Vietnam’s rice bowl” in southern Vietnam is a vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands, home to floating houses, markets, pagodas and boats in a wonderful variety of green rice paddies. In this peaceful area you can find buffalos, boats filled with coconut and fruits slowly floating along the brown waters. 
View tours to Mekong Delta
Northern Vietnam
Northern Vietnam attracts fewer visitors than the south & coasts, but this is a region not to be missed. More than Hanoi, you will find unexpected sceneries as Bai Tu Long Bai, Ba Be National Park with a mix of nature and culture. All Northern Vietnam provides exceptional opportunities for nature lovers and photographers. 
View tours to Northern Vietnam

1. A cruise in Halong Bay

A night cruise on a junk-boat is the best way to admire the 1600 limestones & islets topped by thick jungle growth that rise from the emeralds waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. In this stunning seascape, some of the islands are hollow, creating majestic caves. Halong Bay, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, has an extraordinary range of biodiversity and features in many movies.
 

2. Water Puppet Show

Vietnamese water puppetry has a long history. The pond and lakes of the northern plains, where crowds gathered during festival and galas, become the lively stages for the water puppet shows. At a water puppet show, the audience watches boat races, buffalo fights, fox hunts and other rustic scenes amidst the beating of drums and gongs. The characters plough, plant rice seedlings, fish in a pond with a rod and line, scoop water with a bamboo basket hung from a tripod, etc. The show is interspersed with such items as a Dance by the Four Mythical Animals: Dragon, Unicorn, Tortoise, and Phoenix and Dance by the Eight Fairies, in which supernatural beings enjoy festivities alongside people of this world. You can attend this show in the world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre of Hanoi.
 

3. Street food tour

Vietnam’s cuisine is rich with many different types of delicious dishes, and the best is in the streets. To know all the secret places & taste the best dishes, take a guided street food tour in the streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
 

4. Cu Chi Tunnels in HCMC

This visit is captivating not only for the ones interested in military history, but definitely not for claustrophobics. As you crawl on your hands and knees sometimes, immerse yourself in the underground life of Vietnamese Soldiers back in 1948. 

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