Vietnam Country Guide


Street in Hanoi by Dinkum

Vietnam (officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) is a country in Southeast Asia with neighbouring China situated in the north, Laos and Cambodia in the west. The country is a one party authoritarian state with the President as the Head of State and Prime Minister, who is elected by the National Assembly, as the Head of Government. In practice, the President's position is mainly ceremonial while the Prime Minister wields the actual power in government.
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Vietnam in the region from (CIA) World Factbook

Vietnam's history is one of war, colonisation and rebellion. The American Vietnamese war was only one of many that the Vietnamese have fought, but it was the most brutal in its history. However, with over two thirds of Vietnam's population born after 1975, American tourists will receive a particularly friendly welcome in the country. Furthermore, many young Vietnamese (like many countries around the world) are becoming influenced by American culture.

Why Visit Vietnam

Tourism is an important sector of the Vietnamese economy and in 2012, the country received nearly 7 million foreign visitors. Vietnam is still cheap by most standards and a month's stay can start from USD250 for basic rooms, local food and bus transportation. The country is a popular destination for backpackers, beach goers, culture and nature lovers as well as for many American veterans of the Vietnam War. Many hotels were constructed during the turn of the 21st century and today various categories hotels are available for visitors ranging from budget stays to luxury hotels.

Hanoi's Old Quarter by Larry

Major city destinations in Vietnam include Hanoi, the country's capital and second largest city. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) is Vietnam's largest city and economic hub. Hai Phong is the third largest city and a major port in northern Vietnam. Da Nang is the largest city in Central Vietnam and a popular  destination with backpackers. Hoi An was ancient port of the old Cham Kingdom and the section known as the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its old buildings and narrow winding lanes. Other popular destinations in Vietnam include the highland city of Dalat and the beaches of Nha Trang and Mui Ne.

Street in Ho Chi Minh City by Mike

Vietnam offers several national parks with around 30 in the country. Cuc Phuong National Park is home to some of Asia's rarest wildlife and the Muong hill tribe. Ba Be National Park is the location of a large freshwater lake surrounded by limestone hills and evergreen forest. Cat Tien National Park is the home to a variety of flora and fauna including crocodiles, deers, caveats, monkeys and birds. Cu Lao Cham Marine Park (also known as Cham Islands Biosphere Reserve) is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve comprising of 8 coastal islands and a rich biodiversity of marine life.

Your Health
Tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in rural Vietnam. Malaria isn't as much a concern in the bigger cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, but always remember to take mosquito liquid repellent with you. It may be very useful, especially in the countryside and crowded neighborhoods. Thanks to much improved hygiene conditions in recent years, cooked food sold by street vendors and in restaurants, including blended ice drinks, are mostly safe but use your common sense.

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