People and Language
The population of Socialist Republic of Viet Nam is more than 78.5 million with an urban population consisting of about 19.7%. There are 54 ethic minority groups living in Vietnam. The 'Kinh' people (or Viet) account for nearly 90% of the population. Major ethic minority groups include the Tay, Thai, Muong, H'Mong, Dzao and Khmer.
Vietnamese language is the main language. English, French and Russian can be heard in the major cities.
Land & History
The land of Vietnam has an S shape with a total surface area of 329,600 km2. Vietnam has common borders in the North with China, to the East and Southeast with Laos and Cambodia. The West of Vietnam faces the Eastern Sea (South China Sea). Vietnam's coastline is more than 3,260 kms long. The land is very diverse with mountains, highlands, deltas, rivers and forests. Hanoi is the capital and Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's largest city.
Vietnam has a tropical climate, which is characterized by lots of sunshine, high rainfall, humidity and two distinguished seasons in general: the cold and dry one from November to April and the other, hot and wet from May to October. Annual average temperatures range from 22ºC to 27ºC. But the weather usually varies North and South, as between land and mountains.
The currency is Vietnamese Dong (VND). Foreign currencies can be exchanged at the banks, exchange bureaus or hotel reception desks. Travelers' cheque and most of Credit cards are accepted in the major cities. We are recommend that you bring some cash with you.
Time zone: GMT/UTC + 7 (the same zone as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia)
Business days: Monday through Friday.
Business hour: Mornings: 07h30 - 12h00; Afternoons: 13h00 - 16h30.
Museums are usually closed on Monday but you can visit temples and pagodas every day. Most restaurants and shops open from 08h00 till 22h00.
01 January: New Year's Day
Late January to mid-February: Vietnamese Lunar New Year ( 04 days off ).
30 April: Re-unification Day and 01 May: International Workers' Day.
02 September: National Day
Internet and mobile phone
Email & Internet:
E-mail and Internet services are available in most hotels and posts in Vietnam. In major cities, there are also a number of internet cafes available.
In Vietnam you will be able to use your mobile phone as long as it is programmed for roaming internationally. You may also rent a mobile phone, which may be easier, or buy a pre-paid phone card. (This service is available at your hotel or at a Mobile Phone Service Center on the street.)
Food and Drinks
There is a wide range of dishes in Vietnam, including the very popular nem (spring rolls) and pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). They are eaten together with rice or noodles. Not all foods are spicy. Vegetarian foods, dietary dishes & western menus are also available at some restaurants. A rich variety of tropical fruits is on hand year round, however, it will vary depending upon the season.
Imported beers and alcohols are available in hotels, restaurants and shops. There are many Vietnamese brands or country wines made from rice. If you prefer to drink water, please use bottled mineral water, which has an unbroken seal. Do not ingest tap water that has not been boiled.