Vietnam lies in the heart of the Indochinese region and is composed almost entirely, of hills and mountain ranges. The climate in Vietnam is one of moist, tropical heat, making it a vast haven for flora and fauna of diverse beauty, and an array of species that are native to very few other environments on the planet. Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, and there are sixty-four provinces located in the country, each with its own people, and colourful traditions. The country itself is actually shaped somewhat like an ‘S’, and is neighboured by Laos and Cambodia, as well as the Pacific Ocean to the East and South, and the East Sea to the East of the country as well. Because of its convenient location in both the Pacific and Indian Ocean, the ports in Vietnam make up a very important trading environment for many countries.
Some of the most popular activities for tourists in Vietnam are the colourful traditional festival of the region; as well as the shopping in the country’s cities and villages for exotic souvenirs, and ethnic clothing.
- In Hanoi there are large shopping districts, for the tastes of anyone’s interests, whether it’s food, outdoor produce markets, clothing, figurines, traditional artwork, or sculpture. Anything for anyone can be found in the busy streets of Hanoi.
- The Christmas festivals in Vietnam are popular amongst tourists and natives alike. In Dam Sen, locals build an enormous Christmas cake and celebrate from December 22nd, all the way through New Years Day.
- Spring and Summer festivals, such as the Chol Chnam Thmay Festival, and Tet Doan Ngo celebrate the coming of spring, and warmer months, as well as the warding off of bad spirits that may harm crops or good fortune.
- Tet Trung Thu and the Cau Phuc Festival occur in the autumn months and are occasions where prayer and celebration takes place for the welcoming of the harvest season, as well as prayers for good fortune in the months to come.
- Vam Sat, part of the Can Gio mangrove forest region, is a very popular place for those interested in eco-tourism, or viewing the native wildlife in the mangroves from the perspective of a slow moving boat, or guided nature hike, as well as viewing beautiful and rare flora.
The foods found in Vietnam have been mistaken over the years by many people; for instance, depending on what region you’re in, you may encounter a lot of vegetarian dishes, because of the high population of practicing Buddhists. Another fact is that duck, goat, and lamb, despite being used frequently as meats in neighbouring countries in the Indochina region, are not popular and used very rarely in Vietnamese dishes. Instead, beef, chicken, pork, tropical fish, and prawns are the most popular meats to use in cooking in Vietnam. When attending cocktail parties in Vietnam, it’s very wise advice to pay special attention to the appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Snake and soft-shell turtle are considered delicacies at cocktail parties. And in Northern Vietnam, if you find it offensive or unethical to eat dog meat, pay plenty of attention to the menu.
In smaller villages, or crowded cities, you may want to rely either on transportation by bicycle, or on foot. When it comes to larger urban areas, such as Hanoi, be patient, if you’re driving a car, riding in a bus, or taxi. There will be traffic. However, driving in the country, if you plan to see much of Vietnam, can be relaxing; or if you don’t plan to drive, you can always travel city to city by rail. As for accommodations in Vietnam, it’s always good to plan a reservation at a hotel in advance, and usually stick to commercial lodging instead of that offered by private residences, for hygiene and safety reasons.