Vietnam Travel Guide
Vietnam is a destination which combines culture, history and a land steeped in ancient traditions set against the most beautiful scenic backdrops.
Officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, it is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The country has a population of approximately 97 million, the capital has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, while Ho Chi Minh City is the most populous.
Vietnam has a colourful history and the influence from 1000 years of Chinese rule, Imperial dynasties and French Colonisation can still be seen today in its landmarks, cuisine and culture. Ho Chi Minh, the communist revolutionary leader, who played a key role gaining independence and reunifying Vietnam is regarded as a national hero and his legacy continues to shape the political framework. Vietnam might evoke memories of the infamous war however, whilst it was a very significant event which should be acknowledged, there are so many other captivating sights and experiences that are waiting to be uncovered in this stunning country.
We've outlined some general information that may be helpful to you when planning your next holiday to Vietnam.
Time Zone & Currency
The entire country is in the same time zone and is seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The currency in Vietnam is the dong.
Weather in Vietnam
Due to its geographical shape, the climate can vary throughout the country.
Reading For Your Trip To Vietnam
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Vietnam Rising Dragon by Bill Hayton
Miss Saigon by Claude-Michel Schönberg & Alain Boublil
Best time to go to Vietnam
As you travel from north to South, the weather will vary significantly, so it does depend on the specific regions you plan to visit. From October to April in the central region tropical monsoons can occur and in the north and south it’s from May to September. Throughout the rest of the year, it is almost totally dry in all regions. It can get exceptionally hot, all year round, but the north can be cooler between October and April.
Top Tourist Attractions In Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ba Dinh Square is in the centre of Hanoi and it’s where Ho Chi Minh read the Proclamation of Independence for Vietnam in 1945. Within the square is the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, which was inspired by Lenin's mausoleum in Moscow.
One Pillar Pagoda
Built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled Vietnam in the 11th century, it is a famous thousand-year old Buddhist temple situated on a pillar in a lake and is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam.
The Presidential Palace, Hanoi
Construction of this palace began in 1900 and was completed in 1906. It was built for the French Governing General when Vietnam achieved independence in 1954. Ho Chi Minh refused to live in the palace but did still use it when important guests came to visit. There is a traditional Vietnamese stilt house built on the grounds of the palace.
Cu Chi Tunnels
During the Vietnam War, the Cu Chi Tunnels were used by the Viet Cong as hiding spots during combat, communication and supply routes, field hospitals, food storage and living quarters. Today, the remaining tunnels have been restored to allow tourists to experience what underground life was like during this conflict.
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
Situated in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, this neo-Romanesque style building was constructed between 1863 and 1880 by French colonists. For the construction of the basilica all of the building materials were imported from France.
Japanese Covered Bridge
Located in the centre of the old town of Hoi An, this bridge was built in the 1590s by Japanese merchants in order to reach the Chinese quarter. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one of the top sights to Hoi An.
10 things to do in Vietnam
There is a wide range of activities to experience in Vietnam. One of the top landmarks to see in Ho Chi Minh City, is the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral; a beautiful church built by French colonists.
Food and drink in Vietnam
Vietnamese cooking is highly innovative and influenced by the cuisines of France, China, and Thailand. Due to the French colonial influence, you will find superb crusty baguettes and sweet pastries; just as good, and cheaper, as those served in France. The nation’s favourite dish is ‘pho’, a fragrant soup served with chicken or beef, noodles and crunchy bean sprouts. Western food is widely available in the major tourism destinations.