"Welcoming like nowhere else."
"Gentle and beautiful country and adorable people"
"I wish to live here or at least come back every time I have the chance!"
- were remarkable sayings that I've heard a lot when I was still a happy tourist guide in my lovely home country during 2018.
Are you prepared to jump on your 2 wheels for an fun, easy and delightful adventure in Vietnam?
Here is some useful information as well as important concerns, all in a compilation for you to not miss out on anything and integrate like a local (almost).
Hanoi busy roundabout © Mr Linh's adventures
Vietnam - this S-shaped land on the corner of South-East Asia is full of surprises and can fit all your vacational envies, since there's breathtaking natural sights and rich resources: from the Coast line stripping long down the East side, to the mountains and staircase rice fields up North Vietnam, among plains and continental shelves...
Lately, Vietnam has been going through a lot of renovation and modernization processes. So much, that every year, coming back to Vietnam just feels like discovering a whole new world. Creating little by little a forevermore wealthy and civilized society and multi-faceted personas to host international expats. Getting acquainted to Vietnam will never be regrettable.
We still value tradition and our thousands of years of history, like old pagodas scattered around the city and the 36 market streets in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. You will be amazed by the contrast of retro yellow communal houses (Khu tap the) standing side by side to fine glass high-end skyscrapers.
Kids crossing road, Hanoi's old quarter © Mr Linh's adventures
This nation has showed its persistent strength through both natural distresses and inflicted destructions from multiple enemies. Therefore, it is needless to say that the Vietnamese are very hard working & tough minded, and most of all, united. This has passed on from generation to generation, the support and the harmony, nonetheless the friendship between Vietnamese whether is within the country or elsewhere in the world, is undeniable. When you interact with a Vietnamese or two, you can rarely forget, or confuse them with other Asians.
Therefore, don't find it strange, if suddenly out of nowhere, a Vietnamese wants to offer you a free beer, a yellow tea 'à la vietnamienne' (tra da), or something, whether it's to welcome you or make your day a little more joyful, it's just who we are, it's out of complete sincerity! We have received praise from all over the world for that.
Area: around 331 000 km2
Population: around 91 850 000 with average life expectancy of 73 years old.
Ethnic group: 54 with the Kinh (or Viet) people representing 86% (Hey ! : do not forget a visit to the Musuem of Ethnography, Hanoi, the unmissable place to discover all about the 54 ethnic minorities)
Religions: 6 main religions including Buddhism, Catholicism Protestantism, Islam, Cao Dai and Hoa Hao.
Administrative units: 63 provinces and cities
Highest peak: Fansipan mountain, dubbed the "Roof of Indochina" of 3 143m high. Today an unmissable attraction with a huge statue of Buddha residing up top and accessible through cable car.
Harvest season: Observe the amazing yellow rice fields throughout September & October.
Dates and holidays
Hanoi's city center, fireworks for Tet © Mr Linh's adventures
- ♦ September 2: On this day in 1945, President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence in Hanoi's Ba Dinh Square (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where he is now rested), founding the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
- ♦ Tet, the lunar New year (happens around end of January or February every year), is the most lovable holiday in Vietnam spent with the family. It consists of 3 days where everyone presses pause in their life wherever they are, to return home and reunite with their beloved family. On the big night, everyone cooks and makes 'banh trung' (vietnamese rice cake) together, the ancestral altar is decorated with a peach blossom, fruits and confectionery. For good luck, the older ones give little money envelopes to the younger ones.
- ♦ Climate: The country lies in the tropics on the Indochinese Peninsula, so it experiences high temperatures and humidity all year round. Formerly known as Tonkin by the French colonists, the North Vietnam is affected by the monsoons, there are the main four distinct seasons like the Western countries: summer, autumn, winter and spring. Southern Vietnam, from Hai Van Pass (most beautiful Pass in Vietnam as it is known) down to the South has only two seasons: dry and rainy and mostly warm all year long. On the other hand, there are many sub-climatic regions due to topographical differences.
The topography is extremely diverse since it contains mountains, hills, plains, coasts and continental shelves... It is due to the tectonic processes stretching back millions of years. An interesting observation are the many infinite number of giant rocks formed in the famous must-see Halong Bay area, which were claimed to be formed by dragons defeated by the nation. Interestingly, you'll learn that every monument has its own tale.
Unmissable Halong bay ! © Mr Linh's adventures
The topography gets lower from North to South of the Country with Two Deltas, which causes the rivers to flow in that direction. Mountains and hills take up 3/4 of the country but most of them are relatively low under 1 000m. The height reduces as the mountains stretch east, ending as low, coastal strips. Granite mountains, several sharp pinnacles and running plateaus form the Central Highlands down to the South Vietnam.
The lowland takes 1/4 of the mainland and is separated by mountains and hills (for example what you see in Ninh Binh, which is known as the terrestrial Ha Long Bay). The complex aqua-network of Vietnam contains 2 372 rivers in total, all over 10km long, with the flooding season accounting 75% of its amount, usually causing inundation. The main two vast and fertile deltas are located on its two ends. The Red River Delta which crosses the heart of the capital is 16 700km2. And the Mekong River Bassin, unmissable transport boats on it, is 40 000km2 wide. Boat markets and residency are scattered all around and they offer quite impressionable nutrition.
Peaceful Mekong Delta © Mr Linh's adventures
The Coast line reaches 3 260km long from Móng Cái to Hà Tiên. The sea features a variety of islands, from very large (Phu Quoc is an amazing escape) to small ones. The Gulf of Tonkin itself regroups over 3 000 islands belonging to Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Cat Ba island and Bach Long Vi island. The two biggest archipelagos are Truong Sa Archipelago (hardly accessible for visitations since it is mainly military) and Hoang Sa Archipelago.
Flora and Fauna
The variety and the richness of the flora contains about 14 600 species. Vegetation covers mainly the land, including tropical jungles with trees that thrive in heat, sunlight and humidity. There are currently 275 mammal species, 800 bird species, 180 reptile species, 80 amphibian species, 2400 fish species and 5000 insect species. Here are some natural parks full of rare biodiversity:
- Ba Be National Park
, Bac Kan
- Hoang Lien Son Park, Lao Cai
- Cat Ba National Park
, Hai Phong
- Cuc Phuong National Park
, Ninh Binh
- Pu Mat National Park, Nghe An
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
, Quang Binh
- Bach Ma National Park, Thua Thien Hue
- Con Dao National Park, Ba Ria-Vung Tau
- Cat Tien National Park
, Dong Nai
These all function as research locations nationally and internationally.
Ba Be lake, bird view © Mr Linh's adventures
When is the best to travel to Vietnam?
From what I've heard from travelers and globetrotters, and from my own experience, the best time to travel to Vietnam would be September-October. The weather is perfectly cool, not too hot, not too cold to go the beach or the mountains. And, as mentioned above, the harvest season is during this time! So what are you waiting for to see the everlasting green and yellow rice fields of the North? Another amazing way to see them could be by paragliding in Mu Cang Chai, this experience has been quite recent and some great feedback came back to us.
Another option to enjoy the best season in Vietnam would be to come to Vietnam around March-April, not very crowded with tourists, and the weather is quite comfortable, no raining much that time of the year...
Written by Daoni Nguyen