Guide to Vietnam
Vietnam Facts & Info
Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia and has a long history of being ruled by different groups. Chinese dynasties ruled the northern part of Vietnam since the 3rd century BC and that lasted for about 1100 years. in the 10th century, the Vietnamese began to take back their country and established a monarchy followed by dynasties for about 1000 years. During all of this time there were numerous civil wars with different nations and in the mid 1800’s France colonized the country. Explore more in our Guide to Vietnam below.
Guide to Vietnam: Recent Vietnam History
In the mid 1940’s, Ho Chi Minh began to rise as a prominent leader in the North while the France still controlled the South. Eventually France was forced to pull out and Vietnam was left with a communist North and a semi-independent South. The North tried to spread communisim to the South and the United States stepped in in an attempt to stop it. Eventually the US pulled out and the North attacked Saigon and took over. Today, Vietnam is a communist state.
Interested in reading about another country in Asia? Head over to our Guide to Asia page and choose a country you’re interested in.
Guide to Vietnam: What you need to know
Currency: Vietnam Dong
Population: Just over 97 million people
Voltage: Vietnam’s voltage is 220V
Religion: Buddhism is largest major religion in Vietnam at almost 15% of the country, followed by Catholicism (just 7%). But 73% of the population either don’t believe in any specific religion
Weather: Vietnam is considered a tropical country but they do have snow in the northern part in the mountains. Most everywhere else is pretty hot and humid
Guide to Vietnam: Travel Info
Vietnam is a very long country stretching just over 1000 miles (1650km) so the weather varies. It mostly has a warm and humid climate throughout the year but during the winter months, the weather in Northern Vietnam is colder than the south. It isn’t an extreme cold unless you’re going to the mountains but you might want a sweatshirt in Hanoi in December. But in Saigon in December it will be hot. So, that said, November, December, January, and February are the best times to travel to Vietnam. It won’t be unbarebly hot. I would avoid spring and summer because it will be too hot and rainy.
Most people fly either into Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south or Hanoi in the north. From there they work their way up or down the country by air, bus, or train.
Vietnam is very affordable. There are definitely some high end hotels but the budget hotels are also nice. Food and souvenirs, as well as transportation are also affordable. You can get a meal and drink for around $5 and a 6 hour bus ride to another city is about $30.
You can travel between cities by air, buses, or trains. Once you’re in a city, there are taxis, the public bus system, tuk-tuks, or use the Grab app. Grab is Southeast Asia’s version of Uber. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even rent a scooter. I would not recommend doing that in the larger cities of Saigon or Hanoi though. But for the smaller towns, it’s an option.
Again, Vietnam is very affordable. Always look at your itinerary and choose a place near all the places you want to see to minimize your walking or having to pay for a taxi. Keep in mind that the closer you are to touristy areas, the more you’ll pay. You also don’t want to be right in the center of everything. Nothing worse than trying to fall asleep but the local bars next door are still lively. Choose a place that’s close to the action but not directly in it.
Vietnam is huge with Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) as the bookends to this country. There is a lot to see in between. If you just want to see Hanoi and Saigon then you could stay a week. About 3 days in each city plus the travel day in between. If you want to see much more such as Hoi An, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay, then 2-3 weeks is better. 2-3 days at each of those locations is a must. Read more about what to see and do in our Vietnam Travel Guides below.
Guide to Vietnam: Bucket List Ideas
Vietnam Travel Guides