Be firm, yet diplomatic when dealing with officials who will often be very rigid. In the case of misunderstanding, patience is the best policy.
Small gifts such as cigarette lighters, pens, foreign cigarettes, liquor, perfume and even shampoo are greatly appreciated by anyone you wish to make friends with in Vietnam.
Out of politeness, always ask permission before taking photos of people. The same rule of thumb also applies to photos taken in places of worship. Permission will almost always be granted.
A gentle handshake is the most appropriate manner of greeting.
Be very discrete about giving anything to beggars frequently encountered in Ho Chi Minh City. If anyone is seen giving handouts to a beggar, he or she may end up being pursued by a mob of other beggars. This does not help create a good image for foreigners; it gives them instead the reputation of being easy to hit up for money.
Beware of pickpockets. Keep your ID and passport in a safe place and carry only photocopies of those items.
Remove your shoes before entering Buddhist pagodas. Small donations placed in the boxes found in temples are appreciated. It is acceptable to keep your shoes on within Chinese pagodas.
Never let the soles of your feet face other people or any sacred monument, such as a statue of Buddha.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
The vast majority of the population is Vietnamese with minute percentages of Chinese. The Viet culture originated on the delta of the Red River and the Ma River where the Viet people cultivated paddy fields. They led a simple farming life in small villages, usually living around a communal house. Today the people living in the countryside follow this lifestyle. The Viet people are influenced by Confucianism, in particular the principle of respect for their elders.
In spite of the immense suffering of the Vietnamese and the somewhat ruined state of the country, they are generally warm and friendly, and surprisingly, the Vietnamese bear little if any resentment or bitterness toward Americans. Children in the streets will commonly greet visitors with the name Lien Xo, which means Russian, but they will easily be corrected if you respond, "Hello!" or "Good morning" and explain you are an American, European or Australian, etc.
The country is predominantly 85-90% Vietnamese, 3% Chinese, ethnic minorities include Muong, Thai, Meo, Khmer, Man, Cham, and other mountain tribes.
Vietnamese is the official language; French, Chinese, English, Khmer and tribal dialects (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian) are also spoken.
Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs, Islamic and Protestant.
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The weather in the southern part of Vietnam is tropical. It is monsoonal
in the north, bringing a hot, rainy season from mid-May to mid-September and a warm, dry season from mid-October to mid-March. Occasional typhoons from May to January bring extensive flooding to the middle regions of Vietnam.
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Vietnam borders with China in the north, Laos and Kampuchea in the West, and the Pacific Ocean in the east. Its lies in the centre of South-East Asia. Vietnam's territory stretches from Lung Cu village (Ha Tuyen province) in the north to Rach Tau hamlet (Minh Hai province) in the south. It is a S-shaped pennisula, with thousands of off-shore islands and archipelagoes; the biggest of which are the Hoang SA (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes. Vietnam's mainland covers 331,689 square kilometres .
According to archaeological discoveries made at Do Mountain, it is believed that life in Vietnam began as far back as 300,000 years ago. Officially, the history of Vietnam stretches back 4,000 years when it was founded by the Hung Kings. It was then named Van Lang.
When speaking upon the history of Vietnam, it is important to note the large role played by the French in Vietnam. It began in 1858, when the French took over Danang in southern Vietnam. Over time, more and more territory was won over by the French. It wasn't until 1954, when the French surrendered to to the Viet Minh, ending the French Indochina War, that the French colonial control in Vietnam ended.
The immediate image in the minds of most people at the mention of Vietnam is that of the war fought against the United States some twenty years ago. Most people think of the country only in terms of the American conflict in Indochina. The war ended nearly twenty years ago, and today, despite lingering signs of past American involvement, the situation in Vietnam is markedly different. People have finally begun to look at the country from another perspective, now that travelers and tourists from the West are being welcomed into what was once a forbidden country. It may take a bit more effort and tenacity to plan an excursion into Vietnam than it would for another Southeast Asian country, but Vietnam has much to offer in terms of culture and sights.
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In the core of the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is second the most important in Vietnam after Hanoi. It is not only a commercial center but also a scientific, technological, industrial and tourist center. The city is bathed by many rivers, arroyos and canals, the biggest river being the Saigon River. The Port of Saigon, established in 1862, is accessible to ships weighing up to 30,000 tons, a rare advantage for an inland river port.
Climate:The climate is generally hot and humid. There are two distinctive seasons: the rainy season, from May to November, and the dry season, from December to April. The annual average temperature is 27 °C. The hottest month is April and the lowest is December. It is warm all year.
Many centuries ago, Saigon was already a busy commercial center. Merchants from China, Japan and many European countries would sail upstream the Saigon River to reach the islet of Pho, a trading center. In the year of 1874, Cho Lon merged with Saigon, forming the largest city in the Indochina. It had been many times celebrated as the Pearl of the Far East. After the reunification of the country, the 6th National Assembly in its meeting of the 2nd of July, 1976, has officially rebaptized Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City. The history of city relates closely with the struggle for the independence and freedom of Vietnam.
Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the big tourism center in Vietnam, attracting a large of visitors to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City has various attractions as Ho Chi Minh Museum, formerly known as Dragon House Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels, system of museums, theatres, cultural houses... Recently, many tourist areas are invested such as Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa..., which draw numerous tourists.
Despite its quite recent past, Ho Chi Minh City nevertheless possesses various beautiful buildings, displaying a characteristic combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and European cultures. These include Nha Rong (Dragon House Wharf), Quoc To Temple (National Ancestors Temple), Xa Tay (Municipal Office), Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre as well as many pagodas and churches (Vinh Nghiem, Giac Vien, Giac Lam, Phung Son pagodas...). After more than 300 years of development, Ho Chi Minh City presents many ancient architectural constructions, famous vestiges and renowned sights. It is remarkable for its harmonious blending of traditional national values with northern and western cultural features.
Ho Chi Minh City is the main junction for trains, roads, water, and air transportation systems for domestic trips and for foreign destination.
- Roads: Ho Chi Minh City is 1,730km from Hanoi, 99km from Tay Ninh, 30km from Bien Hoa (Dong Nai), 70km from My Tho, 125km from Vung Tau, 168km from Can Tho, 308km from Dalat, and 375km from Buon Ma Thuot. The City has National Highway 13 which connects Vietnam with the rest of Indochina.
- Train: Thong Nhat express train connects Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, vie many provinces in Vietnam.
- Air: Tan Son Nhat International Airport, 7km from center of city, is the biggest airport with many domestic and international routes. There are flights from Hanoi and Danang to Ho Chi Minh City and between ?the City to many regions as well a lot of countries on over the world.
The Ho Chi Minh trail was a logistical system that ran from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV or North Vietnam) to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN or South Vietnam) through the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia. The system provided support, in the form of manpower and material, to the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF or derogatively, Viet Cong) and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) during the Vietnam Conflict (1960-1975).
The Trail was not a single route, but rather a complex maze of truck routes, paths for foot and bicycle traffic, and river transportation systems. The name, taken from DRV president Ho Chi Minh, is of American origin. Within Vietnam, it was called the Truong Son Road, after the mountain range in central Vietnam through which it passed.
Vietnam restaurants, bars when you travel in Vietnam. You can find in Things To Do all interesting and independent activities to enjoy your Vietnam trip. A long list of most beautiful Vietnam beaches is ready for you to relax with family.
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For centuries hundreds of villages all over Vietnam have produced special crafts and products that are used for Tet (Vietnamese New Year) celebrations and other holidays. Sometimes the production of these beautiful objects can absorb the attention of everyone in the village...
FThe very best of these ‘factories' are recognized by Vietnamese people as the best producers of a particular object; and enjoy national recognition for their handiwork. Everything from firecrackers to silk paintings; woodcarvings to ceramics and puppets to pottery are made in these locations and can make unique gifts for friends and family at home; or as an exotic reminder of your trip to Vietnam. When paying a visit; you can chat with these artisans; and even try the handiwork yourself.
Bat Trang Pottery Village
There are many villages throughout the country that produce ceramics. Some of these villages include Phu Lang in Bac Ninh Province, Huong Canh in Vinh Phuc Province, Lo Chum in Thanh Hoa Province, Thanh Ha in Hoi An (Quang Nam Province), and Bien Hoa in Dong Nai Province.
Bat Trang Ceramic Village (Hanoi) is very old. According to historical documents, products from this village were well known as far back as the 15th century.
Vietnamese ceramic is now well known in both the domestic and international markets. Traditional products include kitchen items and trays. The flower-patterned bowls of Bat Trang have been exported to Sweden, the cucumber pots to Russia, and the teapots to France.
The Bat Trang pottery village is one of the most famous of the craft villages in Vietnam. It's so close to Hanoi; you can visit it on a half day tour. Famous for its fired clay pottery (with a temperature of 1;200 degrees; the ceramics are well known for being difficult to break) Since the 15th century this village of the 2;000 families has been creating earthenware and ceramic creations.
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Ha Dong Silk Making Village
Villagers gather mulberry leaves to feed the hungry silkworms. The traditional way of growing silkworms was imported from China; and today flourishes in many parts of the country. When the worms have woven a silken cocoon; the animals are boiled and the cocoon is carefully unraveled. The thread is carefully woven into all sorts of different things like placemats; shirts; etc
Chuyen My Wood Carving Village
Located in the Ha Tay province; this village is famous for creating more traditional crafts related to wood carving. It's the mother of pearl inlay that makes it so popular; and this wasn't started until the Ly Dynasty.
A visit here can be made in combination with a trip to Hoa Lu; because its 35 kilometers south of Hanoi
Van Ha Puppet Making Village
Vietnamese Water Puppet shows are now popular the world over; and if you have an interest in how the implements of this art form are made; come to the Van Ha village.
Duyen Thai Lacquerware Village
Lacquerware is really typical to Vietnam, although it also exists in other Asian countries. It is said that the resin extracted from the trees in Phu Tho Province is the best one. As such, the lacquerware products made in Vietnam are very beautiful and durable.
As early as the 18th century, people in Nam Ngu District in Thang Long (Hanoi) specialised in making lacquerware products. In its early stages of development, lacquerware contained only four colours: black, red, yellow, and brown. However, due to improvements in technologies in later years, additional pigment colours were made, therein, creating a wider range of lacquer colours.
Currently, Vietnamese made lacquerware products are essential in both the domestic and foreign markets. The renowned products include wall paintings, flower vases, jewellery boxes, trays, chessboards, and folding screens.
In this village; all kinds of lacquerware products are made; including those using small slivers of mother of pearl; that are expertly placed into small grooves. The pieces are then painted with layers of lacquer. Each piece can take months to complete.
Dong Ho Paper Making Village
This village is located in Ha Bac province; the province just north of Hanoi. It's been made famous for the folk themes printed onto a special paper made from the Do tree. Artisans in this village carve images onto thin wood blocks that are carefully layered with paint; then printed onto the specially made paper. These designs are particularly popular around Tet.
Co Do Silk Village
Sent to this village by her father; to help villagers grow silk; Princess Hoang Phu Thieu Hoa helped begin an industry that stretches all over the country today. Silk is produced by special worms that eat soley mulberry leaves; and these are gathered by children to feed the greedy animals. Once they have rolled a cocoon; the animals are boiled alive; and the cocoon is unraveled carefully to extract the precious thread. Popular designs include dragons; flowers and other Vietnamese legends.
Thu Bon River Islands
While visiting the historic and ancient port town of Hoi An; stop off at some of the islands in Thu Bon river; where artisans creating woodblock prints; silk weavings and other crafts offer a uniquely central Vietnamese art experience.
Bamboo and rattan (tre, may, and song) are abundant sources of material used by Vietnamese handicraftsmen. The advantages of these products are that they are light, durable, and termite resistant.
Bamboo and rattan products from Vietnam first appeared on the world market at a Paris fair in 1931. Since then, more than 200 items made from these materials are sold overseas. Among the most popular are baskets, flower pots, lampshades, and bookshelves.
Craftsmen performing inlaying use different types of oyster shells and pearls, which offer a wide array of colours. This art form requires a lot of effort as the process of inlaying involves numerous stages, including designing, grinding, cutting, carving, chiselling, and polishing.
Inlaying is widely used in the furniture industry to make tables, desks, chairs, picture frames, and trays that portray various ancient tales. These tales are displayed as scenes of nature, such as birds, butterflies, lotus ponds, and banana trees.
The process of inlaying furniture has increased the value of wooden articles. According to legend, this handicraft originated in the Chuon Village in Ha Tay Province.
Most of the traditional sculptures are made in Danang Province, more specifically near Ngu Hanh Son Mountain located between Quan Khai and Hoa Khe villages.
Sculptors use marble to carve various articles of high value, including bracelets, ash-trays, Buddha statues, ornamental flowers, leaves and trees, and animal statues, such as cats and peacocks.
In the past, embroidery was mainly reserved for the benefit of the upper class, temples, and pagodas. The technique of this art form was rather simple, and it involved only five colours of thread: yellow, red, green, violet, and blue.
Presently, embroidered goods serve both useful and decorative purposes. New technologies have helped to produce new materials, such as white cloth, lampshades, and lace. As a result, the embroidery industry has developed and there is now a wide range of new products including pillowcases, bed sheets, and kimonos. The most skilled type of embroidery is the production of portraits, which requires using up to 60 different colours of thread.
It is believed that embroidery originated in Quat Dong Village in Ha Tay Province
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