Vietnam – A Sunny Asian Paradise
Weaved conical Asian hats, traditional junks, colourful lanterns and bizarre rocks – Vietnam embodies everything which characterises the outlandish charm of Asian cultures. At the same time its tropical nature makes the country a sunny paradise for visitors.
Geography - Bamboo cane with two rice bowls
Vietnam runs through the Indochinese peninsula as a long, winding strip of land. The geography is often described as a "bamboo cane with two rice bowls": in the north the "red river" around Hanoi creates a fertile landscape, the south is crossed by the Mekong with its rich alluvial land, in which the metropolis Ho Chi Minh City is located. Between these two landscapes you find a barren, mountainous region. The Hải Vân Pass near Đà Nẵng divides the country into subtropical climate in the north and tropical climate in the south, which is dominated by the monsoon.
Nature - Discovering exotic animals in the thick rainforest
Vietnam still contains parts of the formerly extensive, thick rainforest, which is home to elephants, tigers, many monkeys, little feline predators, deer, crocodiles, snakes and birds. The country's fertile plains are dominated by mangrove forests and broad acres, on which rice, sugar cane and fruit are grown. The most distinctive phenomenon regarding landscape in Vietnam are probably the harsh limestone rocks, which protrude from the sea and are covered in thick vegetation. Vietnam's mountains are also vegetated by a green margin of forests and grassy landscapes.
Natural sights - Boat tours, waterfalls and many beaches
Visitors of Vietnam should definitely take a boat trip through Ha Long Bay near Hanoi. About 2,000 steep, lushly vegetated limestone rocks protrude from the turquoise water with heights of up to 100 metres here and form an exotically beautiful landscape. Vietnam has several spectacular waterfalls with the Pongour and the Ban Gioc Waterfall as the most impressive examples. There are also many beaches which invite travellers to relax. The best-known bathing resorts are Nha Trang, which includes a number of islands which are also suited for bathing, and Da Nang with My Khe Beach. The Cham islands near Hoi are popular with both lovers of nature and water sports fans. This scenic arc-shaped island group offers wonderful beaches, a magical landscape, a rich underwater world, and not to forget the curious guenons, which live at the seaside. You can experience the magnificence of the tropical rainforest in the Cat Tien National Park in the south of the country. Herds of elephants and buffaloes wander about the park and it is also home to monkeys, armadillos and rare types of bears and cattle.
Culture - A self-confident, friendly nation
The first Vietnamese state emerged in the 10th century. In the 19th century, it became a French colony. The country is known for the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1969 and its wartime atrocities. After the war had ended, Vietnam became a socialist state. Despite these conflicts and their lack of wealth, the Vietnamese are a self-confident, friendly nation which is characterised by its openness and respect towards others. The Vietnamese are particularly respectful regarding their ancestors. Almost every house has an altar, which commemorates deceased relatives. Vietnam is famous for the flat conical Asian hat made of paddy straw or palm leaves, which is worn by almost everyone in the country. Water puppetry, which has been practised since the 17th century, is also part of its culture.
Cultural sights - Capital Hanoi as the cultural centre
In the capital Hanoi visitors get a feel for the time-honoured charm of tradition and elegance. A true highlight is the old town with its one-storey brick houses and the 500 temples and pagodas, including the city's landmark, the One Pillar Pagoda. The boulevard Dong Khoi, which borders on the Notre Dame Cathedral, a piece of France in Vietnam, is also worth a visit. The southern metropolis Ho Chi Minh City (formerly "Saigon") is full of energy and life. It is the centre of modernity and economy but also accommodates many sights which are steeped in history such as the Jade Emperor Pagoda, the Dragon House Wharf or the magnificent Giac Lam Pagoda. A cultural gem is the ancient emperor city Huế with the Emperor's palace and many tombs. The once significant seaport town Hội An looks like a museum and contains many glorious wooden residential houses as well as temples and pagodas. An extraordinary experience is a trip to the floating market in the Mekong Delta.
Experience - Traditional products
Noodles, rice and vegetables provide the basis for the Vietnamese cuisine. Fish is also very common. The fish sauce nước mắm gives the country's dishes a special taste. Popular souvenirs are wood carvings, which often depict the pig as a symbol of fertility and wealth. Ceramic ware, traditional costumes, laquerware or reef mats are also suitable gifts for taking home. You can buy these products, for example, on the typical Vietnamese markets, which are known for their vibrant, colourful atmosphere. A traditional dance theatre performance is also worth seeing because it provides interesting insights into the country's culture. Party-goers will find a wide range of discos, bars and clubs, especially in the big cities.
Activities - Relaxing at the beach or discovering the unique landscape
Beautiful beaches, hidden bays and magnificent reefs invite visitors to relax at the seaside. You can also go bathing or do water sports such as diving, sailing or surfing. Many scenic highlights can be reached in an inflatable dinghy or a rowing boat, which means adventure and breathtaking views. You can experience Vietnam's wild, unspoiled nature on hiking tours through the many national parks or the mountains. The numerous steep rocks offer great conditions for the trend sport rock climbing. Tai Chi and yoga constitute a major part of Vietnamese culture and travellers have the opportunity to have a try at the flowing movements of these sports.
The airports in Hanoi (HAN) and Ho-Chi-Minh-Stadt (SGN) can be reached directly from Europe. Between China and Vietnam you can travel by train, which is also a suitable means of transport within the country. In addition, you can use Open Tour buses to take individual routes between the north and the south. Vietnamese is the country's official language but French is also still commonly spoken.
With is history-charged, exotic culture, Vietnam is the perfect destination for holidaymakers who want to learn about the treasures of the Asian world. In addition, the country is suited for visitors who want to see unique beauty or relax at the seaside.