Vietnam is officially known as the socialist Republic of Vietnam, it is a long outstretched country located along the eastern coast of the Indochinese Peninsula. This country offers a diverse range of culture, history, natural wonder, excitement and absolute indulgence and relaxation. Vietnam has been over shadowed by cities and towns which provide a range of contrasting pleasures from French colonial houses to Chinese temples; frenzied markets to designer boutiques and palatable street foods to high class restaurants.
The capital of Vietnam Hanoi is a renascent city unifying ancient cultures with modern society. It is a city which demonstrates the city’s French colonial buildings, bustling Old Quarter by cyclo, passing colonial architecture, ancient commercial streets, temples and pagodas. Located on the east coast of Vietnam between the popular resorts of Hue and Hoi An is Danang. This city centre is filled with enthralling history and culture with a peaceful coastline of talcum powder sands fringed by calm emerald waters. Danang boasts attractive boulevards decked with charming French colonial buildings and pristine beaches along the shores of the South China Sea. This place is the perfect location for snorkelers and divers. My Khe is one of Danang’s largest beaches and enjoys a myriad of coral reefs, flora and fauna above and below the surface of the sea.
Sapa is Vietnam’s beautiful northern region with an ethereal landscape of towering mountains cloaked in mist, lush fields and rice terraces. Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial heart of the nation with a fast paced and frenetic experience. Reinstated with grand colonial buildings and prominent skyscrapers this city hosts a blend of local street markets and enjoyable restaurants along with ancient pagodas, designer shopping malls and historic temples. In Ho Chi Minh City old world charm and sophisticated modernity collide effortlessly for the perfect end to a north to south exploration of Vietnam. The coastal town of Hoi An is bursting with old world charm with winding streets lined with dilapidated shops, art galleries and colonial houses. Hoi An is a coastal town which boasts numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and demonstrates absorbing antiquity, colonial architecture and a grotesque beach. The beautifully preserved architecture presents a blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and French colonial influences with houses and temples. Alluring Hue is an ideal destination to explore Vietnam’s imperial past with beautiful pagodas, tombs and temples dotted along the River. The principal sights of Hue are the romantic, meditative Perfume River, the remains of the Citadel and the grand Tombs of the Emperors.
The culture of Vietnam is one of the archaic in Southeast Asia with the ancient Bronze Age Dong Son culture being considered as one of its most significant antecedents. Due to the rule of the Chinese Vietnam is heavily influenced by Chinese culture in terms of politics, government, Confucian social and moral ethics and art. Vietnam is considered to be part of the East Asian cultural sphere. Religion in Vietnam has traditionally been largely demarcated by the East Asian synthesis of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism known as the Tam Giao or triple religion.
The traditional costumes of native Vietnamese nations are woven with natural fibre such as hemp, silk or cotton. These materials are fine, stable and light suitable for a tropical climate. The traditional costume of the Viet for men includes brown clothing with turbans and wooden shoes or sandals. Women dress includes three tunics; one of black or light brown, one of light yellow and on the inside a rose tunic. All three buttoned at the rib cage and the parts from chest to neck are turned to show the three different colours. The outfit is outdone off with the ubiquitous conical hat. Vietnamese literature includes two major components; the folk literature and written literature. The two forms developed simultaneously and are intensely correlated. Vietnamese folk literature came into existence very early and has a profound effect on the spiritual life of the Viet. The folk literature contributed to the structure of Vietnam’s national identity with praising beauty, humanism and the love of goodness. Legends, fairy tales, humorous stories, folk songs, epic poems have a sensational buoyance and have survived till today.
Traditional Vietnamese art is practised by Vietnamese artists from ancient times to post Chinese domination art which was strongly influenced by Chinese Buddhist art among other philosophies such as Taoism and Confucianism. The Chinese influence on Vietnamese art outspreads into Vietnamese pottery and ceramics, calligraphy and traditional architecture. Vietnam has 47 different ethnicities each with their own traditional dance. Among the ethnic Vietnamese majority there are several traditional dances performed widely at festivals and other occasions such as the Lion Dance.
Water puppetry is a distinctive Vietnamese art which has its origins in the 10th century and is extremely prevalent in the northern region. In water puppetry a spilt bamboo screen obscures puppets which stand in water and are controlled using long poles hidden beneath the water. Classic story lines are played out with several different puppets.
Food is considered as a significant part of the Vietnamese life with much importance is given to the freshness of local ingredients and various regional flavours. With the correct balance of fresh herbs and meats and selective use of spices Vietnamese foods is considered as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Vietnamese cuisine is exceptionally varied often divided into three main categories each pertaining to Vietnam’s three main regions (north, central and south). It uses very little oil and many vegetables and is mainly centred on rice, soy sauce and fish sauce. Its distinguishing flavours are sweet, spicy, sour and salty and accompanied by a dash of mint and basil.
Vietnam has a wide variety of noodle soup each with distinct influences, origins and flavours. One of the most famous types of noodles is pho which originates in North Vietnam, this soup basically consists of rice noodles and beef soup with several other ingredients such as bean sprouts and scallions. The boiling stock is fragranced with spices and sauces and poured over the noodles and vegetables with poached thin slices of raw beef. Spicy beef noodle soup originated from the royal city of Hue, it comprises of beef bones, fermented shrimp paste, lemongrass and dried chillies to give the broth a distinctive flavour. Common ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking include black pepper, hot chilli, coconut milk, limes, lemon grass, tamarind and cane sugar supplemented by asparagus and potatoes due to the courtesy of French influence.
The Vietnamese name for pastries is Banh. Many of the pastries are wrapped in various leaves and then boiled or steamed. Banh bao is steamed bun dumpling that is stuffed with onion, mushrooms or vegetables. Fried rice flour cake is a Chinese influenced pastry and the Vietnamese version features a special tangy soy sauce, rice flour cubes with fried eggs and some vegetables. Banh ni kep thit is the Vietnamese baguette filled with mayonnaise, cold cuts, jalapenos, pickled daikon, pickled carrot and cucumber slices. Che is a sweet dessert made from beans and sticky rice. Many varieties of che are available with different fruits, beans and other ingredients. Rau cau is a popular gelatine dessert cake made with agar and flavoured with coconut milk, pandan and other flavours.
Vietnam is an enchanting and fascinating country to sightsee as the north-south geography adds to the expediency, as well as making a beach break extension a simple add-on. Natural wonders apart from beautiful beaches include simply astounding formations of Halong Bay in the north. This enormous enclave off the Gulf of Tonkin divulges an unbelievable collection of incredibly gorgeous limestone islets or karsts. The country’s inland mainly comprises of verdant, mountainous landscapes and places tumbling down to the sleepy coastal fringes. Towards the south the opulent backdrop of the Mekong Delta resides most of the country’s agriculture with exotic fruits which grow among the arms of the delta along with vast quantities of rice on a patchwork of paddocks.
The jungle-clad Hon Heo Peninsula overlooks this tranquil bay which offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of Nha Trang. It is only accessible by boat so it has a castaway vibe and is wonderfully peaceful and private. It is home to one of Vietnam’s most charming hideaways. Blessed with hundreds of miles of sun-kissed coastline, Vietnam is often wrongly overlooked when it comes to beach resorts. Nha Trang provides some of the best sands and shallow waters in the Far East. Nha Trang is a beach resort that offers beautiful sand beaches, a relaxed atmosphere and slowness about life. The beach is long and stretching with a curved bay backed by beautiful mountains in the distance. Nha Trang is Vietnam’s most popular diving spot with great marine life and water sports.