Location: Vietnam occupies the eastern and southern part of the Indochinese peninsula in the South-East Asia, with the South China Sea along its entire coast. Vietnam has borders with China in the north, Laos in the northwest, Cambodia in the southwest, and with Malaysia in the southeast.
Climate: The climate tends to vary considerably from place to place. South Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the Mekong Delta, is always hot, with a rainy season from May to October. The Central Highlands is best during their “somewhat” dry season from January to May. Along the coast in central Vietnam, though the temperature is steady and warm, rainy season prevails from October to February (and some tropical storms in between).
North Vietnam is much cooler, with a wet and cold winter from December through February, and a very hot summer with rains. The best time to visit is September – October. Visitors can catch high season in multiple regions if they visit on the cusp of seasons – travel in the north, for instance, in November before heading southwards.
Cuisine: Vietnamese cooking has been making a place among the foodies of the world. Vietnamese cooking is remarkable for use of fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. Vietnamese dishes are more or less based on five fundamental taste senses – spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth) – corresponding to five organs, namely gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and urinary bladder. The dishes also include five types of nutrients – powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein and fat. The cooks also try to have five colours – white (metal), green (wood), yellow (Earth), red (fire) and black (water) in their dishes.
Diversity in Vietnamese food is also outstanding. Chinese influence can definitely be seen in the soups in the north. Spices are more used in the south while herbs and complex techniques of cooking are greatly used in the central part of the country.
The principle of yin and yang (the principle concerning the ‘heating’ and ‘cooling’ properties of ingredients) is applied while making a meal. Thus duck meat is considered ‘cool’, while chicken meat is considered ‘warm’ and pork meat ‘hot’. More or less all the dishes provide a balance, (between hot and cold) that is beneficial for the body. This is why some food experts call the Vietnamese food the healthiest in the world.
One thing is assured in Vietnam – any person can have the best seafood in the world. And, one should not forget to sip rice wine in regional markets of Vietnam.
Currency: Vietnamese currency is called Vietnamese Dong (VND).
Rs1 (Indian Rupee) = 334.5 VND
Things to see: Vietnam is a country of amazing natural beauty. This goes hand-in-hand with the splendid and unique cultural and architectural heritage wonders. Along with these, the country has end number of stunning and pristine beaches, giving the options of diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, and all sorts of water sports. Exploring the world’s most spectacular cave systems in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a fascinating experience one must have. Add to this a tour to Halong Bay, a surreal seascape of limestone islands rising from nowhere in the middle of the sea.
Vietnamese food in itself is a big enough draw to invite millions of tourists.
Visa: Vietnam visa on arrival facility is available to Indian nationals. The visa on arrival facility, however, is available only on entry in Vietnam by air. For visa on arrival you have to get in touch with an approved and registered agency or apply online. Fill up your particulars like name, purpose of visit, acquaintances/hotel address in Vietnam and period of stay, along with confirmed return or onward ticket.
Passport of the applicant must be valid for at least six months. Complete details of the passport, including a scanned copy of the original passport, has to be submitted along with required application form.
Arrive in Vietnam along with the approval form, two photos and an entry and exit form.
Flights: There are no non-stop flights to Vietnam from India. However, there are many flights connecting either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City via Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Singapore.