Vietnam - Asia


Vietnam Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Vietnam

Language: Vietnamese
Currency: đồng (VND)
Calling Code: 84

Vietnam - officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam - is a sovereign country of Southeast Asia, the easternmost of the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated population of 90 million, it is the sixteenth most populous country in the world and the eighth in Asia. The name of the country is translated as "South Viet", a synonym of the old name of the Nanyue kingdom, and was officially adopted for the first time in 1802 by Emperor Gia Long. In 1945 the toponym with the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, presided by Hồ Chí Minh, was officially re-established. The country has a border on the north with China, with Laos on the northwest and with Cambodia on the southwest, while to the east it has an extensive coast bathed by the South China Sea. Its capital is Hanoi since the reunification of North Vietnam and South Vietnam in 1976.

The Vietnamese became independent from Imperial China in the year 938 after the battle of the Bach Dang River, in which they won a great victory. In the following centuries, various Vietnamese royal dynasties flourished as the kingdom expanded its geographical and political boundaries through Southeast Asia. In the 19th century the Indochina peninsula was colonized by the French. After a period of Japanese occupation during World War II, the Vietnamese initiated the Indochina War against France, which ended with the defeat and expulsion of the Gallic troops in 1954. However, the country was divided politically into two rival states, the North and South, which began a conflict of increasing intensity that ended in the so-called War of Vietnam, in which the North and the communist guerrillas known as Viet Cong, against the southern troops and the armed forces of the States United. The war ended in 1975 with the victory of the North and the following year the country was unified under a communist regime.

In 1986 the government began the reformist path, which put Vietnam on the path of integration with the global economy and by the year 2000 the country already had diplomatic relations with most nations. In the 21st century, Vietnam's economic growth has been one of the highest in the world, an economic success that resulted in the country's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2007. Despite economic progress, Vietnam still experiences great growth. income inequalities and disparities in access to healthcare.


Travel Destination in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

Bai Tu Long National Park protects an area around picturesque Bai Tu Long Bay that is probably one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam.

Mỹ Tho is a major city in the Tien Giang province in the South Vietnam. It was found by the Chinese refugees in 1680's in the delta of the Mekong delta.

Phong Nha Cave is situated in Quảng Bình province in Vietnam. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular sites in Vietnam.

Phu Quoc National Park is located in a Gulf of Thailand. This nature reserve is a great place for hiking and camping through the jungles.

Son Doong Cave is a massive natural cave located in Bố Trạch district, Quảng Bình Province in Vietnam on the border with Laos.

Ta Cu Mountain in Binh Thuan province of Vietnam is famous for its giant statue of Buddha that measures forty-nine meters long and eleven meters high.


Getting here

Entry requirements

Effective May 15, 2022, Vietnam has abandoned all quarantine restrictions in place to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Passengers are required to have adequate health insurance and install a COVID tracking app.

Passenger flights have resumed, tourist visas are being reissued and some visa waiver policies have resumed (information updated).

A passport is required and must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry into the country. A visa for stays longer than 15 days is mandatory and must be requested at the consular section of the embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Italy:

Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Via di Bravetta, 156-158 (Rome), ☎ +39 06 6616 0726, +39 06 6616 6157, fax: +39 06 66157520,

Visitors from the following countries do not require a visa and can stay up to the number of days indicated below.
14 days: Burma, Brunei
15 days: Belarus, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Norway, United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, Sweden
21 days: Philippines
30 days: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand
90 days: Chile

All other nationalities will require a visa in advance to visit Vietnam. However, visitors from many countries are now eligible for a 30-day electronic visa (e-Visa), which you apply through an online portal and print yourself after approval. It typically takes 3 business days to process and costs US$25. See the "#e-Visa" section below for more details.

Upon arrival in the country it will be necessary to fill in a landing card which must be carefully kept together with the passport and returned upon departure.

Visas are issued at border posts only to those groups who have signed up for a travel plan with government-licensed Vietnamese agencies.

To boost tourism, the Vietnamese government made Phú Quốc island a visa-free zone. Those flying through Ho Chi Minh or arriving by boat will not need to apply for a visa in advance. This is regardless of your nationality. Visitors are given 15 days to spend on the island. Those wishing to travel elsewhere can apply for a suitable Vietnamese visa at the local immigration office. All passports must be valid for at least 45 days upon arrival in Phú Quốc.

If you are not eligible for an e-Visa (due to your nationality), or if it is not suitable for your purposes, visas can be applied for in most Vietnamese embassies and consulates abroad. This will generally cost at least double the price of the e-Visa (see "Visa Fees"). If your country does not have a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, a popular alternative would be to apply at the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok.

Foreign nationals of Vietnamese origin can apply for a visa waiver which allows multiple entry for 3 months at a time, valid for the entire life of the passport.

In some cases it is possible to arrange a so-called visa on arrival, although for most visitors this is no longer the best option. For details, see the "Visa on Arrival" section.


Visa fees

Electronic visas, coming from a country for which they are available, cost $25 from the official website.

If you are not eligible for an e-Visa, or need a traditional visa for some other reason (e.g. because you have to enter the country in less than 3 days, or want to enter a remote border crossing that is not included in the e-Visa program), the cost of applying depends on your nationality and the embassy or consulate you are applying to. Contact the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country of residence or in the country you are in for details. Embassies are (strangely) reluctant to announce fees on their websites, as the relatively high visa costs are a tourist deterrent, but a source of revenue nonetheless. Write an email or, better yet, call them to get updated information on prices. Or, if you're in the same city, pop in and ask yourself. In 2019, a one-month single-entry visa cost US$40.


Electronic visa

The Vietnam eVisa service allows you to apply online at the Vietnam Immigration Office website. This procedure is available for 80 countries, including most of the European ones. The regular e-Visa is valid for 30 days, single entry and has a duration of 4 weeks from entry and costs USD 25. Don't forget to pay, which is a separate step after you confirm your application. It takes about 3 business days to issue, and a late payment may or may not delay it further. The automatic confirmation email is unreliable and you have to verify yourself online to obtain your visa. You should print a paper copy of your visa once approved and be prepared to show it when entering the country and possibly also when checking in for your flight.

E-Visas are valid at major airports and seaports and at most but not all land crossings (for example, they are not accepted between Banlung, Cambodia and Pleiku, Vietnam). A complete list of valid crossings can be found on the e-Visa website, although many of them use obscure local names which can be hard to find on maps. In theory, entry to and exit from the country should be through the same airport, seaport or land crossing stipulated in the e-Visa form, but in reality this usually does not apply to exit, even if you need to enter the date and place specified on the visa. Problems are more likely to occur due to typos in vital data such as name or date of birth.

Other types of e-Visa, such as multiple-entry and extended duration, are available with additional documents and information required.

If you want to enter Vietnam at a border crossing not included in the e-Visa program, or if you need to enter within less than 3 working days, you can still apply for a traditional physical visa at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate. The fee will be significantly higher (see Visa Fees).


Visa on arrival

The "Visa on arrival" (VOA) is generally only for urgent and special cases, or in cases where a country does not have Vietnamese representatives/consulates locally. It's basically used when you want a longer stay, as you can get a VOA for up to 3 months at a time (or even longer for US citizens). A 3-month tourist VOA is usually the preferred visa for long-term expats who are not working in the country (and therefore do not qualify for a work permit). Since the advent of e-Visas, this has become an uncommon option for short-term tourists and the information here may be out of date, so do your research on the current rules before planning to use this method.

The term visa on arrival is a misnomer in the case of Vietnam as a letter of approval must be obtained prior to arrival. This is handled by a growing number of online agencies for a fee of USD 8/21 (in 2017), depending on the agency and the number of people applying together. Most agencies accept credit card payments and some with Western Union.

The agent in Vietnam obtains a letter of approval from the Immigration Department containing the visitor's name, date of birth, date of arrival, nationality and passport number, and then forwards this letter to the visitor (in PDF or JPEG) by email or fax, usually within three working days. It is common to receive the letter with passport details of several other applicants (passport number, date of birth, name, etc.). You may share your personal information with up to 10/30 other applicants on the same letters. For people concerned about their privacy or security, it is recommended to first check if agencies have an option for a separate or private approval letter (private visa on arrival) on their website. Very few online agencies have this option.

After landing at any of the international airports (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Đà Nẵng, Nha Trang, Vinh or Phú Quốc), the visitor goes to the "visa on arrival" counter, shows the letter, fills in a additional arrival (can be pre-filled before departure), pay the stamp fee and receive an official stamp (sticker) in your passport. The fee is USD 25 (USD 50 for a multiple entry visa) (2016). Only US dollars are accepted and bills must be in mint condition or they will be rejected. A passport photo is also required. Some agencies state that two are required, however usually only one is sufficient.

Without the original approval letter (with the red stamp) a VOA can only be obtained at the three international airports. Many agencies will supply the original letter if needed and will even mail it to a neighboring country, but it is a slower service and will cost more. Visitors arriving overland from Cambodia, Laos or China must have an original stamped approval letter or full visa when arriving at the border.

Passengers of most, if not all, airlines traveling to Vietnam must present the approval letter at check-in, otherwise check-in will be refused.

Depending on the current level of SARS or bird flu, you may undergo a so-called health check. There isn't an exam, though, but another form to fill out and, of course, another fee. It costs only 2,000 đồng or USD 2 per person.


Visa-free zone

Phú Quốc Island, off the southwest coast, is accessible to tourists from all countries without a visa for stays of up to 30 days. Phú Quốc International Airport (IATA PQC) receives some direct flights from European airports such as Stockholm-Arlanda operated by Thomson as well as flights from Asian destinations.


Double citizenship

If you are a citizen of two foreign countries, you may enter Vietnam with a different passport (Country A) than the one you used to leave the previous country on your itinerary (Country B passport) (e.g. because Country A's passport has a Vietnamese visa or offers visa-free entry to Vietnam, while Country B's passport has a visa for the previously visited country). In this case, the Vietnamese immigration inspector will probably want to see the exit stamp and/or visa in your Country B passport as well. He may suggest that you put the Vietnamese entry stamp in your Country B passport as well, so that all your stamps are in one place. Do not accept this offer; make sure the Vietnamese entry stamp goes on the passport that has the Vietnamese visa or offers visa-free entry to Vietnam. Otherwise you risk having problems when you leave Vietnam; border agents at the place where you are trying to exit can declare the entry stamp "invalid" and send you back to the original point of entry to have the error corrected.


By plane

Vietnam's main international airports are located in Hanoi (IATA: HAN) and Ho Chi Minh (IATA: SGN). Both airports are served by numerous flights from major cities in East and Southeast Asia, with some intercontinental services to Australia, Europe and the United States of America.

Other international airports are located in Đà Nẵng, Vinh, Nha Trang and Phú Quốc, although flights are limited to those of neighboring Asian countries. Since Đà Nẵng is closer to the historic sites of Vietnam's Central Coast! Central Vietnam than the two major airports, it can be a convenient entry point for those specifically looking to visit those sites.

The national carrier is Vietnam Airlines, which operates flights to Vietnam's two largest cities from various cities in Australia, Asia and Europe. Vietnam Airlines serves all capital cities of Southeast Asian countries except Dili, Bandar Seri Begawan and Naypyidaw. The largest low-cost carrier is Vietjet Air which flies to a growing number of regional destinations including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Seoul, Singapore and Yangon.

Tan Son Nhat Airport
Vietnam's largest international airport is Ho Chi Minh's "Tan Son Nhat". They work there
Air France and Vietnam Airlines flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
Lufthansa which has a flight from Frankfurt (where Vietnam Airlines also operates)

Other companies to consider are:
Thai Airways International from Rome and Milan, with an intermediate stop in Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi
Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, also with an intermediate stop in Bangkok
Emirates, with a stopover in Dubai.

Noi Bai Airport
If, on the other hand, you want to visit the north of the country, Noi Bai airport in Hanoi could be convenient, but the choice of flights is more limited. In 2011 there were:
Vietnam Airlines with flights from Frankfurt, London-Gatwick, Paris
LOT with a flight from Warsaw
Aeroflot with a flight from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.


By car

It might be tempting to get off at Bangkok airport and continue your journey to Vietnam by land. You will cross Cambodia thus reserving the opportunity to visit the temples of Angkor, the most extraordinary archaeological site in all of Southeast Asia. You could pass through Laos if your final destinations are Huế and the other cities of the central-northern coast. Finally, you could enter from China if your interest is focused on Ha Long Bay and other places in northern Vietnam. The following are the main border crossings in Vietnam:

Bangkok is 892 km from Ho Chi Minh via Siem Reap (base for a visit to Angkor temples) and crossing the border at Bavet. Leisure travelers will find it more pleasant to cross the border at Tonle Mekong, thus reserving the opportunity to visit the Mekong Delta before reaching Ho Chi Minh. You will stretch a little (160km more) and pass through Phnom Penh

Bavet/Mộc Bài — This is the easiest pass to cross. It is easily reached by bus from Phnom Penh.
Kaam Samnor/Vinh Xuong (or Tonle Mekong) — This pass is very popular among Western tourists also for the opportunity to continue the journey by boat in the meanders of the Mekong.
Phnom Den/Tịnh Biên — very little frequented and isolated.
Xa Xia/Prek Chak — It is not possible to cross from Vietnam to Cambodia

Đồng Đăng/Pinxiang (You Yi Guan = Friendship Gate) — Convenient for those coming from the Chinese province of Guangxi, the Friendship Gate is both a road and rail crossing point for Hanoi-Nanning international trains
Dongxing/Móng Cái — Second crossing point with Guangxi province, useful for those wishing to visit Hạ Long Bay.
Hekou/Lào Cai — Those from the Chinese province of Yunnan enter through this pass. From Kunming Hekou can be reached by buses equipped with sleepers to replace the trains whose service has been suspended for years. From Lào Cai you can continue by train (or even by bus) to Hanoi

There are four crossing points on the border with Laos where foreign tourists are also allowed to pass:
Donsavanh/Lao Bao — This is the busiest crossing as it is on the most convenient and also shortest route from Bangkok. We pass through the Laotian city of Savannakhet on the eastern bank of the Mekong River and joined to the other bank (in Thai territory) by a grandiose bridge. Savannakhet is 680 km from Bangkok and 400 from Huế
Kaew Neua/Cau Treo (Keo Nua Pass) —
Nam Can —
Tay Trang —


On the train

There is an overnight train between Nanning China and Hanoi, which takes 12 hours, including the tedious 2+2 hours at the border (see the Getting to Hanoi section for more details). The service is also available from Beijing, but travelers will need to change train coaches in Nanning.

The old Kunming-Hanoi meter gauge line has been closed and the simplest solution is to take the bullet train from Kunming to Nanning to join the night train to Hanoi. Another option is to travel to the North Station of Hekou Yao Autonomous County in China, cross the border from Hekou to Lào Cai, then take a Vietnamese train from Lào Cai to Hanoi. Both sides have several trains a day, so a day train from Kunming to Hekou can be combined with an overnight train from Lào Cai to Hanoi.

There are no train connections between Vietnam and Laos or Cambodia.


By bus

The main crossing into Cambodia is the Mộc Bài/Bavet crossing on the Ho Chi Minh-Phnom Penh road. Buses between the two cities cost USD 8-12 and take about 6 hours. Passengers leave the vehicle at checkpoints in both countries. Only a passport photo is required to obtain Cambodian visa on arrival. Mekong Delta Tours (US$25/35, 2/3 days) can provide a more in-depth journey between the two cities. Some of these tours, as well as the boats between Phnom Penh and Chau Doc, use a border crossing on the banks of the Mekong River, called "Song Tien landport" on the Vietnam e-Visa website.

Tickets to Siem Reap are also available ($18), although it's cheaper to get a ticket to Phnom Penh and then arrange transport on one of the many connecting buses.

Near the coast is the border between Xa Xia and Prek Chak. Cambodian visas are available upon arrival. Buses connect Hà Tiên in Vietnam to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville issues 30-day tourist visas on the same day.

The coastal areas are also served by the Tịnh Biên/Phnom Den border near Chau Doc in Vietnam.

The Xa Mat/Trapeang Phlong intersection on the Ho Chi Minh-Kampong Cham road is not well served by public transport, but can be useful for accessing Kampong Cham and eastern Cambodia.

Banlung in northeastern Cambodia is connected to Pleiku in Vietnam by a pass at Le Tanh/O Yadaw. Vietnam e-Visas are not accepted to enter Vietnam at this border crossing, so this is only for people whose nationality grants visa-free entry into Vietnam or who already have a traditional visa from an embassy/consulate in the their passports. The Vietnamese entry checkpoint closes to foreigners at 5.30pm. If you cross the other direction, from Vietnam to Cambodia, you can get a Cambodian visa on arrival here. A photo is required.

There are three border crossings between China and Vietnam that can be used by foreigners:
Dongxing-Móng Cái (by road; onward journey from Móng Cái to Ha Long Bay by sea or road)
Hekou-Lào Cai (by road and/or train, but no international passenger train service)
Youyi Guan - Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass - by road and/or train)

There are six border crossings between Laos and Vietnam that can be used by foreigners (from north to south):
Tay Trang (Dien Bien province, Vietnam) - Sobboun (Phongsali province, Laos)
Na Mao (Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam) - Namsoi (Houaphanh province, Laos)
Nam Can (Vietnam) - Namkan (Xiangkhouang province, Laos)
Kaew Neua - Cau Treo (Keo Nua Pass)
Lao Bảo (Vietnam) - Dansavan (Laos)
Ngoc Hoi (Kon Tum province, Vietnam) - Bo Y (Attapeu province, Laos)

Be careful taking the local buses from Laos to Vietnam. Not only are they often crammed with goods (coal and live chickens, often underfoot), but many buses pass through in the middle of the night, stopping for several hours waiting for the border to open at 0700. While waiting, you will be taken off the bus (for several hours) where you will be approached by pushy locals who will offer assistance in obtaining a Laos exit stamp in exchange for cash (usually at least 5 USD). Bargaining hard (tired, at 04:00) can bring the figure down to about 2 USD. The men will take your passports which can be disconcerting but they provide the service they promise. It's unclear whether border officials can simply be expected to do so. There is also a VIP bus from Savannakhet.


Local transport

By plane

Flights are the fastest way to cross this long country. The flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh is only about 2 hours.

There are many flights connecting the two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, to major cities such as Đà Nẵng, Haiphong, Cần Thơ, Huế, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Phú Quốc. In the past most of these flights were cheap compared to European or North American flights. However, prices are higher than in the past with, for example, a return ticket from Hanoi to Đà Nẵng costing around US$120-150 including taxes.

Domestic full-service airlines are national carrier Vietnam Airlines with their subsidiary Vasco operating some shorter flights, as well as privately owned Bamboo Airways. The main low-cost airlines for domestic flights are Pacific Airlines, VietJet Air and Jetstar Pacific.


By car

Similarly to its former colonizer, France, 'driving is on the right in Vietnam.

International Driving Permits are recognized in Vietnam. However, the concept of renting a car to drive yourself is almost non-existent, and when the Vietnamese talk about renting a car they always mean renting a car with a driver. After spending some time on the local roads with their crazy traffic, you'll be glad you left the driving to someone more accustomed. Since few Vietnamese own a car, it is common for them to rent vehicles for family outings, special occasions, etc. , and there is a thriving industry to meet that need. Vietnamese can easily rent anything from a small car to a 32-seat bus for one or more days. Tourists can tap into that market indirectly through hotels and tour agents present in each tourist area. International car brands have started to emerge. Budget Car Rental, one of the largest car rental companies in the world, now offers chauffeur services in Vietnam. Renting a small car for a day trip back to your point of origin costs around USD 60 for 8 hours (although the price changes with the cost of fuel). If you save money by negotiating and comparing rates, you're likely to find an older, beat-up car. If on the other hand you are paying a little more, it is worth asking what type of car it will be and looking for something more comfortable. Few drivers speak English, so be sure to tell the hotel or agent exactly where you want to go in order to let the driver know.

It is also possible to hire a car with a driver for intercity travel, for a slightly higher cost. A small car from Ho Chi Minh City to the beach resort of Mũi Né, a 4-5 hour journey depending on traffic, costs around USD 70, while Da Lat-Mũi Né costs around USD 90. Long-distance trips by car can be a good choice for multiple people traveling together, as it provides flexible schedules and flexible access to remote sites. Be aware that although there is a network of paved roads in Vietnam, long-distance road travel in Vietnam by any means (bus or car) is slow, with an average speed of less than 50km/hour. Highway 1, the north-south backbone of the country, is a two-lane highway with very heavy truck and bus traffic. Similarly, the main road in the northwest - the so-called "Hanoi (Noi Bai) - Lào Cai Expressway" is, in fact, just a good two-lane asphalt road, with speed limits ranging from 60 to 80km/h. h, reduced in many places to 40 km/h due to road works. The tolls on this "expressway" are quite heavy, but motorists pay them, because the alternative is to use local roads, which in some sections are not paved at all.

In general, describing Vietnamese driving habits as atrocious would be an understatement. Road courtesy is non-existent, and motorists generally don't check their blind spots or mirrors (in fact, many vehicles have had their exterior mirrors removed). Vietnamese drivers also tend to use their horn very often to keep motorcyclists and cyclists away. Also, most roads have no road markings, and on those that do, drivers generally ignore them. Therefore, it is not recommended to drive alone in Vietnam and leave your transportation needs in the hands of the locals.


On the train

There is a single railway that runs the length of the country from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, 1,700 km apart. In correspondence with Hanoi, the railway splits into two sections both directed to the border crossings with China mentioned in the previous section.

Though more expensive than buses, trains are arguably the most comfortable way to travel overland in Vietnam. There is one of the main railway lines in Vietnam, the 1,723 km stretch between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, on which the Reunification Express runs, which takes 30 hours to cover the distance between the two centres. It's a good way to see the countryside and meet upper middle class locals, but unless you're traveling in a sleeping car it's no more comfortable than buses.

Air conditioned soft or hard berths are recommended and buying as early as possible is a good idea as berths and mainline berths are often purchased by tour companies and travel agencies well in advance of departure time ( therefore being told that the train is sold out at a station ticket office or the office of a well-known tour company does not mean that there are no tickets available - they have simply been purchased from another reseller). Booking at the train station itself is generally the safest way, just prepare on a piece of paper the destination, date, time, no. of passengers and class. However, unsold tickets can often be bought at the last minute by people hanging around the station. A train is rarely truly sold out, as the railway company will add carriages when demand is high. The fees on these tickets will decrease as the departure time approaches. Tickets can be returned before departure with a 10% penalty. There is also an official Vietnamese Railway website, which has an English version and accepts international bank card payments.

Caution should be exercised when using a travel agent to purchase train tickets, as there is nothing printed on the ticket to indicate which class it has been booked in, although as of July 2018 tickets (now referred to as "boarding passes ") indicate the class of the ticket. This results in a common scam with private travel agents as they get paid to book a soft bed ticket but will book a cheaper hard bed ticket and you don't know you have been scammed until you get on the train and it turns out that one's seats are in the lower class. At that point, with the train about to leave, it's too late to go back to the scammer to ask for compensation. With the new boarding passes this scam is not a problem, although buying your ticket directly from the train station remains the best option. Buying your ticket electronically from a booking site like Baolau is just as safe and reliable. Once purchased, the data is stored on the telephone and upon arrival at the station it is sufficient to go to one of the machines set up for this purpose and print the boarding pass. In some cases the staff helping access the platforms are able to scan their QR code directly from their phone, others will direct you to where you can print. In both cases the process is hassle-free.

Additionally, there are shorter routes from Hanoi leading northwest and northeast, with international crossings in China. One of the most popular of the shorter routes is the night train from Hanoi to Lào Cai (with a bus service from Lào Cai to the tourist destination of Sa Pa).

Always try to purchase tickets at least 3 days in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during the peak holiday season when you should aim to book at least 2 weeks in advance.

If you are sensitive to cigarette smoke, try to reserve a seat in the center of the carriage as people smoke in the areas at the end of each carriage and the doors are often left open.


By bus

The suburban buses of the public bus lines are not used by tourists who prefer to rely on coaches or tourist minibuses from agencies for their travels from one city to another. This travel formula has become almost an institution in Vietnam. It is a convenient and comfortable solution considering that the minibuses often pick up passengers on the doorstep of their hotel.

Long-distance bus services connect most cities in Vietnam. Most leave early in the morning to adjust to the traffic and late afternoon rains, or move at night. Average road speeds are usually quite slow, even when traveling between cities. For example, a 276km journey from the Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh by bus will likely take around 8 hours.

Public buses travel between bus stations in cities. In larger places, you will often have to use local transport to get to the city center from there. The buses are generally in adequate condition and you get the chance to interact with the locals. Bus stations are generally well organised, safe and easy enough to navigate even for non-Vietnamese speakers.

Every major city will have a centralized bus station and most major companies will have ticket offices in the stations. Some reputable companies include Mai Linh Express, The Sinh Tourist and Hoang Long.

Open-top tour buses are operated by a multitude of tour companies. They mainly cater to tourists, offering ridiculous rates (from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh: 20/25 USD) and a door-to-door service to the desired hostel. You can interrupt your journey at any point and continue on a bus from the same company later, or simply buy tickets only for the leg you're willing to cover next. If you don't intend to make more than 3-4 stops, it might be cheaper to buy separate tickets along the way (e.g. from Hanoi to Huế it costs from 5 USD). Most hotels and guesthouses can reserve seats for any connection, although it's best to look at travel agencies, as prices vary depending on the ticket or bus company. Going to the bus company office can get you a fee-free fare, but most major bus operators have fixed fare policies.

Deluxe or Inter-provincial buses are the most luxurious options when it comes to bus travel and are offered by all major companies on some of the busiest tourist routes. Some of these buses are actually sleeper buses, where instead of a seat, you have a bunk bed to sleep on. Some companies also offer a more expensive VIP sleeper bus, where you get a larger bunk bed, your own cubicle for more privacy, and a personal TV system similar to an airplane.

Since tour companies charge very little, they charge errands on their stops which are often at gift shops, where you don't need to buy; they always have restrooms and drinks and water available for purchase. The estimated time for a bus journey will not be accurate and could sometimes be a couple of hours longer, due to the number of stops. Collecting passengers at the start of the journey can also be time consuming. Always arrive at least half an hour early to catch the bus. Try not to drink too much water, as stops, especially for night buses, might be in places where there are just a lot of bushes.

Vietnamese buses are made for Vietnamese - older Westerners will be very uncomfortable, especially on night buses. Also, many Vietnamese are not used to traveling on long-haul buses and sometimes get sick; it's not pleasant to be stranded on an overnight bus with several Vietnamese puking behind you.

If you think you might get "bussick", it is advisable to book a seat in the middle rather than at the front of the bus. Firstly, you will avoid seeing directly the short-sighted risks that the driver is running along the road. Second, you will somehow escape the loud continuous honking (every time the bus passes another vehicle, i.e. about every 10 seconds).

Although the bus company will usually be happy to pick you up at their hotel or guesthouse, boarding at the company office will guarantee your choice of seats and avoid being stuck at the back or not being able to sit next to your fellow passengers. voyage. Offices are generally located in or near the tourist area of the city and a short walk could make your trip even more enjoyable.

Long-haul bus companies operate north-south and back on the single main road (QL1). If you take a bus that goes beyond your destination, the bus will drop you off at the most convenient intersection and not as you would expect at your destination bus terminal. For Huế, this junction is 13 km from the city center; to Nha Trang 10km. At these crossroads you will find taxis or motorcycle taxis to reach your hotel.

If traveling by bicycle, negotiate the additional cost with the driver rather than the ticket office before purchasing the ticket. The cost of the bicycle must not exceed 10% of the ticket price.

One scam you might run into is that after you arrive at your destination, the guides will ask if you have booked a hotel. Even if you haven't done it, it's good to say you have it, preparing the name of a hotel. If not, they will hire you a cab and probably drop you off at a hotel that may collect a commission. If you decide not to stay, things could get a little ugly, as they will ask you to pay the taxi fare, which could cost much more than the actual fare for a ten minute ride.

Be very careful with your possessions on the night bus, as people (including bus employees) have been known to look through passengers' bags and take expensive items such as iPads and phones and sell them for a profit. If you're traveling with an iPod, don't fall asleep with your iPod in your ear, as you probably won't find it in the morning. Get a lock for your hand luggage and lock everything up before going to sleep.


By bike

Adventure travelers may want to see Vietnam by bicycle. Several adventure trips provide tour packages with equipment. Most of the population gets around on two wheels, so it's a great way to get up close and personal with people and off the beaten track.

Bikes can be rented cheaply in many cities and are often a great way to cover greater distances. Good places for cycling are Da Lat, Hội An, Huế and Ninh Bình. On the other hand, attempting to cycle in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh is virtually suicidal without adequate experience of traffic rules (or lack of "adequate experience" which in this case means understanding that everyone around could potentially change direction without signs and at any time). A general "rule of thumb" when cycling or motorcycling is to "expect the unexpected." It's a bit like swimming in a tank of fish!

In cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, it is not allowed to park bicycles in pedestrian areas and you will have to go to a paid parking lot: 2,000 đồng for a bike, 5,000 đồng for a motorcycle.

By motorcycle taxi
The xe ôm (literally "hugging vehicle"), a motorcycle taxi, is a common mode of transportation for both Vietnamese and tourists. They are widely available and reasonably cheap: around 10,000 đồng for a 10-minute journey, which should take you anywhere in the city centre. Walk the city streets and every couple of minutes a guy will signal your attention by asking "You! Motobike?" Longer trips to outlying areas can be negotiated for 20,000-25,000 đồng. Always agree on the fare before starting your journey.

Bikers rarely speak English. As with most things, a tourist will often be overcharged initially and will need to be firm. If they are asking for anything more than 10,000 đồng for a short trip, remind the driver that you could get an air-conditioned taxi for 15,000 đồng, then wave to him. Occasionally drivers will ask for more than the finally negotiated price, so it's best to have the exact agreed price on hand so you can pay it on your way out without argument.

In some cases they will be taken where they want (tourist attractions or shops you weren't asked to go to) and sometimes they will wait for you to come back (even if not asked) and ask you for more money for waiting. Even if speaking a little Vietnamese, it won't help, since they'll still try to cheat or act like they don't understand. Again, one must speak decisively and walk away.


By motorbike

The 110cc motorcycle is the preferred mode of transportation of the Vietnamese masses and big cities are teeming with them. It is common to see entire families of four traveling together on one motorcycle. In most places where tourists go, you can easily rent one, with prices ranging from 100,000 to 160,000 đồng per day. It is illegal for foreigners to ride a motorcycle in Vietnam unless they hold a temporary Vietnamese motorcycle license or an International Driving Permit with a valid motorcycle license in their home country.

To convert your international driving license or permit into a temporary Vietnamese driving licence, you must hold a Vietnamese residence permit valid for at least three months or a three-month tourist visa. In this regard, you should contact:

Center for Automotive Training and Mechanism, 83a Ly Thuong Kiet St (Hanoi).
Transportation Office, 63 Ly Tu Trong St, District 1 (Ho Chi Minh).

Anyone who drives without a license and has an accident in which a third person is injured or killed could be subject to a 10-20 year prison sentence and pay a large sum of compensation to the victim or the victim's family. Also, even if your travel insurance policy covers motorcycles (check the notes, as many exclude them), if you are injured while riding illegally, the insurance company will not pay for medical treatment, hospitalization, evacuation to another country for hospitalization or repatriation, the cost of which can run into tens of thousands of dollars.

Small hotel receptionists often run a side business by renting motorcycles to guests, or have a friend or relative who does. Tour stands can usually do the same. In small towns and beach resorts where traffic is light, such as Phú Quốc, it's a delightful way to get around and see the sights, and much cheaper than taxis if you plan on making several stops. The roads are generally decent, although it's advisable not to drive too fast and always keep an eye on the road for the occasional pothole.

Driving in big cities, especially Ho Chi Minh City, is a very different matter and not advisable unless you are an experienced driver with cool self-control. Traffic is heavy and chaotic, with a long list of unwritten rules that look nothing like traffic laws anywhere else. "Right of way" is an almost unknown concept. Driving in Ho Chi Minh is like being in the middle of a 3-D video game where anything can come at you from any direction and you only get one life. Expats coping with traffic typically have an apprenticeship of a few weeks or months riding on the back of others' bikes to learn the ways of traffic, before attempting to drive themselves. Extreme caution is advised for short-term visitors.

Even long-distance driving in the countryside can be excruciating depending on the route you take. The main roads between towns tend to be narrow despite being important and filled with tour buses who decide to speed up, overtaking slow-moving trucks where they perhaps shouldn't have tried, and don't leave much room to board motorbikes. That said, there are plenty of beautiful roads and great scenery to see from the freedom of your motorbike. As an alternative to the Coastal Highway (AH 1), the Ho Chi Minh Road (AH 17) is a quiet and scenic option for the more adventurous. The road is in very good condition, with resurfacing from Buôn Ma Thuột to Kon Tum. Shortly after Kon Tum the road enters the mountains near the border with Laos, with tranquil majestic landscapes and ethnic villages for 700km, finally returning to the plains in Phong Nha Caves, one of the World Heritage Sites in Vietnam. This peaceful alternative to the coastal chaos can be walked all the way to Hanoi.

Two main categories of motorbikes are available for hire: scooters (automatic transmission); and four-speed motorcycles, whose gears are engaged with the left foot. The ubiquitous Honda Super Cub is a common 4-speed moped that has a semi-automatic gearbox, ie without a clutch, so it is relatively easy to drive. Other models can be fully manual and so you also need to operate the clutch with your left hand - this takes a lot of skill and it's all too easy to over-rev and pull a wheelie or stall the engine. Anyone who ends up with such a moped should practice gently releasing the clutch before hitting the road. Dirt bikes are becoming popular for rent in Hanoi; other cities are not yet ready for these means. Rental agents tend to steer foreigners to scooters, if available, on the (plausible) assumption that they don't know how to ride motorcycles that require gear shifting. Motorcycles of 175cc and above are only legal when affiliated with a Vietnamese motorcycle club.

Most places you would like to stop have parking attendants who will issue a numbered tag and watch over your vehicle. Sometimes these parking operations are supervised by the establishment you are visiting, and sometimes they are freelance operations set up in places where a lot of people go. Usually you will see rows of mopeds parked next to each other. Depending on the circumstances, you could park the vehicle yourself or simply by extracting the key, putting it in neutral and letting the staff position it. In all but rare cases, the key is kept. Parking is sometimes free in restaurants and cafes (look for 'giu xe mien phi'). Elsewhere, fees range from 2,000 to 5,000, up to 10,000 đồng.

Traffic police in cities stop a lot of locals (often for reasons that are difficult to understand), but it is commonly believed that they rarely bother foreigners due to the language barrier. Respecting the highway code is still advisable, especially if you have not been able to obtain a Vietnamese driving licence. Cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have several one-way streets, and it's very easy to unknowingly take the wrong way because the signage is poor. Whenever the law is broken, there will always be cops who will ask you to pull over for a fine. They will also threaten to confiscate the vehicle. The price quoted for the fine is negotiable, and apologizing and being friendly can get you back on the road quickly, albeit with a few dollars less in your pocket. You are less likely to be harassed or taken to the station.

Helmets are required by law, so if you don't already have one ask your rental agent to provide one. Driving without a helmet greatly increases the attention of the police.


By cycle rickshaw

Though they are slowly being supplanted by motorbikes, cyclo rickshaws still roam the streets of Vietnam's cities and towns. They are especially common in smaller, less busy scenic cities like Huế, where it is nice to cruise slowly while taking in the sights. While the ride will be slow, hot and sometimes dangerous, you will generally pay more than a motorbike for the equivalent distance. On the plus side, some drivers (particularly in the south) are very friendly and happy to give a bit of information about surrounding attractions. Cyclo-rickshaw drivers are notoriously mercenary and will basically always charge a high price. Sometimes they will ask even more than the price agreed in the end. Japanese tourists, especially women, are often targeted with this scam as they are more responsive to the threat that the driver will call the police and make trouble for them if they don't pay as required. A reasonable price is around 20,000 đồng for a maximum of 2 km and if the driver does not agree, it is enough to leave, and in any case it often happens that you are called back before you contact another driver who will immediately accept your offer . Prices for a tour circuit with stops in between are more complex to negotiate and more prone to conflict at the end. If you plan to stop somewhere for any length of time, it's best to arrange with the driver. Some drivers start with a very low fare to enter their cyclo-rickshaw and then, if necessary to wait or otherwise vary the agreed price, bring out a typewritten price list of their "standard fares" which are inflated beyond belief. At that point negotiate or walk away. To avoid problems, it's also best to have exact change for the agreed amount, so if the driver tries to revise the deal, you can just put your cash on the seat and drive away.


On a boat

You can't say you've truly experienced Vietnamese life if you haven't spent time on a boat. Be careful though because many boats, while seaworthy, are not designed to first world standards. An example is the ferry from Phú Quốc to the mainland. This ferry has a small entrance for all passengers to board. When full, as it usually is, there are around 200 people on board. In the event of an accident, the chance of everyone getting off the boat fast enough would be very small. The concept of "emergency exit" does not exist.

Tour boats can be rented for around USD 20/day; but attention should be paid to safety issues, such as making sure the boat is registered to carry tourists and has enough life jackets and other safety equipment on board. Or you can book a tour through a tour company; but in Vietnam most tour agents charge whatever markup and so the tourist often pays margins of 30-40% and the owner and operator of the boat (of anything from a van to a boat etc) gets very little of the total amount.

Ha Long Bay is a popular destination for one to three-day boat trips among its picturesque limestone islands. The problem is that all the boats seem to visit the same places and high priced, poor quality boats; quality services are hard to find. Many boats have a $10 "cork fee" and ban alcohol brought in from outside, while alcohol and seafood on board is roughly the same price as in Europe in some places. If there is rain, haze or low cloud, you may not see much. The ideal is to choose a clear day.

Dozens of small family-owned boats ply the river in Huế taking visitors to the imperial tombs southwest of the city. This trip is long because the boats are slow and take about 4 hours to make the trip one way.

Snorkelling, fishing and dining are available from Nha Trang, Hội An and Phú Quốc to nearby islands. In central Vietnam the northeast monsoon season limits many sea boat tours during the months of September to February; other parts of Vietnam appear less affected.

A 90-minute hydrofoil operates from Ho Chi Minh to the beach resort of Vũng Tàu for around 200,000 đồng each way, the fastest way to get to the beach from the city.

River tours are perhaps the most interesting. A day boat trip forms the centerpiece of almost any tour of the Mekong region.


By taxi

Metered taxis are available in larger cities in Vietnam. However, beware of common taxi scams, such as drivers who refuse to use the meter and quote ridiculous fares, or rigged meters who jump at embarrassing fares. To minimize the chances of falling for a scam, try to learn to recognize which large reputable taxi companies in the city where you are. In Ho Chi Minh, they are Mai Linh and Vinasun, while in Hanoi, they are Mai Linh and Taxi Group (a consortium of smaller companies including Taxi CP and Hanoi Taxi, with the same livery but different telephone numbers). Watch out for fake taxis impersonating those companies, usually identifiable by slightly out-of-date logos, inferior quality, or incorrect phone numbers. Drivers working for those companies are also required to wear a uniform while on duty, so an ununiformed driver is unequivocal proof of fraud. As of April 2019 taxi scams are few and far between and Vietnam has one of the most efficient taxi systems in Southeast Asia. As long as the meter starts automatically after a few meters of departure or the driver switches it on manually, you shouldn't be scammed.

The smaller the taxi, the lower the starting fixed fare will be: therefore a small compact sedan or equivalent will have a fixed starting fare of 5,000 đồng, a mid-range sedan 9,000 đồng and an SUV 11,000 đồng. The fixed starting rate has a great impact on short distances: the smaller the car, the shorter the minimum journey will be. So a starting fixed fare of 5,000 đồng will get you 500m, while one of 11,000 đồng will get you 850m, so on journeys longer than 1km the size of the vehicle makes no difference. Initially it is a bit complicated but after a few laps you will understand how the system works. In the evening these fixed departure fares can go up by 1,000 đồng.

Few drivers speak more than a few words of English, so staff at your hotel write down the names of your desired destinations in Vietnamese for your driver to see. Drivers generally have a good grasp of their city's geography and most passengers nearer will end up being scammed as the driver may select a slightly longer route than necessary - keep an eye on google maps while traveling it's a good way to prevent this, but even if you travel a little further to reach your destination, you shouldn't be deterred from using taxis, one of Vietnam's typical modes of transport.

In more touristy destinations such as Sa Pa and Cat Ba Island, it is much more difficult to convince drivers to use meters than in large cities and beach resorts. Be prepared to walk away if the driver refuses to use the meter.


What to see

Vietnam is able to show the sides of Asia that one has always dreamed of. Lush rice paddies at the bottom of beautiful plateaus, colorful water markets on the waterways of the Mekong Delta, and the endlessly busy city life of Hanoi, where everything from school children to refrigerators and huge piles of vegetables are transported on the back of countless motorcycles. Although Vietnam's big cities are rapidly transforming into modern Asian metropolises, traditional culture has not yet been completely displaced.


City life

Head to Hội An with its Venice-like canals and beautiful old town for some of the best tourist attractions. Enjoy the old port, stroll through its endless winding alleys and choose from its countless fine restaurants and shops, or relax on the beach. Once a fishing village, this town is now well protected by conservation laws and has become a major visitor landmark. Hanoi is obviously the pinnacle of Asian city life. It's an incredible myriad of ancient traditions, ancient and modern architecture, sounds, smells, bustling commerce and notoriously crazy traffic. It is chaotic and enchanting at the same time: an ideal place to discover ancient and contemporary Vietnam. Most of the attractions are in the historic center, including the famous Hoan Kiem Lake and the beautiful Bach Ma Temple. Spend a day or two in Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon), the country's largest city. Nowhere are the contrasts between old and new more omnipresent and vivid than here, where you'll find ancient pagodas and traditional street life at the foot of gigantic skyscrapers. Major attractions include the Reunification Palace and the Giac Lam Pagoda. Also worth a visit is the former imperial city of Huế, with its beautiful Citadel and the Tombs of the Emperors along the Perfume River. The largest beach city is Nha Trang which stretches along the beach but also has an interesting cityscape.

Landscapes and nature
Few countries are blessed with such captivating landscapes as those of Vietnam. For many, the country's awe-inspiring limestone scenery, perfect beaches, islands, mountain ranges, rice paddies and lakes are its greatest treasures. One of Vietnam's top attractions, Ha Long Bay boasts thousands of limestone pillars and islands topped with thick jungle vegetation. Amidst the bustling port life, one will find floating fishing villages, caves and lakes within the islands. Nearby Lan Ha Bay is spectacular, and less crowded. Head to Sa Pa and Muong Hoa valley to admire the panorama of local rice fields against the backdrop of bamboo forests. Also in the north is Tam Cốc near Ninh Bình. This area is famous for its karst landscape, rice fields and caves and is best explored by chartered boat.

Phú Quốc, off the Cambodian coast, is the country's largest island. Its delightful palm-fringed beaches and tropical forests rival any other in the world. The most famous destination in the south is of course the Mekong Delta. Here, the Mekong River flows into the South China Sea through a maze of small streams. It is a lush and verdant region and the source of half of Vietnam's agricultural products. It offers panoramic views of rivers and rice fields as far as the eye can see. Here, natural landscapes and culture go hand in hand while life revolves around the water. The Mekong flows are an important means of transport and are home to floating markets.

Some of the best stops in terms of natural wonders are found in the country's national parks. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, one of the World Heritage Sites in Vietnam, is famous for its natural caves and caves with underground rivers and rock beaches as well as breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites. For wildlife, try Cuc Phuong National Park.



For a better understanding of Vietnam's ancient traditions, culture and history, visit one of the many museums, some with truly excellent collections. The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh will leave a lasting impression, especially the chilling collection of war photography. While not exactly neutral in tone, there are captions in English. The HCMC Museum is in a building that is worth seeing on its own and offers a nice overview of the city's history. For a more extensive history collection, try the fine History Museum, which exhibits artifacts from several Vietnamese cultures. In Hanoi, the Vietnam Ethnological Museum is an excellent place to immerse yourself in the life of the country's tribal people. In the center of the city is the Museum of Fine Arts which exhibits all types of art, from high quality wood and stone sculptures to fabulous ceramics and textiles (descriptions in English). For something completely different, try the Robert Taylor Museum of Worldwide Arms in Vũng Tàu. This is one man's fascinating collection of weapons and uniforms gathered from all over the world.


What to do

The motorbike is popular with both locals and tourists. Since motorcycles are the main mode of transportation in Vietnam, they can offer a particularly authentic insight into traveling across the country.

Renting or buying a bicycle is possible in many cities. Also consider motorcycle adventure tours, which involve riding on multi-day journeys to remote regions of the country. Most tours include accommodation, petrol, helmets, drivers and entrance fees to local places of interest. The guides usually speak good English or French and offer customized tours if desired. Motorcycle sightseeing tours are similar but have a more local range specific to a city or area and may focus on food, shopping or sightseeing.

Trekking is an ideal way to enjoy and experience Vietnam's beautiful nature, from the yellow terraces of farmers in the northern harvest season, to the off-the-beaten-path central highlands, or the bustling activity of the Mekong Delta in the south.

Chinese chess (cờ tướng) is a popular game in Vietnam and you will often see older people playing it in public parks. Those who know how to play will have the opportunity to make friends with the locals. A uniquely Vietnamese tradition related to Chinese chess is human chess (cờ người), typically played at temple and village festivals during Tết. As the name suggests, the pieces are performed by humans dressed in traditional Vietnamese costumes, usually with 16 teenagers on one side and 16 teenage girls on the other, and a choreographed traditional martial arts fight between the two pieces always follows each time. that a piece is captured.

Retreats, spas, meditation and yoga are increasingly popular in Vietnam, with Hội An in particular becoming a hub for like-minded people.



Due to its long history as a tributary state of China, as well as several periods of Chinese occupations, Vietnamese culture is heavily influenced by that of southern China, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese social etiquette. The Vietnamese language also contains many loanwords from Chinese, although the two languages are unrelated. Buddhism remains the single largest religion in Vietnam. As in China, but unlike its Southeast Asian neighbors, the dominant school of Buddhism in Vietnam is the Mahayana School.

However, Vietnamese culture remains distinct from Chinese culture as it has also absorbed cultural elements from neighboring Hindu civilizations such as the Champa and Khmer empires. French colonization also left a lasting impact on Vietnamese society, perhaps best symbolized by the Vietnamese fondness for baguettes and coffee. Southern and central Vietnam, especially along the coast, has a much stronger Western influence than the north.

The division of Vietnam during what is locally referred to as the American War also led to cultural differences between North and South Vietnam that can be seen today. To this day, North Vietnamese tend to be more ideological, while South Vietnamese tend to be more business oriented.

Vietnam is known for several traditional arts, perhaps the most famous of which is water puppetry. In modern times, Vietnam has also jumped on the cirque nouveau bandwagon, with Ho Chi Minh's AO Show perhaps the best known example. Vietnam is also home to a vibrant pop music scene, with South Korean pop being the biggest influence on modern Vietnamese pop music.


Suggested readings

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham (1999), ISBN 978-0- 374-11974-4.
Graham Greene's The Quiet American (1955). Set in 1950s Saigon. A love triangle with a historical background. Two film adaptations: 1958 and 2002.
The Lover (L'amant) by Marguerite Duras (1984). Film adaptation: 1992 with Jane March, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud.


Suggested movies

Plattoon - classic, best war movie ever
The Lover (1992), based on the novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras, the film tells of the relationship of a French teenager with a Chinese businessman and has as a backdrop the stupendous landscapes of the Mekong Delta and the streets of Saigon, in the 1990s. thirties of the twentieth century.
Indochina (1992), with Catherine Deneuve, directed by Régis Wargnier. Set in 1930s French Indochina. A good plot with some interesting insights into the history and politics of the time. Set around Saigon.
Cyclo (1995). Set in Saigon, a dive into the dark violence and poverty of Saigon in the 90s.


Spoken languages

The official and majority language of the country is Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt). The most studied foreign language is English even if the French language is widespread due to the colonial residues, especially among the elderly population.

Vietnamese is a tonal language that uses tone shifting to inflect different meanings and this can make it difficult to master. Travelers might still be surprised to learn that the basic grammar is pretty simple. Verbs are static regardless of past or future, and parts of speech are pretty straightforward. The greatest difficulties lie in the pronunciation of the various tones and some sounds.

North Vietnamese, which includes areas in Hanoi, Haiphong and others;
North Central Vietnamese, spoken around Vinh
Central Vietnamese, whose main areas are Huế and Quảng Nam
South Central Vietnamese, spoken around Phu Yen Province
Southern Vietnamese spoken around Ho Chi Minh (Saigon and Mekong rivers), closest to the standard language due to late settlement of the speakers (fifteenth century).

While the Hanoi dialect is the prestige and widely used dialect in broadcasting, there is no legally defined standard dialect of Vietnamese. Northerners often think that the southern accent stands for "hai lúa" (country people) and will always advise sticking to the northern accent, but your choice of accents should depend on where you plan to live. If you work in Saigon, the economic center of Vietnam, the southern accent is what you will hear every day.

Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet and spelling accurately reflects pronunciation. However, the pronunciation of the letters is often different from that in English.

Although Chinese characters are no longer used to write Vietnamese, the Vietnamese lexicon continues to be heavily influenced by the Chinese language. Some words are Chinese loanwords such as "hotel" (khách sạn), "children" (nhi đồng), "communist party" (đảng cộng sản); some are formed based on Chinese roots/characters, such as "representative" (đại diện) or "bird flu" (cúm gà). Any knowledge of the Chinese language will make learning Vietnamese much easier. Vietnamese is also full of French and English loanwords. Nowadays, some English words are used directly in Vietnamese: camera, clip, internet, jeans, PC, sandwich, selfie, radar, show, smartphone, tablet, TV, etc. (a bit like it also happens in Italian).

While Vietnamese appreciate any effort to learn their language, most rarely experience foreign accents. As a result, students may find it frustrating that no one can understand what they are trying to say. Hotel staff and children tend to have a more tolerant ear for foreign accents, and it is not uncommon for children to effectively help translate their poorly pronounced Vietnamese into authentic Vietnamese for adults.

Ho Chi Minh is home to a sizable ethnic Chinese community, many of whom speak Cantonese. The more remote parts of the country are also home to many ethnic minorities who speak various languages belonging to the Mon-Khmer, Tai-Kadai and Austronesian language families.

Most younger Vietnamese learn English in school, but proficiency is generally poor. However, most hotel and airline staff will know enough English to communicate. Younger middle and upper class Vietnamese generally have a basic understanding of English. Road signs are usually bilingual in Vietnamese and English. The Vietnamese are much more adept at using "Translate" apps on phones than neighboring countries and will readily use them as a means of communicating in English and other languages.

As a result of its colonial heritage, educated elders are able to speak French. However, English has supplanted French as the preferred foreign language of the younger generation.

Russian is also spoken by some Vietnamese who studied, worked or did business in the USSR or Russia.

In large cities, some of the large international luxury hotel chains will have staff who can speak other foreign languages such as Mandarin, Japanese or Korean. At popular tourist sites, such as the Hanoi Temple of Literature, guides lead tours in several foreign languages, including German, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, or Japanese.


Name etymology

The name of the country (越南) consists of two words - "Việt" means the titular nation - the Viet, and "Nam" - the south, "southern Viet", which is a tracing paper from the Chinese "Yuenan", where "Yue" is the Chinese name for the Viet, and "nan" means south.

For the first time the name "Vietnam" was used by the poet Nguyen Binh Khiem in his book "The Prophecies of Chang Chin" in the 16th century, writing "And Vietnam was formed." This name was engraved on 12 stelae of the 16th-17th centuries, in particular in the pagoda of Bao Lam in Haiphong.

Between 1804 and 1813, Emperor Gia Long used the word "Vietnam" in official documents. However, until 1945, the country was usually referred to as "Annam" until the name was officially changed by Emperor Bao Dai.



Early period

In the first millennium BC on the territory of modern southern China and modern northern Vietnam, there were several states of the ancient Viet.

Among the first ancient Vietnamese states, the more northern formations are best known - primarily the kingdom of Ngo (whale "U") and the kingdom of Viet (whale "Yue"), which arose in the 7th century BC. in the lower reaches of the Yangtze. At the same time, authentic sources have not been preserved either in the kingdom of Viet itself, or in more southern states. Nevertheless, the existence in this territory (especially in the lower reaches of the Yangtze and in the north of modern Vietnam, in the lower reaches of the Red River - Hong Ha) of an ancient and original center of statehood is evidenced by archeological data.

The social structure of the kingdom of Viet (Yue) was characterized by ancient sources as simpler in comparison with neighboring ancient Chinese states. Also, unlike the ancient Chinese states, the main occupation of the Yue population was irrigated rice cultivation. In the 7th-3rd centuries BC (perhaps this happened much earlier) five states appeared on the territory between the mouths of the Yangtze and the Red River: Vanlang, inhabited by the ancestors of modern Viet - Lak Viet - in the lower reaches of the Red River, then to the east - Teiau (Nam Cuong), Nam Viet, Man Viet, Dong Viet. Then Teiau conquered Vanlang and formed the common state of Aulac. The cultural level of these formations was quite high, while the borrowing of Chinese culture was more intensive in the northern kingdoms than in the southern ones. The ancient Viet were mainly communal producers, a higher position was occupied by the landed aristocracy and the serving nobility, who were subordinate to the ruler - the vyong. Au Lac and Nam Viet waged wars with the Qin Empire, during which Nam Viet was captured by it. However, after the fall of the Qin Empire, Nam Viet and Au Lak united into a single state of Nam Viet, in the 2nd century. BC e. inferior in power only to the Han Empire.

However, already at the end of the II century. BC the country falls under the rule of the Han emperors. Despite a short-term gain of independence as a result of the "revolt of the two sisters", Chinese rule lasted until the 9th century. Nevertheless, the Laviets actually retained their internal autonomy, constantly fighting the invaders, while an important role in the life of the country was played by tribal associations - ho. Socio-economic processes in China also had little effect on Vietnamese society. At the same time, Buddhism preached by Indian monks was spreading in the country, which was adjacent to the traditional cults of ancestors and the forces of nature.

In 541, the southern Chinese state of Liang tried to subdue the Vietnamese elite more strongly, which led to an uprising led by a major official, a representative of one of the highest ho, Li Bong. As a result of several victories, he was proclaimed emperor, founding the Early Li dynasty (541-603). In 544, the state of the Viet received the name Vansuan (empire of countless springs). After Li Bon was killed during a new battle with the Chinese, Chieu Quang Phuc became the de facto leader of the country, who drove the invaders away in 551. From that moment on, an internecine war broke out in Vansuan, dividing the country into two parts: the western one, led by Chieu Quang Phuc, and the eastern one, ruled by a distant relative of Li Bon, Li Fat Tu.

In 602, the Sui Empire, which united all of China, began a war against the Vietnamese state of Van Xuan. In 603, the Vietnamese troops were defeated, Van Xuan was forced to recognize the power of the Sui. The captured territory of Wansuan was called by the Chinese "Ziaoti", then "Ziaotiau", and since 679 - "Annam dohofu".


Middle Ages

In 880, Chinese troops left their southern Vietnamese governorship of Annam dohofu. In 939, Ngo Cuyen defeated the Chinese who tried to influence the Viet and founded the Ngo dynasty, which fell in 961. In 968, this territory was united by Dinh Bo Lin under the name Daikovet - Great Ancient Viet. Din Bo Lin created a regular army, put an end to internal strife and streamlined the apparatus of officials. From 981 to 1009, the Early Le dynasty was in power. Since 1010, the country, now called Dai Viet, was ruled by the Later Li, who pursued a policy of strengthening the central government while maintaining communal self-government. In 1225, in conditions of turmoil caused by economic difficulties, power passes to the kindred Li Chans, who founded a new dynasty (1225-1400).


In the second half of the 13th century, Dai Viet, like other states of Southeast Asia, came under attack from the Mongol invasions. In 1285, the army of the son of Kublai Khan - Tugan - set out from China and invaded the borders of the Vietnamese state, which was also attacked from the sea - a Mongol-Chinese landing force landed in the Red River Delta. However, the invaders' forces were defeated near the Kao River - only a tenth of the invaders returned to China. The final victory of the Viet was the Battle of the Batdang River. The Mongolian fleet, lured by the Viet junks, came across pointed tree trunks that they had previously driven into the bottom of the river. Mongolian ships were pelted with burning torches and arrows.

In 1400, the last ruler of the Chan dynasty was deposed by the military leader Ho Kui Li. Ho Kui Lee carried out a number of reforms, in particular, introduced paper money. During his reign, the central government was again strengthened. However, in 1407, the country was again captured by the Chinese, called by supporters of the overthrown Chang dynasty. The feudal lord Le Loy opposed Chinese rule, and after a successful war of liberation in 1427, he proclaimed himself the new emperor, founding the Later Le dynasty, which ruled until the Taishon uprising at the end of the 18th century. Le Loy attempted to restrict large landownership while encouraging smallholding. A general accounting of state lands was carried out, which were divided among the peasants. Strict restrictions were placed on the sale and purchase of land. It was practiced to allocate communal lands to officials in accordance with their rank.

In the second half of the 15th century, Vietnam again switched to an offensive policy, capturing neighboring Champa and the eastern regions of Lan Xang, which had become dependent on the Vietnamese rulers. Buddhism is losing ground to traditional beliefs and Confucianism. In the 70s. In the 15th century, a system of 9 ranks of officials was introduced, who could qualify for promotion every 6 years. The most common way to get a new position was to pass examinations for a degree. A feature of the Vietnamese nobility in this period was the absence of a hereditary fixed status and, accordingly, high social mobility. In the 16th century, a crisis began in the country, which gradually passed from the power of civil officials to the power of military landowning clans: wars and a cumbersome administrative apparatus ruined the peasants, and no attention was paid to the development of agriculture and irrigation systems. The dissatisfaction of the population was also caused by the beginning process of stratification of the community - the social foundation of Vietnamese society. By the end of the first quarter of the 17th century, the actual power in the country belonged to two influential clans: in the north of the province of Ngean - the Chiney family, in the south - the Nguyen.


New time

The crisis culminated in the Taishon uprising of 1773-1802. in the northern part of Nguyen-controlled territory. The thirty-year civil war ended with the defeat of the rebels and the accession of the ruler from the Nguyen dynasty, who proclaimed himself emperor under the name of Gia Long. Vietnam again became a single state based on Confucian principles. At the beginning of the 19th century, a strengthened Vietnam waged a long struggle with Siam for control of Cambodia.

In 1858, under the pretext of the refusal of the Vietnamese government to accept the demands for freedom of trade, the French invasion of Vietnam began. From the three eastern provinces captured in 1862, the colony of French Cochin China was formed, to which three western provinces were added in 1867 - thus, the whole of southern Vietnam came under French influence. In 1873, another invasion of North and Central Vietnam was organized, which ended in 1874 with a trade agreement that was unfavorable for the Vietnamese, which, although it did not enter into force, in the 80s. was used as a pretext for a new intervention. In 1882, the French captured Hanoi, and in 1883 forced Vietnam to sign a protectorate treaty. The colonial regime was finally established in 1885.


1887-1940: Colonial period

In the second half of the 19th century, Vietnam fell into colonial dependence on France. The country was artificially divided into three parts - the colony of Cochin China (South Vietnam), the protectorates of Annam (Central Vietnam) and Tonkin (Northern Vietnam). Together with Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam became part of French Indochina.

By the 1930s, a powerful national liberation movement had developed in the country, led by the Communist Party of Indochina (CPIK, leader Ho Chi Minh).

1940-1946: Vietnam during World War II. Japanese occupation
During the Second World War, Vietnam was captured by the Japanese, who disarmed and then completely neutralized the French garrisons. By the end of the war, the Japanese were forced to withdraw their troops to strengthen the defense of Japan and Manchuria, while forming a puppet Vietnamese empire on the territory of Vietnam, headed by the heir to the Vietnamese imperial Nguyen dynasty, Bao Dai.


Taking advantage of the resulting vacuum of power, the Communists, who created the Viet Minh in 1941, on August 13, 1945, at the II Party Conference in Tanchao, decided to revolt and elected a Provisional Government headed by Ho Chi Minh. The August Revolution eliminated the last institutions of the colonial administration: on August 19 the uprising won in Hanoi, on August 23 in Hue, on August 25 in Saigon. On August 30, Bao Dai publicly abdicated the imperial throne. On September 2, 1945, at a 500,000-strong rally in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh promulgated the Declaration of Independence, announcing to the world the proclamation of a new state throughout Vietnamese territory - the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), and on November 9, 1946, the National Assembly of the DRV adopted a constitution proclaiming the legislative body National Assembly elected by the people for a period of 3 years, between sessions of which the Standing Committee of the National Assembly acted, the head of state - the President, elected by the National Assembly, the executive body - the Government, local representative bodies - people's councils, local executive bodies - administrative committees, judicial bodies - Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, Courts of First Instance.

However, the international background in 1945-1946 was extremely unfavorable for the DRV. In accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, the United States and Britain were to carry out the disarmament of the Japanese troops. The United States delegated this right to the troops of Chiang Kai-shek, who occupied the northern part of Vietnam, starting from 16 ° N. sh. British troops occupied, respectively, the southern part of Vietnam, starting from the 16th parallel. The British command did not recognize the DRV and, moreover, helped the return of the French corps to the south of Vietnam. Thus, for the first time in the country's history, "so many occupiers turned out to be in it at the same time." On November 11, 1945, for tactical reasons, the CPIK announced its own dissolution, continuing to operate unofficially.

Against this difficult international background, on March 6, 1946, the Ho Chi Minh government agreed to sign the so-called Ho-Santeny agreements with France, according to which they agreed to the country's membership in the French Union in exchange for recognition of the sovereignty of the DRV. Under this agreement, the DRV recognized the military presence of France (instead of the army of Chiang Kai-shek, which was supposed to be withdrawn under the French-Chinese agreement concluded in February), for a period of five years. The status of the south of Vietnam (at that time Cochinchina) was to be decided by a referendum.

However, France sought to fully restore the colonial system, as it was confident in its military superiority. The continuation of the Franco-Vietnamese negotiations in April-May 1946 in Dalat did not give any positive results. Both sides were only playing for time in order to better prepare for the war. In May 1946, the "National Union of Vietnam"—the Lien-Viet Front—was created, uniting the Viet Minh and many parties and organizations in Vietnam for the purpose of jointly fighting against the French colonialists. Negotiations with the French side continued until December 1946, when it finally became clear that war was inevitable, and active hostilities began.


1946-1954: Vietnam during the First Indochina War

In November-December 1946, the first military clashes took place between the Vietnamese and French sides, which actually annulled the earlier Vietnamese-French agreements. On December 18-19, 1946, the Central Committee of the CPIK held a meeting in Wan Phuc, at which it was decided to launch the "War of Resistance" throughout the country. On December 19, fighting began, which did not stop in January 1947. A "nationwide, comprehensive and long war" began with a protracted guerrilla character.

The war between France and its former colonies, including Vietnam, took place in 3 stages: defense, active resistance and a general counteroffensive.

At the first stage of the war, the military and political leadership of the Viet Minh avoided major battles, trying to buy time to complete the creation of the not yet fully formed regular army and gain combat experience. The troops of the DRV at this stage left the main cities and provincial centers; the fighting was moved to villages, mountains and forests. The French expeditionary force occupied most of the cities and coastal areas. North Vietnam became the main arena of battles. In the fall of 1947, the French attempted to capture the headquarters of the Viet Minh leadership, then located in Viet Bac, but suffered a major defeat and were forced to retreat, suffering heavy losses.


After the defeat in Vietbac, in 1948-1950, a period of balance of power began in the war. France abandoned offensive operations, switched to the strategic defense of the areas of the DRV occupied by it, and decided "to fight against the Vietnamese with the hands of the Vietnamese themselves." In May 1948, the colonialists formed the puppet government of Nguyen Xuan in the occupied territory, and a year later they announced the creation of the state of Vietnam, headed by the former emperor Bao Dai (the last representative of the Nguyen dynasty).

During a period of calm, when there were no major military campaigns, in the territories controlled by the DRV, they began to carry out agrarian reforms and take measures to strengthen the army and consolidate their power. Decrees were issued on the confiscation of the lands of the French colonialists and Vietnamese "traitors" and on their transfer to the temporary use of poor peasants, on the reduction of land rent by 25%, on lease relations and the reduction of debt interest, etc. In March 1950, nationalization began mineral wealth of the country, the main irrigation systems, forests and communications. A decree of November 4, 1949 introduced universal compulsory military service. Under the leadership of General Vo Nguyen Giap, a series of measures were taken to transform the army from "amateur" to "professional". In this, the Viet Minh was greatly assisted by China, with which diplomatic relations were established in 1950 (diplomatic relations were also established with the USSR in the same year).

In 1950, the war came to a turning point. As early as 1949, the Việt Minh made the first "training" attempts at offensive operations, attacking French forts in the vicinity of Lao Cai. In 1950, the Việt Minh began offensive operations with the aim of clearing the territories bordering China in order to open a corridor through which aid from the socialist countries could flow to the DRV. As a result of the raid, a vast area of ​​northern Vietnam was liberated. In 1951, Giap launched a general counter-offensive, but it ended in failure, resulting in heavy losses.

In 1951, the CPIK was renamed the Vietnam Workers' Party (PTV), the party began to operate as an officially existing organization. In the same year, the Viet Minh and Lien Viet merged into a single national Lien Viet Front. Economic reforms were carried out: in the banking, monetary, tax, customs spheres.

In 1953, despite the intervention in the war by the United States and its active assistance, the value of which in 1953 reached 80% of France's military spending, the Vietnam People's Army launched a general offensive on all fronts, which lasted until July 1954. In the spring of 1954, she defeated the forces of the French colonial army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which became the biggest victory of the DRV in the War of Resistance. Major military defeats and anti-war protests in France itself forced the French government to negotiate a settlement of the Indochina problem. In July 1954, at the Geneva Conference, agreements were signed on the restoration of peace in Indochina. The agreements provided that the armed forces of the DRV and France would cease fire and within 300 days complete the regrouping of troops in two zones, respectively, to the north and south of the demarcation line, established approximately along the 17th parallel. After 2 years, it was planned to hold general elections, which were supposed to form a unified government of Vietnam and complete the unification of the country. The signing of the Geneva Accords meant international recognition of the sovereignty and independence of Vietnam.


Vietnam during the Second Indochina War

In the summer of 1954, the Geneva Accords were signed, providing for the complete independence of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as the early holding of free and general elections. Before the elections, the territory of Vietnam was temporarily divided into two halves along the Benhai River. This state of affairs did not suit the United States, which sought to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. With the assistance of the United States, the elections were disrupted, and the Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed in the south with its capital in Saigon, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. In 1959, the leadership of the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) came to the conclusion that it was necessary to unite the country by force. The National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NSLF, also known as the Viet Cong) was created, which, through guerrilla operations, tried to undermine the influence of the Saigon regime in the periphery. In the same year, a new constitution was adopted, renaming the Government into the Administrative Council, and the Supreme Court into the Supreme People's Court, the courts of appeal and courts of first instance were abolished, and local people's courts were created in their place, the Supreme People's Procurator's Office and local people's procuratorates were created.


By 1965, the NLF controlled at least 30% of South Vietnam. In response, the United States took advantage of the Tonkin incident (the shelling by Vietnamese boats of an American destroyer, allegedly located in neutral waters) in order to begin systematic bombing of the DRV, and began the transfer of troops to South Vietnam to fight the NLF. The Vietnam War began. However, the decisive actions of the partisans in the south and the successful resistance of the DRV to air raids (with significant support from the USSR) led to impressive losses among the Americans and forced Washington to sign the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, according to which American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. Without American support, the Saigon regime, which was in deep crisis, quickly fell as a result of the offensive of the North Vietnamese troops. On April 30, 1975, South Vietnamese troops surrendered Saigon.

Serious conflicts also occurred in the internal politics of North Vietnam. In the leadership of the Communist Party, supporters of the most rigid course and a more moderate group stood out. In 1967, the chairman of the Central Organizing Committee of the Central Committee, Le Duc Tho, and the Minister of Public Security, Tran Quoc Hoan, with the participation of the Secretary of the Central Committee, Le Duan, and with the consent of Ho Chi Minh, organized a campaign of repression against the "anti-party group" of moderates and supporters of Defense Minister Vo Nguyen Giap.

On July 2, 1976, the North and South of Vietnam were unified into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In 1976, the new constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) was adopted, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly and the position of the President were abolished, their functions were transferred to the State Council, the Government Council was renamed the Council of Ministers, the position of the Prime Minister became the Chairman Council of Ministers, administrative committees became known as people's committees.


Modern history

In 1974, China annexed the Paracel Islands, southeast of Hainan Island.

In December 1978, Vietnamese troops, in response to aggression, entered Cambodia and overthrew the Pol Pot regime, which caused sharp discontent in the PRC. As a result, in the spring of 1979, the Sino-Vietnamese war took place, during which the Vietnamese army managed to stop the advance of the Chinese troops invading the country, inflicting heavy losses on them. The diplomatic intervention of the USSR forced the PRC to abandon further actions against Vietnam. After that, armed incidents periodically occurred on the Sino-Vietnamese border. The war also aggravated the internal political situation in Vietnam: the former Politburo member Hoang Van Hoan fled to China, the party leadership carried out another political "purge" of the ranks.

During a short-term border war in 1979, China seized the disputed territories in the north from Vietnam. China also took over part of the Spratly Islands.

Relations between the PRC and the SRV were fully restored only in 1991 following the results of the top-level talks held on November 5-10.

In the 1980s, anti-communist political emigration and the underground tried to provide armed resistance. The largest were the actions of the emigrant-rebel formation of the National United Front for the Liberation of Vietnam under the command of former South Vietnamese officers Hoang Koh Minh and Le Hong. Such attempts were severely suppressed by the authorities. The last armed action of the rebels from abroad was a raid led by Dao Ba Ke in August 1989.

Blindly copying the Soviet model of the national economy led to a serious economic crisis in Vietnam. Under the influence of perestroika in the USSR and reforms in the PRC, the Vietnamese leadership in 1986 announced the start of a "renewal policy" ("Doi Moi"). In the political realm proper, this course envisaged a gradual and cautious liberalization of socio-economic life under the strict control of the state and the Communist Party, while maintaining the formal attributes of the socialist system.

In 1988, the Socialist Party of Vietnam and the Democratic Party of Vietnam dissolved themselves.

In 1992, the current constitution of Vietnam was adopted, the Council of State was abolished, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly and the position of the President were re-established, the Council of Ministers was renamed the Government, the position of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers was renamed the position of Prime Minister.

At present, Vietnam has undergone a partial liberalization of the economic system and a significant expansion of contacts with foreign countries, with some weakening of party control over all spheres of public life.

Vietnam is a full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). There are diplomatic relations with the USA. Diplomatic relations with the USSR were established on January 30, 1950.


State structure

The form of government of Vietnam (NRV) is a republic. The current Constitution was adopted on April 15, 1992. According to the Constitution, the leading role in the state and society belongs to the Communist Party of Vietnam.


Central authorities

The supreme body of state power is the unicameral National Assembly, which consists of 498 deputies elected for 5 years by direct universal suffrage. Only the National Assembly can adopt the Constitution and laws. It also monitors the observance of laws and the Constitution. The competence of the National Assembly is to consider reports on the work of the President, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, the Government, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. The Assembly approves the draft budget, establishes or cancels taxes. This body has the right to elect, dismiss, recall the President, the Vice President, the Chairman of the National Assembly and his deputies, members of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the Supreme People's Court and the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme People's Procuratorate; approves the proposal of the Prime Minister on the appointment or recall of members of the Government; cancels the acts of the above-mentioned bodies and officials in case they contradict the Constitution, laws or resolutions of the National Assembly. Among some other powers of the National Assembly: deciding on amnesty, establishing military and other titles, resolving issues of war and peace, ratifying and denouncing international treaties or treaties with the participation of Vietnam, deciding on a national referendum. In the 2010s, it turned out that the National Assembly could refuse the country's government: in 2010, the parliament blocked (as costly and inefficient) the government's project to build a high-speed railway between North and South Vietnam.

The permanent intersessional body of the National Assembly is its Standing Committee. He announces elections and convenes sessions of the National Assembly; interprets the Constitution, laws and decrees; issues decrees on behalf of the National Assembly; exercises control over the observance of the Constitution and laws; controls the activities of the Government, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate; Suspends the acts of the Government, the Prime Minister, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate that are contrary to the Constitution, laws, decisions of the National Assembly, and cancels their acts that are contrary to the decrees and decisions of the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee has the right to approve the proposal of the Prime Minister on the appointment, dismissal and recall of members of the Government and report on this to the National Assembly at the next session.

The head of state is the President, who is responsible to the National Assembly. He is elected by the National Assembly from among the deputies for a five-year term. The competence of the President includes such powers as: publication of the Constitution, laws, decrees; submit proposals to the National Assembly for the appointment, dismissal or recall of the Vice President and the Prime Minister, the President of the Supreme People's Court and the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme People's Procuratorate; conclusion on behalf of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam of international treaties; issuance of orders and decisions; the supreme command of the armed forces, etc. Since October 23, 2018, the president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has been the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong - thus, for the first time since Ho Chi Minh, there was a combination of the highest posts of the party and the state (the status of Truong Tinh as chairman of the State Council of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was not equivalent to the presidential ).

The executive body of the National Assembly and the highest administrative body of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the Government, which is responsible to the National Assembly, its Standing Committee and the President. The Government consists of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, ministers and other members. On the basis of acts of higher bodies, the Government issues decrees and decisions, and the Prime Minister issues decisions and directives.


Local authorities

Administratively, Vietnam consists of 58 provinces and five cities of central subordination: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, Da Nang and Can Tho. In these cities and provinces there are people's councils - government bodies elected by the population. Their term of office is 4 years. The provinces are divided into districts (counties), in which, as everywhere in cities and villages (communities), people's councils elected by the population operate. Since 1997, provinces and other administrative-territorial units have been granted the right to engage in foreign trade operations.


Judicial system

The judiciary includes the Supreme People's Court in Hanoi and subordinate people's courts in the provinces and major cities. The National Assembly may, in special cases, for example, when the interests of national security are affected, by its decision create a special judicial body. The Supreme People's Court exercises control over the work of subordinate institutions. Representatives of national minorities have the right to use their native language in court. At the state and provincial levels and in the army, there are people's inspectorates, each of which is led by responsible prosecutors, who carry out the tasks of monitoring the implementation of the law in state institutions, private organizations, military personnel and civilians. The judge considers cases at trials jointly with a council of people's assessors, consisting of five to nine people. There are over 10,000 such councils in the country.


Political parties

Political parties: The Communist Party of Vietnam is the ruling party, established in February 1930 at a unification conference of communist groups that had existed since the 1920s, held in exile in Hong Kong. Ho Chi Minh became the leader of the party. In October 1930, it was renamed the Communist Party of Indochina (CPI). In February 1951, the CPIK was transformed into the Vietnam Workers' Party (PTV). Ho Chi Minh became chairman of the Central Committee, who remained in this post until his death in 1969. In December 1976, the PTV was renamed the Communist Party of Vietnam. Le Duan became General Secretary of the Communist Party of Poland and remained so until his death in 1986.

The CPV is the only party in the country since the Democratic and Socialist parties ceased to exist in 1988.

Among other political organizations, the Fatherland Front of Vietnam, created in 1955 and included in 1977 the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (1960-1977) and the Union of National, Democratic and Peace-loving Forces of South Vietnam (1968-1977), is distinguished. The Vietnamese Fatherland Front also includes the Communist Party, the General Confederation of Workers (established in 1976), the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (established in 1931), the Vietnamese Women's Union (established in 1930), and other organizations.


Legal system

The legal system of Vietnam has developed as a result of the interaction of feudal Vietnamese law (written and customary), French law and the law of socialist countries.


History and general characteristics

During the pre-colonial period, Vietnamese law had much in common with the Chinese legal system. Legislation here receded into the background, ethical norms played the main role. The law was used subsidiarily and exclusively to resolve issues of national importance. The legislator left the regulation of relations between individuals to the family and the community, giving them the right to apply criminal sanctions.

During the French colonial rule, Western legal norms and institutions were introduced that were alien to the local mentality. During this period, the country was divided into 3 zones: northern, central and southern, in which different legislation was in force. Cochin China - southern Vietnam - received the status of a colony and was completely subject to French law. Three cities in the north also had the status of a colony and the corresponding legal regime: Hanoi, Haiphong and Turan. Annam - Central Vietnam - was a French protectorate and nominally ruled by a local king. In 1925, the King of Annam delegated his administrative and legislative powers to the French High Commissioner. North Vietnam, although it had the status of a protectorate, was directly subordinate to France.

In South Vietnam and the three cities listed, civil law was in force (according to the Decree of 1883). However, it was incomplete and in undescribed cases one had to refer to the Civil Code of Central Vietnam or customary law, which was written down in 1815 in the Gia Long code. Unlike South Central Vietnam, it had more complete codes: the Civil Code (1936-1939), the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure (1919), the Criminal Code (1933), the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Commercial Code (1942). In northern Vietnam, the Civil Code was adopted (1931).

After gaining independence, Vietnam was divided into two parts, the law in which developed in different ways. In the DRV, almost all colonial legislation was replaced. In the Constitution of 1959, the foundations of the legal system of the socialist type were enshrined. The model for this system was Soviet legislation. South Vietnam retained the old legislation. However, after 1954, all foreign acts were repealed.


The proclamation of a unified Vietnam in 1975 required the unification of legislation, which was to be built on socialist principles. The course towards the transition to market relations, taken in 1986, again required an almost complete restructuring of the legal system. In 1992, a new Constitution was adopted, and in 1995, the first all-Vietnamese Civil Code.

However, the Vietnamese legal system retained some of its former features: the monopoly leadership of the Communist Party, the official nature of the Marxist-Leninist ideology, the primacy of socialist property, public and state interests over private ones.

Sources of law: the constitution, laws and resolutions of the National Assembly, decrees (decrees) and resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, orders (ordinances) and decisions of the President of the Republic, decisions and directives of the Government, by-laws of ministries and departments, local authorities.

In hard-to-reach rural areas, customary law can be used (according to Article 5 of the Constitution, each nationality has the right to “preserve and develop its excellent morals and customs”).


Public holidays and symbols

Public holidays (weekends):
Tet (New Year) - a week off in January or February (celebrated according to the lunisolar calendar, respectively, the holiday has no fixed date);
Founding Day of the Communist Party of Vietnam - February 3;
Commemoration Day of the Hung Kings - usually celebrated in April (celebrated according to the lunisolar calendar, respectively, the holiday has no fixed date);
April 30 - South Vietnam Liberation Day;
May 1 - Workers' Day;
September 2 - Independence Day (from France since 1945).


Armed forces, police, state security agencies

Everything related to the Vietnam People's Army and other security forces is strictly classified. In November 1998, the National Assembly voted for the "transparency" of information in the field of public administration, after which the government developed a detailed program to familiarize the public with the financing of the services and departments it manages (it does not apply to the army, internal security agencies and party organizations). The number of military personnel in the country is estimated at approximately 0.5 million people, and security personnel - 2 million people. The internal affairs bodies are the Vietnam People's Police, the state security bodies are the Vietnam People's Security.

The Minister of Defense of Vietnam since 2016 is General of the Army Ngo Xuan Lit, the Minister of Public Security is Colonel General To Lam. Both generals are members of the Politburo of the CPV Central Committee.


Foreign policy

August 31, 2004 - The DPRK Foreign Ministry announced the recall of the North Korean ambassador to Vietnam in connection with "Vietnam's participation in a conspiracy", as a result of which 460 North Korean refugees were brought to South Korea in July 2004. The DPRK Foreign Ministry demanded an official apology from Vietnam and threatened to withdraw all employees of its diplomatic mission in Vietnam if the authorities of this country do not guarantee that such incidents will not happen again.

Administrative-territorial structure
The administrative division of Vietnam is defined by the Vietnamese Constitution of 1992 and has three levels.

At the first, largest level, the whole country is divided into 58 provinces and 5 large cities of central subordination with the same status as the provinces.

At the second level, there are smaller administrative units - urban areas, cities of provincial subordination, small towns of local importance and rural areas - counties.

At the third level, there are the smallest administrative units - city blocks, urban communities-communes and rural communities-communes.

The smaller level of villages, villages, etc. is not administrative.


Physical and geographical characteristics

More than 80% of the territory of Vietnam is occupied by low and medium-altitude mountains. In the north, parallel to each other, blocky-folded ridges of southeastern strike - Hoanglienshon (with the highest point of Vietnam, Mount Fansipan - 3143 m), Shusung Tyaotiai, Shamshao, are stretched parallel to each other, separated by narrow, deep longitudinal valleys. The Truong Son Mountains (Annam Mountains) stretch along the western border. In the central and southern part of the country there are basement and basalt plateaus - Pleiku, Daklak, Lamvien, Zilin, which make up the Central Plateau.

The largest and most full-flowing rivers of Southeast Asia, the Hongha and Mekong, end their course in Vietnam, flowing into the South China Sea.

In the lower reaches and delta of Hong Hi in northern Vietnam, there is an alluvial-deltaic plain of Bacbo. Here is the highest population density of the country (1100 people / km²) and the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, is located.

The vast alluvial-delta plain of Nambo is located in the extreme southwest of the country in the Mekong Delta. It also has a high population density (450 people / km²) and the country's largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, is located.

Numerous small rivers flowing from the Tainguyen Plateau and the Annam Mountains formed a narrow strip of accumulative coastal plains at their confluence with the South China Sea.

Vietnam is located in the subequatorial monsoon climate, but due to the country's large length from north to south, the climatic conditions on its territory are somewhat different. Winter in the south is hot (26°C), in the north it is cool (15°C), the air temperature sometimes drops to 1°C due to the penetration of cold air from China. In the mountains at an altitude of more than 1500 m, frosts occur. The rainfall pattern also varies across Vietnam. Winters are dry in the south and wet in the north, and in summer monsoon rains water the entire territory of the country. In late summer and early autumn, the coast of Vietnam is visited by the destructive forces of typhoons. On the windward slopes of the mountains, 2500-3000 mm of precipitation falls annually, on the leeward slopes - 700-900 mm.


Geographical position

A state in Southeast Asia, located on the Indochina peninsula. It borders Laos and Cambodia to the west, China to the north, and the South China Sea to the east and south.



The territory of Vietnam is elongated in the meridional direction (the distance between the extreme northern and southern points is about 1750 km), and in the latitudinal direction its length is from 616 km in the north (from Mong Cai to the Vietnamese-Laos border) to 46.5 km in the central part ( in the Chungbo region). The length of the coastline is 3260 km. The diversity of Vietnam's natural conditions is due to its location at the junction of various natural zones and an ancient geological structure. The relief of the country is mountainous: more than three-quarters are occupied by mountains, plateaus and plateaus, mountain ranges separate Vietnam from neighboring states. Vietnam also includes islands and archipelagos.


Inland waters

There are 2360 rivers in Vietnam, the length of which exceeds 10 km. Sixteen of them have a catchment area of ​​more than 2,000 km2, and nine rivers in Vietnam have a basin of more than 10,000 km2. The basins of these nine rivers cover 80% of the country's territory and account for 70% of its water resources. The most full-flowing rivers of the country are the Mekong in the south and the Hongha (Red River) in the north. The length of the Mekong is about 4900 km, the basin area is 795 thousand km2. The length of the Red River is 1183 km, the basin area is about 158 ​​thousand km2.


Soils and minerals

The northern part of Vietnam is rich in various minerals. The main ones are coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, bauxite, tungsten, tin, ores of rare earth elements. In the southern part of the country, deposits of coal, gold and molybdenum are known.



The climate differs significantly between northern and southern Vietnam. The north has a temperate, changeable, tropical climate, with a cool season from November to April and a hot season from May to October. Southern Vietnam has a tropical climate: warm to very hot throughout the year, cooler from November to January, hot from February to May, and rainy season from May to October.

During the rainy season, typhoons often rage, which can cause flooding, especially in the Mekong Delta, but floods also occur in other coastal regions.



Since the 1990s, the Mekong Delta has increasingly felt the threat of flooding due to global warming: rising ocean levels and hurricanes lead to land landslides. The specially created Office of the State Program for Environmental Protection in the fight against climate change predicts that in 2100 the sea level may rise by 1 meter, and the provinces of the Mekong Delta are threatened with almost complete flooding. The government is pursuing a countermeasure program with different development scenarios. Under the program, dams and dams are being built, areas of protective coastal forests are being renewed, and work is underway to adapt flora and fauna to climate change.



The use of environmental toxins by the USA during the Vietnam War caused lasting damage to Vietnamese nature. In particular, dioxin-containing herbicides such as Agent Orange, of which the US Air Force sprayed over 45 million liters over the country, continue to be effective in large areas of the country because they decompose very slowly and have a half-life of around a decade. During the war, around half of the mangrove swamps, which cannot regenerate themselves, were destroyed. The leafless slopes in the interior still cannot be reforested because only very resilient grasses can survive, which are very susceptible to wildfires during the dry season. During the rainy season, extremely strong erosion occurs in these regions.

Not only those who came into direct contact with it (skin burns, chloracne, cancer) still suffer from the long-term consequences of the use of dioxin. The poison also found its way into the food chain, which, due to the damage it caused to the genetic material, led, among other things, to significantly increased numbers of miscarriages, stillbirths and miscarriages.

In addition to environmental toxins, a large number of unexploded bombs and landmines can also be found in rural areas. Farmers and scrap metal hunters continue to be killed or injured every year by exploding ammunition.

Millions of hectares of tropical forests that had previously suffered from herbicides have been destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture and deforestation since the 1960s. The north, which is sometimes difficult to access, is particularly affected by this. Although the government is trying to put a stop to this, the pressure of the rapidly growing population and the poverty in the mountain provinces repeatedly leads the population to burn down forests to gain farmland. Despite strict legal regulations, tropical woods such as teak are still being harvested illegally in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia in order to make furniture for the European, US and Japanese markets.

There are programs, some with large amounts of foreign aid, that are intended to increase Vietnamese people's environmental awareness. Government and environmental organizations have high hopes for the development of ecotourism. They have already established several national parks - the oldest of which dates back to 1962 - and some of the country's landscapes are under special protection by UNESCO.


Administrative division

Vietnam is divided into 58 provinces and five municipalities. Below this level are cities, districts and villages. The people's councils of the provinces and municipalities are directly subordinate to the central government. There are also elected people's councils at the district and municipal level, to which the local authorities are bound to a certain extent. The People's Councils also elect the People's Committees, which represent the regional governments.



The two most important cities by far are the capital Hanoi (Hà Nội) and the largest city in Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City (Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, formerly Saigon). While the latter is one of the fastest-growing boom cities in the world and is considered the economic center of ASEAN, Hà Nội has a reputation for being quieter and more elegant. In fact, Hà Nội is far behind the southern metropolis in economic matters.

The port cities of Đà Nẵng, Hải Phòng and Nha Trang have a strong French influence in their cityscape. This can be seen, among other things, in the churches and villas in the cities. The cities of Huế as the capital during the last imperial dynasty and the imperial summer residence of Đà Lạt in the southern highlands are of great historical importance and attract many visitors. The trading town of Hội An is also interesting for tourists because its old town, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is very well preserved. Pure industrial cities, on the other hand, are Vinh, Ninh Bình, Mỹ Tho or Bến Tre.

The entire coast is dotted with beaches, some of which are undeveloped for tourism. Examples of this are Mũi Né, Long Hải and Vũng Tàu on the South China Sea as well as Hà Tiên on or the island of Phú Quốc in the Gulf of Thailand.

In 2021, 38 percent of Vietnam's residents lived in cities. The 5 largest cities are (as of 2016):
Ho Chi Minh City: 6,642,000 inhabitants
Hanoi: 3,442,000 inhabitants
Da Nang: 915,000 inhabitants
Hai Phong: 842,000 inhabitants
Bien Hoa: 821,000 inhabitants



General characteristics

Population - 93,976,347 (July 2015 est.)
Annual increase - 1.1% (fertility - 1.91 births per woman, 137th in the world)
Average life expectancy - 69.7 years for men, 74.9 years for women
Urban population - 30%
Literacy - 96% male, 92% female (2002 est.)
Infection with the immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - 0.4% (estimated in 2009)


National composition

Ethnic composition - Viet 85.7%, Thai 1.9%, Thai 1.8%, Muong 1.5%, Khmer 1.5%, Miao 1.2%, Nungi 1.1% and others (according to the 2009 census of the year).



The official language is Vietnamese.



Religions - Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, atheists and followers of local animistic cults 80.8% (according to the 1999 census) .

The main religion of the Vietnamese is a system of folk beliefs, which is based on the rituals of "tho kung to thien" (the cult of ancestors), strictly performed by the majority of the country's inhabitants. This cult does not have a formalized dogma, hierarchy of clergy and social organization (communities, parishes, etc.) and, therefore, does not have the status of a religious denomination. During the 1999 census, all persons who found it difficult to indicate their religious affiliation were recorded as atheists. It should also be noted that Buddhist temples often serve as places of worship of ancestors, which caused another popular misconception, according to which more than 80% of Vietnamese are Buddhists.



General characteristics

The state-bureaucratic system of economic management led in the mid-1980s to its chronic crisis. In 1986, a period of reforms began to develop market relations while maintaining socialist development guidelines. In 1990, the National Assembly passed the first laws on private enterprises, on joint-stock companies and on limited liability companies, modeled on French law. However, the state reserved the right to complete control over private enterprise. New socio-economic relations were also confirmed in the 1992 Constitution, according to which economic life is based on public, collective and private property (Article 15).

A number of state-owned enterprises were privatized, the number of which decreased from 12,084 in 1991 to 6,300 in 1995. The latter occurred both through the liquidation of weak enterprises and the merger of enterprises. In 1991, for the first time, the state placed government bonds for 220.5 billion dongs, and then bonds in dollars began to be issued.

Market reforms have led to good results. From 1990 to 1997, GDP increased annually by 8.9%. In 1995-1997, Vietnam was the leader among the ASEAN member countries. By 2000, per capita GDP amounted to $400. Foreign direct investment, which in 1991 amounted to ≈2.3 billion US dollars, in 1997 increased to $31.2 billion, which accounted for 30% of all capital investments. In 1998, the export of goods and services accounted for 42% of GDP, import - 47% of GDP.

The Asian financial crisis of 1998-1999 led to the fact that imports to the country decreased by 3% while exports expanded by 0.9%, and the volume of foreign investment decreased.

GDP in 2009 - 92.4 billion dollars GDP per capita (according to purchasing power parity) - 2.9 thousand dollars (167th place in the world).

In Vietnam, there is no single minimum wage for the whole country, it is set for the four economic regions of the country, divided by the level of development and cost of living - from January 1, 2020 per month:
region I - 4.42 million dong ($190.51);
region II - 3.92 million dong ($168.94);
region III - 3.43 million dong ($147.83);
region IV - 3.07 million dong ($132.31).


Employment and unions

In Vietnam, only a small proportion of workers are unionized. As of mid-2014, there were 116,000 primary trade union organizations in the country, with over 8.3 million members. At the same time, there are often strikes (mainly at foreign enterprises) in the country - in 2009-2011 there were 1,712 strikes in Vietnam.

Labor migration abroad
In the early 2000s, the law “On the Basics of Sending Vietnamese Labor Migrants Abroad on Contracts” came into force. As a result, between 2001 and 2011, the number of people working abroad increased from 36,168 to 88,298.


Industry and Energy

Natural resources: phosphates, coal, manganese, bauxites, chromites, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower.

Industry (15% of employees, 40% of GDP) - cell phones, consumer electronics, computer components and office equipment, agricultural processing, clothing, footwear, oil production, shipbuilding. Service sector - 33% of employees, 39% of GDP. Unemployed - 6.5% (2009).

Electricity in the country is generated mainly by hydroelectric power plants, and if the start of the rainy season is delayed, there will be interruptions in electricity production. The plans for development include the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the province of Ninh Thuan according to a Russian project and with the help of Russian specialists. In addition, it is assumed that the new nuclear research center "Center for Nuclear Science and Technology" will also be built by Russian specialists.

Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture (52% of employees, 21% of GDP) - rice, coffee, rubber plants, cotton, tea (the total tea growing area is about 131 thousand hectares; the industry's income is about $ 150 million per year, of which 70% is the share of exports), peppers, soybeans, cashews, sugarcane, peanuts, bananas; bird; fishing and seafood.

The International Coffee Organization reported that in the first half of 2012, this Southeast Asian nation overtook Brazil in coffee bean production by 13%, making Vietnam the world's largest coffee bean exporter for the first time in history.



Vietnam's largest companies include:
PetroVietnam (Vietnam Oil and Gas Group),
samsung Electronics Vietnam,
Petrolimex (Vietnam National Petroleum Group),
Vietnam Electricity (EVN), Viettel Group,
Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Company (BSR),
Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT),
PetroVietnam Oil Corporation (PV Oil),
Vinacomin (Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group),
Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank),
Vietnam Airlines,
PetroVietnam Gas (PV Gas),
PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP),
honda Vietnam,
EVN SPC (EVN Southern Power Corporation),
Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV),
Vietinbank (Vietnam Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade),
EVN NPC (EVN Northern Power Corporation),
Doji Gold and Gems Group.

The largest private Vietnamese companies include Saigon Jewelry Company, Asia Commercial Bank, FPT Group (Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology), Vinamilk (Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company), Vietnam Technological and Commercial Bank, Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank, Vietnam Export Import Commercial Bank, Phu Nhuan Jewelry Company, Hoa Phat Group and Maritime Commercial Bank.

Also among the largest companies in Vietnam are Tan Tao Group, PetroVietnam Insurance, Hau Giang Pharmaceutical, PetroVietnam Fertilizer and Chemicals, Dong Phu Rubber, PetroVietnam Drilling & Well Services, Vinashin Petroleum Investment Transport.


Foreign economic relations

Vietnam exports crude oil, seafood, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, clothing and footwear ($214 billion in 2017). The main buyers are the USA 20.1%, China 14.5%, Japan 8%, South Korea 7%.

Vietnam imports industrial products, oil products, fertilizers, grain, cotton, cement, motorcycles ($211.1 billion in 2017). The main suppliers are China 25.8%, South Korea 20.5%, Japan 7.8%, Thailand 4.9%.

In the past, the USSR and Vietnam cooperated closely in various fields: agriculture, oil production, construction and science, not to mention the military-technical industry. Now many projects are closed, but the Vietsovpetro joint venture in the city of Vung Tau and the Tropical Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Hanoi (with branches in Ho Chi Minh and Nha Trang) are still operating. Cooperation in the field of energy with the Russian holding Power Machines continues. In total, there are 64 projects in the country with the participation of Russian capital in the amount of $390.3 million (excluding Vietsovpetro).

In 2008, VimpelCom, together with GTEL Corporation, founded the Vietnamese-Russian company GTel Mobile JSC with a 49% stake. From August 2009 to September 2012, GTel Mobile provided cellular services under the "Beeline VN" brand in the three largest cities of the country - Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang. In April 2012, due to failures and disagreements with the Vietnamese shareholders, VimpelCom left the country's market, transferring all its shares to the Vietnamese side.

For a long time, the economic growth of Vietnam was hampered by the American embargo and the excessive guardianship of the Soviet state - foreign capital was not welcome in the country. In December 1988, the Vietnamese government passed a law on foreign investment, which guaranteed companies from other countries that their property and profits would not be nationalized. At first, companies from the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, first of all South Korea and Australia, and then many others, reached out to Vietnam. And in 1997, the Vietnamese parliament allowed all provinces and districts to independently conduct foreign trade operations. On January 11, 2007, Vietnam became the 150th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).


Foreign investment

In recent years, many foreign companies, especially those in the consumer electronics and high-tech industries, have moved their manufacturing and R&D facilities from neighboring China to Vietnam. The main reasons for this are cheaper labor, tax incentives and proximity to existing factories and logistics centers in China, Korea and Japan. Among the largest investors are Samsung (smartphone production), LG Electronics (TV production), Nokia (mobile phone production), Panasonic (consumer electronics production), Intel (chip production), Fuji Xerox (printer production).


Social sphere

Vietnam has a high poverty rate. In 2006, the poverty rate was set in the city at the equivalent of $0.54 per day per capita, in rural areas - $0.42. Later, these indicators were indexed to the level of inflation. A number of government programs have been adopted to fight poverty. Government Program No. 135 for the development of mountainous and remote areas (approved in 1998): 21 trillion dong allocated to provincial banks. Banks also provided soft loans to 2,362 communes in 22 provinces. After the implementation of program No. 135, the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty decreased from 37.4% in 1998 to 12.6% in 2011.


The problem of social inequality

Vietnam has a fairly high level of income inequality. And the gap is growing overall. In 2002, nationwide, the incomes of the top 20% of the group exceeded the incomes of the bottom 20% by 8.1 times, and in 2010 by 9.2 times.


Pensions and social benefits

According to official data, there are 3.5-5 million disabled people in the country, whose average state pension in 2007-2008 was 3-10 dollars, depending on where and by whom they were cared for.



In the late 1990s, 6 million people, or 8-9% of the Vietnamese population, were covered by universal free health insurance. Almost every village center has medical workers. In 2008, the health care reform began, as a result of which in 2010 the share of the population covered by compulsory health insurance increased to 62%.


Transport and communications

Water transport

A huge role in transportation is played by water transport - 5149 km of navigable rivers and canals, over 3 thousand km. sea ​​coast and extensive lake network are served by thousands of coasters, private boats and boats. In most cases, the cost of the trip must be agreed directly with the captain or owner of the vessel.


Automobile transport

Land roads in Vietnam have a length of about 93.3 thousand km. and only 10 thousand km. of the tracks are asphalted [source not specified 532 days], the rest are either gravel "highways" or unpaved roads.


Railway transport

The total length of the country's railways is about 2.6 thousand km. for the most part, they are all narrow-gauge, operated by the state-owned Vietnam Railways. The most dense network of railways connects the north and south of the country along the coast with a separate line to Beijing. Most flights depart twice a week. The trains are quite old, move slowly, with frequent stops, but are more spacious and safer than buses. There are several types of cars - seated hard, seated soft, hard sleeper, soft sleeper and sleeping with air conditioning. The level of service improves depending on the class - soft sleeping cars are quite modern and are located in European-style cars.

The most convenient is the "Reunion Express" (runs between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, 1730 km.), The rest of the flights are indicated by an alphanumeric combination (E1 - express, S1 - ambulance, etc.). Tickets must be purchased in advance and kept until the end of the trip.


Airlines of Vietnam

There are 20 civil airports in Vietnam, including international ones: Hanoi, Da Nang and Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City. Tan Son Nhat is the country's largest airport, through which the majority of passengers on international flights pass[86]. According to the state plan, seven more international airports will open in Vietnam in 2015: Vinh, Hue, Cam Ranh, Phu Quoc, Hai Phong Cat Bi, Can Tho and Long Thanh. The latter should receive 100 million passengers annually, starting in 2025, when it will be fully operational.

In 2012, state-owned carrier Vietnam Airlines had a fleet of 86 passenger aircraft and planned to expand it to 170 by 2020. Several private airlines also operate in the country, including Air Mekong, Bamboo Airways, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, VASCO and VietJet Air.

The airport tax is collected from all passengers. For international flights, it ranges from $12 (when departing from Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi airports) to $8 (from Da Nang), for domestic flights - 20,000 dong (from airports in central cities) and 10,000 dong (from provincial ones).


Bus service in Vietnam

Intercity buses are very cheap and cover almost the entire territory of the country. Most of the park is in a dilapidated condition, the cars most often move extremely slowly and are constantly overcrowded. There are special “big bus” buses, which are ideally designed for wealthy locals and foreigners (equipped with air conditioning, the place is indicated on the ticket), but even they rarely reach speeds of more than 50 km / h. A real alternative to them are minibuses, which can be rented from almost any travel agency or transport company at a relatively low price. Many buses stop right on the highway to pick up or drop off passengers.

In Ho Chi Minh City, tickets can be purchased at Pham Ngu Lao - this is the tourist area of ​​​​the city. From there, there are also Open Bus buses. You can also buy a bus ticket at the reception of your hotel. If they do not sell themselves, they will definitely tell you where to go. In general, bus tickets, at least in Mui Ne, are traded by everyone who is not too lazy, but it is worth ordering in advance - at least half a day in advance. All buses have soft seats and air conditioning, and it can even be cold there. On some routes there are special sleeping buses with lying places.


Culture and society

History and general characteristics

The formation of Vietnamese culture was strongly influenced by the largest religious and philosophical teachings of the East - Buddhism and Confucianism - along with which the corresponding artistic traditions of India and China also came to the country. At the same time, in some periods of history, Chinese culture was implanted by violent methods, this was especially evident in the 1st and 7th centuries.

Also, despite foreign influence, a national cultural tradition, ding lang, is being formed in the rural environment. It included religious representations, complex ceremonies and rituals, cult architecture and sculpture, folk painting. Moreover, many of the types of traditional art, although they have undergone some changes, have survived to this day.

The highest achievement of Vietnamese art of the ancient period is the famous bronze products from North Vietnam, belonging to the Dong Son culture (IX-VIII centuries BC - I-II centuries AD), which were found there at the end of the 17th century . Among these bronze finds were tools, jewelry, household utensils, as well as well-known bronze drums used during agricultural rituals.

In the era of Chinese expansion I-X centuries. the Vietnamese are getting acquainted with a higher technology of pottery - now glazed faience products are made from clay: bowls, lamps, incense burners, colored tiles. In the III century, the production of paper from the bark and leaves of the aloe tree and seaweed begins. The art of artistic varnishes is spreading. Weaving from jute, flax, and bamboo fibers is being further developed. High level in the VIII-X centuries. achieves the art of silk fabrics.

In the XI-XII centuries. Buddhism, which has become the state religion, has a strong influence on various areas of life in Vietnam. The construction of temples, pagodas and monasteries reaches an unprecedented scale. However, the buildings of that period have practically not been preserved; ideas about them can only be formed from excavation data and inscriptions on memorial steles. An indispensable attribute of the temple decor was the image of the dragon, which was one of the four sacred animals, along with the phoenix, the unicorn and the tortoise. The dragon was considered the patron ancestor of the Vietnamese and was revered as the master of the water element.

The motif of the four sacred animals, to which four more sacred animals are sometimes added - a fish, a bat, a mythical crane and a tiger - is most common in the decorative arts of Vietnam. Other common elements are the "eight precious objects", symbolizing wealth and education - the fruit of a gourd, the tip of a brush, a fan of fig leaves, a flute, a basket of flowers, a sword, a gong, a broom of feathers; "eight fruits" - peach, pomegranate, plum, pear, "Buddha's hand" fruit, grapes, calabash, round gourd; "four plants" - peach flower, chrysanthemum, bamboo, orchid; "four Seasons".

XI-XIV centuries became a period of significant development in the production of ceramics, which, according to the color of the glaze, were divided into two types: "gom men ngok" - with jade-colored glaze and "gom men nga" - with ivory-colored glaze. At the end of the 19th century, folk painting became widespread. These paintings were made in many villages and, due to the low price, could be purchased by any peasant. The subject of images could be religious, congratulatory, protective, historical, literary or satirical.

During the period of French colonization, the people of Vietnam get the opportunity to become familiar with European culture. A network of vocational schools is being opened in the country, and the Higher School of Fine Arts is being founded. The Vietnamese are discovering a new kind of fine art - easel painting. In the 20th century, traditional painting techniques received a new meaning - easel painting on silk and lacquer painting appeared.



In the 10th-12th centuries, early monuments of Vietnamese writing in hanvan were created. 13th-14th centuries - the period of the formation of court poetry, which adopted the Buddhist worldview. In poetic and prose form, works such as Chan Hyng Dao's "Appeal to the Commanders" reflect the theme of confronting the Mongols. In the XIV century, the short story "Collection of miracles and mysteries of the land of Viet" appears. Since the 15th century, poetry in colloquial Viet originates - "Collection of poems in the native language" by Nguyen Chai. An important role in the development of this direction was played by the literary association "Collection of twenty-eight stars". In the 16th century, dramaturgy and theatrical art reached a high level. At the end of the XVII - beginning of the XVIII centuries. saw the light of the historical-epic poem about the exploits of historical and legendary heroes "The Book of the Heavenly South". In the XVIII - early XIX centuries. the genre of the lyrical poem (ngem) appears, reflecting the inner world of a person and the genre of the poem on family and everyday topics. These traditions were united by the poem "The Lamentations of a Tortured Soul" by Nguyen Zu. From the second half of the 19th century, literature developed under colonial conditions. Modern genres - short story, novel, modern drama - appear in the 20th century under the influence of European literature.

After the 1945 revolution, the events that took place were reflected in numerous prose and poetic works in the spirit of socialist realism. The literature of South Vietnam was influenced by Western philosophical and literary trends: personalism, existentialism, etc. In 1968, a novel was written in the spirit of the literature of the "lost generation" - "Purple Horizon" by Van Kuang. Since 1976, literature has been formed in a single state, at the end of the 20th century. socio-psychological prose appears.



Painting of the 15th-18th centuries is temple paintings, scrolls on silk and paper. Religious painting, landscapes and popular prints are spreading, the main production centers of which were Hanoi and Dong Ho in its environs. Legends, literary works were used as the plot of popular prints, New Year's pictures gained great popularity: dongho, kimhoang and hangchong. In the 20th century, as a result of the combination of national and European traditions, lacquer painting and easel painting on silk appeared. The founder of the latter is Nguyen Phan Tien.

In North Vietnam, in the architecture of the 1st millennium AD the influence of the Chinese tradition was reflected, for example, mounds with a vaulted vault or stone sculptures of animals. In central Vietnam, the influence of Indian traditions is felt: a typical cult building of Champa is a kalan - a brick building in the form of a tower, standing on a high plinth and ending with a stepped top. In the design of the facades of buildings, sculptural images of the deities of the Hindu pantheon were used.

The heyday of the architecture of North Vietnam is associated with the formation of the centralized state of Dai Viet. Buddhist temples and monasteries are being built all over the country. They are characterized by the symmetry of the plan and the use of wood as the main material. The layout of the Temple of Literature and the architectural techniques used in its construction testify to Chinese influence. Temple Pagoda on one pillar is an example of intimacy and exquisite decorativeness in the cult architecture of Vietnam.

Architecture of the XIII-XVIII centuries. It is represented by temples of various religions, mausoleums of dignitaries, covered bridges and markets. Among the most significant temple and monastery buildings are the But-Thap and Tei-Phuong complexes (XIII-XIV centuries, rebuilt in the XVII-XVIII centuries).

The monuments of the Bakshon culture have survived - sets of lithophones, the culture of Dongshon - bronze drums. Traditional music was influenced by China. She also inherited the culture of the Champa state, which was so high that it was used in Japan and the Khmer state of Funan. In the 11th-13th centuries, musical theatrical forms took shape - the tuong theater. In the 13th-18th centuries, court music, which included dainak - "great music" and nanjak - "fine music", consisted of orchestral compositions, hymns, and dance music. The music was influenced by Ch'an Buddhism. The peoples of Vietnam have their own traditions and instruments - jew's harps, xylophones, gongs, earthen zithers, and varieties of strings. Since the end of the 19th century, music has been under European influence. In the 1920s, the kai luong musical theater emerged. Mass songs appeared in the 1930s, jazz in the 1940s. In the 1950s, a national school of composers was created, European genres of opera, symphony, etc. were adopted. In the 1970s and 1980s, many musicians studied in the USSR.



The traditional theatrical art of Vietnam is made up of the musical and dramatic genres of tuong and teo.

The tuong theater, which is based on the cult of ancestors, arose as court entertainment in the 11th-13th centuries. in northern Vietnam. It developed under Chinese influence. Make-up and costumes were borrowed from China. The action was not divided into acts. Gestures, intonations, costumes were important. Decorations were not used. The repertoire was dominated by plays about the events of Vietnamese history and reworkings of Chinese stories. In the 19th century, the playwright Tan Da created a number of works in the tuong genre by order of the imperial court.

Theo is an impromptu folk theatre. It comes from annual celebrations to celebrate the rice harvest. Includes folk music, dancing, choral singing. The plays often had a satirical focus, denouncing the vices of the upper classes. The playwright Nguyen Dinh Ngy (first half of the 20th century) gained the greatest popularity. He created over 50 historical, comedic and satirical plays.

In the 20th century, touong i teo gradually replaced kai luong, a musical theater based on the art of wandering singers. Modern folk melodies, scenery, curtain, lighting effects, division into acts were used here. This genre was popularized by the poet The Ly.

Kitnaya is a modern "conversational" or dramatic theater. During the war years 1946-1954. kai luong and whale were the most popular genres. Vietnam also has a water puppet theater.

In the 21st century, with the development of television and cinema, traditional theatrical genres are declining. Due to budget cuts, some theaters were disbanded, private studio theaters and entreprises appeared.



There are four varieties of Vietnamese traditional dance: folk, religious, court and theatrical. Folk dances are held to the sounds of drums, rattles and singing. There is a plow dance, a dance of rowers, a dance of living chess pieces, a New Year's dance of a unicorn, a dance of prayer for rain. Another type of dance is performed by members of religious communities, such as the sorcerer's dance with incense sticks. Or the Mua Bong and Mua Chao dance performed by female shamans. Also a dance of six offerings performed by Buddhist monks. Dances were common at the courts of emperors, for example, the Bat dat dance, which has Chinese roots, was performed by 128 dancers, the dance of the three stars, the dance of the four legendary animals (dragon, unicorn, phoenix and turtle), the dance of female warriors. Dances associated with tuong and teo theater have a deep elaboration of form, each movement or gesture reflects the emotional state of the character.

In the 1920s, choreographic miniatures became widespread. In 1961, the first multi-act ballet performances were staged. Ballet dancers were trained in socialist countries.



The first feature film filmed in the Vietnamese territory of French Indochina is Kim, Van and Kieu, a 1923 film based on the classic novel by Nguyen Dhu. In the years 1920-1940, under the guidance of French and Chinese cinematographers, some silent and sound films were also shot there, such as “Madam Zhe” (1929, dir. J. Spesh), “Valley of Ghosts” (1938, dir. Chang Fee), “ Evening on the Mekong River ”(1940, dir. A. Zau), etc.

After the declaration of the DRV in 1945, semi-underground documentary films began to develop, for example, films about the struggle against French colonialism, the construction of canals, and the fight against drought.

In 1954, after the French left, Vietnam was divided into North and South. The first Vietnamese filmmakers were trained in France or in the USSR. In South Vietnam, commercially oriented or anti-communist propaganda films are being shot at this time, processing and editing of which are carried out abroad. In 1956, together with the Philippines, the famous South Vietnamese anti-communist film We Want to Live (directed by Vinh Noan and Manuel Conde) was filmed. In North Vietnam, the first film studio was established in 1956. In 1959, the first feature film in the DRV, On the Banks of a River, was released (directed by Pham Hieu Zan and Nguyen Hong Ngi). In the 1960s, North Vietnamese cinema developed the themes of socialist construction in northern Vietnam and the liberation struggle.

In 1975, after the victory of the communists, North and South Vietnam were reunited. In the 1970s and 1980s, the main themes of cinema were the heroism of the army and the people and the building of a socialist society.

At the turn of the XX-XXI centuries. Vietnamese directors sought to move away from ideological clichés and propaganda, and the search for new forms became characteristic. Joint filming of films with the participation of former emigrants - cinematographers of the Vietnamese diaspora has become widespread.

In Vietnam, the training of specialists for the film industry is carried out at the State Institute of Theater and Film of Vietnam. Since 1970, the National Vietnam Film Festival has been regularly held in Vietnam.

Since 2003, the United States has regularly hosted the International Film Festival of Vietnamese Diaspora Cinematographers The International Vietnamese Film Festival "Vietfilmfest", in which Vietnamese filmmakers also take an active part.


Customs and way of life

Polygamy was actively practiced in Vietnam for many centuries until it was banned by the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1959. However, after the Vietnam War (1957-1975), illegal polygamy, caused by a gender imbalance resulting from the death of a large number of men during this war, remained quite common.

Mass media
Radio and TV
VTV1 - General News and Politics Channel;
VTV2 - Channel of culture, life, science and education;
VTV3 - Channel of music, information and entertainment;
VTV4 - Channel for foreign residents;
VTV5 - Foreign Broadcasting Channel, as well as Auto Channel;



Sports such as football, table tennis, chess, and traditional martial arts are popular in the country. Vietnamese athletes have been participating in the Summer Olympics since 1952. Throughout history, the Vietnamese have won one gold and three silver awards. The only Olympic champion in the history of Vietnam is the pistol shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh, who won the 2016 Games. Vietnamese athletes have not yet participated in the Winter Olympics.

Vietnam constantly participates and achieves success in the Asian Championships and the Southeast Asian Games. At the 2003 Games, Vietnam was the host country, and the country's athletes won first place in the overall medal standings. At the last Games of 2015 in Singapore (as well as at the Games of 2011 in Indonesia and 2013 in Myanmar), the Vietnamese team took third place in the overall medal standings.

In 2007, the country hosted the Asian Football Championship jointly with Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The team left the group, but in the quarterfinals lost to the future championship victor Iraq. In 2019, the Vietnamese national team played for the second time at the Asian Cup and again reached the 1/4 finals, where they lost 0:1 to Japan. In 2008 and 2018, Vietnam won the ASEAN Football Championship.

In the 2010s, there has been progress in chess, with Vietnam taking eighth place at the 2018 Chess Olympiad. Grandmaster Le Quang Liem has been in the top 50 of the FIDE world ranking since 2015. A variant of xiangqi called ko-tuong is popular in the country. Also in 2012, Vietnam hosted the first international cycling race, the Tour of Vietnam.