Vietnam is officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It is
located on the Indo China peninsula of southeast Asia and is bordered by
Cambodia, Laos and China. It has a population of over 90 million.
Vietnam separated from China through battle in 938AD and was taken over by
the French in the mid 19th century. When the French were driven out
in the mid 20th century during the First Indochina War, the country became
divided into North and South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War with the
United States, the North Vietnamese took control of the country and
consolidated it in 1974. The influence of the Vietnam War is
significant with evidence today of Agent Orange deformities and 3.5 million
unexploded land mines and cluster bombs causing injury and
amputations. The ordinance is spread over 16 million acres and over
40,000 people have been killed since 1975. Most ordinance is found
at the De Militarized Zone that marked the boundary between North and
South Vietnam. For perspective, it's referred to in Vietnam as the
Since the 1990s, Vietnam has become a major tourist attraction.
It's roughly a 17 hour flight from Seattle or Vancouver. Visas are
required. The monsoon season runs from June to September while the
typhoon season can extend into December. November and December are
good choices for a visit, with cooler temperatures (around 80F), low
rainfall and high humidity. Don't swim without shoes in the ocean
due to stinging sea life and try not to show your ignorance by crossing your
chopsticks, which symbolizes death. Get ready for scooter and cyclo
transportation, as there is very little infrastructure in Vietnam.
You can't beat the adventure of riding through traffic on a three wheeled
cyclo, pedalled for you from behind while you lead feet first into the
chaotic traffic of Vietnam. One of the common tourist experiences in
southeast Asia is to take half day cooking classes. Another common
tourist attraction is traditional water puppet shows - wooden puppets
performing on a water surface. Buying clothes made to measure
is also a favorite tourist past time.
Travel visas are required for the citizens of many countries, including
Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, the US and the UK. The
application can be completed with a Vietnamese embassy or online on the Vietnamese
Minstry of Foreign Affairs web site. A list of Vietnamese
embassies can be found on their web site. The process includes submitting a passport, an application,
a photo and a fee. For a listing of countries that are exempt from travel visa
requirements for Vietnam, visit the Vietnamese
Minstry of Foreign Affairs web site or check your specific country at VisaHQ.
For a list of exempt countries, visit Project
Visa. Some tour companies are able to
arrange Vietnamese visas on arrival.