Vietnam is located in both a tropical and a temperate zone. It is characterized by strong monsoon influences, but has a considerable amount of sun, a high rate of rainfall, and high humidity. Regions located near the tropics and in the mountainous regions are endowed with a temperate climate.
Three quarters of Vietnam’s territory consists of mountains and hills. Vietnam is divided into four distinct mountainous zones.
Vietnam has a variety of mineral resources. Located beneath the subsoil are precious stones, coal and valuable minerals such as tin, zinc, silver, gold and antimony. Vietnam also has large deposits of oil and gas on its offshore islands and on the mainland.
Viet Nam’s diverse natural environment, geography, history, and culture have created a great potential for the tourism industry. Viet Nam consists of long coastlines, forests, and mountainous regions with numerous magnificent landscapes. As well, Viet Nam has along history and diversified culture with variety of ancient architecture constructions, and wonderful legends.
Area: 3,324.92 sq. km
Population:6,448.900 thousand habitants (April 2009).
-10 Urban districts: Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Tay Ho, Thanh Xuan, Cau Giay, Long Bien, Hoang Mai, Ha Dong.
- 1 Town: Son Tay.
- 18 rural districts: Dong Anh, Soc Son, Thanh Tri, Tu Liem, Gia Lam (Hanoi); Ba Vi, Chuong My, Dan Phuong, Hoai Duc, My Duc, Phu Xuyen, Phuc Tho, Quoc Oai, Thach That, Thanh Oai. Thuong Tin, Ung Hoa (former Ha Tay province) and Me Linh (a former district of Vinh Phuc province).
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Muong, Tay, Dao…
Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the center of culture, politics, economy and trade of the whole country.
Hanoi is located in the Red River Delta, in the center of North Vietnam. It is encompassed by Thai Nguyen to the north, Vinh Phuc and Ha Tay provinces to the west and south, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Hung Yen provinces to the east and south-east.
Hanoi means “the hinterland between the rivers” (Ha: river, Noi: interior). Hanoi’s territory is washed by the Red River (the portion of the Red River embracing Hanoi is approximately 40km long) and its tributaries, but there are some other rivers flowing through the capital, including Duong, Cau, Ca Lo, Day, Nhue, Tich, To Lich and Kim Nguu.
Hanoi is situated in a tropical monsoon zone with two main seasons. During the dry season, which lasts from October to April, it is cold and there is very little rainfall, except from January to March, when the weather is still cold but there is some light rain. The wet season, from May to September, is hot with heavy rains and storms. The average annual temperature is 23.20C (73.70F) and the average annual rainfall is 1,800mm. The average temperature in winter is 17.20C (62.90F), but can go down to 80C (46.40F). The average temperature in summer is 29.20C (84.60F), but can reach up to 390C (102.20F).
Hanoi is a sacred land of Vietnam. In the 3rd century BC, Co Loa (actually belonging to Dong Anh District) was chosen as the capital of the Au Lac Nation of Thuc An Duong Vuong (the King Thuc). Hanoi later became the core of the resistance movements against the Northern invasions. Located in the middle of the Red River Delta, the town has gradually expanded to become a very populations and rich residential center. At different periods, Hanoi had been selected as the chief city of Vietnam under the Northern domination.In the autumn of Canh Tuat lunar years (1010), Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty, decided to transfer the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La, and so he rebaptized it Thang Long (Soaring Dragon). The year 1010 then became an historical date for Hanoi and for the whole country in general. For about a thousand years, the capital was called Thang Long, then changing to Dong Do, Dong Kinh, and finally to Hanoi, in 1831. This sacred piece of land thereafter continued to be the theatre of many fateful events.
Throughout the thousand years of its eventful history, marked by destruction, wars and natural calamities, Hanoi still preserves many ancient architectural works including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples. Famous sites include the One Pillar Pagoda (built in 1049), the Temple of Literature (built in 1070), Hanoi Citadel, Hanoi Opera House, President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum…
Temple of Literature
Hanoi also characteristically contains 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake…, which are the lungs of the city, with their surrounding gardens and trees providing a vital source of energy.
Many traditional handicrafts are also practiced in Hanoi including bronze molding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery. Hanoi has many famous traditional professional handicraft villages such as Bat Trang pottery village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, Yen Thai glossy silk…
Ha Long Bay (World Natural Heritage)
Situated in the north-east region of Viet Nam, Halong Bay is a part of Bac Bo Gulf and comprises the sea area of Halong City, Cam Pha Town and a part of Van Don island district, Quang Ninh Province. It borders Cat Ba Island to the south-west, the mainland to the west with a 120km-long coastline.
Halong Bay covers a total area of 1,553km², including 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. There are two kinds, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the south-east (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay) and the south-west (belonging to Halong Bay). The average geological age of the islands is between 250 and 280 million years old.
Halong Bay has been called by the great national poet Nguyen Trai: “a marvel of the earth erected towards the high skies”. While exploring the bay, tourists will feel lost in a legendary world of stone islands which shapes change depending on the angle and the light. There are many names given to islands according to their shapes and forms such as Hon Dau Nguoi (Human Head Islet), Hon Rong (Dragon Islet), Hon Canh Buom (Sail Islet), Hon Trong Mai (Cock and Hen Islet)… But the beauty of Halong Bay does not consist only in the forms of its mountains, islands and the colour of its waters, but also in its infinitely rich system of grottoes and caves such as: Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace Grotto), Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto), Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), Tam Cung (Three Palace Grotto), Trinh Nu (Virgin Grotto)…. Each is a grandiose and refined natural architectural creation.
The most remarkable geological events of Halong Bay’s history in the last 1,000 years include the advance of the sea, the raising of the bay area and the strong erosion that has formed coral and pure blue and heavily-salted water. This process of erosion by sea water has deeply engraved the stone, contributing to its fantastic beauty. Present-day Halong Bay is the result of this long process of geological evolution that has been influenced by so many factors. It is because of all these factors that the tourists now visiting Halong Bay are not only treated to one of the true wonders of the world, but also to a precious geological museum that has been naturally preserved in the open air for the last 300 million years.
Value of biological diversity
Results of scientific research show that Halong Bay features ecosystems of a tropical ocean region such as ecosystem of coral reefs with 232 species of coral distributed mainly in the areas of Cong Do and Bo Hung. It is also home to 81 species of gastropoda, 130 species of bivalvia, 55 species of polycheta and 57 species of crab. The ecosystem of salt water-flooded forests chiefly concentrated in the zones of Tuan Chau, Cua Luc and Ba Che has the most diversified collection of species of salt water-flooded plant in North Vietnam. Also living in this ecosystem are a great many species of animals: migrating birds (200 species), polycheta (169 species), seaweed (91 species), reptile (10 species). Halong Bay also has ecosystem of tropical rain forests with various rare and precious creatures: deer, weasels, squirrels and in particular, white-tabby and red-haired monkeys. In addition, there is a system of small caves along the sea, which are the living and development places for many animals and plants: seaweed, water plant, algae, fish and shrimp. Deeper into the water, there are also many species of shrimp, fish, abalone and other sea-specialities.
Historical and cultural value
Halong is a place closely linked to Vietnam’s history with such famous geographical names as: Van Don (site of an ancient commercial port); Poem Mountain (with engravings of many poems by emperors and other famous people of the past); and Bach Dang River (the location of two fierce naval battles fought against foreign aggressors). This is not all, Halong has been proven by scientists to be one of the first cradles of human existence in the area, with such archaeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu and Thoi Gieng…
On December 17, 1994, Halong Bay was recognised as world natural heritage for its natural beauty at the 18th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Thailand. On December 12, 2000, Halong Bay was recognised as world natural heritage for the second time based on its geological value at the 24th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Cairns, Australia. The recognised site covers an area of 434km², comprises 775 islands and forms a triangle: with Dau Go Island (Driftwood Grotto) to the west; Ba Ham Lake (Three Shelter Lake) to the south and Cong Tay Island to the east.
Area: 678.6 sq. km
Population: 52.5 thousand habitants(2007)
- Townlet: Sapa
- Communes:Ban Khoang, Ta Giang Phinh, Trung Chai, Ta Phin, Sa Pa, San Sa Ho, Ban Phung, Lao Chai, Hau Thao, Thanh Kim, Ta Van, Su Pan, Suoi Thau, Ban Ho, Thanh Phu, Nam Sai, Nam Cang.
Located 38km from Lao Cai City, Sapa is a mountainous district of Lao Cai Province. Sapa District is very well-known with Sapa Townlet, a beautiful and romantic resort.
At the height of 1,650m above sea level, the average temperature of the area is 15-18oC. It is cool in summer and cold in winter. Visitor to Sapa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in one day. In the morning and afternoon, it is cool like the weather of spring and autumn. At noon, it is as sunny and cloudless as the weather of summer. And it is cold in the evening. With no advance warning of a thunderstorm short and heavy rains may come at noon on any summer day. Subsequently, a rainbow appears, transforming Sapa into a magic land, which for years has been a constant source of poetic inspiration, lights up the whole region.
The best time to witness the scenic beauty of Sapa is in April and May. Before that period, the weather might be cold and foggy; after that period is the rainy season. In April and May, Sapa is blooming with flowers and green pastures. The clouds that settle in the valley in early morning quickly disappear into thin air.
Sapa has many natural sites such as Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave.Sapa is also the starting point for many climbers and scientists who want to reach the top of Fansipan Mountain, the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143m. Hoang Lien Mountain Range is also called the Alps of the North Sea area since Fansipan Mountain is not only the highest peak in Vietnam, but also in the Indochina Peninsula. The pyramid-shaped mountain is covered with clouds all year round and temperatures often drop below zero, especially at high elevations.
The first thing you notice when approaching the resort town are some detached wooden mansions and villas perched on a hill top or hillside, behind thick pine forests and almost invisible on this foggy morning. Old and new villas with red roofs now appear and now disappear in the green rows of pomu trees, bringing the town the beauty of European towns.
Fresh and cool air in Sapa is an idea climate condition for growing temperate vegetables such as cabbage, chayote, precious medicinal herbs, and fruit trees such as plum, pear…
Sapa is home to various families of flowers of captivating colours, which can be found nowhere else in the country. When Tet, the Lunar New Year Festival, comes, the whole township of Sapa is filled with the pink colour of peach blossom brought from the vast forests of peach just outside the town. Sapa is regarded as the kingdom of orchids. Here, orchid lovers are even amazed by the choice, when trekking in the forest filled with several hundred kinds of orchids of brilliant colours and fantastic shapes, such as Orchid Princess, Orchid of My Fair Lady’s Shoe. Some orchids are named after lovely singing birds such as the canary, salangane’s nest, and more.
Area: 70.99 sq. km
Population: 339.8 thousand habitants (2009)
- Wards: Phu Nhuan, An Cuu, Truong An, Phuoc Vinh, Vinh Ninh, Phu Hoi, Xuan Phu, Vy Da, Tay Loc, Thuan Loc, Thuan Thanh, Thuan Hoa, Kim Long, Phu Hoa, Phu Cat, Phu Hiep, Phu Hau, Phu Binh, Phu Thuan and Phuong Duc, Huong So, An Hoa, An Dong, An Tay, Huong Long, Thuy Xuan, Thuy Bieu.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh)
is one of places which have many cultural heritage. Up to now, there is no place like Hue remaining a lot of originally historical vestiges as in this ancient Capital City.
On the northern bank of Perfume River has relics consisting of palaces, which were constructed as arc defensive ramparts with 11km length. This valuable construction includes more than 100 architectural works which were extremely reflected the life of Emperors and mandarins under reign of Nguyen. Situated in the middle of hills on the southern bank of Perfume River are very beautiful tombs of Kings Nguyen. Among these tombs are the four famous ones with the name and the arrangements of the tomb reflected each Emperor’s points of view, personality and tastes. This is majestic Gia Long Tomb, imposing Minh Mang Tomb, poetic Tu Duc Tomb and magnificent Khai Dinh Tomb.
Hue is also an important center of Buddhism. In Hue and its surrounding still exist tens of pagodas constructed more 300 years ago, and a hundred of temples and pagodas built in the early century. Besides, Hue is a place where the royal music is originated, and a place with traditional famous dishes and sophisticated handicraft.
As a unique city of Vietnam still remains its form of City under Middle Age and the constructions of monarchic, Hue has become a big and invaluable museum. Therefore, vestiges in Hue ancient capital have been classified by the government as a very precious property and on December 1993 Hue has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Area: 1,283.4 sq. km
Population: 926 thousand habitants (2010)
- Districs: Hai Chau, Thanh Khe, Son Tra, Ngu Hanh Son, Lien Chieu, Cam Le.
- Rural districts: Hoa Vang, Hoang Sa.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Co Tu, Tay…
Danang City is located in middle of Central Vietnam, between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, separated from Laos by the western Truong Son Mountains. It is surrounded by Thua Thien-Hue along the northern border and Quang Nam on the southern border. It is embraced by the East Sea with 150km of seacoast.
Topography is rather complex. The south is impressive Hai Van Pass with Mang Mountain 1,708m, Ba Na Mountain 1,487m. The east is Son Tra Peninsula, an ideal site of yellow sand beaches, historical remains, and rare bird and animal species. The south is Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountains). The seashore is Hoang Sa archipelago with a large fishery.
Area: 251 sq. km
Population: 362 thousand people (2008)
- Wards: Vinh Hoa, Vinh Hai, Vinh Phuoc, Vinh Tho, Ngoc Hiep, Van Thang, Phuong Son, Xuong Huan, Van Thanh, Phuong Sai, Phuoc Tan, Phuoc Tien, Phuoc Hai, Phuoc Long, Loc Tho, Phuoc Hoa, Tan Lap, Vinh Nguyen, Vinh Truong.
- Communes: Vinh Luong, Vinh Phuong, Vinh Ngoc, Vinh Thanh, Vinh Hiep, Vinh Trung, Vinh Thai, Phuoc Dong.
Ethnic groups: Mainly the Viet (or Kinh).
The coastal city of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province, Central Vietnam, lies on the trans-Vietnam highway, 1,278km from Hanoi, and 448km from Ho Chi Minh City. Nha Trang is endowed by nature with deep, quiet and warm waters all the year round, surrounded by archipelagoes, islands, mountains and white sand beaches – a wonderful and attractive tourist resort.
Nha Trang Beach
To the north of Nha Trang stands the Chong mount which looks like a wide open hand over the sea. Far offshore, the Yen (Swallow) Island appears with lush green colours where salangane nests have been harvested for years to make the traditional “bird’s nest” tonic and food.
The 7km white sand beach of Nha Trang is often called Vietnam’s Mediterranean Area, considered one of the jewel along Vietnam’s long stretching coast line. Nha Trang is sunny all year round, with an average temperature of 23?C due to northern winds.
The rainfall is less than anywhere else in the country and the area is not threatened by storms since it is protected by the Truong Son Mountains and Ca Pass. From Ca Pass, one can see Ro Bay (Vung Ro), Hon Do…
Hon Tre Island is 36km? and belongs to a group of islands located southwest of Nha Trang. It takes two hours to reach Hon Tre Island by rowboat and only 20 minutes by ferry.
Nha Trang benefits from topographical advantages of the sea, islands, mountains, and deltas. West of Nha Trang, there are endless mountain ranges where a wide variety of animals and birds live.
Nha Trang has many specialties. Especially, bird’s nest soup, or swallow’s nest soup is very famous in Nha Trang and round Vietnam. The magnificent coral seabed in Nha Trang makes it ideal for scubadiving and snorkeling.
Nha Trang Bay is recognised as one of 29 most beautiful bays in the world.
Ho Chi Minh City
Area: 2,095.5 sq. km
Population: 7,396.5 thousand habitants (2010)
- Districts: District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 5, District 6, District 7, District 8, District 9, District 10, District 11, District 12, Tan Binh, Binh Thanh, Phu Nhuan, Thu Duc, Go Vap, Binh Tan,Tan Phu.
- Rural districts: Nha Be, Can Gio Hoc Mon, Cu Chi Binh Chanh.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Khmer, Cham…
In the core of the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is second the most important in Vietnam after Hanoi. It is not only a commercial center but also a scientific, technological, industrial and tourist center. The city is bathed by many rivers, arroyos and canals, the biggest river being the Saigon River. The Port of Saigon, established in 1862, is accessible to ships weighing up to 30,000 tons, a rare advantage for an inland river port.
Climate: The climate is generally hot and humid. There are two distinctive seasons: the rainy season, from May to November, and the dry season, from December to April. The annual average temperature is 270C. The hottest month is April and the lowest is December. It is warm all year.
Many centuries ago, Saigon was already a busy commercial center. Merchants from China, Japan and many European countries would sail upstream the Saigon River to reach the islet of Pho, a trading center. In the year of 1874, Cho Lon merged with Saigon, forming the largest city in the Indochina. It had been many times celebrated as the Pearl of the Far East. After the reunification of the country, the 6th National Assembly in its meeting of the 2nd of July, 1976, has officially rebaptized Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City. The history of city relates closely with the struggle for the independence and freedom of Vietnam.
Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the big tourism center in Vietnam, attracting a large of visitors to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City has various attractions as Ho Chi Minh Museum, formerly known as Dragon House Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels, system of museums, theatres, cultural houses… Recently, many tourist areas are invested such as Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa…, which draw numerous tourists.
Despite its quite recent past, Ho Chi Minh City nevertheless possesses various beautiful buildings, displaying a characteristic combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and European cultures. These include Nha Rong (Dragon House Wharf), Quoc To Temple (National Ancestors Temple), Xa Tay (Municipal Office), Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre as well as many pagodas and churches (Vinh Nghiem, Giac Vien, Giac Lam, Phung Son pagodas…). After more than 300 years of development, Ho Chi Minh City presents many ancient architectural constructions, famous vestiges and renowned sights. It is remarkable for its harmonious blending of traditional national values with northern and western cultural features.
Can Tho City
Area: 1,401.6 sq. km
Population: 1,197.1 thousand habitants (2010).
- Districts: Ninh Kieu, Binh Thuy, Cai Rang, Thot Not, O Mon
- Rural districts: Phong Dien, Co Do, Vinh Thanh, Thoi Lai.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Khmer, Hoa, Cham…
Cantho City is located in the center of the Mekong Delta. It is contiguous to 5 provinces: An Giang on the north, Dong Thap on the north-east, Hau Giang on the south, Kien Giang on the west, and Vinh Long on the east. Cantho has a complex of rivers and canals such as Hau, and Can Tho rivers, Thot Not, O Mon canals. Among them, the Hau Riveris considered a benefactor of this region, since yearly floods deposit large quantities of alluvia to the rice fields.
Thank to that Cantho becomes “the green lungs of the Mekong Delta”.The climate is harmonized with few of storms. It is hot, humid all year. Rainy season lasts from May to November, and dry season lasts from December to April. The annual average temperature is 27oC.
Vietnam’s ‘rice basket’, the Mekong Delta is a watery landscape of green fields and sleepy villages, everywhere crisscrossed by the brown canals and rivulets fed by the mighty Mekong River. Its inhabitants – stereotyped as friendly and easygoing – have long toiled on the life-sustaining river, with their labours marked by the same cycles governing the waterways.
The delta, which yields enough rice to feed the country with a sizable surplus, was formed by sediment deposited by the Mekong. The process continues today, with silt deposits extending the shoreline by as much as 80m per year. The river is so large that it has two daily tides. Lush with rice paddies and fish farms, this delta plain also nourishes the cultivation of sugarcane, fruit, coconut and shrimp. Although the area is primarily rural, it is one of the most densely populated regions in Vietnam and nearly every hectare is intensively farmed.
The uniquely southern charm with its welcoming introduction to life along the river is the real draw, and visitors can explore quaint riverside towns, sample fruits bartered in the colourful floating markets or dine on home-cooked delicacies before overnighting as a homestay guest. Other highlights include visits to local orchards, flower markets and fish farms. There are also bird sanctuaries, rustic beach getaways like Hon Chong and impressive Khmer pagodas in the regions around Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.
Those seeking an idyllic retreat will find it in Phu Quoc, a forested island dotted with pretty beaches, freshwater springs and empty dirt roads (ideal for motorbike adventures). Good diving and white-sand beauty have led to its growing popularity, with a mix of cheap bungalows and five-star resorts along an uncrowded coastline.