The history of Vietnam stretches nearly as far back as the history of civilization. Vietnamese people were some of the first in the world to practice agriculture, with complex social structures that date all the way back to 3000 B.C.
Today, it has a fascinating culture - one that blends a rich heritage with a vibrant present. Visitors can go on Vietnam tours to see the expansive paddies that have made the country the world’s second largest exporter of rice, take in the natural beauty of Halong Bay or snack on delicious street foods as they explore Saigon. Vietnam tourism is welcoming, enthralling and utterly unforgettable.
Halong Bay Cruises:
For natural beauty in Vietnam, look no further than Halong Bay. Tours are available to explore this collection of 1,600 islands and islets, one of the country’s eight UNESCO sites. Most of the islands are unaffected by humans, giving them great biological as well as visual interest. Any social and economic activity in the bay is closely regulated, ensuring that the aesthetic quality will remain high. An excursion to see these crystal clear waters and limestone pillars makes a great day trip, as it is about a 3-4 hour drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay.
In 2014, the Trang An landscape complex became the latest attraction on tours through Vietnam to be designated a UNESCO site, and with good reason. Located near the southern area of the Red River Delta, Trang An is a breathtaking landscape of limestone cliffs surrounding paritally submerged valleys. Archeologists have found evidence of human activity dating back 30,000 years, making it a must-visit for those with an interest in geological history.
Phu Quoc Island:
Those seeking a relaxing Vietnam tours package need look no further than Phu Quoc Island, one of the most serene and naturally beautiful places anywhere in the world. Located in the gulf of Thailand, it offers smooth white sands for those that simply want to lie back and enjoy, as well as scuba diving and snorkeling for travelers who wish to be more active.
Ho Chi Minh City:
Formerly known (and still referred to) as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and home to some of its most interesting and important cultural artifacts. Originally a small fishing village, today Ho Chi Minh City is home to more than 10 million people, various museums and historic buildings. Of the over 4 million people who visit Vietnam annually, 70 percent choose to spend some time exploring this ancient city.
Ho Chi Minh City is the entertainment capital of Vietnam, with hundreds of cinemas and theaters, amounting to 60-70 percent of the country’s revenue in this industry. Those looking to learn more about the local culture can choose between visiting Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Museum of Vietnamese History, the Revolutionary Museum, the Museum of south-eastern Armed Forces, the War Remnants Museum, the Museum of Southern Women, the Museum of Fine Art, the Nha Rong Memorial House, and the Ben Duoc Relic of Underground Tunnels.
Recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site for its cultural relevance, Hoi An is one of the most interesting and well-preserved destinations in Vietnam. An important trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries, it still features many of those centuries-old influences today, making it a top destination for those who love learning about the past.
As a seaside city, it is also home to beautiful beaches. Those on luxury tours to Vietnam will find much to enjoy in the area’s smooth sand and impressive seascapes, which offer picturesque views and deep relaxation.
ADVENTURES ON WHEELS
Biking in Sapa:
Looking for something a little more active? Check out one of Vietnam's great biking tours and travel to Sapa, capital of of the Sa Pa district in the northwest area of the country. Thanks to the naturally engaging topography and proximity to the Hoang Lien Mountains, Sapa tours offer up a variety of biking trails that are both tough and rewarding.
Bikers can take guided tours to Vietnam’s local tribes. As Sapa is one of the more remote areas of the country, local tribes have been able to thrive outside of cultural influences. Visitors can observe and learn from the long-held customs.
FOOD AND DRINK
Famous Street Food:
When you travel to Vietnam, bring your appetite. Vietnam's food culture is bursting with local character and deep, complex flavors, and nowhere is that more evident than in the meals you can get right on the street. Bahn mi (delicious baguettes stuffed with pork, pickled carrots and radishes, and cilantro) is just the tip of the iceberg. There is also Bun Moc, a rich and soothing pork-broth noodle soup, Xoi, a sticky rice that is both sweet and savory, and so many more interesting dishes.
Of course, there is more to Vietnamese food than what you can find as you walk around. There are also world-renowned restaurants, that serve authentic local cuisine made using traditional techniques. Common flavors include mint, lemongrass, ginger, and coriander.
For a truly novel experience, check out Noir, a Ho Chi Minh restaurant that amps up the flavor by turning down the lights. Diners eat in complete darkness to enhance their senses of flavor, as specially-trained waitstaff guide them through a meal unlike any other.
Vietnam is the second-largest producer of coffee in the world, so many people have likely enjoyed Vietnam coffee without even knowing it! Coffee beans harvested in Vietnam are rich and smoky, with just a hint of chocolate flavor; a product of a unique cultivation process involving civet cats and a lot of craftsmanship.
A passport that is valid for at least one month after the end of your trip is required for both U.S. and Canadian citizens to enter and depart the country. Please ensure that the name on your passport matches all travel documents we have issued. If this is not the case, please contact us immediately.
Please make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from your original. It’s also a good idea to leave a digital copy with someone at home. This may speed up the replacement process should you lose your passport.
Both Canadian and American citizens need a visa to enter Vietnam. You have to apply for a visa at the Vietnam embassy within your country. Make sure to check maximum duration per visit. Alternatively, you may email your Kensington Sales Agent a clear, colour passport scan and they will arrange for a visa on arrival letter to be issued. This means you may secure your visa on arrival at the airport in Vietnam. The cost locally is $45 USD per person.
For more visa information please visit:
Cancelation and Medical Insurance is highly recommended as it can safeguard against the expenses associated with in-country medical emergencies, lost or delayed baggage and emergency cancelation or interruption of your trip. Please ensure your policy will provide you with upfront medical coverage so that you are not responsible for a hefty doctor’s bill while away. Insurance can be purchased through us.
No vaccinations are required to enter Vietnam. It is advised to consult a travel doctor 8 weeks before departure in regards to the recommended vaccinations below. Some vaccines require more than one dose or a major length of time to be effective.
For all vaccinations and health requirements, you can also refer to the recommendations from:
World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://wwwnc.cdc.gov.
If there are any medical items essential to your health, such as prescription drugs or corrective eye wear, bring duplicates and divide them between your checked bags and hand luggage. While non-prescription drugs such as aspirin are generally available, it is difficult to replace prescription items.
Other recommended Items:
Because of its geography, the climate in Vietnam varies greatly from north to south with three distinct climatic zones. Tropical monsoons occur from October to April in the central regions and from May to September in the north and south. It is almost totally dry throughout the rest of the year. The weather can be extremely hot all year round, but the north has a cooler time between October and April. Temperatures around the country can reach up to 40C in the height of the hot and rainy season (May to September), but the northern highlands and Hanoi can often seem chilly and damp in the winter.
For up-to-date forecasts, check www.weather.com.
Loose, natural fabrics all year are recommended, but warmer clothing is required in the highlands and in the winter in North Vietnam. Rainwear is essential during the wet season. As a rule shoulders and knees should be covered when entering religious sites.
Electricity: In Northern Vietnam the European two round plug sockets are used, but in the south they tend to be the flat two pronged variety. Most hotels can supply adapters for this.
Most laptops and cell phones work on 110V and 220V, so no converter will be needed. Be sure to double check this however before departure.
Do not use 110V outlets marked ‘FOR SHAVERS ONLY’ for anything else as they will not work and may even get damaged.
Phone: Roaming charges vary between carriers, but tend to be quite costly. Consult your phone provider prior to departure to discuss overseas rates and international package options.
Internet Internet access is available in all but the most remote towns. Internet cafes are available in most tourist spots and rates are fairly cheap, ranging from 2,000-10,000 dong per hour. Connection speeds are high, especially in the big cities. Many hotels and restaurants provide free Wi-Fi or terminals for their guests. If you bring your own phone and/or laptop, several providers offer mobile internet services (EDGE/3G) services as well.
The national currency is the dong (VND), which is difficult to find or exchange outside Vietnam; change money on arrival and try to get rid of any leftovers before leaving the country. For current exchange rates please visit www.xe.com
Currency: Dong (VND)
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +7
Electricity: 220V AC
Telephone: Country code for calling is 84
Calling North America: Dial 001 plus area code and your 7-digit number
Emergency numbers in Vietnam: Police: 113, Fire: 114, Hospital/Paramedics: 115