Fast facts on Vietnam

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 Fast facts on Vietnam

Location: South East Asia, it is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the north-west, and Cambodia to the south-west.
Full Country Name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam,
Total Area: 329.566 (128,527 square miles)
Population: 90.5 million (2014) and the growth rate is about 1.2%
Capital City: Hanoi (Population about 7 million)
People: 87% Vietnamese (Kinh), 1% ethnic Khmer, also Chinese, Cham (great Indianised Champa Kingdom) and members of some 55 ethnolinguistic groups.
Languages: Vietnamese is the primary and official language of Vietnam and English is also widely used in business. Besides German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese. Thai and Russian are pretty popular as well.
Religions: Buddhism is the most important religion, but there are also sizeable Taoist, Confucian, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Muslin and Christian minorities.

Time Zone
Vietnam operates on Greenwich meantime +7 hours, please note that Vietnam does not have daylight saving hours.

Vietnam’s country code is +84.
Vietnam uses a GSM mobile phone network (GSM900/1800) and also has a new CDMA network. You can make international phone calls and send taxes at post offices or most hotels, although hotels often charge extra fees. For the best long distance rate, dial 171 before the country code and number. This line has a low price of US$1.30 per minute to 50 countries.

You can use the internet through hotels, Cyber Cafes and Internet/Computer Service Centers. ADSL technology is widely used in main cities, Wifi internet is available some Cyber Cafes, restaurants, and most of the hotel in the main tourist’s destinations, too

Museums opening time
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum opens every morning ( except Monday and Friday), and close every afternoon and months of October and November for maintenance. Most of the museums and mausoleums closed on Mondays except War Museum (now it’s called Museum of Vietnamese Revolutionary History) and Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum Which close every Monday and Friday. Particularly, Fine Arts Museum opens for public every day from 8;30 am to 17;30.

Health Care
Some international hospitals or clinics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (American, French and German doctors on staff)

In Hanoi: (Tel code: 84-4)
International SOS
Add: 51 Xuan Dieu street, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Tel: 3934-0666, emergency: 3934-0555
Hanoi French Hospital France Vietnamese Hospital
Add: 1 Phuong Mai Str.
Tel: 3577-1100, emergency: 3574-1111

Cultural Etiquette
– When visiting temples or pagodas, mausoleums shorts and tank-tops are unacceptable. Your knees and shoulders must be covered. Footwear must be removed in pagodas. Shoes are always removed upon entering private homes and some private restaurants too.
– When meeting with someone new, people may simply sometimes nod to each other or may shake hands. Using both hands for shaking someone’s hand is a warm and gesture of respect
– Beckoning someone by crooking your fingers is consider rude. The better way to call someone to come closer is to extend your hand with the palm down and flap your fingers towards your wrist. for asking for the bill in a restaurant or food stalls, open one hand in front of you with the palm raised and pretending to write on your palm with the other hand.

Safety Alerts
In general, Vietnam is safe for travellers. Violent attacks are practically less heard of.
– However, remember that Vietnam is a developing country, and things don’t quite work as you are maybe used to. Don’t be paranoid about your safety, just aware of your surroundings.
– When possible, secure your valuables in your hotel safe. remember to record your traveller’s check numbers and credit card information, just in case.
– Use common sense and don’t walk alone after dark. You’are always better off avoiding cyclos or motorbike taxis at night. if needed ask your hotel restaurant to call a taxi for you.
– Traffic is chaotic, especially in Hanoi or Saigon, when crossing the street on foot, move at a slow and steady pace. Never run! just walk slowly, looking up and meeting the driver’s eyes, and the traffic will flow around you.
– Never carry a lot of money than you need when walking around the streets. Do not wear large amounts of jewellery. if you do, it is more likely that you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatcher.
– Importance: You should take good care of all your belongings first, and do not always rely on your escorted guided or drivers as their duty is not to take off your belongings during the trip, but to help you to go and well understand the destinations. Lost items not always found by local police as the reporting procedure is quite complicated and take time. In the case of any loss, do not claim your local agent or tour operator as they are not involved in this matter. They may try to help you as much as possible so that you can claim to Insurance Company if it is the case. Local operators are not responsible for those losses.

Money & Exchange
Vietnam’s currency is the Vietnam Dong (VND). You will find money changers in Vietnam’s airports, banks, and hotels. Many banks (open Monday to Friday) Issue cash advances for Visa and MasterCard. Credit cards and traveller’s checks are publicly accepted in major cities.
You will find ATMs that accept foreign ATM cards in principle cities.
ATMs only issue Vietnam Dong and the maximum withdrawal limit is 2 million VND.
US dollars are welcomed in most hotels and high-end restaurants, although you will need Dong for smaller shops. The exchange rate is around 22.000 VND to $1US or 25.000 to 1Euro. However, the exchange rate is changing…

Eating & Drinking
Talking about Vietnamese cuisine, people might immediately think about Pho, rice noodle soup, and Cha Gio (Nem Dan), deep fried spring rolls, which have been famous for their taste throughout the world. Vietnam provides five flavour philosophy of flavours in three regions: Savory in the North, spicy in the middle and sweet in the South. The traditional Food is usually served with the ubiquitous fish sauce. A not to be missed experience is to try pure vegetarian food from natural ingredients.
Drinking tap water is not advisable. Bottled drinking water is widely available at a reasonable price. Hotels and restaurants will use hygienic ice, however, if eating at a market or on street, it may be best to avoid ice.

Shopping & Bargaining
Vietnam is still a developing country, and so its people can be very persistent to make money, especially around foreign tourists whom they perceive as very wealthy. People will probably overcharge you, but rather than becoming irritated, join the game and bargain with a smile! It is also recommended to check prices of some items in the neighbourhood before reaching a deal, especially for more expensive items.
Alert: If you being asking and followed by street vendors so do not wish to make a purchase. Often do the best course of action is to say “no” firmly and politely, and continue on your way. No hesitating or linger, as this will encourage the seller to try and engage you further.

Tipping is widely practised and expected. You should do tipping for guides, drivers, and staffs at hotels or restaurants. How much? It always depends on the satisfaction of clients.