Vietnam facts: As with Vietnam’s economy, so with its tourist industry. While the rest of the world suffers from a credit crunch and global economic downturn, the Vietnamese economy and tourist industry continue to grow at an impressive pace.
Vietnam facts: From an insignificant number of visitors in the early 1990s, tourist arrivals in the country have leaped year on year to around 2 million in 2003 and 7 million in 2013. In tandem with these growing numbers, facilities for visitors are constantly improving.
Vietnam facts: New hotels are opening, appealing to both luxury and budget travellers. Roads are frequently upgraded and tour operators are coming up with some tempting itineraries combining several of the country’s diverse attractions. These range from stellar views in Ha Long Bay to 1,000 years of history in Hanoi, from dazzling markets of ethnic minorities in the northern hills to soft-sand beaches around Nha Trang and Mui Ne, from the eccentric hill station of Da Lat to the fertile plains of the Mekong Delta.
Vietnam facts: On a more macabre note, the popularity of the country’s battlefields and other places associated with war, such as the Cu Chi Tunnels near Saigon, reflect a growing niche market in war tourism.
Vietnam facts: Another unique aspect of Vietnam is its cuisine, which takes many influences but blends them into something truly different. For many visitors, the culinary discoveries that await each day rival the visual attractions that brought them there. From the steaming bowl of pho (pronounced ‘fur’) for breakfast to the delicate ‘cha ca’ (grilled fish) for supper, new tastes are always just a meal away.
Vietnam facts: Despite cultural influences from all its neighbours and invaders, such as the Chinese, the Khmers, the Champa, as well as the French and Americans, Vietnamese culture is unique, as is clearly reflected in the concept of water puppets, and the plaintive sound of the dong ba. It is the only Southeast Asian country to adopt a Romanised script, though the various tones and inflections make it difficult to read correctly for newcomers.
Vietnam facts: The S-shaped country covers an area of around 330,000 square kilometres and spans 1,650kms from north to south. At its narrowest, it is only 50kms across. The population (around 90 million) is growing fast, and since much of the country is too rugged for habitation, urban centres are expanding at a rapid pace. Hanoi may be the administrative capital, yet its population of around 6.5 million is less than that of its bigger sister Ho Chi Minh City in the south.
Vietnam facts: Vietnam has over 3,444kms of coastline, much of which if still left unexploited by resort developers. However, the race is on and exclusive residences are beginning to appear in remote rural areas. The country borders Cambodia, Laos and China, all of which have border posts that are open to foreigners.
Vietnam facts: This method of arriving in the country is increasing in popularity due to easy transport connections through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Not only is it a more memorable way to begin your stay than touching down with hundreds of others at an international airport, but the first journey to a major town is guaranteed to provide an instant eye-opener on to this intriguing land and its people.