Located in the tropical paradise of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a psychedelic symphony of exceptionally serene nature and incredibly bustling metropolis.
Vietnam's exotic with lush rice terraces, gorgeous beaches, quaint little villages, enigmatic caves, lip-smacking food, and some of the most picturesque landscapes. Yet, the major cities are swarming, cacophonic and enthralling.
Notwithstanding the contrast, you’ll fall in love with the country at first sight - or maybe because of that big disparity? Whatever be your reason, you just can’t close your eyes to Vietnam if explorations travel in your veins.
Part of the reason why Vietnam remained unexplored for long as compared to its other Southeast Asian cousins has to do more with its culture and politics rather than with what it offers.
One of the last communist countries in the world and with Philippines and Thailand in your backyard, the public expects you to sweat a wee bit extra to invite travellers to your country.
While the war with a superpower and its horrendous consequences kept it busy for decades, it is heartening for travellers like us to finally notice that the beautiful country is receiving a richly deserved appreciation as a prime travel destination.
Vietnam is a long and narrow country and divided into 3 distinct regions with differing climatic conditions. Planning can be a bit difficult but to be on the safe side, the best time to visit Vietnam is from December through April when temperatures are milder and rain is minimal in all 3 regions.
The peak travel season for us Indians is usually the summer school holidays’ period of mid-May to June. Although it’s the time for rains in most of Vietnam, I will still say it’s a fantastic time to visit Vietnam. Your travel company can tailor your tour to avoid places where heavy rain is forecast.
|December - April|
The simple process to apply for Vietnam visa approval letter online is to provide the details mentioned below. After processing a charge for the same, the visa letter usually takes 2-3 working days to come via email.
This visa letter is used to get your visa stamped at the airport you selected in Vietnam, on payment of a stamping fee.
Here is the essential information for Vietnam Visa approval letter if you apply online:
You can also apply for a Visa the conventional way, i.e. through the Vietnam embassy. Since the process is draining and long (7-9 working days,) we are not detailing the steps for the same here. Just drop us a mail if you need more information about applying for a Visa to Vietnam and we will send you the details.
If you are culturally inclined, you’ll agree with me that the best time to witness and understand a country’s culture and legends is during its festivals; nothing else demonstrates the best (and sometimes, the worst) in people, society and governments than during a major festival. Here’s a list of major festivals that Vietnamese celebrate with all traditional practices:
The Vietnamese New Year is celebrated around late January or early February. The traditional Lunar New Year Festival, Tết marks the arrival of spring according to the lunar calendar. The festival begins on New Year’s Eve and is then celebrated for the first three days of the Lunar New Year.
Like with any festival in a clogged Asian country, Tết is also marked with inflated hotel and restaurant rates. The transportation too becomes a big problem since scores of Vietnamese travel to their native places and tens of thousands of Chinese travellers also arrive in Vietnam to celebrate the Chinese New Year that also falls on the same days.
Though Vietnam is a packed out place during Tết, it also is undoubtedly the most interesting and exciting time to be in the country.
The Hoi An Lantern Festival is celebrated every month on the full moon day. The festival is marked with floating lanterns all over the sky. As night begins its cover, all the floating lanterns rise together in the sky to make for a spectacular view.
Mid-Autumn Festival or the Mooncake day is a harvest festival that is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar when the full moon shines in all its glory at night (Purnmasi in our lingo). Typically occurring in late September or early October, the festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving for good harvest.
The day is marked by honouring family relationships by gathering together, worshipping moon and other deities, performing lion dances or delighting in others’ performances, and eating delicious mooncakes and other festival food, especially Tò He, figurines made from rice paste and coloured with natural food dyes.
In my opinion, this is the best time to visit Vietnam to delight in the festive spirits minus the inflated prices and tsunami of people. This year, the Mid-Autumn festival shall be celebrated on Friday, September 13, 2019. Book an extended weekend tour to Vietnam today to absorb one of the best cultural experiences the country has to offer.
Of late, many travel groups, especially on Facebook, have seen a few posts about scams or petty crimes with tourists in Vietnam. My experience though is totally different. I found the Vietnamese one of the most affable and welcoming people. Here’s an all-embracing blog post on safety in Vietnam by one of our travellers.
Of course, like with every large cluster of people, there are tempestuous elements in the Vietnamese society too, but a little bit of common sense coupled with basic preventive measures that are expected from a traveller in any alien land shall be more than adequate in avoiding any unpleasant situations.
Keep your eyes and your mind open and chances are you’ll feel safer than any major Indian metropolis.
An archetypal metropolis of the 21st century, Hanoi is overcrowded, chaotic, and wears its resilient history on its sleeves. The capital of Vietnam can be overwhelming but is as mesmerizing as it proudly celebrates Vietnamese history and achievements through its French colonial architecture, museums, lakes, lush tree-lined boulevards, pavement cafes, and old-world markets that entice you to keep walking and exploring the city that is located between the Red River and Nhue River.
To say that Hanoi is crowded will be stating the obvious. But the interesting part is that for a population of around 8 million, there are more than 5 million motorbikes that transport people as well as a vast and unusual array of goods. Think huge stacks of eggs, implausible amount of toys or even a few pigs! Watching motorbikes on the perpetually-rush-hour traffic roads of Hanoi is as staggering as it is stunning. A London photographer even did a series with BBC on this!
The best way to see Hanoi is to ride in one of the thousands of tuk-tuks along the city boulevards and into the old town after a filling breakfast at one of the many street cafes. It really is cathartic to soak up the divergence between agitatedly blaring horns and the calming character of a game of chess between impish grandfathers.
The biggest draw here is that Bali offers not just the mindboggling range of activities like surfing, diving, cultural performances, historical attractions, archaeological wonders et al but the equally fabulous Bali accommodation options at prices that are much lower than similar resorts at any other tourist destination in the world. No wonder with this very high value-for-money-ratio for a broad spectrum of visitors, Bali attracts more travellers than most of them!
Hanoi is wonderful with so much to see and do that you won’t even know and your vacation in Hanoi will come to an end! Before you forget, here are the most important things to see and do in Hanoi:
The vibrant Ho Chi Minh City infuses virulent energy into every visitor, as if you’ve gulped a whole can of Red Bull on landing here.
Popular world over as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial heart of the country. The city of passion looks like it is always on the move, with thronging people and motorbikes all around. But look around and you will find charming boulevards and glorious French colonies that will fill your heart with glee while the ancient temples and traditional markets will absolutely take your breath away!
The city that was witness to large scale destructions of a dreadful war not too long ago is gradually coming out of its damaging past with modern constructions of skyscrapers, and chic malls. At the same time, it is comforting to see sincere efforts to preserve timeworn history to bring together two worlds into one exciting unit.
A serene town of grand architectural heritage, turbulent history and romance, the beguiling riverside town of Hội An is a veritable treasure of well-preserved historical buildings and Chinese temples that date back to the 17th century when the town was chosen by Chinese merchants who settled there and gave the town its unique character.
Many descendants of those immigrants still run the businesses established a few centuries ago and that has helped the atmospheric Old Town preserve its incredible legacy. Other, more ambitious of the lot have transformed their places into tourist businesses. So, you have a fabulous setting where ancient tea houses rub shoulders with ritzy lounge bars and boutique hotels. And of course, a flood of tailor shops that are famous world over for custom made suits that rival the Saville Row, and at a fraction of a cost.
But Hội An is more than just the old town - there are laid-back beaches, night bars and the nearby majestic ruins of My Son temple complex. Vietnam’s prettiest destination, Hội An is remarkably free of the country’s major modern menace - traffic!!
The most fêted of beach towns in Vietnam pulsates with infectious youthful energy and exuberance. And there are worthwhile reasons for it, primary being its spectacular setting - its turquoise waters are dotted with tiny tropical islands that present a trancelike picture not seen anywhere else in the country.
The skyscrapers along the shoreline accord the town a cosmopolitan feel that goes a long way in establishing Nha Trang as an ideal party place. But don’t let that dishearten you - it still is a beach town at heart with heavenly beaches that are always in high demand for activities like scuba diving and snorkelling.
If aqua adventure does not appeal to you, there are other sedate activities here like sunbathing, river cruises and time-honoured spa treatments.
Nha Trang is also known for its entertainment complexes such as Vinpearl Land, Tri Nguyen Aquarium, and Hon Tam Resort. Vinpearl Land in particular has made a big name for itself in the inner circles of the rich and famous. It is a mélange of a five-star international resort, and an Amusement Park with Guinness Book of Records 3,320-meter long sea-crossing cable car system, Water Park, Under Water World, Amphitheatre, Shopping Mall and a Food Village.
The poignant remains of the blood-spattered Battle of Huế still linger in the atmosphere of the ancient city of Huế (pronounced Whey) in Central Vietnam. The ancient capital of Nguyen Dynasty is now recognised as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO for its formidable historical significance.
Located on the bank of Song Huong or Perfume River, Hue is only a few miles from the sea, making it a favourite among travellers who love beaches and are fascinated by historical and cultural destinations.
No other Vietnamese city represents the power of the extinct feudal empire as much as Huế. Although the main tourist attraction here is the impressive riverside Hue Citadel or the Imperial Enclosure, other attractions including temples, and pagodas attract tourists from all over the world.
Huế is possibly the only city in Vietnam where you can find hordes of all-vegetarian or shudh shakahari restaurants - a result of strong Buddhist beliefs that require locals to eat an only vegetarian meal twice a month. The cuisine of Huế is also famous for being very spicy and aesthetically presented.
Welcome to the riveting world of Vietnamese cuisine - a cornucopia of heady fragrances, vibrant colours, fresh produce, spices and enigmatic indigenous herbs. Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for coalescing the five fundamental tastes of spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (earth); making the food as much or sometimes, even more appetising than other famed world cuisines.
Authentic Vietnamese food counts heavily on fresh herbs and meats and a crafty use of spices to cook up ardent storms in delightful bowls. Since very little dairy and oils are used, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines available.
I invite you to our ever-popular blog post on Vietnamese Cuisine for an exhaustive introduction and an exciting list of best Vietnam food you should try out while in Vietnam. Or even in your own city since speciality Vietnamese restaurants are gaining good ground around the world.
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