PEOPLE AND CULTURE
As in most Asian nations, dragons play an important part of the lore and identity of the ruling families. In Vietnam, the dragons were the royal symbol of power, similar to that of Dynasties of China. Hanoi, the capitol of Vietnam, is known as the City of the Roaring Dragon named such when one of the country’s kings saw a golden dragon fly into the sky from this location.
Here is a land where the people are said to be born of the King Dragon of the Lac Bird Clan. The creation story says that Lac Long Quan was the son of the dragon and Au Lo, his wife, was the daughter of a fairy. According to popular legend, rain is created by the Nine Dragons that bless the country by taking water from the sea and pouring it out on the rice paddies so that the people will prosper.
Rice is one of the most important export crops of the country that employs a vast majority of people. While global trade requires a certain amount of modernization, the ancient traditions are embraced here as well. Today, there are public festivals where people from all walks of life perform the Dragon Dance to honor the dragon. Additionally, water puppetry is a treasured entertainment for children and adults alike.
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
A valid passport with, at least, six months validity from your return date is required for entry into Vietnam. You will also require a Visa. There are several different kinds of Visas but we will advise you which one is best for your particular trip. Exotic Voyages can help you with all the stages of obtaining your visa. However, if you wish to do this independently please contact your local Vietnam Embassy to do so, you normally have to physically go to the Embassy to arrange this Visa. If you don’t obtain your visa, you can either be stopped from boarding your flight or refused entry on arrival, which may lead to high costs and great inconvenience. For any questions please contact us, we will always give our honest and correct information for your particular trip. Please also note, we can only provide Visa assistance when a booking is made; we are unable to provide a Visa, only service.
In Vietnam the local currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). It has a variety of notes ranging from the 200 all the way to the 500,000 note, however the main notes are the 10,000 20,000 50,000 100,000 200,000 and 500,000. Please take care with 20,000 and 500,000 notes they are both blue and can cause some confusion. The US Dollar is very popular to exchange, however you can easily exchange both British Pounds and also the Euro. ATM machines are readily available throughout most cities and resorts. However, if you travel to more remote regions, you are best to have local currency with you.
Here are the exchange rates of Vietnamese Dong, as of June 2016:
$1 = 22,300 VND
£1 = 31,782 VND
€1 = 25, 086 VND
FOOD & DRINK
Food in Vietnam is of great importance and extremely tasty! We suggest you try the local flavors and enjoy them for yourself. The most famous dish is Pho (‘Fo’), which is a rice noodle dish served with your choice of meat and subtle herbs and flavors, it has an incredible taste and is eaten at all times of the day. We suggest trying the Pho with the locals, if you see a busy place you can be sure it will be good. Coffee is also a way of life for the Vietnamese; second only to Brazil for exporting coffee in the world. Here, it is served hot or cold with condensed sweet milk. It is a great way to start the day. Bia Hoi – local beer, is also very popular in some cities, it freshens each day and is very tasty and cheap, it can be an enjoyable way to watch the world go by and meet some friendly locals. Street food is also popular; we always encourage you to try this alluring food and experience it, but please still take caution on what you try.
One of many amazing sights in Vietnam are its charming colors. They are created by the varying tropical weather. Each region, North, Central and South, has its own varying climate, which is different at various times. As with worldwide weather, this appears to be changing. Please check with us as to the best seasons and area for your trip. Here is some essential information of the weather in each region: (Or we can insert link to article about weather)
The North – Having four true seasons, you can see the many wonderful sights they create, from Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa Valley, and Mai Chau to the Chinese border.
March – May (Spring): With clear days, temperatures on average of 20-25 degrees Celsius.
June – September (Summer): Temperatures peak in the North during the summer months with high temperatures, occasionally reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, but with an average of around 30degrees Celsius. During these months you may encounter some short but heavy downpours; these tend to last around one hour maximum and are very infrequent.
September – Mid-November (Autumn): Similar to spring, clear skies and pleasant weather, this is the North’s favorite season low humidity and average temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius.
Mid-November – February (Winter): Average temperatures are around 15 degrees Celsius, however, given its geography it can colder, lows can on rare occasions be as low as 5 degrees Celsius. We advise during this month to begin all tours in the north and head to the warmer south and to bring a jacket to wear.
Central region – Having three seasons covering Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, QuyNhon, Dalat and Central highlands:
January – May: Clear sunny skies with an average of around 30 degrees Celsius with little if any rain at all.
June – September: Very hot with temperatures reaching in excess of 40 degrees Celsius and an average of around 30 degrees Celsius. Regular evening showers of about one hour, very tropical climate.
October – January: This time has highly unstable weather, possibility of storms and rain at this time. Much cooler with an average of around 15-20 degrees Celsius
The South – Having two distinct seasons and a sub-tropical climate, covering Saigon, Phan Thiet, Can Tho, Chau Doc and the south Islands. Overall the South has an average temperature of 32 degrees Celsius.
April – September: This is the hot season, with average temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius. Again there are chances of occasional rain, but these may be heavy but brief, and should mainly be sunny, hot days.
October – March – The Dry Season, with average temperatures of between 25-30 degrees Celsius and long, dry days.