Vietnam: An Asian Culture All Its Own

vietnamPhoto credit: CC license  by Eric Molina
If you think of Vietnam and the only images you see are old news reels from the 1960’s and 70’s, then you need to think again. Vietnam is home to a vibrant culture, rich with history. Its tropical landscape is filled with ocean views, mountain vistas and everything in between. Located on the western coast of the South China Sea, Vietnam is home to the descendants of nomadic Mongols from China and migrants from Indonesia. This mix of people groups combined with the French colonization of the country in the late 1800’s creates an Asian culture all its own.

But Vietnam is more than just an interesting place for history lovers to visit. In recent years, the country has become a go-to country for vacationers looking for fresh beach destinations. Vietnam is home to Halong Bay, famous for its calm waters and limestone islands bolting upright through the water’s glassy surface. Scuba divers enjoy the reefs and coves of Cham and Con Dao islands, while lovers of a vibrant night life should check out Nha Trang. But if you are looking for something more low-key, head off the beaten path to some of the lesser-known beaches where the locals hang out for a more peaceful and private experience.

If trekking through the mountains is more your idea of a great getaway, Vietnam has much to offer. The country’s national park system is extensive and divided into eight distinct regions: North Eastern, North Western, Red River Delta, North Centre Coast, South Centre Coast, Centre Highlands, South Eastern and Mekong Delta. Each region is home to several national parks and nature reserves and offers hikers both rigorous high elevation treks and trails as well as walks along lakes, rivers and the delta coastlines. Wildlife is plentiful and unique in these natural areas, as Vietnam is home to over 800 different species of birds as well as rare and newly discovered species of mammals.

And if beaches, wilderness and wildlife aren’t enough to attract you to this southeast-Asian gem, the Vietnamese cuisine will have you visiting again and again. Fresh is the by-word when it comes to food at Vietnamese restaurants as chefs typically purchase produce, herbs and other food stuffs for their restaurants twice each day from local markets. Visit local markets in the center of any community on your own for a mix of both flavor and culture to see not only how Vietnamese people eat, but how they live.

Vietnam is considered relatively safe for travelers. Visitors do report problems with over-aggressive street vendors and dangerous driving. But as with any travel in a different culture, using common sense when it comes to making purchases or hiring a taxi or car can help you avoid problems. The locals are friendly and welcoming to tourists. Remember that Vietnamese people dress conservatively, so showing respect to their culture by not revealing too much skin is important. Keep your identification with you at all times and hold on to your valuables and your trip to Vietnam will be both memorable and trouble free.

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