Visit Vietnam from Italia: a quick start guide

02, August, 2016

Visit Vietnam from Italia: a quick start guide

Spending holidays in Vietnam means having a real experience of the subtle charm of traditional Indochina. In the country of dragon, most ancient rites and traditions have survived the South East Asia fast growth, mass tourism is still unknown, and people are genuine and welcoming.

A visit to Vietnam means taking one of the last opportunities to experience the subtle charm of traditional Asia, as the Vietnamese culture has been fully preserved with all its rites and customs. The place of deep green sharp-angled mountains and lithe women bearing characteristic conic hats that bend over on rice paddies, Vietnam has been able to conciliate tradition and modernity in an unique formula that is able to satisfy the most exigent tourist. From the slow waters of Mekong’s delta to theFrench style colonial quarters of Hanoi, Vietnam is a country of unforgettably beautiful landscapes and vivid colours that will leave indelible memories on you.

Visit Vietnam: what to see


Hanoi, the capital of the country, is absolutely a must-see. Wander through the meandering narrow streets of the old quarter (“Hoam Kiem” District)which are swarming with people at any time of the day and the night. Don’t miss the French colonial architectureof the elegant French quarter (“Ba Dinh”), where the government offices are located.

Halong bay.

Located about 165 kilometres from Hanoi, the so-called “Descending dragon bay” offers the stunning landscape of a maze of thousandsof small rocky islands of various size and shape raising from the ocean. Many islands are hallow, with spectacular caves that is possible to visit.

Hue.

The capital of the country before French colonization, Hue has been one of the most important cultural, artistic and religious centres of Vietnam since ancient times. It is considered as the most beautiful town of Vietnam because of its several monuments and historic buildings,which are considered to be the best examples of the Vietnam classical architecture.

Hoi An ancient town.

It is one of the most noticeable examples of ancient and exceptionally well-preserved South-East Asian trading port (XV – XIV centuries) in the world. Its characteristic timber frame buildings with traditional clay tile roofs show local and foreign influences (mostly Japanese and Chinese), while its narrow canals and stone bridges convey visitors Indochina’s unique charm.

visit hoi an

Ho Chi Minh.

Former Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is a vibrant modern town today. It maintains several memories of the war, like the Cu Chi Tunnels (a wide network of underground tunnels utilized by Viet Cong for military purposes). Among its many museums, we remember the War Remnants Museum(NhaTrung Bay Toi Ac ChienTranh). Not far from Ho Chi Minh there is the Mekong Delta, a huge swampy area that has dubbed as a “Biological treasure trove” because its 1000 animal species.

Celebrated for its scenic green landscapes, Muong Hoa Valleyis nothing than all that a tourist can expect from Asia. Jagged mountains cloaked by deep green lush forests overlook terraced paddy fields dotted bythe slate grey of small traditional Viet villages.Non Nuoc Beachwill enchant you with its white sand and cocoa palms, while Van Long Natural reservewill gift you with some of the most stunning views of Vietnam.

Vietnam is also a land of caves. The Paradise Caves, and Phong Na Caves are the most popular. They are visited by hundreds of tourists every year.

Festivals and traditions


The Tet holiday

The celebration of the New year, is the most important Vietnamese festivity. Originally a harvest festival, today Tet is devoted to family. It is an important occasion for people to gather together with their parents and relatives. It is a common belief that everybody was born during Tet. This is the reason why the typical Vietnamese guy never knows exactly his date of birth.

Pagoda festivals are common in spring.

Connected with the Buddhist heritage of the country, they consist of religious rites usually followed by games, concerts and shows of jugglers and musicians all dressed in their traditional colourful costumes.

Giong festival.

It is the celebration of Saint Giong, one of the four immortals of Vietnam that defended the country against powerful foreign enemies. It takes place in Hanoi in spring.

The holiday of the dead.

In late spring, people celebrate the dead by eating cold dishes.

Elephant races.

In Tay Nguyen elephants are the most precious animals. The inhabitants of this rural area celebrate their elephants through a vivid (and hazardous) dedicated festival.

Reunification day.

On the 30th of April 1975, Saigon fell. This important date marks both the end of the war and the reunification of the country. It is the second most important festivity of the country.

vietnam tour packages

What to do in Vietnam


From ancient Buddhist temples to white sandy beaches, Vietnam offers different kinds of holidays. If you like culture and traditional Asia, Hue, Hanoi, Hoi An, and the Muong Hoa valley are the place to visit. For those who wish to understand today’s Asia, don’t miss Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. The nature in Vietnam is great, from the Mekong delta to the Halong Bay the country is packed with destinations for tourists that like the wild and the explorations. For those who wish to relax, the best beaches in Vietnam are in Non Nuac, near Hue, in the mid of the country, and in Nha Trang, a bit further to the south.

Vietnam Tours
Our agency can help you to organise customised trip to Vietnam at cheap prices, from a hike through the jungle to the classic holidays spent lying in the sun by the sea. Please contact us for further details.

What to eat


In Vietnam, breakfasts are quite different from Italy, as they start with a  warm soup of noodles in chicken broth, Pho, that is the Vietnamese national dish. This could sound awkward for most Italian tourists. Anyway, in international hotels it is possible to have a western breakfast.

The Vietnamese cuisine is rich, and it shows strong Chinese influences. Goi Cuon is the most famous Vietnamese dish. They are either seafood or pig meat rolls wrapped up in a translucent film. Banh Mi is the local version of the French baguette. It is filled with vegetables, freshly made omelettes and pâté. Banh Xeo is a kind of local pancake, while Bun Cha, the most popular street food in Hanoi, is a pig meat hamburger accompanied with rice and vegetables and seasoned with a sweetish local sauce.

If you like fish, taste Cha Ca (white fish sautéed in butter with dill and onions).
The Italian cuisine is well-known and appreciated in Vietnam. The first Italian restaurant opened in Hanoi in 1993. It has grown up fast up to the point to become a chain of Italian restaurants that are spread throughout the country, Goodmorningvietnam (http://www.goodmorningviet.com/about_us.html).

vietnamese cuisine

Visit Vietnam: when to go


If you wish to visit Vietnam during the celebration of “Tet”, the Vietnamese new year (depending on the years, it falls at the end of January or at the beginning of February), it is advisable to book in advance or to utilize a Vietnam travel agency, as many hotels are full or closed.

As for the climate, the rainy season in Southern Vietnam goes from May to November, while in the central coastal area it goes from June to October (typhoons are possible). In Northern Vietnam, winters ( from November to April) are rainy and cold. Summers are hot and dry.

Where to stay


Vietnam has an excellent network of hotels and resorts. Our standards are comparable to the western ones. English is spoken in all international hotels. Please contact us for further details or help with your booking or for customised Vietnam travel plans.

Visa and bureaucracy


Italian tourists can enter Vietnam with a valid passport, Visa is not necessary for any stay shorter than 15 days. If you are going to travel in Vietnam more than 15 days, you will have to obtain Vietnam visa in advance, one month visa is suggested. The best way is to use Vietnam visa provider (www.vietnamvisaprovider.com),  visa service run by Vivutravel. If you are already in Vietnam, you can also extend your visa. In this case, it will take few days.

Cash: it is possible to import in Vietnam up to 7000 USD cash without declaration. 

vietnam travel

Transports in Vietnam


The best way to travel through Vietnam from North to South is the airplane. The National flight company Vietnam Airlines has the monopoly of domestic aviation traffic.

Buses are slow and crowded, yet very cheap. Trains are fairly better, tough very slow if compared to Italian trains. If you opt for the train (the country is served by a good railway network from North to South), avoid local trains that are incredibly slow and crowded.

In towns, utilize taxis or “cyclos”, a three wheel bicycle taxi that is comfortable and cheap. Choose only taxis with a regular license and that expose the meter, like the ones of the companies Mai Linh and Vinasun, in order to avoid bad experiences.When saying your destination, remember that Viet is a tonal language, so you have to speak very clearly in order to avoid misunderstandings.

It is also possible to hire someone with a bike that give you a ride somewhere. In some rural areas, this is the only solution. In general, hiring a bike is cheap.
Security and locals

Vietnam is a relatively safe country, but it is important to take some precautions. Remember that  in the jungles and in some rural areas there are still wide areas full of unexploded mines, so it is important to hire a guide and follow scrupulously the directions of the guides and of local authorities.

If you hire a motorbike or you plan to travel as a passenger on a motorbike, remember to put on an helmet and ensure that you insurance covers you. It is illegal to be on a motorbike without helmet.

Traffic in Vietnam is chaotic and car accidents are frequent. Train is definitively safer. Tropical cyclones can be dangerous, follow the directions given by the authorities in case it occurs to end up in an area where a cyclone is overcoming.

In general, Vietnamese people are pride of their independence. Familiar values are very strong.

Avoid touching children on their hands and remember that in Vietnam couples do not show affection in public. In general, it is advisable to avoid body language. Do not beckon anybody, as this is rude. To greet someone, simply shake hands and slightly bow your head. When giving someone something, use both hands. Avoid eye-contact with people on walking through the streets.

Vietnamese people are punctual and expect that foreigners to be the same. In Vietnam, dress in a formal way, especially if you are a woman. Remember that Vietnamese people are quite formal and conservative on  this point.

How can we help you

No matter whether you wish to climb mountains or taking sun baths on some sandy beach edged with cocoa palms. We can really help you to organize your trip to Vietnam. Please feel free to contact us when you wish.