Located on the eastern coast of mainland Southeast Asia, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is bordered by China to the north and Cambodia and Laos to the west. The country is long and narrow, shaped like the letter S, with Hanoi (the capital) and the Red River Delta to the north and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam’s largest city, also known as “Saigon”) and the Mekong Delta to the south. Vietnam has a coastline of 3,444 km (2,140 mi) with the East Sea (also called the South China Sea) to the east. Vietnam’s climate is tropical in the south and monsoonal in the north. While there are slight variations in temperature, Vietnam’s climate can generally be divided into the rainy season (May to September) and the dry season (October to March). With an estimated 95 million people, Vietnam ranks 14th in the world in population. About 85-90% of its population is ethnic Vietnamese (also known as “Kinh”), with 53 other ethnic groups recognized by the government. Vietnamese is the official language, and has some similarities to Khmer, Thai and Chinese. Under Chinese rule for a thousand years, an estimated 30% of Vietnamese vocabulary is derived from Chinese. Thanks to French colonial rule, Vietnamese uses a Romanized alphabet, unlike most of its Asian neighbors. While Vietnam has no official religion, the majority subscribe to what’s known as the “Three Teachings” of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Ancestor worship is common. It’s estimated that up to 10% of the population are Roman Catholics, followed by smaller numbers of Protestants, Muslims and Hindu. In the Mekong Delta, the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao sects are popular, in part based on Buddhism. Vietnam’s main exports include seafood, rice, crude oil, clothing and coffee. The monetary unit is the Dong (VND) where VND 22,700 is equal to USD 1.
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Vietnam Hotels & Beach Resorts
Followings are some recommended hotels and beach resorts: InterContinental (IHG) InterContinental Hotels Group holds a number of luxury hotels in Vietnam. It manages eight luxury hotels and resorts in the prime locations of the three major cities: Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. InterContinental brand has 6 hotels including Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Hanoi Westlake, Hanoi Landmark 72, Asiana Saigon, Asiana Saigon Residences, and Phu Quoc Resort. Regarding Crowne Plaza brand, there are The Crowne Plaza Danang, West Hanoi, West Hanoi Residences, and Crowne Plaza Phu Quoc. They are more modest than the InterContinental ones. VinPearl (VinGroup) VinPearl is a system of hotels with 5-star services and facilities in beautiful beaches of Vietnam. Starting with Vinpearl Nha Trang, Vinpearl has developed into a chain of luxury hotels and beach resorts throughout Vietnam. Vinpearl is currently developing its tourism and hospitality products with Vinpearl Resort (five-star standard), Vinpearl Luxury (over 5 stars), and Vinpearl Resort & Villas. List of Vinpearl Resorts is as follows: – Nha Trang: Vinpearl Nha Trang Resort, Vinpearl Nha Trang Bay Resort & Villas, Vinpearl Luxury Nha Trang, Vinpearl Golf Land Resort & Villas, and Vinpearl Nha Trang Long Beach Villas. – Phu Quoc: Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort, Vinpearl Phu Quoc Resort & Golf, Vinpearl Phu Quoc Ocean Resort & Villas, Vinpearl Phu Quoc Paradise Resort & Villas, and Vin Oasis Phu Quoc. – Da Nang: Vinpearl Da Nang Resort & Villas, Vinpearl Da Nang Ocean Resort & Villas, and Vinpearl Hoi An Resort & Villas – Ha Long: Vinpearl Hạ Long Bay Resort – Nghe An: Vinpearl Nghe An – Ha Tinh: Vinpearl Hà Tĩnh Ocean Villas FLC Resorts (FLC) Another big Vietnamese corporation with a series of luxury hotels and resorts is FLC. This group has resorts at the most beautiful beaches, namely Halong (FLC Ha Long), Quy Nhon (FLC Quy Nhon and FLC Sea Tower Quy Nhon), Sam Son (FLC Sam Son Beach and Golf Resort, FLC Luxury Sam Son Resort), and Quang Binh (FLC Quang Binh). La Veranda (MGallery Hotel Collection) La Veranda looks like a French mansion on the beach. It is among the top resorts in the beautiful island of Phu Quoc, Vietnam. With high-end services and perfect natural settings, the resort offers unforgettable moments to tourists, especially for those who are on honeymoon or family holidays. The majestic beauty of Phu Quoc Beach makes it even more romantic.Read more
Local Guide in Phu Quoc
Enjoy the green season! While the dry season of December to April offers the most ideal weather and sunny skies, many savvy travelers take advantage of the “green season”, dodging the brief showers and occasional storms with indoor activities like cooking classes and a soothing massage in exchange for steeply discounted accommodations. The rainy season also brings out the best in many of the island’s natural spots, including the Tranh Stream (“Suối Tranh”, pronounced “soo-ey tranh”) with rapids and several waterfalls where visitors can swim which makes for a great Phu Quoc day trip. Explore the island DIY If organized tours aren’t your thing, there are many places to visit on Phu Quoc which can be done on your own. Adventurous travelers can rent a scooter and explore the many beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc. Be aware that while scooter rentals are cheap at roughly USD 8 per day, technically you do need an International Driving Permit and if you get stopped by the police, expect to pay a hefty fine. On the plus side, most of the main roads around Phu Quoc are paved and without too much traffic, making driving quite easy for even the novice. Note that roads towards the north of the island and through the national park are mostly unpaved dirt roads which require some skill to navigate the sandy areas. Otherwise, taxis can be hired for half-day or full-day Phu Quoc island tours, usually either to the south or the north of the island. Negotiate with your driver exactly where you want to visit and the price beforehand. Otherwise, many of the organized Phu Quoc island tours are based on volume, which means if you don’t mind being on a boat with 30-40 other people, the costs are quite reasonable at around USD 20 for a full-day boat trip with lunch and snorkeling. Alternatively, many of the high-end resorts can put together an unforgettable Robinson Crusoe-like day with a picnic lunch on a deserted island beach all to yourself. Boats can also be hired out to visit the islands that make up the An Thoi archipelago in the south or the more sheltered islands in the northwest known for their shallow water and good macrodiving. Some islands that offer postcard-pretty beaches with few visitors include Fingernail Island, Coconut Island with its fish farms and the uninhabited Shadow Island in the south. Night market The night market in Duong Dong is mainly for tourists, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. Cheap souvenir stands vie for space with pop-up restaurants where fresh seafood can be cooked any way you like. Shopping While all the usual beach souvenirs can be easily found around the island, why not take something home that’s truly representative of Phu Quoc? Cooks back home will enjoy a package of famous Phu Quoc black pepper or a bottle of sweet sim wine. Authentic Phu Quoc pearls in a dazzling array of colors and quality are sold directly from the pearl farms along Long Beach and make for a stylish gift. Skip the Phu Quoc fish sauce though, as many airlines don’t allow them on the planes, in case of breakage. If you’ve ever smelled fish sauce up close, you’ll know exactly why!Read more
Phu Quoc Local Food & Products
Cuisine is what makes a place much more appealing to visitors. You should not leave the beautiful island of Phu Quoc without trying Phu Quoc Cuisine once. Goi Ca Trich (Raw Herring Salad) Herring Salad is one of the must-tries in Phu Quoc Island. The unique flavour of the dish is from white meaty herring fish meticulously prepared and marinated to its perfection. “Goi Ca Trich” is made by mixing chopped filet herrings with onion, lime juice, chilies, and pepper. The dish is served with rolled rice paper, fresh lettuce and herbs, and dipping sauce. A herring salad roll which is dip into Phu Quoc special fish sauce is heavenly tasty. Local people in Phu Quoc often drink “Sim” wine (Rose myrtle wine) when eating herring salad to accelerate mouthful flavour of the salad and help better digestion. Ghe Ham Ninh (Ham Ninh Sea Crab) No one should leave out this delicacy when paying a visit to Ham Ninh Fishing Village. “Ghe” is a Vietnamese word for sea crab. Ham Ninh crabs are quite small, but firmer and tastier than other kinds of sea crabs. The price for 1 kilogram ranges from 200,000VND ($9) to 500,000VND ($25) depending on the size of crabs. You should choose the medium size (6-7 crabs/kg) as crabs in this size offer best tastes. Ask the fishermen to cook the crabs for you in their traditional way and savour the taste from the sea while sipping “Sim” wine to the best. Grilled “Coi Bien Mai” (Grilled Scallops) The dish is made from a kind of sea scallop that has a triangle-shaped shell and hides deeply under the ocean floor. Travelers can experience collecting scallops on their own after watching how fishermen do the job. “Coi bien mai” can be cooked into different delicious dishes, but the most recommended dish is the crunchy and chewy grilled one to sample. Tourist can try this specialty at any seafood shacks along the beaches in Phu Quoc. Fish Sauce Like champagne in France and olive oil in Greece, fish sauce is the prized staple of Vietnam, as it is a must-have ingredient that finds its way into almost every Vietnamese dish from spring rolls to noodles. The island of Phu Quoc has been famous for producing some of Vietnam’s finest fish sauce, a pungent liquid extracted from fermented and salted fish of the island. Phu Quoc fish sauce is world-renowned for its premium quality, thanks to the abundant seaweed and plankton around the island that feeds the anchovies needed for the dark golden colored sauce. In fact, fish sauce made elsewhere often falsely uses the Phu Quoc brand! That’s the reason why local producers have been working with the WTO to protect its appellation of origin. Phu Quoc attractions include visiting a fish sauce factory where you’ll find larger-than- life wooden vats up to 4 meters high containing up to 13 tons of deliciously pungent fish sauce. Tourists can visit the distillery but should not buy any bottles as carrying fish sauce on the airplane is not allowed. Some of famous fish sauce distilleries that allow visitors (with no fees) are Hung Thanh (Road 30/4, Duong Dong Town), Red Boat (11 Cau hung Vuong, Duong Dong Town), Thinh Phat (Road 30, Duong Dong Town) and Nam Huong (near Sao Beach, An Thoi Town). However, it is recommended for foreigners to hire a tour guide for better understanding of the product. Tours to fish sauce factories are available on any apps for travelers such as Tripadvisor and Airbnb with the price of about $50 for a half-day trip to 3 places including a fish sauce distillery. Sim Wine Also known as “Ruou Sim” in Vietnamese, Sim Wine is made from the Rose Myrtle, a local fruit. Fishermen often drink Sim Wine when eating seafood to get the best taste of the dishes. Vietnamese also believe that Sim Wine can help with fatigue, aide digestion and ease pain. Its taste is like a fermented blackcurrant alcoholic beverage mixed with a uniquely flowery scent that you can never find in any Western wine. Sim Wine can be the best alternative to French wine for parties on the beach so people cannot be hammered but a little bit tipsy to feel good.Read more