Full name of Vietnam country is the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Vietnam Population: 94.6 million inhabitants (figures of 2016); Vietnam's Capital City is Hanoi City (6.5 million inhabitants); People: 53 ethnic minorities and 1 ethnic majority (Kinh people); Language: Vietnamese; Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND); Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours; International Dialing Code: +84, Vietnam located in the easternmost on the Indochina peninsula, is the 15th most populous country in the world. For culinary adventurers, Vietnam is a treasure trove of more than 500 different dishes. People in Vietnam is friendly, throughout the country, you will always see smiles and happy faces, even many Vietnamese still is having difficulties in daily lives but people now is happy with atmosphere of peace.
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At present there are 54 different ethnic groups inhabiting Vietnam, in which Kinh (Viet) people make up nearly 90% of the whole population, and 53 other ethnic groups represent over 10%.
The Vietnamese nation was formed through a process of two major ancient cultures, the Chinese and the Indian. Thus a peculiar trait of Vietnam's culture was formed. As far as anthropology is concerned, the Vietnamese people have their origin in the Mongolid race, believed to be one of the major or races of the world and often found in northern and eastern Asia
Vietnamese or Tieng Viet is the national language of Vietnam, spoken by around 87 percent population as the first language. However, there are regional and intra-regional variations in dialect throughout the country.
The major religious traditions in Vietnam are Buddhism (which fuses forms of Taoism and Confucianism), Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Islam, Caodaism and the Hoa Hao sect. These are all tolerated, provided they do not threaten the Communist Party’s hold on power.
The official currency in Vietnam is the Dong (VND) which is a non-convertible currency. American dollars are widely accepted in larger stores and supermarkets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and large stores, especially in the bigger cities. ATMs are widely available throughout the country, and there are a number of international banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Phones & Internet service
The Vietnamese postal service is reliable and there are also courier services widely available. Do not put postcards into letter boxes; give them to your hotel to post or go to a post office.
Telephone connections to the rest of the world are widely available, however they aren’t cheap. A Vietnamese SIM card is a less expensive way of calling other countries, however your phone will need to be unlocked in order for it to work. For example, 200,000VND worth of Viettel credit ($10) can last for up to 45 minutes to the UK.
Internet access is available in all major hotels and you will find WiFi in most cafes in developed areas.
Traffic & Transportation
The traffic in Vietnam is busy, but slow. It may look like chaos but don’t be frightened to cross the road. Simply make your way shaking your whole hand at waist height. You’ll soon see other people doing the same.
Taxis are a popular way of getting around Hanoi but make sure you use a reputable company such as Mai Linh, VinaSun or Thanh Cong taxis. A typical 10-minute journey should cost around 50,000 VND but prices tend to increase at night.
If you are in a developed area, a cyclo is a fun form of transport and should cost no more than 100,000 VND per journey.
Motorbike taxis: Travel by motorbike is not safe and under no circumstances is this sanctioned or recommended by Buffalo Tours. Please note that this form of transport is not usually covered by insurance. Please check the fine print of your travel insurance policy to be sure of your cover.
Customs & Habits
Worship of Ancestor Custom
A very popular belief among Vietnamese is the custom of the ancestor cult. In every household, an ancestor altar is installed in the most solemn location
Vietnamese believe that the soul of a dead person, even if dead for many generations, still rests along with their descendants on earth. The dead and living persons still have spiritual communion; in everyday life, people must not forget that what they enjoy and how they feel is the same for their dead relatives.
Getting married is an important event in a Vietnamese’s life. The procedure of the ancient wedding ceremony was very complicated. Current wedding ceremony procedures include the following steps: the search for a husband or wife, the proposal, the registration, and finally the wedding.
The sense of the dead is that of the final,” says a Vietnamese proverb, meaning that funeral ceremonies must be solemnly organized.
Over time, the traditional "ao dai" has gone through certain changes. Long gowns are now carefully tailored to fit the body of a Vietnamese woman.
An elegant looking conical palm hat, which is traditionally known as a "non bai tho" (a hat with poetry written on it), is worn as part of a woman's formal dress. This traditional conical hat is particularly suitable for a tropical country such as Vietnam, where fierce sunshine and hard rain are commonplace.
Ao Ba Ba are the stereotypical black silk pajamas (although ao ba ba can be any color) worn by both men and women in the southern countryside, particularly the Mekong Delta. Ao Ba Ba is also worn in the cities, mostly by women. Look for them in the markets and on the street.
Several Vietnamese special dishes:
Com - rice
In Vietnam, com is eaten at the main meals of the day (lunch and dinner). Rice is eaten together with a variety of different dishes and is made from different kinds of rice. Typically fragrant rice is used, such as Tam Thom and Nang Huong. An ordinary meal may consist of boiled rice and the following:
Pho - Noodles
Pho is the most popular food among the Vietnamese population. Pho is commonly eaten for breakfast, although many people will have it for their lunch or dinner. Anyone feeling hungry in the small hours of the morning can also enjoy a bowl of hot and spicy pho to fill their empty stomachs.
Like hot green tea which has its particular fragrance, pho also has its special taste and smell. Preparations may vary, but when the dish is served, its smell and taste is indispensable. The grated rice noodle is made of the best variety of fragrant rice called Gao Te. The broth for Pho Bo (Pho with beef) is made by stewing the bones of cows and pigs in a large pot for a long time. Pieces of fillet mignon together with several slices of ginger are reserved for Pho Bo Tai (rare fillet). Slices of well done meat are offered to those less keen on eating rare fillets.
The soup for Pho Ga (pho with chicken meat) is made by stewing chicken and pig bones together. The white chicken meat that is usually served with Pho Ga is boneless and cut into thin slices. You could consider Pho Bo and Pho Ga Vietnam's special soups. Pho also has the added advantage of being convenient to prepare and healthy to eat.
Nem Ran or Cha Gio (fried spring roll)
This dish is called Nem Ran by northerners and Cha Gio by southerners. In Hanoi, the introduction of Nem Ran dates back to a time when Cha Ca had not existed. Although it ranks among Vietnam's specialty dishes, Nem Ran is very easy to prepare. Consequently, it has long been a preferred food on special occasions such as Tet and other family festivities.
Ingredients used for Nem Ran comprise of lean minced pork, sea crabs or unshelled shrimps, two kinds of edible mushroom (Nam Huong and Moc Nhi), dried onion, duck eggs, pepper, salt and different kinds of seasoning. All are mixed thoroughly before being wrapped with transparent rice paper into small rolls. These rolls are then fried in boiling oil.
This dish is a combination of a variety of fresh vegetables, usually used in salads in Western countries. The make-up of Nom, however, is slightly different.
The main ingredients of Nom include grated pieces of turnip, cabbage, or papaya, and slices of cucumber with grated, boiled, lean pork. Other auxiliary ingredients include grated carrot, slices of hot chilly, and roasted ground nuts. These are used to make the dish more colourful. All are mixed thoroughly before being soaked in vinegar, sugar, garlic, hot chilly, and seasoned with salt.
The presentation of the dish is also very meticulous. The mixture of ingredients is put into a dish before being covered with vegetables.
To try a mouthful of Nom is to enjoy a combination of all the tastes life has to offer, including sour, hot, sweet, salty, and fragrant tastes. The dish helps with digestion at meals and parties. It can become an addictive aid to assist the real connoisseur enjoy more food.