Vietnam Traveller's Guide
Situated beneath China and bordered by Laos and Cambodia to the
west, Vietnam curves in a long, graceful 'S' beside the South China
Sea. In the course of a long and eventful history, Vietnam gained
independence after a thousand years under Chinese rule.
Between 1862 and 1945 Vietnam became a French colony following a
series of military conquests. Political instability and a further
three decades of war, culminating in the Vietnam War which
devastated the country between 1954 and 1975 followed. Unbowed, the
Vietnamese nation emerged from this turmoil, rebuilding and
reforming their country. Today the Vietnamese people are peaceable,
hospitable and unfailingly optimistic.
This colourful history has left an indelible mark upon Vietnam's
towns and cities; nineteenth-century buildings in the
French-colonial style stand beside exquisite Vietnamese temples and
pagodas, whilst numerous museums and monuments recall times of
Although Vietnam occupies a tropical/subtropical region, its
climate varies. In general terms the far south of the country is
consistently hot and humid, central regions are hot but drier
except during May to November's sporadic monsoon season and the
mountainous north is the coolest and wettest region.
Vietnam's famous cuisine is exciting, varied and unmissable.
Perfectly balancing the freshest ingredients with herbs and spices,
even the simplest dishes are memorably delicious. Pho, a seasoned
broth of fresh rice noodles and herbs accompanied with beef or
chicken, is practically the national dish and is enjoyed throughout