VIETNAM, beyond the land of smiles

Above the images captured by Vietnam War movies and the nostalgic stories of the past through the several literatures dating back to the period of Indochina, Vietnam is more than the country depicted by most of the people overseas. 

The country with a dragon shape has many hidden flavors and gems that you surely want to discover. In any way comparable to other places in the world, Vietnam is one of the dreamed destinations for all kind of travelers. Buffalos and green paddy fields, alleys of bamboos and conical hats… we understand better where Vietnam’s timeless charm comes from. The abundant nature beauties will leave you speechless.

The locals with constant shiny smiles are always pleased to share their stories and their daily life with you. The beautiful beaches along the East coast of the country will provide you the relaxing time that you have ever longed for. The breathtaking views of mountains in North Vietnam inhabited by ethnic minorities, the bustling and dynamic cities of Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City, and the boat rides along the waters of Mekong Delta promise for your trip to be full of discoveries. 

The karsts formations and the stunning landscapes of Halong Bay – selected as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and as a UNESCO World Heritage – are even more amazing than captured in pictures. The several World Heritages such as Hue Citadel, Hoi An Ancient Town, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park or My Son Sanctuary make Vietnamese people so proud of our land. Vietnam has indeed a long interesting history that is waiting for you to be heard. 

Whatever if you want to go solo, with your friends or your family, the activities are so diversified that each of you will find your happiness. For nature lovers, adventurous travelers relax seekers, food lovers or those passionate of history and culture, Vietnam and its people will undoubtedly conquer any of you. Make your future leisure or business trip more exciting than ever when traveling along the land of the dragon.

Ho Chi Minh City

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Phu Quoc, pearl island

At the extreme south of Vietnam, a beautiful tropical island stands among the crystal clear waters of Siam gulf, near the sea coast of Cambodia and Vietnam. Phu Quoc is simply a great paradise to escape. Its long coastlines and wooded hills are particularly worth exploring by motorbike. This is also in this island that one of the best pepers and fish sauces of Vietnam are produced. Visitors come especially here to relax and enjoy the sandy beaches surrounded by many coconut trees. Pack your beach essentials and travel under the sun of Phu Quoc with many fun activities around you!

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Nha Trang, relaxing paradise

Long beaches with fine sand and blue waters surrounded by its several beautiful islands and mountains far away, Nha Trang is loved for being a perfect destination to relax and enjoy many nautical activities all year round. Indeed, the city located on the east coast has the chance to have the nicest weather of Vietnam. You will understand better why Yersin, inventor of plague vaccine, fell in love with this city. Besides its stunning landscapes, Nha Trang has lots of amazing heritage to discover, including the Ponagar complex recognized as one of the greatest architectural records of Cham civilization. Do not wait for taking a deep breath there!

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Da Nang, city by the beach

Being the 3rd largest city of Vietnam, Danang is now the economic heart of Central Vietnam. This dynamic city is Surrounded by its beautiful beaches and its impressive Marble Mountains. At night, the city is great to enjoy and is beautifully illuminated. Danang has also an interesting past to discover. Formerly called Tourane before 1954, Danang was inhabited by French colonizers. After the decline of the port activity of Hoi An, Danang became one of the most shining commercial centre in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, it became a huge air base. Today, although its French influences still exist, the bustling and dynamic city has really changed. Enjoy the beautiful nature and the exciting activities of Danang!

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My Son, the Cham kingdom

Most of the Cham remains still existing in Vietnam are located at My Son Sanctuary in a luxuriant jungle valley surrounded by Cat’s Tooth Mountain (Hon Quap). My Son was shining as it was the most important intellectual and religious centre of the kingdom of Champa and might have been a burial place for Cham monarchs. The kingdom of Champa lasted from the 2nd century to the 15th century. This sacred place has been created by the emperor Bhadravarman at the end of the 4th century and had around 78 edifices. This exceptional site situated at 50 km from Hoi An was found by the French people and restored before the American bombing that later damaged the temples. An incredible visit to discover the secrets of Vietnam heritage!

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Hoi An, the ancient town

Located in Quang Nam province, on the north bank near the mouth of the Thu Bon River, the ancient town used to be an active trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries for the countries in South-East and East-Asia and all around the world. Therefore, the town combines several influences especially from Chinese, Japanese and European cultures. You can observe this when visiting the Japanese covered bridge, Fukian Assembly Hall and Tan Ky Ancient House. Hoi An is now a cosmopolitan melting pot and one of the most wealthy towns. We guarantee you that you’ll be under its charm!

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Hue, the imperial city

Hue is the former capital of Vietnam during the last dynasty of the country – where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled. The authenticity of Hue will charm you with its typical streets, Ngu Binh Mountain and the Perfume river crossing the historic city. You will be surprised to know that most of the inhabitants of Hue are the descendants of the former emperors. Indeed, some kings even have over 100 children related to different wives. The ancient capital has a rich heritage still hidden from you. Walk or ride along the charming streets and feel the atmosphere of old times.

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Phong Nha, the oldest karst mountains of Asia

At the border of Vietnam and Laos, located in a mountain region, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is the natural site the most protected in Vietnam. Covering 116 700 ha, this exceptional site has the oldest karst mountains in Asia formed about 400 million years ago and is one of the largest limetone areas in the world. With its hundreds of cave systems, this is one of the favorite places of speleogists. The underground caves and rivers of 65 km stretch to Lao border. The natural beauty of Phong Nha Ke Bang will definitively captive you.

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Ninh Binh,

Located at 100km south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is known as the other version of “Halong Bay on land”. As the boats ride around the rice fields, the species live peacefully. The spectacular landscape was used for few movies such as Indochina. Ninh Binh will certainly make happy all nature lovers and photographers. As you will take a charming boat ride through the rice fields, Tam Coc and Trang An caves will have everything to amaze you and capture your interest. At 10 km in the north of Ninh Binh, is located Hoa Lu, the former capital of Vietnam in about the year 1000 and seems to stay unchanged. Explore the countryside and feel the incredible serenity of this fascinating land.

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Halong Bay, wonder of the world

“Halong” or where the dragon descends into the sea. One of the 7 Wonders of the World. Spreading over 1.553 km2, the stunning site includes from 1,960 to 2,000 islets. The beautiful limestone of Halong Bay is due to 500 million years of formation. Visit Wooden Stakes Cave, the largest grotto of the bay and Surprising Cave which amazes any visitors. Discover the legends of Halong and wake up with the unique sunrise. You will indeed have the chance to spend one night or more on the bay and share some moments with locals and fishing villagers as you take part in many interesting activities. Visit Wooden Stakes Cave, the largest grotto of the bay and Surprising Cave which amazes any visitors. Discover the legends of the bay and wake up with the unique sunrise.

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Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam

Surnamed the city below the river, Hanoi conserved its influences from the Chinese and French civilizations. Laying down on the occidental river bank of Red River, this bustling and charming city has a cultural richness. Visit the place where Vietnam’s Independence was once announced and cross the doors of the first university of Vietnam. Get lost in the 36 streets of the Old Quarter, grap a beer in Bia Hoi area and learn the secret of fabrication of the renowned handicrafts in the ceramic or silk village.

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Sapa, the foggy township

Due to its cool weather, in 1922 the French established a hill station on Sapa. This is nowadays one of the touristic visit points of the northwest. Located in Lao Cai Province, 350 km from Hanoi, Sapa is at 1650 meters (4921 feet) above sea level. This is the perfect place in Northern Vietnam to trek. Take the chance to explore the area and meet unique ethnic minority groups remote in mountain hills such as Hmong, Dao, Giay, Pho and Tay people. You will literally feel the four seasons in one day: chilly winter in the early morning, spring time after sunrise to switch to the summer in the afternoon and finally ends with a cold winter at night.

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 The Vietnamese trace the origins of culture and nation to the fertile plains of the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam.

 Han Chinese ruled Vietnam for over one thousand years from 111 B.C. to the fifteenth century.

 The Chinese were also in power during the wars between the Monguls and the Cham state, from 1428 to 1672, when Le Loi expelled the Chinese and was crowned emperor.

 In the middle of the nineteenth century, the French began intervening in the country’s affairs on a large scale. Within ten years of seizing Saigon, they had taken control of the whole country, which they governed as a colony and incorporated into French Indochina in spite of resistance from the Vietnamese.

 After 1940, when France surrendered to Germany in World War II, the Vichy government had to accept the presence of Japanese troops in Vietnam, although the Vichy government continued to govern the colony. During this period, Ho Chi Minh founded the Viet Minh, a nationalist liberation movement inspired by communist ideals, whose aim was to free Vietnam from foreign rule. A few months before the Japanese were defeated and finally surrendered to the Allied forces in September 1945, the Viet Minh took direct control from the French, and Ho Chi Minh declared the Democratic Republic of Vietnam independent on 2 September 1945.

 After the end of World War II, the French deployed a substantial number of troops and fought the Viet Minh, led again by Ho Chi Minh, in order to regain control over Vietnam. The French were defeated decisively in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu and were forced to withdraw after they had dominated Vietnam for almost one hundred years. However, the Viet Minh controlled only the northern part of Vietnam.

 The establishment of a second government, led by Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon, led to the separation of the country into North and South Vietnam along the seventeenth parallel, the latter backed by the United States. 

 In 1973, the United States signed a treaty with North Vietnam that provided for withdrawal of all American ground troops and aimed at restoring peace. After the American withdrawal, the government of South Vietnam crumbled rapidly and the North took control in 1975, ending a war that had lasted nearly thirty years. 

 In July 1976, the nation was reunited, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established.

 Important events since the reunification of the country include a border war with Cambodia in 1978 and China in 1979.

 There is now far greater openness towards foreign countries in general, and improved relations with other Southeast Asian and Western nations in particular.

 Vietnam became a full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the meeting in Brunei in July 1995.

 Full diplomatic relations with the United States were reestablished in July 1995.

Located in the continent of Asia, Vietnam covers 310,070 square kilometers of land and 21,140 square kilometers of water, making it the 66th largest nation in the world with a total area of 331,210 square kilometers.

Vietnam borders the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin and the East Sea. The country sahes borders to the north with the People's Republic of China and to the west with Laos and Cambodia. 



Vietnamese is one of a few languages in Asia that uses Latin alphabet instead of symbol. This makes it a lot easier to interpret street signs and even to learn to speak. You will not have much difficulty traveling in Vietnam, since many Vietnamese, especially young people, can speak English quite fluently. Even though some of them are shy to foreigners, they will readily help you if you get lost and ask for direction. 

Family life: 

In Vietnam’s traditional society, a typical family has three or four generations living under the same roof. With the view of "more children, more fortunes", many families want to have lots of children and grandchildren. Influenced by Confucianism and the feudal view of male preference, men play the most important roles in family and always have final say. 

Feudal ethics shape women around “three obediences, four virtues” (three obediences: obedience to their fathers during childhood, to their husbands when married and to their sons in widowhood; four virtues: diligence, good manner, proper speech, and morality)

Today, Vietnamese family size tends to be narrowed down to two or three generations. Most couples have only two children. The advocacy for men's superiority over women is weakening and gradually being eliminated. However, the time-honoured tradition of "respect for the elderly and love for the children" has been maintained and advocated in each and every Vietnamese family.


Most ethnic groups in Viet Nam have their own costumes that reflect their unique cultural identities. Most of these costumes are decorated with vivid patterns in contrast colours: black-white, black-red, green-red or green-white and made of natural fiber such as ramie, silk, pineapple yarn or cotton. These materials are fine, durable and sweat-absorbing, suitable for tropical climate.

Today, the official costumes of the Vietnamese people have changed. Suits have replaced the traditional costume of Vietnamese men. The long dress or Ao Dai, which was first worn under Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat's regime, has been modified to better suit Vietnamese women and is used in many important ceremonies of the year. The modern Ao Dai is a tunic slit to the waist with the two loose panels falling down to mid shin. This dress, which is really suitable to the small build of a Vietnamese woman, reveals the hidden beautiful curves of her body.

Currently, with increasing exchanges among different cultures, Vietnamese clothing becomes more diverse and fashionable, reflecting a higher level of integration, especially that of urban youth.

  1. Avoid public displays of affection with a member of the opposite sex.
  2. Do not touch someone's head.
  3. Do not point with your finger - use your hand.
  4. Do not stand with your hands on your hips.
  5. Do not cross your arms on your chest.
  6. Do not pass anything over someone's head.
  7. Do not touch anyone on the shoulder.
  8. Do not touch a member of the opposite sex.
  9. Shorts should only be worn at the beach.

Officially, Vietnam is an Atheist state. Despite this, many of its citizens are religious. 

The earliest established religions were Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Today, these religions are grouped into the same religion known as the Triple religion or Tam Giao which has many followers today. Later religions in Vietnam include Christianity and Islam. New religious movements include Hoa Hao and Cao Dai. About 85.5% are Buddhist (mostly Mahayana), 6.8% are Christians (mostly Roman Catholic), 2% belong to indigenous religions such as Cao Dai. About 0.8% are Hindus and 0.5% are Muslim.


Vietnam's climate is very diverse because the country covers a wide range of latitudes and altitudes.

The North

The cold season is between November and April when temperature is around 600F/160C and it is often wet and chilly. In the hot period, between May and October, the temperature is about 860F/300C.


Central offers a combination of climates: nothern and southern. The southern part has less rainfall and the temperatures are similar to those in the south. The northern part has more rain. The rainy season lasts from September to December. Especially during the months of October and November, central Vietnam is hit by typhoons with strong windsand heavy downpours.

The South

The temperatures in the south are constant all year, ranging from 77-860F/25-300C. The dry season is from November to April and the wet period from May to October.

Currency: Dong (VND)

Notes are in denominations of VND 500,000, 200,000, 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, 500 and 200.

Credit/ Debit cards and ATMs

An increasing number of outlets accept MasterCard, Visa and AMEX.

ATMs are becoming more common. However, its is wise to carry cash when you travel outside main centers.

Health care

There are international standard hospitals in major towns and cities. Health care centres can be found in all provinces, but facilities are limited and there is a lack of medicine. Health insurance is essential and should include coverage for emergency repatriation by air. Immediate cash payment is expected for medical services.


Special precautions and a vaccinations certificate may be required. Malaria regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in case of doubt. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers arriving from infected areas. A cholera vaccination certificate is not an official condition of entry to Vietnam. However, cholera is a serious risk in the country. Malaria risk exists, predominantly in the falciparum form, throughout the year everywhere except urban areas, the Red River delta and the coastal plains of Central Vietnam. The recommended prophylaxis is mefloquine, doxycycline or atovaquone/proguanil, depending on the specific area visited.

Food & Drink

All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilized. Milk is not pasteurized and should be boiled. Avoid dairy products that are likely to have been made from un-boiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.


Vietnam is a relatively safe country to visit. As a global rule, we recommend you never leave your belongings unattended and always maintain eye contact or a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags. Valuables should be stored in the safety box in your room, if available, or at the reception. Avoid mopeds late at night and choose reliable metered taxi companies.

Getting around by air

Vietnam Airlines operates daily flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang. Regular services are also provided between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Buon Ma Thuot, Dalat, Na San, Phu Quoc, Pleiku, Qui Nhon and Vinh.


Your passport must be valid for six months upon arrival in Vietnam. 


Some nationalities need a visa in advance for all visits, some don't. The standard length of stay for tourist visas is 30 days; for visa-exempt nationalities it is 15 days.

Types of visas

  • If your visit is less than 15 days, some nationalities are now visa-exempt (for a single visit not multiple-entry trips).
  • If you are staying more than 15 days and from a Western country, you'll still need a visa (or approval letter from an agent) in advance. 
  • Tourist visas are valid for either 30 days or 90 days. 

Visa on Arrival (VOA)

Visa on Arrival (VOA) is the preferred method for most travellers arriving by air, since it's cheaper, faster and you don't have to part with your passport by posting it to an embassy. 

It can only be used if you are flying into any of Vietnam's five international airports, not at land crossings. The process is straightforward: you fill out an online application form and pay the service fee. You'll then receive by email a VOA approval letter signed by Vietnamese immigration which you print out and show on arrival, where you pay your visa stamping fee in US dollars, cash only. The single-entry stamping fee is US$25, a multiple-entry stamping fee is US$50.

Visas via an Embassy or Consulate

You can also obtain visas through Vietnamese embassies and consulates around the world but fees are normally much higher than using a visa agent, and (depending, on the country) the process can be slow. In Asia, Vietnamese visas tend to be issued in two to three working days, or in Europe and North America it takes around a week.

Visa-exempted Nationalities

At this time, citizens of the following countries do not need to apply in advance for a Vietnamese visa (when arriving by either air or land) for certain lengths of stay. 

  • Myanmar, Brunei: 14 days
  • Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, UK: 15  days
  • Philippines: 21 days
  • Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore,Thailand: 30 days

Multiple-Entry Visas

It’s possible to enter Cambodia or Laos from Vietnam and then re-enter Vietnam without having to apply for another visa. However, you must hold a multiple-entry visa before you leave Vietnam.

Single-entry visas can no longer be changed to multiple-entry visas inside Vietnam.

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