Vietnam Facts

Prewarned is pre-armed. Get to know the country’s basic facts before going and it’s half the battle won, leaving pure relaxation and appreciation of your surroundings.

Facts at a Glance
Area329,560sqkm
Capital CityHanoi
Population85,262,356
LanguageVietnamese (official), Chinese, English, and French.
ReligionBuddhism, Taoism, and Catholic.
ClimateNorth Vietnam has Southern Mediterranean type climate. South Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate.
Local TimeGMT +7
CurrencyVietnamese Dong (VND) in denominations of 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000 banknotes. Coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200. These values have paper note equivalences.
ExchangeTravellers cheques are accepted at most banks. Hotels sometimes charge a commission. Cash dollars in good condition are accepted in many places, so small denominations are useful to carry. The exchange rate can fluctuate considerably. Remaining Vietnamese currency can be exchanged for US dollars at the exchange bureau at the airport.
Credit CardsMost major hotels and big restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi accept Visa and MasterCard.
Business HoursMost shops, banks and businesses open from 8am to 4 or 5pm with a 1-2 hour lunch break
TippingTipping is not customary in Vietnam, but is appreciated. A 5-10% tip for a meal in a good restaurant may equal a day’s wages.
NightlifeThere are numerous discos and karaoke bars. As in most places, it is preferable to explore in the company of a long-term resident, to avoid the traditional rip-offs.
Electricity supply220V, 50Hz / 110V, 50Hz
PhotographyPrint film is widely sold, but risks having been badly stored, so best buy from reputable photo dealers rather than street vendors. Slide film is available only in large cities. Photo-processing shops are everywhere with one hour processing facilities.
Tourist InformationVietnam Airlines-Hanoi: (84-4) 8253824; Ho Chi Minh City: (84-8) 8292118; Bangkok: (66-2) 6569056-8; Phnom Penh: (855-23) 424426; Vientiane: (856-21) 216761
Vietnam National Administration of Tourism-Tel: (84-4) 8261061; Fax: (84-4) 8261115