Vietnam Travel Information

Photo Welcome to Vietnam. Located in south east Asia, Vietnam borders Cambodia, Laos and China and stretches over 1600 km along the eastern coast of the Indochinese Peninsula. The country has two main cultivated areas; the Red River Delta (15,000 sq km) in the north and the Mekong Delta (60,000 sq km) in the south. Lush green vegetation covers the lands throughout the country. Vietnam is made up of equatorial lowlands, high, temperate plateaus and alpine peaks.

Less than 20% of the country remains forested, and what remains is under threat from slash and burn agriculture and excessive harvesting. Urban life is also prominent in Vietnam. Most of the larger urban centers are located in southern Vietnam. Of the major cities, only the capital city of Hanoi (population, 1989; 3,056,146) is not located on the coast. Other large cities are Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon (3,924,435); Haiphong (1,447,523), Hanoi's port; and Da Nang (369,734), near the ancient city of Hue (260,489).

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese spoken by the majority of the population. The use of French, a remnant of colonial times, is declining. Some Vietnamese people who live in urban areas speak other languages, such as English and Russian. Khmer, Montagnard, and Cham are spoken primarily in the interior. There is also a variety of religions throughout Vietnam reflecting the influences of many cultures.

Traditional Vietnamese religion includes elements of Indian beliefs and three Chinese religious systems: Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. A majority of adherents today follow Buddhism, including a wide variety of sects. Other religions include relatively new sects such as Hoa Hao, associated with Buddhism, and Caodaism, a synthesis of Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Christianity, particularly the Roman Catholic church, claims as many as 6 million followers.

The currency of Vietnam is the Nu Dong. The four major ways to convert currency are at banks, exchange bureaus, hotels, and black markets. Visa and MasterCard are also accepted in major cities and some towns.

Important: Travel to Vietnam may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Vietnam visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Capital city: Hanoi
Area: 331,210 sq km
Population: 91,519,289
Ethnic groups: Kinh
Languages: Vietnamese
Religions: Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, none 80.8%
Government: Communist state
Chief of State: President Truong Tan SANG
Head of Government: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG
GDP: 300 billion
GDP per captia: 3,400
Annual growth rate: 5.9%
Inflation: 18.7%
Agriculture: paddy rice, coffee, rubber, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas
Major industries: food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building
Natural resources: phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower
Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia
Trade Partners - exports: US 18%, China 11%, Japan 11%, Germany 3.7%
Trade Partners - imports: China 22%, South Korea 13.2%, Japan 10.4%, Taiwan 8.6%, Thailand 6.4%, Singapore 6.4%