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Vietnam travel facts
Basic Information
  Area 329,560 sq.km
  Capital: Hanoi
  Population: 82,5 Million
  Language: Vietnamese (official), English, Chinese and French.
  Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, and Catholic.
  Country calling code: 84
  Climate:  Vietnam is located in the tropical zone characterized by sunshine, high rainfall, humidity and monsoon. Most mountainous regions are temperate. The annual average temperature is from 22°C to 27°C with two distinguished seasons in general: the cold and dry one from November to April and the other hot and wet from May to October. Especially the North has four distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
  Local Time:   GMT +7
Vietnamese Dong in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 500,000 banknotes. There are coins in use. Cash US dollars in good condition are widely used and accepted and it is advisable to bring some with you.
Travellers cheques and foreign currencies are accepted at most banks. Hotels sometimes charge a commission. The exchange rate can fluctuate considerably. Remaining Vietnamese currency can be exchanged for US dollars at the exchange bureau at the airport.
Most major hotels and big restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Business hours: Most shops, banks and businesses open from 8am to 4 or 5pm with a 1-2 hour lunch break
Electricity supply: The electric current in Vietnam operates mostly on 220 volts but occasionally you will find 110 volt sockets. Electric plug types vary throughout the country, however the two-rounded pin standard Asian plug is usable in most parts of the country.
Water: Do not drink tap water, only drink bottled water
Nightlife: There 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.
Photography: Photography in airports, railway stations and near any military installations is forbidden and discretion should be used when photographing people.
Tipping: Tipping 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.
Public Holidays (2006):
Jan 1: Western New Year's Day
Feb 3: Founding Day of the Communist Party of Vietnam
April 30: Liberation Day of South Vietnam and Saigon
May 1: Labour Day
May 19: Ho Chi Minh's birthday
Sep 2: National Holiday
Sep 3: Day to commemorate the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1969