Vietnam is the easternmost country on Indochinese Peninsula. It shares its land borders with China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. Vietnam’s land is mostly hilly and densely forested. The principal physiographic features are the Annamese Cordillera, the mountain range extending generally from northwest to southeast in central Vietnam and dominating the interior, and two extensive alluvial deltas formed by the Red (Hong) River in the north and the Mekong (Cuu Long) River in the south. Between these two deltas is a long, relatively narrow coastal plain.
Confucianism, Daoism, and Mahayana Buddhism entered Vietnam over many centuries. Gradually they became intertwined, simplified, and Vietnamese to constitute, along with vestiges of earlier local beliefs, an indigenous religion that came to be shared to some considerable extent by all Vietnamese, regardless of region or social class. It is largely this religious amalgam that is practiced by the roughly half of the population that identifies itself as being Buddhist.
Ethnically, Vietnam has one of the most complex ethno linguistic patterns in Asia. The majority of the Vietnamese population was sinicized during the earlier Chinese rule. Indian influence is most evident among the Gham and Khmer communities.
The Vietnamese culture is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia and is heavily influenced by the Chinese culture. Later, French colonial rule in Vietnam introduced the Western culture to the country. Family and clan are valued over individualism. Clan is the most important social unit in the country and each clan features a patriarch heading the clan and a clan altar. Vietnam is associated with a rich tradition of dance and music. Vietnamese music also exhibits variance in different parts of the country. The Imperial Court music and the Ca trù are important traditional forms of Vietnamese music. The Lion dance, platter dance, fan dance, imperial lantern dance are some of the traditional dance forms of Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine is appreciated across the world. Rice is a staple of the region. Soy sauce, fish sauce, mint, and basil are popular ingredients. The phở, a noodle soup originating in North Vietnam is a noted Vietnamese dish.
There aren’t too many countries that can offer as diverse a landscape as Vietnam does. The south of the country enjoys a mainly tropical climate, while the rest of the country is punctuated by dense lush forests, truly great beaches, and mountain slopes. If you head up to the far north, you can be knocked for six by the stunning vistas of traditional rice fields.
What makes it all the sweeter is that since Vietnam is still relatively new to tourism, there are huge stretches of unspoilt beaches, tropical forests, and towering mist covered mountains waiting to be explored. Vietnam is also home to many indigenous species of wildlife and the world’s largest cave.
Adventure seekers won’t be disappointed either, especially if they visit the sand dunes of Mui Ne for a range of white-knuckle activities including sand-boarding and quad biking.