This summer has been one of the hottest summers on record in Vietnam, with temperatures often rising above 100 F in many parts of the country. Low rainfall has rendered the country’s network of hydroelectrical power plants virtually useless, and rising energy consumption has outstripped the capacity of the state-owned energy sector, leading to rolling blackouts throughout the country in recent months.
With the recent opening of the Trung Luong Highway, the Mekong Delta is now a mere 90 minutes’ drive away from HCMC. Yet given its proximity to the metropolis, allied with its sleepy, laid-back ambience, its friendly people and its beautiful countryside, it’s amazing that so few HCMC expats bother to spend much time down there.
I suspect it’s because we all visit the Delta soon after arriving in Vietnam, usually on a rushed one-day tour being dragged from one fake ‘tourist village’ to another, and end up wondering what all the fuss is about. The fact that there is little in the way of decent accommodation in the region doesn’t help either.
I wrote this piece a couple of years ago for the Duxton Hotel blog. If anything the taxi situation in the city has gone from bad to worse, so time to tweak & repost it!
A frequent complaint from foreign visitors is of being overcharged, ripped off and generally mistreated by the city’s taxi drivers, particularly those operating at Tan Son Nhat Airport. Indeed, a 2007 survey discovered that the number one reason cited by tourists as to why they would not return to Vietnam was being overcharged by taxi drivers.
One of Hanoi’s favourite and finest Restaurants, the Vine Wine Bar has just been awarded its fifth consecutive ‘Best of’ Award of Excellence by the Internationally renowned U.S. wine magazine, the Wine Spectator. This award recognizes Vine’s wine list as being one of the finest restaurant wine list in all the world.
No clear information is readily available on what you are entitled to if you want to visit or work in Vietnam. So, to follow is a rundown of what foreign nationals can apply for.
1) Tourist Visa Exemptions
Citizens of the following countries do not need a tourist visa to enter Vietnam.
- Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Laos for a stay lasting no more than thirty days
“Vietnamese nude art is like a neglected and malnourished child,” says famous local photographer Nguyen Thai Phien, author of Vietnam’s first nude photo book and calendar, and potentially the country’s first nude photo exhibitor.
Clinging to traditional Oriental values, Vietnamese people have tended to evaluate the beauty of women through their character, not appearance, and consider Eve in her birthday suit an unsuitable image. Therefore, Vietnam’s nude photography was born into silence as illegitimate, and has yet to be officially recognised and treated the same as other forms of arts, Thai Phien believes.
Lao Cai Province has long been famous for the former French hill station of Sapa, renowned for its all-year-round temperate climate, beautiful landscape and colourfully dressed ethic people. But another place that is well worth a visit is the rugged provincial market of Bac Ha, with its vividly garbed H’mong people and sweet smell of corn wine will leave you with more unique, unforgettable experiences.
Racial profiling is a common practice at English language centres in Vietnam, making it difficult for many Viet Kieu teachers to get a foot in the teaching world.
It’s a mundane afternoon at the office. Van Anh, a receptionist, sits staring at her computer when the phone rings. She answers, “Hello. Ho Chi Minh English School, how can I help you?”
A girl with an unmistakable English accent inquires about a job.
“Ah, you want to be a teacher here? Well, yes we have plenty of vacancies. Send your CV to our headquarters, we’re always looking for new teachers.”
Spectacularly beautiful, featuring towering limestone formations and pristine forests, it’s no surprise that Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province is a UNESCO World Heritage site attracting around 300,000 visitors a year.
But until recently communities there could not access all the agricultural land they needed as it was heavily contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Mr. Nguyen Xuan Doan, who lives within the park, remembers: “We never dared to dig the ground too deeply because there was so much UXO.