Vietnam or it’ s official name of Official Social Republic of Vietnam lies between China, Cambodia and Laos and also known thanks to Ho Chi Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Dogged by many wars throughout the last century against China, France, Japan and famously the Americans, Vietnam has now emerged as one of the power houses of SE Asia. About the same size as Germany but with around 90 millions occupants, Vietnam is most hilly and forested but with a massive coastline that stretches down its East flank. Vietnam uses it terrane to the full and is the second largest exporter of rice. Although Vietnam is one country it really feels like 2 countries – North and South.
The Viet ethnicity is the main group in Vietnam but over the years large groups such as the Chinese, Cambodians and people of Laos have all moved in and created their own individual groups. and Taoism are the main religious groups in Vietnam. with a mixing pot of different nationalities comes exquisite cuisine and some of the best in SE Asia using the 5 main fundamental tastes – Sweet, Bitter, Sour, Spicy and Salty.
Vietnam can be explored using all the usual transport modes, but one of the highlights has to be the train that runs from Hanoi to HCMC. Another alternative that I didn’t try but heard great reports on is to hire out motorbikes and do the trip yourself, although try to stay clear of the trying it Top Gear style on small old 125cc bikes!