facts about vietnam
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51 Lesser Known and Fun Facts about Vietnam That You Didn’t Know

Vietnam is a majestic country located in Southeast Asia that shares a border to the north with China, a border to the west with Laos and Cambodia, and the South China Sea to the east.

With a population of approximately 98 million people, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. The country’s capital and largest city is Hanoi, while Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) is the largest city in terms of population and economic activity.

From the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City to the stunning natural beauty of Halong Bay, Vietnam has something to offer for everyone, Vietnam has a rich history and culture, with evidence of human settlement in the region dating back over 500,000 years.

The country was ruled by various dynasties for centuries until it became a French colony in the 19th century. This country has been through it all – from colonization to war and reunification. But don’t let that scare you off! Vietnam is a country that’s as tough as nails and twice as resilient – Vietnam was divided into two countries, with the communist-led north and the US-backed south.

Since reunification in 1975, Vietnam has undergone significant economic growth and development, while preserving its unique cultural identity, and is today a thriving and absolutely fascinating place.

So pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready to have the time of your life!

Scroll on to read: 51 Lesser Known and Fun Facts about Vietnam

Vietnam Map

51 Lesser Known and Fun Facts about Vietnam That You Didn't Know 1

Where did Vietnam get its name from?

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, gets its name from its dominant ethnic group, the Vietnamese people. The name “Viet” comes from the Vietnamese word “Việt,” which means “people” or “ethnic group.” The word “Nam” means “south,” so “Vietnam” roughly translates to “Southern people.”

The origins of the Vietnamese people can be traced back to ancient kingdoms and dynasties that existed in the region, including the Kingdom of Au Lac, which was founded in the 3rd century BC. The name “Viet” first appeared in written records during the Chinese domination of Vietnam in the 2nd century BC, when the Chinese referred to the people of the region as the “Yueh,” which was a transcription of the name “Viet.”

Over time, the name “Viet” became more widely used to describe the people of the region, and when the country achieved independence from France in 1945, it adopted the name “Vietnam” as its official name. Today, the name “Vietnam” is recognized around the world as the name of the country located in Southeast Asia.

6 Facts about Vietnam Culture

Vietnam has a rich and diverse culture that has been shaped by its long history and various influences from neighboring countries. Here are some interesting facts about Vietnam’s culture:

1. Family is extremely important in Vietnamese culture, and respect for elders is highly valued

It is common for multiple generations to live together in one household, with grandparents often playing a prominent role in the upbringing of their grandchildren.

2. Vietnamese culture places great emphasis on education

Parents often sacrifice a great deal to ensure that their children receive a good education. As a result, education is highly valued and respected in Vietnamese society.

3. The Ao Dai is a traditional Vietnamese garment

ao dai

Typically worn by women, it consists of a long tunic and pants and is often brightly colored and adorned with intricate embroidery. The Ao Dai is considered a symbol of Vietnamese culture and is still commonly worn on special occasions and holidays.

4. Vietnamese Music

Traditional Vietnamese music is characterized by its melodic and rhythmic qualities, with a focus on stringed instruments such as the dan bau and the dan tranh. The country is also home to many talented singers and musicians, who have gained international recognition in recent years.

5. Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism are all major religions in Vietnam

A small percentage of the population also follows Christianity and other religions. Religion plays an important role in Vietnamese culture, and many important cultural practices and rituals are tied to religious beliefs.

6. Vietnam is both traditional and modernized

Vietnam has a rich history and culture, but it’s also a country that’s as modern as a new pair of sneakers. From high-tech cities to trendy cafes and restaurants, Vietnam has something for everyone. So whether you’re a history buff or a hipster, you’ll feel right at home here.

5 Facts about Vietnam history

7. The Chinese ruled Vietnam for over a thousand years

The ancient fortress city of Hue

First arriving in 111 BC, they named the country Annam, meaning ‘Pacified South’. The Vietnamese resented Chinese rule and tried to resist. After many wars and uprisings over several centuries, the Chinese were eventually defeated in 939 AD.

8. The French colonized all of Vietnam by 1885

Saigon was first to fall under French rule in 1859 before the rest of the country followed suit. Together with Cambodia and Laos, it formed part of the French Empire known as ‘Indochina’.

9. Vietnam was occupied by Japan from 1940 to 1945

Led by Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese drove the Japanese out of the country. However, at the end of WW2, the country was declared the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the French returned, and Ho Chi Minh’s troops continued to fight for a further 8 years.

10. The French were finally driven out of Vietnam in 1954, but the country was split into two

After the defeat of the French, a conference of world leaders decided to divide Vietnam into two separate states – the Communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north (with Hanoi as its capital), and the non-communist Republic of Vietnam in the south, with Saigon as its capital city.

11. Vietnam finally became a unified, independent country in 1975

ho chi minh
Monument to Ho CHi Minh in Ho Chi Minh City

After the North Vietnamese drove the Americans out of the country in 1974, they finally captured Saigon (and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975 and the country unified to become the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, fulfilling Ho Chi Minh’s vision that Vietnam should be united as one country run by Vietnamese people rather than other nations.

6 Facts about Vietnam Cuisine

12. Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its delicious flavors and fresh ingredients

Some of the most popular dishes include pho, banh mi, and spring rolls. Vietnamese food is also known for its healthy and balanced ingredients, making it a favorite among health-conscious eaters.

13. The home of Pho – the country’s most famous dish

vietnamese pho

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is perhaps the most famous and beloved Vietnamese dish. It is a noodle soup made with rice noodles, herbs, and either beef or chicken broth. It is typically served with bean sprouts, lime wedges, and other garnishes that can be added to taste.

14. Vietnam is the world’s largest exporter of cashew nuts and black pepper

15. Vietnamese cuisine is a foodie’s paradise, with flavors that are as bold as a lion and as spicy as a volcano

But be warned: some of the dishes can be a bit challenging for the uninitiated. From fish sauce to durian fruit, you’ll encounter some unique flavors that might make you want to run for the hills. But don’t worry, you’ll soon discover that the best things in life are often the ones that challenge us the most.

16. Exotic ingredients include reptiles and bugs

Vietnamese cuisine is famous for its exotic ingredients, which can include everything from insects to snakes to dog meat.

17. World’s second-largest exporter of coffee

vietnamese coffee
Vietnamese coffee

When it comes to coffee, Vietnam is no slouch. In fact, this country is the second-largest exporter of coffee in the world! So if you’re a caffeine addict, you’ll feel right at home here. Just remember to pace yourself!

10 Facts about Vietnam War

18. The Vietnam War lasted from 1955 to 1975.

19. It was fought between the Vietcong of North Vietnam (with material support from the USSR and China), and South Vietnam with the US (as well as some support from Australia and New Zealand).

20. The war saw the North Vietnamese successfully defeat their US invaders and the South Vietnamese Republic government.

21. The United States became involved in the conflict in the early 1960s.

22. The goal of the US was to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.

23. The war was marked by brutal tactics on both sides, including guerrilla warfare and chemical weapons.

24. The civilian population suffered greatly, with estimates of Vietnamese civilian deaths ranging from 1 to 4 million.

25. The war was deeply unpopular in the United States and sparked widespread protests and social unrest.

26. In 1973, the United States signed a peace agreement with North Vietnam.

27. The war had a profound impact on both Vietnam and the United States – in the United States, it contributed to a broader sense of disillusionment with government and authority. In Vietnam: It left a legacy of poverty, environmental devastation, and social dislocation in Vietnam.

vietnam war
American GIs during the US invasion of Vietnam

10 Geographical facts about Vietnam

28. Vietnam is a long, thin country that stretches for over 1,600km (1,000 miles)

This covers an area of approximately 331,210 square kilometers (127,881 square miles), making it roughly the size of Germany.

29. The Mekong Delta is a maze of rivers and canals that can be as confusing as a Rubik’s Cube

mekong delta
The Mekong Delta seen from space

But if you can navigate your way through it, you’ll discover a world of beauty and tranquility. It is home to a rich array of flora and fauna, and is an important agricultural region.

30. An economic powerhouse of Southeast Asia

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia and shares borders with China to the north, Laos to the northwest, and Cambodia to the southwest. It also has a long coastline along the South China Sea.

31. The world’s best rice is produced in Vietnam

The Red River Delta is a fertile region that produces some of the best rice in the world. In fact, it’s so good that even the pickiest eaters will be left saying “rice, rice, baby”.

32. The historic Ho Chi Minh Trail

The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a network of roads and trails that ran from North Vietnam to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It played a key role in the movement of troops and supplies during the conflict.

33. The highest peak in Vietnam is Fan Si Pan, which stands at 3,143m (10,312 feet) tall

fa si pan
The peak of Fa Si Pan mountain

It is located in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, close to the border with China in the northwest of the country.

34. The majestic Perfume River

The Perfume River (Hue) is a beautiful waterway that winds its way through the city of Hue. If you’re lucky, you might catch a whiff of something that smells as sweet as perfume. It is known for its scenic beauty and is an important part of the city’s cultural heritage.

“Who turns to Hue
Who comes back to Ngu Mount
Who comes back to Huong River
The river water never sinks
Ngu Mount birds fly back to friends
Whoever are children of Hue remember to return…”

35. Vietnam is home to a number of national parks and nature reserves

They include the Cat Tien National Park and the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is home to some of the world’s largest cave systems.

36. Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate

With high humidity and heavy rainfall in the summer months, the country is also vulnerable to typhoons and tropical storms, particularly along the coastline.

37. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

facts about vietnam
Ha Long Bay

Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay is one of the most famous natural attractions in the country, known for its stunning natural beauty, with thousands of limestone islands and islets rising out of the water.

6 Facts about the Vietnamese Flag

38. The flag of Vietnam features a large, golden five-pointed star in the center, symbolizing the unity of the country’s five main social classes: intellectuals, peasants, workers, traders, and soldiers.

39. The flag’s background is bright red, which represents the bloodshed of the Vietnamese people during their struggle for independence.

40. The design of the flag was inspired by the flags of other communist nations, such as the Soviet Union and China, which were seen as allies during the Vietnam War.

41. The current design of the flag was adopted on November 30, 1955, after Vietnam gained independence from France.

42. Before the adoption of the current design, Vietnam had several different flags throughout its history, including the traditional yellow dragon flag, which was used by the Nguyen dynasty during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

43. From 1949 to 1975 South Vietnam held this flag, yellow with three stripes.

Flag of South Vietnam

8 Surprising and lesser-known facts about Vietnam

44. Many Vietnamese people believe that eating rhino horn can cure illnesses and increase male virility

This has led to a booming illegal trade in rhino horn, which has contributed to the near-extinction of the rhinoceros.

45. In Vietnam, it is common to give a person’s age based on their lunar birth year, rather than their actual birth year

This means that two people who were born in the same calendar year could have different ages based on their lunar birth year.

46. A socially conservative nation

LGBT status in Vietnam: Vietnam is a socially conservative nation, but same-sex marriages and activities are legal, despite not being recognized.

47. Vietnam is home to the world’s largest cave

Son Doong cave
The Son Doong Cave

That’s right, the Son Doong cave is the world’s biggest cave and is so big that it has its own river and jungle inside! If you’re looking for an adventure, this place is as wild as a bag of cats, so grab your hiking boots and get ready to explore.

48. Snakes are believed to bring good luck and ward off evil

In some rural parts of Vietnam, it is customary to keep pet snakes in the home. These snakes are believed to bring good luck and protect against evil spirits.

49. Narcotics can result in the death penalty

Narcotic drugs are illegal in Vietnam. Even carrying a small amount of heroin can impose the death penalty on you.

50. Vietnamese law requires everyone to carry a photographic ID at all times

You should carry a photocopy of the pages from your passport with your personal details and visa for ID.

51. Vietnamese traffic is notoriously chaotic

Just a normal day on the roads in Ho Chi Minh City

It can be scary, but it’s also kind of exhilarating. Motorbikes are everywhere, and it seems like there are no rules on the road. Despite this, the number of road accidents in Vietnam is surprisingly low compared to other countries with similar traffic conditions.

So that’s it – my 51 lesser known and fun facts about Vietnam.

To wrap up, Vietnam is an incredible country that will leave you both awe-inspired and bewildered. From the chaotic traffic to the mouth-watering street food, there is never a dull moment in this vibrant land of contrasts.

Whether you’re exploring the bustling cities, trekking through the lush countryside, or lounging on the stunning beaches, Vietnam has something for everyone. And let’s not forget the people – friendly, welcoming, and always ready to share a laugh or two.

Just be prepared for a few surprises along the way – like trying to cross a busy street without getting run over, or discovering that “vegetarian” sometimes means “contains meat.” But hey, that’s all part of the adventure, right?

So come to Vietnam with an open mind, a sense of humor, and a hearty appetite. You won’t be disappointed!

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General Information

More information, statistics and general information about Vietnam, updated as of 2023:

  • Motto: Độc lập – Tự do – Hạnh phúc |”Independence – Liberty – Happiness”
  • Flag: Yellow star on red background.
  • Government: Republic / One-Party State / Socialist State
  • Monarch: Bảo Đại : the last emperor in 1945
  • Land area: 331,210 square kilometres (127,881 square miles)
    Capital city:
    Largest City: Ho Chi Minh City
  • Population: 103,808,319
  • Currency: đồng
  • Languages: Vietnamese
  • Religions: Vietnamese Folk | Buddhism
    National Holiday: Declarations of independence of Vietnam, 2nd Sept
  • Highest Mountain: Fansipan
  • Largest Lake: Ba Be Lake 6.5km2 (2.5sq miles)
  • National Dish: Pho Kho Gia Lai
  • National Flower: Lotus
  • Member of NATO: No
  • Official Website: https://vietnam.gov.vn/
  • Time zone: UTC+07:00 (Vietnam Standard Time)
  • Driving side: Right
  • Country Number/Prefix: +84
  • Country Code: VN

10 Largest Cities in Vietnam

Here are the ten largest cities in Vietnam. Topping the list is the country’s economic powerhouse Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), followed by the capital, Ha Noi. Source: World Atlas

Rank City Population
1 Ho Chi Minh City 8,244,400
2 Ha Noi 7,379,300
3 Hai Phong 1,946,000
4 Can Tho 1,238,300
5 Bien Hoa 1,104,495
6 Da Nang 1,007,700
7 Vung Tau 450,000
8 Nha Trang 392,279
9 Buon Ma Thuot 340,000
10 Hue 333,715

Vietnam FAQs:

What are 5 facts about Vietnam?

Vietnam is the 15th most populous country in the world, with a population of over 97 million people.
The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND).
Vietnam is the world’s largest exporter of cashew nuts and black pepper.
The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions.
The Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, is the country’s most important holiday and typically falls in late January or early February.

What are 3 interesting facts about Vietnam?

Vietnam is home to the world’s largest cave, Son Doong, which was only discovered in 2009.
The Vietnamese language uses the Latin alphabet with additional diacritic marks to indicate tones.
Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world, after Brazil.

What are 2 interesting facts about Vietnam?

Vietnam is the only country in Southeast Asia that has a coastline on both the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
Vietnamese culture is heavily influenced by Confucianism, which emphasizes respect for elders, education, and social order.

What is Vietnam famous for?

Vietnam is famous for its delicious cuisine, stunning natural beauty, rich history and culture, and its role in the Vietnam War.

How did Vietnam get its name?

Vietnam’s name comes from the Vietnamese word “Viet,” which means “to extend,” and the Chinese word “Nam,” which means “south.” Together, the words mean “Southern Viet.”

What language does Vietnam speak?

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, which is spoken by the vast majority of the population. Minority languages such as Khmer, Cham, and Chinese are also spoken in certain regions.

What is the most popular food in Vietnam?

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is perhaps the most famous and beloved Vietnamese dish. It is a noodle soup made with rice noodles, herbs, and either beef or chicken broth. It is typically served with bean sprouts, lime wedges, and other garnishes that can be added to taste.

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Thank you for reading 51 Lesser Known and Fun Facts about Vietnam.

Do you know any other fun facts about Vietnam? What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments!