FACTS - VIETNAM TODAY
Visitors to Vietnam today (including TOP participants) usually experience a country at peace with beautiful scenery, a vibrant culture, friendly people, a robust economy and first class tourist facilities.
People and Culture -
Vietnam today is a country of nearly 80 million people. About 86% of them are ethnic Vietnamese (or Kinh). The other 14% are made up largely of ethnic minority tribes people including Hmong, Cham, Khmer, Han, Dao an others.
74% of the population live in rural areas, although the robust economy of recent years is attracting people to the urban areas where jobs are more plentiful than in the countryside.
The principal religion in Vietnam is Buddhism. But its adherents in Vietnam are also much influenced by Confucianism and Daoism. The Vietnamese also worship their ancestors. Almost every home in Vietnam will contain a shrine reminding us that they greatly revere their ancestors. The unique Cao Dai religion, with its central cathedral in Tay Ninh, comprises about 10 to 15 percent of the population and Roman Catholicism accounts for another 8%.
TOP travelers to Vietnam typically find the people to be very friendly and welcoming.
Economy and Development -
In recent years, Vietnam has enjoyed the second strongest economy in Asia, with growth at 10% annually.
The literacy rate in Vietnam is over 90%, with three-quarters of children of secondary-school age attending classes.
Travel In-country (transportation, food, accommodation, money exchange) -
For the most part, Vietnam is clean and safe for travel. Tourist accommodations range from modest to four- and five-star luxury hotels. Many TOP travelers in Vietnam have described the hotels in resort locales like Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, Hoi An and Hue as "the nicest they have every stayed in."
Food in Vietnam is delicious and plentiful. Many hotels, including those used by TOP, offer a bountiful breakfast buffet including a wide assortment of Western as well as Asian entrees. Lunches and dinner menus typically offer choices of pork, fish, poultry and sometimes beef as well as rice, noodles, spring rolls, many varieties of vegetables and fruits and, of course, nuoc maam (fish sauce). One must be judicious about drinking only bottled water or other bottled or canned beverages and eating only vegetables which have been cooked and fruit which can be peeled.
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