Diving in Vietnam, South-east Asia

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Vietnam

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia. Its neighbouring countries are China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west. With an estimated 91.5 million inhabitants as of 2012, it is the world's 13th-most-populous country, and the eighth-most-populous Asian country.

 

Diving in Vietnam

Nha Trang is Vietnam’s best-known dive destination.

Whale Island offers wall dives to a depth of 40 metres and coral gardens at 15 metres. Although called Whale Island, whales, sharks & whale sharks are rarely seen.

Cu Lao Cham Marine Park is also a beautiful place to dive. It comprises of 8 islands, which are home to 155 species of corals, 202 species of fish, 4 species of lobster and 84 species of molluscs. 

The Con Dao Archipelago is considered as one of the best examples of marine conservation in Vietnam. Since 1995, more than 300,000 baby turtles have been released into the sea and nearly 1,000 mature turtles have been tagged. 

 

History

Vietnam's history is one of war, colonisation and rebellion. Occupied by China no fewer than four times, the Vietnamese managed to fight off the invaders just as often. Even during the periods in history when Vietnam was independent, it was mostly a tributary state to China until the French colonisation. After a brief Japanese occupation in World War II, the Communist Viet Minh under the leadership of Hồ Chí Minh continued the insurgency against the French. The majority of French had left by 1945, but in 1946 they returned to continue the fight until their decisive defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Geneva Conference partitioned the country into two at 17th parallel, with a Communist-led North and Ngo Dinh Diem declaring himself President of the Republic of Vietnam in the South. 

US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the Southern Vietnam government, escalating into the dispatch of 500,000 American troops in 1966 and what became known as the Vietnam War. What was supposed to be a quick and decisive action soon degenerated into a quagmire, and U.S. armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, on April 30, 1975, a North Vietnamese tank drove into the South's Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and the war ended. An estimated 3 million Vietnamese and over 55,000 Americans were killed.

 

Culture

Due to its long history as a tributary state of China, Vietnamese culture is heavily influenced by that of Southern China, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese language also contains many loan words from Chinese. Buddhism remains the single largest religion in Vietnam. Nevertheless, Vietnamese culture remains distinct from Chinese culture as it has also absorbed cultural elements from neighbouring Hindu civilizations such as the Champa and the Khmer empires. The French colonization has also left a lasting impact on Vietnamese society, with baguettes and coffee remaining popular among locals.

Climate

Vietnam is large enough to have several distinct climate zones. The South has three somewhat distinct seasons: hot and dry from March to June; rainy from July to November; and cool and dry from December to February. The North has four distinct seasons: a chilly winter (temperatures can dip below 15°C in Hanoi), a hot and wet summer and pleasant spring (March-April) and autumn (October-December) seasons. The Central regions have two different weather patterns: the North starting in Langco (which is hotter in summer and cooler in winter) and milder conditions in the South, starting in Danang.

 

How to get there

Vietnam has international airports at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. However, most direct flights are served by flag carrier Vietnam Airlines while plenty of other long-haul flights are available with transits via Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taipei. 

What you should see

The surreal-looking limestone islands in Halong Bay are unmissable. Also, you should visit the graceful historic old port of Hoi An. If you’re not claustrophobic, you can visit the Cu Chi tunnels and see how the Viet Cong lived during the Vietnam War.

Other activities

Motor biking is popular with locals and tourists alike. Given that motorbikes are the main mode of transport in Vietnam, they can give a particularly authentic view of travelling through the country. Also consider Motorbike adventure tours, which involve being guided on multi-day drives to remote regions of the country.

 
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