Vietnam has historically struggled with high levels of poverty, and although the country is now considered a middle income country, and the international community has recognized the country's efforts to battle unemployment, they still have a lot to do in terms of battling corruption, economic inequality, and improving government policies.
This guide is meant to help you make and informed decision on what volunteering in Vietnam means; it will provide you with information about the country's social projects, as well as other helpful details you need to consider beforehand, like costs of travelling to Vietnam, safety precautions, social etiquette you need to take into consideration, etc. Furthermore, we will also provide you with a list of activities you might find interesting, as well as travel suggestions to have in mind.
Because Vietnam has great variations in latitude and its topographical relief, climate varies as one goes from region to region. The average temperatures vary less in the southern regions than it does in the mountains; ranging between 21°C and 28°C over the course of the year. But temperature changes are more drastic on the northern part of the country, which rages from 5°C over the winter, to 37°C on summer.
However, the country has to deal with a number of environmental issues, many which are due to the effects of the Vietnam War, as well as to the country's rapid industrial growth. Vietnam faces problems with land degradation, as well as forest degradation. Needless to say, the country has faced massive losses on its biodiversity.
Vietnam also struggles with problems of water pollution, air pollution and improper management of solid waste. In the year 2007, the country was included in the list of countries seriously impacted by climate change!
But, the Vietnam War caused damage to its environment! And the country is trying to lessen these impacts. It is so that around $49 Million dollars were spent on preservation projects, in 2004 alone. As a result, the country now has six different biosphere reserves: Can Gio Mangrove Forest, Cat Tien, Cat Ba, Kien Giang, the Red River Delta and the Western Nghe An.
Additionally to this, almost half of the population has no access to clean water, which promotes the propagation of infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, typhoid, cholera, and others.
A cultural fact about the country is that, being under the domain of the Chinese for many years, Vietnamese people learnt Chinese for almost 1000 years. However they pronounced Chinese words in the Vietnamese way. This made assimilation to the Chinese empire very difficult. They never really assimilated, but the Chinese influence is evident in their culture!
Vietnam has also been working to develop its space program, and is planning to construct the US $600Million Vietnam Space Center by the year 2018. The country has also advanced in the development of robots, as an example the TOPIO humanoid model.
To make the matter more convincing: At this time of year, flowers can be seen at their fullest and prettiest.
When deciding when to visit Vietnam, you also need to consider the country's monsoon climate that extend from May to September, in the south, and south-western regions; and from October to April, in the north-eastern regions. Monsoon rains can make transportation difficult, sometimes even washing out roads and isolation remote villages.
It is recommended to start vaccinations four to six weeks before leaving home. Vietnam is also endemic for Malaria, an risk of transmission can occur in many regions of the country. Have this sorted out before your trip!
But, officially, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is declared an atheist State, according to the communist government.
You must definitely try some of the following dishes:
Are allowed up to 15 days without a Visa:
Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
Are allowed up to 30 days without a Visa:
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines (21 days), Singapore.
Additionally to this, travellers must present: a) a passport that is valid at least 6 months after the person's departure, b) a purchased return flight/air/sea ticket, c) proof of economical means
NOTE: Please consult the conditions for issuing a Visa on Arrival at the website of Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Although this is a quick option, used by a lot of travellers, you might want to issue your Visa on a Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate, to avoid scammers. If you are planning to apply for a Visa this way, you can do it in person or by post. And you must present the following documents: