If you’re thinking about traveling or moving to Vietnam (that’s what this site is all about!), you may want to learn some interesting Vietnam facts before you go.
The following list of interesting facts about Vietnam will give you a good taste of what Vietnam’s land, culture, food, and history are all about!
Vietnam is shaped like the letter S. Take a look at any map of Vietnam and you’ll see what we’re talking about!
Vietnam is very skinny. At its narrowest point, Vietnam is only 50 kilometers (31 miles) from east to west.
Vietnam could fit into China about 30 times. However, Jamaica could fit into Vietnam about 30 times.
There are more people in Vietnam than the United Kingdom, Belgium, Greece, and Portugal combined.
There is one motorbike for every two people in the country. That equates to 50 million motorbikes!
The mummified body of Ho Chi Minh, the most famous historical figure in Vietnam, the communist revolutionary and country’s first president is on display in his mausoleum in Hanoi, the country’s capital.
4 out of 10 people in Vietnam are surnamed Nguyen, including Ho Chi Minh himself (born Nguyen Sinh Cung).
In fact, the Nguyen family ruled Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 – their capital city was Hue in Central Vietnam.
In the 20th century, there were no less than 10 major wars in or directly affecting Vietnam.
US president John F. Kennedy and South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem were both assassinated in 1963.
When North Vietnam defeated South Vietnam (and the Americans) at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, they renamed Saigon, the largest city in the South, to Ho Chi Minh City.
In fact, 218 years earlier, the Vietnamese had taken Saigon and the region around it from the Khmer, who called it Prey Nokor.
Ironically, today, of all the countries in the world, Vietnamese have the most favorable opinion of Americans, according to a recent survey.
It was Vietnam that brought the reign of the Khmer, who committed genocide in Cambodia, to an end in 1979.
There are more islands than people living in Halong Bay, the country’s most famous tourist attraction (2000 islands vs. 1600 residents). However, at any given time, there are thousands of tourists taking cruises in Halong Bay.
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of the Natural World.
Prior to COVID, the number of tourists and backpackers in Vietnam grew by almost 10 times in 20 years (just under 2 million in 1999 to just under 20 million in 2019).
Vietnam is considered one of the best places in the world to teach English. (See here for more info about teaching English in Vietnam!)
Vietnam is home to the world’s largest cave: Hang Sơn Đoòng. It is said that a whole city block of New York City could fit into it, skyscrapers and all!
The cave contains some of the world’s largest stalactites, which reach up to 70 meters (230 feet) in height. That’s taller than Niagara Falls!
The Hon Thom Cable Car on Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island is the world’s longest cable car, taking visitors on a 7899.9-meter (25,918-foot) ride. At nearly eight kilometers, that’s quite the ride!
Before the Hon Thom Cable Car was built, the Fansipan Cable Car, on Vietnam’s tallest mountain, was the world’s longest.
During the Vietnam War, Viet Cong soldiers built a system of super narrow underground tunnels over 200 kilometers long at Cu Chi. They used the tunnels to ambush American and South Vietnamese soldiers.
Today, tourists can fire AK47s and other weapons for as little as US$1 per bullet.
In 1963, Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc famously burned himself to death on a street in Saigon to protest against persecution of monks in South Vietnam.
At one point in the past, China ruled over much of Vietnam for an entire millennium – that’s 1000 years!
In Vietnam, there’s one kind of coffee called egg coffee. Yes, it’s made with real egg. People say it tastes like a Cadbury Creme Egg.
Vietnamese use fish sauce three times more than soy sauce.
Other Vietnamese snacks include snake, dog, bear, fox, boar, and bat, as well as insects such as crickets, scorpions, spiders, and silkworm.
Most Vietnamese food is not only low-fat but also gluten free.
Pho, Vietnam’s most famous dish, was only invented less than 100 years ago. Some say it was influenced by Chinese beef noodles, while others think it was French beef stew.
The French also brought coffee, sweetened condensed milk (now always used in Vietnamese coffee), baguettes (now used in the famous banh mi sandwiches), beer, and Catholicism to Vietnam.
Vietnam has some of the cheapest beer in the world. Its “bia hoi”, draft beer served on the street, goes for as low as 25 cents per glass. (Learn about other low cost items in the country in our guide to Vietnam’s cost of living).
The celebrity chef and travel show host Anthony Bourdain had a soft spot for Vietnamese culture and food.
One religion was actually invented in Vietnam: Caodaism. The monotheistic religion combines elements of several Asian religions. The Divine Eye is their main symbol, and their main temple, the Holy See, is a riot of colors. Read more about Vietnam’s temples here.
Vietnam is one of our 4 communist countries left in the world (the others are Laos, China, and Cuba).
85% of Vietnamese claim to practice no religion.
You’ve probably seen the female version of the áo dài, the traditional Vietnamese clothing for women in Vietnam. It is a modest long dress with long sleeves and short turtleneck, and slit up the sides. But did you know there’s also a men’s version that is similar, but looser, and usually has a matching hat?
Vietnam has the largest army in the world in terms of total army personnel – that’s 10.5 million personnel, or 10% of the country!
Along with China, Vietnam makes the most Nike shoes in the world.
Vietnam is also the world’s leading producer of dragon fruit and black pepper.
Well, that’s all the fun Vietnam facts we’ve got for you today. Hope you’ve learned something new about Vietnam! Now how about exploring some of the most famous things to do in Vietnam?