Today, Vietnam is emerging from a communist past into a shiny new capitalist future. In the mid-eighties the Government began a series of reforms called Doi Moi – or renovation. They embraced the free market, re-introduced private ownership and encouraged Vietnamese people to go into business. Now, Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in SE Asia and we export everything from food, to electronic goods and oil – and, HCMC is Vietnam’s commercial and international hub. It is vibrant, bustling and high octane. But it’s also rich in traditional and local ways of life from street sellers, rituals carried out at temples and pagodas to parks full of early risers doing their morning tai chi exercise. Mekong delta is the rice bowl of Vietnam and a labyrinth of waterways. It’s another world from HCMC with villages clinging onto the riverbanks and floating on its estuaries. Can Tho, at it’s heart, is a famous bustling floating market where almost every exotic fruit imaginable is traded from boat to boat in the early morning. Cu chi Tunnels, an intricate network of 200km were the headquarters of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. Amazingly it acted like an underground secret city, where military operations were carried out, and people lived their daily lives. Cat Tien National park is a dense jungle and home to a diverse wildlife. It’s also where we filmed Bear Grylls and various other survival programmes along with wildlife shows. Con Dao island was used as a political prison during the French colonial period and the Veitnam war. Today, this history is still present, but its now also home to fishing villages. Phu Quoc island is famous for fish sauce, pepper, diving and its prisons. But it’s also known for its white-sand beaches and resorts. More than half of the island’s landmass is part of a national park featuring dense jungle and mountains, popular for wildlife filming.
The South has two seasons. The rainy season, also known as the monsoon season that usually starts in May and ends in late November. Down pours can happen every afternoon, and occasional street flooding occurs. Mosquitoes are most numerous in the rainy season. The dry season is from December to April. April is the hottest month, with mid-day temperatures of 33°C (91°F) or more most days.
Ox racing in Chau Doc/ An Giang Province is a unique tradition that celebrates the planting of the autumn-winter crops (usually September time) with colorful parades, family dinners, cultural shows, dancing and the famous ox races. Dalat holds a flower festival every year and usually in December (this can take place in local areas too).