For Families

Where in God’s World is Vietnam?

Vietnam is an S-shaped country in Southeast Asia. Its neighbors include China to the north and Laos and Cambodia to the west. Long and thin (at its most narrow only 30 miles wide!), Vietnam stretches over three climate zones, though much of the country remains hot and humid. Monsoons bring heavy rainfall each year.

Vietnam’s landscape changes vastly from one region to the next. With 1,000 miles of shoreline, eastern Vietnam snakes along the South China Sea. The Red River (north) and Mekong River (south) create large swampy plains called deltas. With dense rainforests, the Annamite Cordillera mountain range runs along the northwestern border.

Many rare and unusual animals live in Vietnam, including the snub-nosed monkey, Saola antelopes, silver-backed mousedeer, collared laughing thrush, vampire flying frog, and the Mekong giant catfish. The catfish are some of the largest freshwater fish in the world; they can grow to 9 feet long.

Many people live in cities: Ho Chi Minh or in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, where scooters are the preferred mode of travel. But most people live in the countryside, where they grow rice in the huge wet fields. Others live in small “floating villages,” fishing communities in Ha Long Bay.

Noodles, rice, and vegetables are staple foods in most Vietnamese homes. Some traditional dishes include: buncha (pork meatballs and noodle salad); goi cuon (shrimp or pork rolled in rice paper with herbs); and bo kho (beef and vegetable stew).

For Tet Trung Thu, people eat mooncakes, made from a chewy dough filled with lotus paste. Celebrated at the harvest moon, the fall festival is a kid favorite in Vietnam. As the full moon rises, children parade through the streets wearing colorful masks and carrying glowing lanterns.

Soccer is Vietnam’s most popular sport. People also enjoy volleyball, martial arts and ping pong. The world’s first ping-pong playing robot lives in Vietnam. Designed to play against people, the robot can hit the ball, calculate scores and express emotions about winning or losing.

Learn the Language

The Vietnamese language does not use an alphabet. Instead, Vietnamese represents words with characters. Here’s how these Vietnamese phrases would look in an English alphabet:


Xin chào – Hello!


Bạn có nói tiếng Việt không? — Do you speak Vietnamese?


Hay chơi bóng bàn. — Let’s play ping pong.


Tôi có thể mua bánh trung thu được không? — May I have a mooncake please?


Chúc ngủ ngon. — Good night.





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