The geography of Vietnam
Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia with an area of over 331,000 square kilometres, sharing its northern border with China, and its western border with Laos and Cambodia. It is also bordered by the China Sea, the Gulf of Tonkin and the Gulf of Thailand.
A long country that stretches nearly 1,700 km from north to south in an S shape, Vietnam is made up of 58 provinces divided into three major regions, called Bô.
The main regions of Vietnam
- Forming the upper part of the country, North Vietnam is considered the birthplace of Vietnamese culture. More than 2,000 years ago, the first settlers founded villages along the Red River Delta and slowly spread south towards the Mekong. Nowadays, the main attractions in North Vietnam are: Hanoi, the capital city, Sapa, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh.
- Less visited than the north and south of Vietnam, Central Vietnam is just as impressive, majestic and captivating. From ancient cities and paradisiacal beaches to towering mountain ranges, the attractions in this region are numerous! Some of the main highlights in Central Vietnam are: Danang, Hoi An, Hue, My Son, Dalat and Nha Trang.
- South Vietnam is the site of the tragic Vietnam War which left marks on the country and particularly the region. Despite its turbulent history, you can still find some wonderful gems in South Vietnam from the idyllic island of Phu Quoc (Vietnam’s largest island) and the fertile Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) with its colonial buildings. For history buffs, we recommend a visit to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the Cu Chi Tunnels to take a step back into history.
Mountains of Vietnam
The geography of Vietnam features many mountainous regions which occupy more than two-thirds of the country's surface, with the highest point being Mount Fansipan (3,143 m), located to the northwest. Overall, there are three main mountainous regions:
- The northwest region extends from the border with China to the west of Thanh Hoa province. It is a magnificent region with Sa Pa (Lao Cai) at an altitude of 1,500 m, a perfect place to meet the members of the H'Mong, Dao, Kinh, Tay, Giay, Hoa, Xa Pho ethnic groups.. The region is also home to Mount Fansipan and the renowned ancient battlefield of Dien Bien Phu.
- The northeast region stretches from the Red River valley to the Gulf of Bac Bo. There are many remarkable sites such as the Ban Gioc waterfall (Cao Bang), Ba Be lake (Bac Can), Mount Yen Tu and Halong Bay (Quang Ninh).
- The Truong Son mountain range forms part of the Annamite Range that connects Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The northern Truong Son mountain range extends from the west of Thanh Hoa province to the mountainous region of Quang Nam - Da Nang. Here, you can cross the well-known Hai Van Pass (Ocean Cloud Pass) and visit the Ho Chi Minh Trail known for the exploits of the Vietnamese during the second great resistance. The southern Truong Son mountain range is located west of the southern Trung Bo provinces and is part of a large region called Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands).
Vietnam's river deltas
The geography of Vietnam also features two large deltas: the Red River Delta to the north, and the Mekong Delta to the south.
- The Red River Delta (Bac Bo plain) with an area of approximately 15,000 square kilometres is made up of alluvium carried by the Red River and the Thai Binh River. It is the cradle of the irrigated rice civilization.
- The Mekong Delta (Nam Bo plain) with an area of 36,000 square kilometres contains very fertile soil and sediment and has a favorable climate, making it ideal for agriculture. It is commonly referred to as the country's rice granary.
Vietnam's coastline and islands
The coastline of Vietnam stretches over 3,400 km. Along it, there are beautiful beaches like Tra Co, Sam Son, Lang Co, Non Nuoc, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Ha Tien... You can also find archipelagos made up of thousands of islands and islets scattered from north to south, including those of Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratley).
Vietnam also has many large ports such as Hai Phong, Ða Nang, Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh, Vung Tau, Saigon...
Biodiversity, national parks and natural resources of Vietnam
Vietnam's natural resources make this country a hotspot for the planet's biodiversity. Due to its geographical position, its climate and its relief, Vietnam has an exceptional natural environment. Apart from the Mekong Delta, natural resources have the particularity of being concentrated in a small part of the territory, made up of lush tropical rain forests and mountains sheltering a rich and amazing flora and fauna.
Vietnam has 11 national parks and about sixty natural reserves which were created between 1980 and today, like Ba Vi (Ha Tay), Cat Ba (Hai Phong), Cuc Phuong (Ninh Binh), Bach Ma (Hue), Cat Tien (Ðong Nai), Con Ðao. They are protected by the State and are part of sustainable development plans to preserve biodiversity in Vietnam.
Finally, Vietnam is a country with mineral resources. The geography of Vietnam is such that you can find precious deposits of tin, zinc, silver, gold, antimony, precious stones and coal underground. Its continental shelf is rich in oil and natural gases. The sources of mineral water are abundant: Quang Hanh (Quang Ninh), Hoi Van (Binh Ðinh), Vinh Hao (Binh Thuan), Duc My (Nha Trang), Kim Boi (Hoa Binh) are some of the main sources of freshwater.
With such a rich and abundant environment both above and below the ground, it is no wonder that travellers flock to the country to admire the nature and geography of Vietnam.