Ambassador Interviews

A Land of Pho, Snake Wine, Silk, and more.

Vietnam is one of the oldest civilizations in Southeast Asia. It is an emerging shopping paradise with most of the international brands available to shopaholics. Vietnam is the biggest silk producer in the world with top-quality silk. A haven for food lovers, the must-try offer is their most famous dish Pho, which is noodle soup with bone broth and plenty of fresh herbs. H. E. Mr. Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador of Vietnam to India shared a check-list about Vietnam in a tête-a-tête with us.

What does Viet Nam offer to its first-time visitors?

Viet Nam is an overwhelming place for first-timer visitors with both cultural and natural beauties. You can find both stunning sandy beaches, spectacular mountain ranges and civilizational heritages. Moreover, Vietnamese people are very friendly, warm, and hospitable. Most attractively, the cost of travel to Viet Nam is quite reasonable. There are plenty of choices, ranging from adventure to business, wedding, golfing, and to MICE.

Amidst the challenging COVID-19 pandemic time, Viet Nam welcomed more than 2 million foreign tourists in 2020, just a small faction of its normal figure. 

Currently Viet Nam has not yet opened its border to foreign tourists but is actively studying the possiblities of the application of the vaccine passports and opening some part of the country to foreign tourists. Phu Quoc Island will most likely be the first place to welcome vaccinated travellers, in September 2021.

Tell us about the people, culture, and shopping in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam is one of the oldest civilizations in Southeast Asia. Standing at the crossroad of the north-south and east-west axes, Viet Nam’s culture has its distinct homegrown core, plus with a variety of acculturations with Indian, Chinese and Western cultures. At different points of time in its history, through intensive interactions, Viet Nam as a culture had assimilated foreign elements, such as those of the Confucianism, Hinduism and Catholicism, into its core.

Therefore, if you come to Viet Nam, you will see Viet Namese people are very kind and amicable, as I mentioned above. They nurture their own tradition of worshipping ancestors and treasure family and communal values. They also appreciate friendship and loyalty, and enjoy interacting with people of different cultures. I think that they are among the most tolerant people. Although having tragic conflicts with the US, France and China in the past, they welcome Americans, French and Chinese with open arms and broad-mindedness.

Viet Nam is an emerging shopping paradise. Why? First, it is among the most open economies in the world so most of the international brands are present in Viet Nam now. Second, beside supermarkets and Western-style shopping centers, you can find the traditional stores which can provide a wide range of choices with reasonable and affordable prices. Third, it is very convenient to do shopping in Viet Nam as more and more malls and stores are opened up.

Viet Nam is best known for its silk. What makes it so special?

Viet Nam is one of the biggest silk producers of the world with top-quality products. Many types of silk is super lightweight, smooth, and shiny on the surface. The patterns are not painted or dyed but embroidered with limited version like apricot, flowers and dragon… Touching Viet Namese silk gives you comfort and softness cool. The silk never gets stuck to your skin even when the weather is cold. I do hope to have a chance to guide you through the old quarters of Hanoi, where you could find lots of locally produced silks of good quality.

Tell us about the local cuisines of Viet Nam

Due to intensive interactions along the course of history, Vietnamese cuisine offers a wide range of local cuisines, which differ from the north to the south, and the mixture with Chinese, French, Western, Southeast Asian dishes.

The local cuisine uses five fundamental tastes including sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty. Most of the cuisines are made with fresh ingredients, complementary textures, herbs, and vegetables.

The most famous dish is Pho which is noodle soup with bone broth and plenty of fresh herbs. Besides, Viet Nam is also blessed with signature dishes such as spring rolls, banh mi (special baguette), hu tieu (noodle), …  Describing the tastes is so difficult. So you’d better some there as soon as possible.      

Snake Wine is a specialty of Viet Nam, share some details on this.

In Viet Namese culture, there emerges a belief that some snake wine can improve health and virility. Normally, each wine bottle will include one large snake with the addition of precious herbs, roots, berries, scorpions… to enhance the flavour. Then it will be left to steep for months before using. 

Travel to you is? Express travel in one word.

Exploration.

Which is your favourite tourist destination in the world apart from your own country and why?

I once served as Secretary General of  the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO and was candidate for the post of Director-General of UNESCO in 2017. I am inherently interested in UNESCO heritages. I think each country has its own charm and unique culture. So I would like to go to all countries to see the existing historical and cultural heritages and learn about lives out there. Travelling is always about seeing and learning

Tell us about your travel bucket list, the countries you wish to travel to, once the international borders open.

I have covered almost 100 countries. I wish to go to Central Asia next, because it will complete my world travel map of the key world regions. I have already been to Middle East, Europe, America, Africa but Central Asia is still mystique to me.

Is there any similarity between India and Viet Nam? 

You can find relics of Hindu culture in the central part of Viet Nam which we call Cham Towers. There are 50 Cham Towers relics in Viet Nam today and there are several Cham Hindus who still practice their religion there.

These are cultural and traditional connections between Viet Nam and India, which dates back to 2000 years ago.

Is there any similarity between India and Viet Nam? 

You can find relics of Hindu culture in the central part of Viet Nam which we call Cham Towers. There are 50 Cham Towers relics in Viet Nam today and there are several Cham Hindus who still practice their religion there.

These are cultural and traditional connections between Viet Nam and India, which dates back to 2000 years ago.