Geography of Vietnam

Vietnam sits on the eastern side of Asia and is bordered by the South China Sea along its entire east coast.
Vietnam sits on the eastern side of Asia and is bordered by the South China Sea along its entire east coast.

Vietnam sits on the eastern side of Asia and is bordered by the South China Sea along its entire east coast. It is also situated below China to the north, and bordered on the west by Laos and Cambodia.

There are 58 different provinces in Vietnam and five municipalities that operate in the same manner as any of its provinces. One common mistake of tourists is to refer to Vietnam as North and South Vietnam due to the partitions made in the early 60’s and the Vietnam War, but today the country is whole and only separated by cultural regional differences. For these purposes most people consider Vietnam to consist of the northern, central, and southern regions.

The total area of Vietnam is about 331 km² not counting its islands, making it approximately the same size of Germany and larger than Italy, which it is often compared to given its similar peninsula like shape. For the most part the topography of the country is mountainous and hilly, with only about 20% of level land even though many people believe it is all rice fields.

The northern region of Vietnam is made up of the Red River Delta and many highlands and is also home to the largest mountain peak in the country at 3,143m. On the other hand, the south is drastically different as it is made up of the lowlands, forests, and Annamite Chain peaks. Due to the fact that the south has five reasonably flat plateaus this is where most of the agricultural focus is.

Because the country spreads across several latitude markers and has a varied topographical nature, the climate of the north and the south can be drastically different at times. Monsoon winds usually rip across the country during the winter season which stretches from November through April, making these poor times to visit.