Vietnam History | Vietnam Travel Guide & Information

Vietnam History | Vietnam Travel Guide & Information

Travelling to Vietnam will be great to arm yourselves with some basic information about her history.This article will provide you with a good insight of different periods of Vietnam history for your coming trip to Vietnam.

Vietnam History - Useful Vietnam Travel Guide & Information for travellers visiting Vietnam

Vietnam is the country of rich & colourful history, nice exploration for your Vietnam holidays with interesting historical lessions in each destination you travel thru.The country’s history is generalized in four different main periods including : Pre-historic Era of Stone Age & Bronze Age ; Vietnam Feudal Time of First Feudal Governments, Chinese Domination Millennium and Independent Feudal Period; Vietnam under French Colonial Era & Vietnam War ; and the last period of Vietnam Renovation from 1986 till its current history.

Vietnam history in Pre-historic Age

During pre-historic times, Vietnam was home to ancient human-being of Homo Erectus & Homo Sapiens, one of the world’s earliest inhabitants. Archaeologists founded many vestiges of fossilized teeth of these human-being kinds in Tham Khuyen & Tham Hai Caves in Lang Son Province.These fossilized discoveries are with the age dated back to more than 200,000 years ago. There are also other similar archaeological findings in Xuan Loc in Dong Nai Province and Mount Do in Thanh Hoa Province.

Stone Age

During the period of Son Vi Culture (dating back 30,000 – 11,000 years ago), Vietnam’s pre-historic people were living mainly on hunting and gathering.They developed stones with sharpening points to serve their daily life.They stayed in large caverns, near the streams.There has been founded various stone tools and fossil teeth, bones of many kinds of animals in many archaeological sites in Vietnam.In the late Paleolithic, the organization of tribes had been appeared, involved some families that were relative.

Vietnam History- Stone Age

Right after the period of Son Vi Culture, Hoa Binh – Bac Son Culture is dating back 17,000 – 7,500 years ago; at the same time with the late Neolithic period. Working tools of residents in Hoa Binh – Bac Son Culture was improved and very diverse like stone axes and other tools from animal’s bones, shells.Although their living still depended on hunting and gathering, archeologists discovered seeds and pollen inside archeological sites. These trails indicated that the ancient civilians of Vietnam had started to do farming instead of gathering. It’s an important change marking the beginning of wet-rice civilization, which is typical for the Southeast Asian region.Archeological relics of Hoa Binh – Bac Son Culture are situated in Hoa Binh, Lang Son, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, and Nghe An Province.

Dating between the late Neolithic period and the Bronze preliminary period, Phung Nguyen Culture is considered as the link of Stone Age and Bronze Age. It’s dating about 4,000 to 3,500 years ago. In this period of time, Phung Nguyen residents had discovered the method of making pottery. Along with the development of pottery production, they found a new material: bronze. At some archeological sites on Red River Delta, scientists found the trails of human bones as well as blocks of copper and copper slag.

Bronze Age

Existing in around 2,000 – 500 years BC, Dong Dau and Go Mun Culture witnessed the development of pottery and metallurgy techniques. In the late of Go Mun Culture, bronze tools accounted for more than 50% of working tools and weapons.

Vietnam History - Bronze Age

By around the 7th century BC, Dong Son Culture was formed on the base of wet-rice cultivation and bronze casting in the Ma River and Red River Delta. This was the golden age of bronze tools in Vietnam. The archeological evidences comprise many bronze weapons, tools, drums and old copper mine. In the period of Dong Son Culture, local residents had had the customs of betel-nut-chewing and teeth-blackening. Their main living is agriculture with the use of buffalo’s traction and irrigation. Besides, breeding, fishing and handy-crafts were also developed. Stone tools were completely disappeared in daily life. Nowadays, the image of bronze drums has become the symbol of Dong Son Culture.

Vietnam History in Vietnam Feudal Era

Feudal dynasties of Hung & An Duong King.

The first feudal government established in Vietnam was the Van Lang during the Dong Son period. The feudal government dates back to approximately 7th century BC, at the same time of the Chu Dynasty in China. The Van Lang Dynasty is also known as the ‘Hong Bang Dynasty’ in some historical articles.

Civilians under that reign were Lac Viet people and led by the King Hung. King Hung was originally the head of a group of tribes. Legend has it that he was the eldest son of the Dragon Lord Lạc Long Quân and the Immortal Fairy Âu Cơ.The capital of the country was located in Phong Chau (Phu Tho Province now). The system of Van Lang government was very simple: the King Hung had the highest power, govern the country; at the lower position were his assistances. Under Hong Bang Dynasty, matriarchy was a common practice in social life.

Vietnam History Hung King temple

In the year of 218 B.C, Tan Dynasty in the north carried out a vast invasion to the south. In order to save the country, Lac Viet and Au Viet tribes collaborated and defeated the foreign invaders. The war ended, the leader of Au Viet tribal called himself as King An Duong Vuong, governed both Lac Viet and Au Viet tribes. The Kingdom of Au Lac (the name combined of “Au Viet” and “Lac Viet”), was officially formed. According to the order of King An Duong Vuong, Co Loa Citadel was built and become the capital as well as politic center of the country.

Chinese Domination Millennium

In 179 BC, the King of Nam Viet State in the north - Zhao Tuo, led his troop to the south and aimed at conquering Au Lac State. As intelligence operations, King An Duong Vuong lost his kingdom to Zhao Tuo. Since then, Vietnam had been set as a province and dominated by Chinese states. Vietnamese experienced a thousand years of Dark Age in the history as brutal policies of Chinese domination. Upon that long period, there were many revolts against wicked rulers such as the Trung Sisters, Lady Trieu and Ly Bi’s revolts. Unfortunately, those all didn’t reach success and independence for the country.

Vietnam History-Trung Sister

In 905, Khuc Thua Du and his force rose in revolt against the North’s domination. The revolt succeeded and gained autonomy for Vietnam. Under the reign of Khuc Dynasty, Vietnam was a vassal kingdom of China.

Independent Feudal Period

Till 938, with the great victory against Southern Han on Bach Dang River, finally, Ngo Quyen got the country's independance and completely ended Chinese domination. When the invaders left, Ngo Quyen declared himself as the King. However, Ngo Dynasty wasn’t lasted long as his death in 944. Thus, Vietnam was once again in chaos with cival wars. In the end of 967, Dinh Bo Linh succeeded in defeating twelve warlords and founded Dai Co Viet State (the Great Grand Viet) as an independent nation along with the Chinese Song Dynasty. Dinh Bo Linh became the King of Dai Co Viet and ordered to build capital city in Hoa Lu (now is Ninh Binh Province). The name “Dai Co Viet” had used to call the country under Dinh Dynasty, Pre-Le Dynasty and Ly Dynasty. After the foundation of Ly Dynasty, Ly Cong Uan, so-called King Ly Thai To, had moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (“Ascending Dragon”, now is Hanoi) and set up a monarchy. In 1054, King Ly Thanh Tong renamed the country as Dai Viet (the Great Viet). Under Ly Dynasty, Dai Viet was in full flourish and developed in all sectors (politics, economy, education and religion). Ly Dynasty released “Hinh thu” – the first document of law of Vietnam. This is also the period that Buddhism was widely developed and many pagodas as well as temples were built in all regions of the country. Nowadays, One Pillar Pagoda is still remained as a historical relic as well as evidence of Buddhism under the reign of Ly. Also under Ly Dynasty, the first university of Vietnam, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (the Temple of Literature) was established as the order of King Ly Nhan Tong in 1076.

Vietnam History -Tran Quoc pagoda

The state of Dai Viet had lasted for Ly Dynasty (1009-1225), Tran Dynasty (1226 - 1400), Ho Dynasty (1400 - 1407), Post-Le Dynasty (1428 - 1527), Mac Dynasty (1527 - 1592), Trinh – Nguyen Lords (1533 - 1789) and Tay Son Dynasty (1778 - 1802). Under Tran Dynasty, Dai Viet was a wealthy country. Tran’s government paid attention to develop agriculture by improving cultivation and irrigation method. Foreign trade was developed with a commercial port system (including the ancient commercial port of Van Don and islands on Halong Bay such as Ngoc Vung, Van Hai and Cong Do Island). Trade relationship with neighboring countries like Indonesia, India, etc. was enhanced. But in the end of 14th century, Tran Dynasty fell into recession as serious corruption and lost the power to Ho Dynasty. Lasted for just 7 years, Ho Dynasty was ousted by Ming invaders in 1407. The revolt of Le Loi, with the assistance of Nguyen Trai, was regained the sovereignty for the country. By the power of the King, Kings of Le Dynasty implemented land reform in order to recover the economy after the war. At that time, literature and science were developed with several famous people such as Ngo Si Lien, Nguyen Trai and Luong The Vinh. Le Dynastry also widened trade relationship with some European countries and Japan at commercial center of Thang Long and Hoi An. In 1527, Mac Dang Dung deposed King Le Chieu Tong and came to the throne. However, he faced an unexpected opposition of Le Dynasty’s generals. In the chaos, two powers in two regions of the country, Trinh Lords in the North and Nguyen Lords in the South, rose and fired a civil war. Dai Viet had been divided into two territories with Gianh River as the boundary for more than 200 years. In 1771, Nguyen Hue led Tay Son Revolt, deposed both Trinh Lords and Nguyen Lords. Country was unified; Nguyen Hue was called as King Quang Trung. After his death in 1792, Tay Son Dynasty was in recession and taken over by Nguyen Anh, the heir of Nguyen Lords. Nguyen Anh founded a new state called Vietnam and declared himself as King Gia Long, marked the beginning of Nguyen Dynasty.

Vietnam History - Hue ancient capital

Places to discover:

Thang Long Citadel (Hanoi) - To unearth more about the dynastic history of Vietnam, explore the ruins of this royal enclosure, originally built during the Ly Dynasty.

Temple of Literature (Hanoi) - Take a stroll through the city’s first university, established in 1070. This serene and historic structure is located just west of the Old Quarter.

One Pillar Pagoda (Hanoi) - This sacred monument was erected by an emperor in gratitude for the birth of his son.  

Tran Quoc Pagoda (Hanoi) - This is one of the oldest pagoda built in 6th century and the center of Buddhism in Hanoi now

Cham towers and complexes (Central Vietnam) - Discover the vast and fascinating ruins of My Son sanctuary a few kilometres outside of Hoi An. Visit the Po Nagar towers in central Nha Trang or the Po Shanu towers a short drive from Mui Ne town.

Museum of Cham Sculpture (Da Nang) - Founded during the French colonial rule, this charming building hosts incredible displays of Cham relics and sculptures

Imperial City (Hue) - Explore the legacy of the Nguyen Dynasty with a walk around the Hue Citadel and Imperial City, one of Vietnam’s top historical attractions.

Royal Tombs (Hue) - Make time to visit the grandiose tombs of the Nguyen Emperors, each one different from the others, and designed by the Nguyen emperors before their deaths

Vietnam History under French Colonial Time & Vietnam War

After 900 years of independence and periods of rebellion and dysfunction, the French Colonial Era began in 1858 to 1883. After the French took control of the country, it was split into three segments which are; Tonkin (north), Annam (center), and Cochinchina (south). By 1861 France controlled Saigon, and in 1883 the French has seized total control of Vietnam including Cambodia and Laos.

Nguyen Dynasty and French Protectorate

With the assistance of French, Nguyen Anh ousted Tay Son Dynasty and became the first king of Nguyen Dynasty. In August 1858, as the order of King Napoleon III, French Navy made an attack in Da Nang Port, and then Saigon. In 1862, King Tu Duc – the 4th King of Nguyen Dynasty signed an agreement that empower the French to control three provinces in the East of Mekong River Delta. Till 1867, the French had the control over the whole of Mekong River Delta and called it Cochinchine Colony. From 1873 to 1886, with the Tonkin Campaign, France expanded its control to the Northern (Tonkin) and the Central Vietnam (Annam). In 1887, France merged three regions of Vietnam (Northern Vietnam – Tonkin, Central Vietnam – Annam, and Southern Vietnam – Cochinchina) into one and formed French Indochina. At the same time, France pronounced French protectorate in Vietnam but still remained puppet feudal government of Nguyen Dynasty. Nguyen’s Kings, who raised the revolts against French protectorate, including Ham Nghi, Duy Tan and Thanh Thai, were all dethroned and exiled. Besides, there were many resistance movements such as Dong Du Movement (“Go East” Movement) led by Phan Boi Chau and Duy Tan Movement ("Modernization" Movement) led by Phan Chau Trinh. Resistance movements drew the attraction of patriotic members of the public but didn’t reach success. Under French administration, the traditional Chinese scripts or the Nom script in education were replaced by the Romanized alphabet of Vietnamese language (now called Vietnamese). In the early of 20th century, Vietnamese Nationalist Party was established under the influence of Three Principles of the People.As the failure of Yen Bai Revolt in 1930, Vietnamese Nationalist Party fell into recession and couldn’t work longer. In 1930, under the influence of Marxism, the Indochinese Communist Party was also founded by merging three parties: Communist parties; Annamese Communist Party and the Indochinese Communist Union. The Indochinese Communist Party was led by the General Secretary Tran Phu and Nguyen Ai Quoc (so-called Ho Chi Minh) – representative of the Communist International.

Vietnam History - HCM

In 1940, Japan – one of the Axis, implemented a vast invasion in Vietnam, and made a deal with France to remain puppet French administration. In 1945, Japan held the control of all over Indochina and established the Empire of Vietnam with King Bao Dai’s puppet government, officially eliminated French Protectorate in Vietnam. As the failure of the Axis in the Second World War, Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam) led by Ho Chi Minh, started a campaign against Japan and gained control over the Tonkin. In August 1945, King Bao Dai abdicated, marked the end of Nguyen Dynasty. On 2nd September 1945, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, affirmed the sovereignty as well as independence of Vietnam. In 1946, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam had the first general election and constitution.

Vietnam War

According to the agreement of the Allies after the Second World War, Britain – a power of the Allies appointed France to disarm Japan in the Southern Vietnam. With the assistance from the US, France once again tried to reclaim control in the Northern Vietnam. However, the French could do nothing to retake the Tonkin as their schedule. After the failure in Dien Bien Phu Battle in 1954, the French were forced to sit at the negotiating table of Geneva Conference and make a compromise to end the war in Vietnam. Also in this conference, Vietnam was divided into two regions: the North and the South with the boundary was the 17th parallel. The North was governed by government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, developed in socialist direction. The South was under the domination of the Republic of Vietnam, puppet government of the US in Vietnam, and developed a market economy.

From 1954 to 1975, backed by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF) was founded and started a resistance war agaisnt America. Diem’s administration of the Republic of Vietnam was confused by unexpected attacks from Viet Cong. As that status, the US had to make further intervention in Vietnam with the Strategic Hamlet Program and Special War Campaign (1961-1965), Gradual Escalation (1965-1967), Vietnamization (1968). Unfortunately, those all just made the US mired in Vietnam War. NLF’s operations in Tet Offensive (1968) and Ho Chi Minh Campaign (1975) ended Vietnam War after more than 30 years. On 30th April 1975, the Republic of Vietnam’s administration officially surrendered NLF.

Vietnam History - HCM campaign

Two regions of Vietnam were unified as one state: the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and started to reconstruct the country after war. Vietnamese government implemented a mass campaign of collectivization of farms and factories in the direction of socialism but it didn’t help Vietnam to recover as on paper. Vietnam’s economy faced an unexpected situation of stagnation and hyperinflation.

In 1979, Vietnam sent the troops to Cambodia; helped topple the Pol Pot government and establish the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). On the pretext of Vietnam’s intervention in Cambodia, Chinese army attacked some northern provinces of Vietnam. The conflict made Vietnam - China relationship in tension and even led to the interruption of diplomatic relation between two countries.

Places to discover:

Con Dao Prison Complex (Con Dao Island) - While enjoying the beaches of Con Dao Island, visit the prison complex to unearth stories about its tragic past.

Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi) - This urban prison, a short walk from Hoan Kiem lake, was dubbed the ‘fiery furnace’ by locals.

French Quarter (Hanoi) - Take a stroll around Hoan Kiem District to encounter many well-preserved French villas, as well as other architectural relics from the French colonisation, including Long Bien Bridge and the Metropole Hotel

Cannon Fort (Cat Ba) - This hilltop fort was built by the Japanese after their invasion of Cat Ba. Discover more about this event and enjoy the views of the port and jungle below.

Ba Dinh Square (Hanoi) - Visit this iconic square in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, before checking out the Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house.

War Remnants Museum (Ho Chi Minh City) - This museum showcases the harsh reality of the war through the lenses of renowned photographers on both sides of the conflict.

Reunification Palace (Ho Chi Minh City) - Take a stroll around this former seat of power for the Republic of Vietnam. The day the Viet Cong tanks crashed through the gates of the palace marked the end of the war.

Cu Chi Tunnels (Ho Chi Minh city) - These underground tunnels outside Ho Chi Minh City reveal how the Viet Cong guerrilla forces survived and waged war under remarkable conditions

Vietnam History in Vietnam Renovation Period from 1986 till now

In December 1986, on the 6th congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, General Secretary Nguyen Van Linh proposed the Doi Moi Reform Policy. The Doi Moi Reform is a program in politics and economics that the Communist Party of Vietnam spearheaded.

In economy, Vietnam’s economy has been developed as the Socialist-oriented market economy. In this new model, the government holds a decisive part in the national economy. Besides, private and foreign enterprises also play an important role in economy. Vietnamese government acknowledges legal and equal existence of economic components: state economy, collective economy, private sector (including individual business owners and economic profile), state capitalist economy, economy of foreign investment. Vietnam’s enclosed economy was replaced by open-market economy. Vietnam also expands commercial relationship with several countries and organizations in the world such as US, EU, Japan, China, etc.

Vietnam History - Tourism

In political sector, Vietnam has established and resumed diplomatic relation with many Western and neighboring countries (like the US, China, ASEAN countries). Vietnam’s partners now are not only socialist countries like it was. Vietnamese government also focuses on multilateral cooperation, joining actively international and regional organizations, including WTO, ASEAN, APEC, etc.

Get insight of Vietnam History with Golden Holiday Travel.

We hope that this article about Vietnam history is useful for you and in your journey to visit Vietnam's beautiful destinations.Different places in Vietnam own its historical stories to make your trips more interesting & memorable! In need of local travel supports, travel services of Vietnam tour packages, tourguide, or car rental with driver, feel free to drop us email to or phone to us at +84.988451530 (Viber, Whatsapps, Zalo), our travel teams will reply you back with useful consultancy & support to meet your travel demands.

We wish you an enjoyable hoilday in Vietnam!

Golden Holiday Travel Team 

Need local support, please, let us know!

Family culture plays a crucial part in Vietnamese culture and a family is an important element that makes significant influences to the growth of every person in Vietnamese belief.Therefore, the Vietnamese always put their family first and take many efforts to maintain the traditional Vietnamese family values, which we are happy to share you the following ones.....
Read more..
Are you interested in exploring the unspoiled landscapes? You would love to stay away from the tourist crowd for less frequently visited places in Vietnam?This writing will provide you with the detailed information of top 10 off-the-beaten track places in Vietnam with their outstanding landscapes & unique culture, you can get it referenced and listed as your mustsee destinations in your coming trip to Vietnam
Read more..
Rice is an essential dish in any Vietnamese daily meals.As one of the largest rice exporters in the world, Vietnam is a farming country with countless paddy fields from north to south of the country. This acticle will share you in details about Rice Cultivation in Vietnam, the main deltas for rice production, steps to cultivate the rice as well as important factors for bumper crops.........
Read more..
Each country has their own style of making and using the chopsticks. The chopsticks used in Vietnam are often much simpler in comparison to those used in Korean or Japan. The design of chopsticks also varied in Vietnam. To be specific, chopsticks from Northern Vietnam are usually made from bamboo, while chopsticks in the south are usually made from coconut wood.
Read more..