4 amazing and interesting things to do in Vietnam
Vietnam entered the popular tourist destinations among the countries of Southeast Asia quite recently. For the Russian traveler, this country is still terra incognita. These ten tips will help you figure out where to start exploring Vietnam:
Rent a scooter
There is no urban public transportation in Vietnam as we are used to. There are no buses, streetcars or subways. Inside the city, most Vietnamese move around on scooters. Tourists follow their example. Gasoline is cheap, distances are short, and renting a scooter costs about one hundred and fifty dollars a month. Or about ten dollars a day. The final price, like everything in Vietnam, depends on your ability to haggle.
2. Visit Notre Dame de Saigo.
The first thing travelers who come to Ho Chi Minh City (old name Saigon), the capital of southern Vietnam, do is take pictures in front of Notre Dame de Saigon Cathedral. The structure was left behind by French colonists who missed their homeland. Notre Dame de Saigon is almost an exact replica of Notre Dame de Paris.
3. stay on Phu Quoc island
Phu Quoc is the largest Vietnamese island, which is located in the Gulf of Thailand near the coast of Cambodia. The main tourist attraction of the island is nature, almost untouched by industrial and tourist infrastructure. On the one hand, there are understandable inconveniences associated with this: you will not find museums and theaters on the island. On the other hand, sometimes you just want to lie on the white sand, occasionally dipping into the clear blue water. Of all Vietnam, the cleanest sea – on Phu Quoc.
4. Order clothes in Hoi An
Hoi An is a small town in central Vietnam, which is unofficially called the “city of tailors.” There are several dozen stores where any traveler can order any piece of clothing: choose fabric, thread color, button size and shoelace length. The item will be made the next day, even if it is a complexly tailored shoe made of Indian buffalo leather. True, the buffalo at work, most likely, will be a regular cow, but the shoes will last long.
5. Try coffee in Vietnamese way.
Guess which country produces and sells the most coffee in the world? Okay, it’s Brazil, but Vietnam is second only to it because it’s 25 times the size of its territory. Since becoming one of the world’s top 10 coffee exporters for the first time in 1995, Vietnam has managed to overtake all of its major competitors, including Colombia, Mexico, Indonesia and Ethiopia. You can buy coffee in Vietnam in any village. And this coffee will be better than in any coffee shop in the center of Moscow. The traditional way of making coffee in Vietnam is different from what you are used to: here the coffee is passed through a filter in a cup with condensed milk. The drink is rich and sweet, like a thick syrup.
6. See the Sapa Valley
It is said that Sapa Valley is closer to the sky than to the ground. The valley is named after the small town of Sapa, which is located in the northwest of Vietnam, 1600 meters above sea level. If you want to see what Vietnamese clouds are made of, you are here. The town is surrounded by several Vietnamese villages whose people grow rice and corn, or raise livestock. To enter the village you have to pay a symbolic fee of $ 2-3 dollars. But there you can see how life in Vietnam, which has not reached the globalization.
7. Overnight at the madhouse
The most famous attraction in the city of Dalat – “Crazy House”. This is the name of the hotel, which for over a decade has been built by Dan Viet Nga, architect and daughter of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. “Crazy” building is nicknamed for its bizarre architecture: its contours resemble a fairy tale tree. An important condition for hotel guests is to vacate the room before 9 am, when “Crazy House” opens to visitors. Every tourist should have the opportunity to see any living room.
8. Try Pho soup at a street stall
For the Vietnamese, Pho soup is, like for the Russians, the central dish of the national cuisine. The difference is that the Vietnamese eat Pho soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A typical picture you can see on the street of any Vietnamese town: a street cafe, where under the awning on small, almost childish plastic chairs the Vietnamese are sitting and devouring quite not childish portions of Pho. The main ingredients in the soup are crystal clear chicken (or beef) broth, rice noodles, wheat sprouts, herbs, and lime. As you can see, the dish is quite light, so you can eat a lot of it.
9. Go down to the Shondong Cave.
Although Vietnam is a relatively small country in terms of territory, the largest cave in the world is located here. In 1991, Vietnamese farmers accidentally stumbled upon a lost world in Phong Nha Kebang National Park (Central Vietnam, 500 kilometers south of Hanoi): a cave with an underground river, forest and meadows. And in 2009, British speleologists have confirmed – the cave Schondong is the largest in the world. In some places it reaches 200 meters in height and 150 meters in width. The cave is so wide and spacious that you can fly a sports plane inside it.
10. Make friends with the Vietnamese
The best way to get to know a country is to get to know its people. So that after your trip you don’t feel like you missed out on something important, get to know some of the locals. The Vietnamese are a very friendly and open people who are interested in communication with foreigners, especially – with Europeans (and Russia, from the point of view of Vietnam, is part of Europe). Let us tell you a little secret: in Vietnam it is considered lucky to invite a foreigner to the wedding who comes from afar. So if you happen to be near a Vietnamese wedding – don’t hesitate to come closer and congratulate the newlyweds.
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TOP 10 STRANGE FACTS about Vietnam, and HOW to deal with it? Favorites
Fun facts about Vietnam
fFor a year, Vietnam has become our home, and we already know 100+ reasons to be here. However, we should not forget that many things in Asia are not as you are used to, and people treat many things differently. In this article we decided to highlight the 10 most unusual (sometimes even shocking) things in Vietnam, which at first just “in your head”. This country has, what to surprise even seasoned travelers!
1. Madness on the roads in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
Surely you have heard more than once that Asia is full of bikes and there are no rules? For Vietnam, this is not a stereotype, but the norm of life. No wonder the Vietnamese metropolitan areas of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are considered “leaders” in the number of mopeds and madness on the roads in the world.
Crazy traffic in Vietnam
Here, riding on sidewalks and traffic jams are generally common during rush hour from 7 to 9 a.m. and in the evening from 4 to 7 p.m.
How to cope?
- When crossing the road, keep in mind that no one will even think to pass on the “zebra”, and even at traffic lights, prepare that on all sides you will have motorcycles coming at you. Do not panic and do not make sudden movements – slowly and evenly move straight ahead with a raised hand. The Vietnamese are good drivers, they will pass you even if you think it is the end.
- Be prepared to meet with the drivers even on the sidewalks, if there is still room not occupied by spontaneous parking.
- About bikes you can tell a lot of tales, but better go to the major cities in Vietnam – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, to become part of the flow. But without experience behind the wheel is better not to sit.
Watch a video about riding a bike at lunchtime in Hanoi. Although the traffic is not the same as in the rush hour, you can see the ride “with their own eyes”.
2. lunchtime sleep is an unwritten law
Where you caught your lunchtime nap, you fell asleep.
Although the Vietnamese siesta is not as popular as the Spanish siesta, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It does exist!
Women need a lunchtime nap, too Here, a long lunch break lasts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (or even longer) – time for lunch and sleep. It’s also at least somewhat environmentally friendly. Don’t even think about scheduling a business meeting from 12 to 13 o’clock. No self-respecting Vietnamese would agree to that.
No one and nothing is not an obstacle
The thing is that the Vietnamese wake up early. Take the example of school. In elementary school, students need to be in class no later than 7-15am, in middle and high school until 7am, and in college/university until 6-45am.
Siesta in Vietnam.
It is not customary here to sleep until noon even on weekends. Walk the streets of Hanoi at 5-6am any day of the week to see mass exercise in the parks, bike rides and full yoga halls. Retirees are especially active in the mornings and evenings.
Sleeping in a hammock.
Although Vietnamese wake up early, they don’t go to bed that early-about 11 p.m. So don’t be surprised that in Vietnam, it’s not just children who take naps at lunchtime, but adults as well.
For students in grades 1-5 a lunchtime nap is mandatory. And they sleep not on beds, but on their desks, which are specially laid out to accommodate everyone. And many of them don’t even need pillows. Rough!
How to cope?
- Don’t schedule business meetings at lunchtime.
- Plan lunch from 12 to 1 p.m. , when most cafes and buffets are actively selling food. It can be difficult to find a place to eat after 2 p.m. in small towns.
- Go to the park in the morning and side at lunchtime to experience the Vietnamese way of life.
3. hard mattresses and windowless rooms are the norm in Vietnam.
As you have already realized, the Vietnamese are not spoiled with comfort. So do not expect that you will be pampered with comfort.
Hard mattresses on the beds – is not only normal but also prestigious. And rooms without windows or with a view of the wall – just the order of things. Don’t be surprised if you come across this in hotels.
Good hotels have good mattresses. Read the reviews!
How to cope?
- If you come to Vietnam for a long time and you are not satisfied with the mattress, get a separate mattress, or lay a soft blanket on top.
- If you stayed at a hotel with a hard mattress – you have to put up with it and have a good walk to sleep better.
- If natural light in the room is important to you, be careful when booking the hotel. The window in the room, which is often displayed in photos, may often face a hallway or wall.
- Check this information before you arrive, or you may only be offered a room with a window view at extra cost.
10 things you’ll see at your Vietnamese home.
4. Dirt and Unsanitary
Cooking street food in the truest sense of the word.
We live in Hanoi, where filthy streets, smog and unsanitary cafes are at their peak.
Masks for the harmful gases, an umbrella for the sun
Don’t be surprised to walk around the slop on the sidewalks, then see fish being cleaned on the same sidewalk. Rice is dried right on the highways, and can level it with a motorcycle.
There is constant burning of garbage along the roads with plastic waste. If you refer to yourself as a mistrustful person, you shouldn’t watch the dishes being washed in local cafes. Often, though, everything is in plain sight
Bonfire in the middle of the Old Quarter, Hanoi
How to cope?
- With food – assess the cafe with at least a glance before ordering food.
- With dust in the air – wear respirator masks .
- With the dirt and garbage on the sidewalks – accept it.
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5. Going to the store is like going to the temple.
Despite the relative indifference of the Vietnamese to the cleanliness of the street, it is an unwritten law to take off your shoes before entering the premises.
The shoes before you enter.
Contrary to the western world we also find it disrespectful to walk with shoes in someone’s apartment. But here you have to take off your shoes before entering many hotels, English centers and even some stores. To temples, of course!
In winter in northern Vietnam is quite cold, so you can take a change of flip-flops. But since many Vietnamese wear flip-flops in any weather, some would consider it disrespectful even if the shoes are replaceable. Yes, yes, here it is not uncommon to see children in English classes barefoot on the cold tiles, but in jackets and sometimes even hats!
New Year’s Eve in English School.
How to cope?
- In the warmer months, you can go barefoot. The main thing is that the floors are not dirty where you are asked to take off your shoes.
- Take a change of shoes in winter and show the Vietnamese that they are really changeable.
- Put your shoes at the entrance so that the Vietnamese do not trample them. A lot of people can follow you into the same room.
6. Super-humidity changes the feeling.
The climate in Vietnam varies greatly depending on the region – in the south it is always hot, but in the north there are four seasons, although snow can be seen only in the mountains near the border with China.
It’s chilly in the winter, though!
The north of the country where we live is very humid and it rains a lot even during the dry season. In Hanoi we realized that the same temperature can feel completely different in different climates.
In winter, it’s about 15 degrees during the day here. Comfortable temperature, you might say. But with high humidity and the need to move around on a bike, it’s very cold. Both locals and foreigners move around the city in synthetic jackets and gloves. Winter!
Winter in Vietnam.
“Cold” in Hanoi is considered below 20-23 degrees. But as soon as the temperature rises above 25 degrees, everyone immediately becomes hot. Especially the humidity makes itself felt in the summer, when the temperature during the day is often kept around 35 degrees.
How to cope?
- If you plan to ride your bike in temperatures below 21 degrees, bring a jacket .
- If you plan on renting in Vietnam, buy a hydroabsorbent (costs $1.5) and put it in your closet. In a week you will be surprised at how much moisture it will absorb. This is to prevent mold on things.
- If you’re a sauna lover, come to Vietnam in the summer, and don’t use the air conditioner or fan!
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7. People in every alleyway.
Apart from the risk of traffic accidents, it is very safe in the big cities of Vietnam. If only because there are people in every alleyway.
Sidewalks in Vietnam are not suitable for walking
The population of Vietnam is increasing exponentially. So you have to try very hard to find deserted areas in major cities in Vietnam.
Not only sociophobes can be uncomfortable in crowded streets. The difficulty arises from the fact that in most areas there is no place to walk. In Vietnam, all conditions are for mopeds. Even in places where mopeds don’t ride on sidewalks, there’s bound to be something for sale.
In general, Vietnam is “not the” country for those who like to walk.
How to cope?
- Rent a moped or use a motorcycle cab.
- Be careful when walking.
- Keep an eye on your smartphone and personal belongings to avoid those rare occasions when phones are snatched out of your hands.
8. Cafes for “midgets.”
There are different kinds of cafes and restaurants in Vietnam, but establishments “for the locals” are visible to the naked eye . You will recognize them very simply – by the chairs!
A variety of chairs for the Vietnamese and everyone else.
Small, light, compact chairs made of plastic have become the “visiting card” of the local Vietnamese catering establishments. Both adults and children sit on them. But tiny Vietnamese with their size are much more comfortable to sit on the small square chairs than Europeans with pudgy forms.
Vietnamese calling card.
Cafes “for midgets” can be found almost on every street along the road, so you do not have to look long!
The menu at such establishments is varied – from sunflower seeds and iced tea to noodle soup.
Evening gatherings. At 11 p.m. everyone goes to bed.
What to do?
- Try to sit on a miniature chair to get a better sense of Vietnamese culture.
- Order tea or coffee with ice. By the way, ice is served by default.
- Try the Pho soup the Vietnamese are very proud of.
However, in Vietnam there are also cafes which are common as we understand. There are even cafes for vegetarians, and we made a video about one of them.