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The 100 Greatest Things

About Vietnam

#100 Open Air Markets - One of the best things about S.E. Asia is its markets. Most of them are open-air and are open to the public 7 days a week. In these markets you can find just about everything from exotics fruits and meats, to clothes and accessories. If you've never experienced an Asian market before, it would be advised that you do it. The Markets in Vietnam are no exception.

#99 It Has a Massive Capitalist Economy - It's amazing to first see the unreal amount of small businesses that line the streets everywhere you go in Vietnam. Even though it's a communist country, the economic system is unabashedly capitalistic and the country is one of the top 5 countries in the world for the number of independent small businesses per capita. 

Outdoor Open-Air Street Market in Hanoi Vietnam

Fresh fruit & vegetable street market in Hanoi, Vietnam.

#98 Fish Sauce - It's Vietnams national flavor profile. They put it in almost everything that is cooked. As a westerner, it takes a little to get used to, but it's not nearly as off-putting as it sounds and it's used as an alternative to salt, and also to add some savory and umami to its dishes. 

#96 MILLIONS OF MOTORCYCLES! - Coming from the west, it's pretty damn cool to see hundreds of bikes navigating the busy streets of Hanoi or Saigon. There is over 5 MILLION scooters in Hanoi and 8 MILLION in Saigon. That's MENTAL!

#97 They Have Very Rich Cultural Traditions - The Vietnamese still take pride in their cultural history and traditions. One of my favorite quotes of all time about Vietnam is "I can't wait to go back to Vietnam, to see how much it hasn't changed". It's literally like going back in time in many ways. 

hanoi vietnam insane motorcycle traffic

Everyday Scooter Scene in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnamese Cemetery Burial Graves

#95 Their Cemeteries Are Interesting - It's customary for the dead to be buried 'above ground'. That means their cemeteries are much more interesting to look at than most western cemeteries. The stone sarcophagi are ornately engraved by skilled craftsmen and can cost an extraordinary amount of money. It's customary for the most successful male family member to purchase a large plot of land for the whole family to be buried in one spot. 

 

Circular Burial Graves in Vietnamese Cemetery

#94 Their Money is Colored - Coming from the USA, it's always interesting to see colored and or polymer 'plastic' money in other countries I've been to. Vietnam uses tear resistant plastic money that is almost always brand spanking new when it's dispensed from their ATM machines. Their primarily colors are greens and blues for their notes. Be careful of the blues in particular. The 500,000 note can be mistaken for the 20,000 note quite easily. 

#93 The War Has Long Been Over - In my personal experience, the Vietnamese don't think much anymore about the American War (as they call it). They are happy to see Americans and are quite welcoming. The Vietnamese term for American is 'My' (pronounced me-ee).

#92 This Country Gets Up EARLY! - No matter where you go, or what time of the year it is, these people are up and taking on the day at the break of daylight. 

#91 The People - Vietnamese people are welcoming, kind, gracious, happy for what they have, proud to be Vietnamese, know who they are and where they come from.  My Vietnamese wife says the people in the south are more liberal and open minded than the people in the north, but as an American, I've never had anything but great experiences everywhere I've been in the country. 

An older Vietnamese lady posing for a picture in 2022

A local posing in central Vietnam 

Vietnam unique rock formations and Mountains

#90 Their Unique Rock Formations  - Vietnam has some of the most interesting looking mountains in the world. They don't grade to a peak, they poke up straight out of the ground and the sea. Ha Long Bay is a great example of these rock formations and gives it its unique look. 

#89 It Isn't Yet Oversaturated With Tourism - Many say Vietnam is 30 years behind Thailand in regards to tourism. So visiting now is probably a great idea, before most of its charm has been lost to chasing the dollar for cheap, inauthentic experiences.

Vietnam Unique Rock Formations and Mountains

#88 The Food - Vietnam is a foodie paradise. Whether you like or love to eat, it has something for everyone and you can also find a fair amount of western restaurants if you are in the mood of something that reminds you of being back home.

#87 Ancestral Worship Houses - All across the country, you will see family worship houses that have been constructed to honor each family's dead. These can be quite simple, or obscenely ornate. Either way, it's impressive how committed they are to their ancestors, and gives you pause for reflection. 

Vietnamese Food Cart Hanoi Vietnam

Traditional local lunch selections in Vietnam

#86 Unbelievably Chaotic Traffic - It is one of those things has to be experienced to truly understand. It's absolute mayhem, but at the same time, exhilarating and beautiful to experience. Renting a scooter and riding during rush hour in Hanoi or Saigon is still my most favorite things to do in the those cities. 

#85 The Architecture - The French occupied Vietnam for almost 100 years, and had a huge influence on the architecture of its two largest cities, Hanoi & Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Although a lot of the older French style buildings are worn down and being replaced, there are still a significant amount of buildings in both cities where you can recognize the French architecture. It's one of this things you don't expect to see, but is a beautifully pleasant surprise when you do.

#84 Coracles - A Coracle is a totally round fishing boat that was invented hundred of years ago in Europe. They are still popular in Vietnam and are found in every fishing village across the country. 

Vietnamese Coracle Fishing Boats

Coracle Fishing Boats, Vietnam

The Best BBQ Pork Banh Mi Street Food in Hanoi Vietnam

Charcoal Grilled Pork Skewers in Hanoi 

#83 Street-Side Charcoal BBQ - It's not uncommon to see a charcoal barbecue set up on a sidewalk anywhere in Vietnam. Some of their favorite meats to BBQ are, whole pigs, pork belly, pork meatballs, pork skewers, pork feet, roasted duck, roasted chicken, chicken wings, and chicken feet. They are masters of char, even though as a cultural, they believe that ingesting charred food (carcinogens), is a suspected cause of cancer.  

#82 Free Eye Exams & Cheap Replacement Lenses or Frames - If you're interested in getting your eyes examined, or new frames and lenses, Vietnamese eye-glass shops are extremely well run and the entire experience including frames and lenses is inexpensive. I take care of all of my eye care needs in Vietnam now, rather than in the USA, to save money.

#81 Bia Hoi - If you are budget minded but like your beer, local lagers such as Saigon White, Saigon Special, Bia Hanoi, 333 (ba-ba-ba), Tiger, and Huda can range from around .50 to .85 cents at a mini mart, to around a $1-$1.25 at a small restaurant. The craft beer industry is small, but growing. Pasteur Street Brewing Company in Saigon puts out a tasty Jasmine IPA if you're looking for something with a little more teeth at around $4/pint at higher end restaurants.

#80 Colorful Fishing Boats - The fishing in Vietnam is still largely a family owned operation passed down through generations. They go out in these well-worn wooden boats that are brilliantly colored in bright blues, reds and yellow. 

#79 The Lottery Helps People Stay Alive - Older people, or people who are down on their luck have an opportunity provided by the government lottery to sell daily tickets in order to make money to live. You will see many people wandering the streets offering up tickets which are .50 cents/each. 

Colorful Wooden Fishing Boats in Nghe An, Vietnam

Colorful Wooden Fishing Boats in Nghe An, Vietnam

#78 Minimal Corporate Presence - As a big believer and supporter of small business owners, it's really quite refreshing not to see chains or big-box stores everywhere you look. I suspect that will change over the next generation, but for now, Vietnam has an impressive and thriving small business economy.

Nem Nuong (BBQ) in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

#77 It's Insane Coffee and Coffee Culture - Vietnam's top two exported crops are Coffee and Black Pepper. Their coffee is regarded as some of the best in the world and is served in a variety of ways locally. The Vietnamese love to meet for a coffee to chat and hang out so much so that you practically can't walk 100 yards without seeing a coffee shop. Their local coffee culture is so strong that even Starbucks has a hard time getting a foothold in the market, with only around 45 locations country-wide. 

Nem Nuon (BBQ) in Nha Trang

#76 Inexpensive Tours - Due to the lack of English spoken in Vietnam, hiring a professional guide to show you around is a great way to get to know more about the country, its food and people. Tours can be found online or on the ground with plenty of tourism offices in the main tourist areas of Saigon and Hanoi. The best news is that it's still pretty inexpensive to spend a few hours with a local that can show you around.

#75 Pizza 4 P's - I'm about to make a very bold statement.. I think Pizza 4 P's could very well serve the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. I'm a big fan of pizza and I've eaten it in a lot of places around the globe, including some of the highest rated spots in Italy. But, I've never had wood-fired pizza that is better, or more consistent than at Pizza 4 P's in Vietnam. Established in Saigon in 2011, now has close to 30 locations around the country, with a majority of them being in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. It's unique styling, great food, and attention to detail, makes it a must try while you are visiting. Website: https://pizza4ps.com 

#74 Noodles - Being one of the largest producers of rice in the world, you can guess that rice noodles are the most common kind, but you can also find other kinds of noodles in this soup loving country. Other kinds of noodles include Glass, Tapioca, Egg, Wheat, etc.. If you love your noodles, Vietnam is a great place to get your slurp on!

Hands Down, the BEST pizza in Vietnam is made by Pizza 4 P's.

Pizza 4 P's Salami & Chorizo Pizza in Hanoi, Vietnam​

#73 The Vietnamese Are Fiercely Proud of Their Country - Lining the roads and highways around the country, it is not uncommon to see the national flag flow proudly. You may also notice a lot of younger kids wearing red shirts with the familiar yellow star. One of the best days to take a ride around the city to enjoy the scene is on their Independence Day which is on September 2nd. If you're really lucky, you will get to experience local Bia Hoi when the national soccer team is playing. 

A quiet seaside fishing village along the coastline of Vietnam.

A beautiful seaside fishing village in Central Vietnam

#72 It's Stunningly Beautiful - From the stunning beaches or Phu Quoc Island, to the Rice Terraces of Northern Vietnam, it has a vast array of visually stunning landscapes, many of which you cannot find anywhere in western countries. 

#71 Kids Still Play Outside - Seeing kids playing unsupervised outside by themselves, or with other kids is a reminder of the peacefulness of the Vietnamese culture. But it still surprises me to see children as young as 2 or 3 walking or playing alongside a busy road or highway. My sense is that the kids learn early that roads are dangerous, and not a place to play. 

#70 Their Rural Identity - As far as I can tell everyone is still fairly connected to their rural heritage in Vietnam. Although many migrate from their villages to the bigger cities in search of more out of life after high school or college, you really get the sense that no one is too far away from where they came from. 

#69 They Respect Lunar New Year & Tet Holiday - As a country they commit to spending time with their families over a 7-14 day period known as Tet Holiday over the Lunar New Year. The holiday usually falls around late January and runs into the first week of February. The country is in limp-mode for 2 weeks as a lot of business close down to celebrate the holiday. 

#68 Crossing a Busy Street on Foot - This might sound dumb, but walking across a busy street through heavy traffic is one of the most underrated things to do in Vietnam, and it's FREE! It takes some courage to make your first step, but as long as you keep a consistent pace, you will be amazed as the swarm of motorcycles, cars and scooters creating a moving hole for you to cross through.  

#67 Outdoor Barber Shops - It's not unusual to see a man getting a haircut, or a shave from a local barber who has set up shop on a sidewalk or in a narrow side street. There is something intriguing about the outdoor barber scene that I can't seem to put my finger on, but every time I see one, I literally have to stop for a couple of minutes to take it all in. 

#66 Anything That Can Be Carried on a Scooter, Will Be Carried On a Scooter - Seeing what gets put on a scooter is a constant interest to me as I travel the country. I never tire of the effort the locals put into piling on anything on the back of a bike from furniture to puppies, and seeing the results of what actually can be carried on said motorbike. 

#65 They Are Some of the Best Drivers on the Planet - Diamonds are made from pressure.. The insane traffic and lack of traffic laws makes for some incredibly focused and determined drivers. Watching the Vietnamese people navigate the busy roads and tiny laneways, is truly something to behold.

Man Getting a Shave at an Outdoor Barber Shop in Hanoi, Vietnam

Outdoor Barber Shop in Vietnam

Motorcycle Riding in the Mountainous Northern Vietnam Region
Incredible high mountain roads await adventure riders in Northern Vietnam.

#64 Great Motorcycle Riding - The northern region has some of the best motorbike riding terrain in the world. Good roads, not much traffic, not very populated, amazing mountain vistas, and simple tribes people.. It doesn't get much better. Perhaps on of its best kept secrets, northern Vietnam is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. 

#63 Their Mail System Primarily Runs By Passenger Bus - A lot of what gets shipped across Vietnam goes by local bus. It's not uncommon for a person in a village to hand a letter or a package to the assistant who collect fairs on the local bus. Then for that person to hand the package to the correlating bus going in the direction the mail needs to travel. It seems too trusting and unorganized from a western perspective, but it seems to work well and it's extremely inexpensive to ship inside the country.

The Ha Giang Loop, Northern Vietnam

#62 You Never Know What You're Going To See  - In my experience in the country, every new day brings another opportunity to see something that you just won't see at home, no matter where you're from. It can be something as simple as a live full grown pig in a literal pig-shaped cage, on the back of a scooter, to a highway that has been shut down with no warning and without a re-route, right in front of you as you try to make your way to a new town or city. They just do things differently here and it's of constant amusement as to what will happen next. 

Puppies being transported on the back of a motorbike in the countryside of Vietnam

Puppies Being Transported on the Back of a Scooter in Vietnam

#61 There is LOTS To Do - Vietnam packs a ton of fun for such a small country geographically. Yet they have a vast array of unique geological sites to visit, incredible cities to explore and of course a plethora of different food items to try. By my objective estimation, it would take around 18 months of honest effort to sufficiently travel, visit and eat your way through the country.   

#60 French Influence - The French occupied Vietnam for over 90 years. They had a large influence on the culture, architecture and the food. A lot of what you will see and eat in Vietnam was left behind from the French occupation and now has become a part of its cultural identity. 

#59 Crime Is Very Low - Although it's a local rumor that pick-pockets and phone grabbers exist in Saigon, I have yet to witness or experience anything that resembles criminal behavior. I suspect that it's so unusual that even occasional petty-crime makes the news and gets spread around. Just be smart with your belongings and you will be fine.

Street Food is a staple in cities all across Vietnam.

A typical street food scene in Hanoi's Old Quarter - 2022

Saigon's most popular soup is called Hu Tieu and is a noodle soup with a por broth and pork bones.

Hu Tieu, Pork Bone Soup, Saigon

#58 Soup - It is made from just about everything in Vietnam, and done in more ways than you can imagine. From Pho Bo to Intestine Soup, you will be in heaven if you're a Soupie. Our personal favorites are (me) Hu Tieu in Saigon & (her) Snail soup in Hanoi.

#57 Great Wifi - You wouldn't believe is, but wifi is great and easy to access  in Vietnam. Even in remote regions far away from large cities, it is easy to find a local coffee shop or eatery that you can hook you up with a strong signal, just by asking.

#56 Vietnam is an Ascending Economy - Though sometimes still referred to as 3rd world, Vietnam is a country that is on the uptrend in the world markets and for tourism. The next 25 years should be a great financial boon to its citizens. Hopefully it doesn't lose its charm along the way.

#55 Terrific Range of Budgetary Options for Travelers - Depending on your personal requirements and budgetary limits, Vietnam offers a wide range of options that can suit just about anyone. You can stay in a hostel or homestay for just a few dollars a night in any city or village, or you can spend thousands of dollars a night at world renowned hotel chains and resorts. Food options and costs also vary widely depending on your personal needs.  

#54 Family Meals - The Vietnamese still value and appreciate eating together as a family. They also love to eat with extended family that live nearby. For the larger gatherings, they sit on a large mat on the floor and eat family style around the cooking apparatus which is typically a communal hot pot or electric barbecue. It's a great experience if you find yourself getting invited to eat when you are visiting.

 

Family Hot Pot Meal in Vietnam.

Vietnamese family getting their Hot Pot on!

#53 Pajama Life - The Vietnamese women who work the street food restaurants, markets and retail shops have normalized wearing pajamas. They love wearing colorful outfits with matching tops and bottoms. It's a trend that is nation wide and fun to see in person.

Crazy Traffic in Hanoi Vietnam

#52 No Road Rage - As chaotic as Vietnam traffic can be, you rarely, if ever see anyone with even an impatient look on their face. Not sure if it's their culture, or just that they've learned that sharing the road comes with its difficulties. Whatever it is.. we could all take a lesson.

Crazy Traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam

#51 No Snow - Up along the Chinese border in the very northern reaches of the country, they can see some snow. Vietnam is mostly a tropical climate with extreme heat being a much bigger concern for western travelers.

 

#50 Their Toothpicks - Across Vietnam you will find that most restaurants and vendors sell a wooden toothpick that is extremely thin uniform in width. They're perfect for getting into tight spots that you can't reach with conventional American toothpicks. It makes you wonder why we use what we use as they just aren't as effective as the ones you will find in Vietnam.

#49 Chill Pace of Life - Nothing happens to quickly in Vietnam. Some might think that is an inconvenience, but after having experienced it more than a few times, and over lengthy periods of time, I've really began to appreciate not having to run at full speed all of the time. 

#48  Banh Mi (baguette bread) - The French have Croissants, the Vietnamese have Banh Mi. You won't go anywhere in the country without seeing it sold on the streets. The literal translation of 'bang mi' is 'flour cake', and it is a mixture of wheat and rice flours that give it its crispy yet airy construction. It's the national bread of Vietnam. 

#47 You Can Safely Walk the Streets At Night - Unlike the west, Vietnam doesn't have any neighborhoods or downtown areas that you need to avoid after dark. In Vietnam, there may be poor neighborhoods, but those aren't 'bad' neighborhoods. 

Banh Mi closeup shown in the middle of a Hanoi Old Quarter street

Fresh Banh Mi Sandwich - Hanoi

#46 Tourists Are Still Welcome and Treated Well - I've been to a lot of places on this planet and I've experienced a fair share of locals in those places who are flat out tired of tourists. Vietnam is not one of those places. The people are happy to see you, treat you with respect and always make you feel welcome.

#45 There's Almost ZERO Begging, Busking, or Scams - Begging is looked down upon by the Vietnamese culture. Everyone understands that they need to do what it takes to put food on the table, but begging isn't one of them. You will also not find and buskers, outside of Western street in Saigon. There you occasionally see young men and women who do incredible tricks with fire, including breathing it out of their mouths. The only scams I can think of that are sometimes brought to your attention are with fade card readers on ATM machines. I've never personally seen one, but I'm sure they do exist just like in other countries.

#44 There Are Under 30 McDonald's in All of Vietnam - I'm Lovin it! That being said... if you have a Big Mac attack, you can get that handled. McDonalds is considered expensive to Vietnamese people, so you won't find it jam packed with locals. The taste and consistency of the food is what you would expect in the USA. They do do a better job of making sandwiches because the workers in Vietnam still care about the quality of their work. 

#43 No Organized Illegal Knockoff Street Vendors - unlike in many of highly trafficked tourist areas and sites worth visiting in Europe, you won't find brigades of illegal foreign migrants selling cheap knockoff designer wear and accessories. 

#42 Speed Limits are Rarely Enforced - The police are more interested in pulling people over for not wearing helmets, and general inspections to check on licenses and insurance, etc.. than they are in moving violations. That being said.. no one goes real fast anywhere in the country as the general lack of rules leads to a reasonable apprehension to go too fast, because of that. The only rule of the road that must accepted, is that the larger vehicle always has the right-of-way. At any time, a larger vehicle will turn in front of you. It's not a matter of if, but when. And they don't care how fast you are going.

#41 It's Almost Entirely Filled With Vietnamese People - The lack of cultural diversity means you will truly experience Vietnam and Vietnamese culture. There are few places on the planet that tourists can experience a totally homogenous culture, in a completely safe environment. Vietnam is one of them.

#40 It's INCREDIBLY Cheap to Fly Inside the Country - Flights inside Vietnam can be as little as $25 one-way if you book a couple of weeks in advance. Even same day booking between Saigon and Hanoi can be found for under $100 one-way. Viet-Jet,  Jet Star, Bamboo, Vietnam airlines are the main local carriers.

#39 They Take Care of Their Older Generation - It is culturally accepted that when an older person gets to the age where they need help, that the family will share the duties of caring from them. There is no organized retirement homes or communities in Vietnam. 

Boarding VietJet Airlines in Vietnam

#38 You Can Explore Just About Anywhere - Unlike in the west.. the Vietnamese people do a very good job of sharing the public roads, land, open spaces and even city neighborhoods. There is almost nowhere that you can't explore comfortably, other than government owned building and properties. Those you will recognize quickly as they are guarded by military green personnel, 24 hours a day.  

#37 They Still Do A Lot of Things By Hand - Vietnam is not heavily mechanized or computerized. A lot of the tasks that are done by machine in the west are still done by hand. Street sweeping, farming and wood working come to mind.

Interesting Farm Land in Vietnam

Boarding VietJet By Stairway

Incredible Farmscape in Vietnam

#36 They Know How to Use Their Horns - Where I'm from, the honk of a horn is primarily used to show your impatience, anger or disgust with someones inability to properly operate a motor vehicle. In Vietnam, horns are used for an entirely different reason, and probably correctly - to warn others around you of your location and or intentions. It takes some getting used to, but the people are very accustomed to the system and the noise it creates. TLDR; They use their horns efficiently and it helps with traffic flow and to keep people safe. 

#35 The Beaches - Vietnam has 2014 miles of coastline with most of it being sandy beaches. The quiet southern island of Phu Quoc hosts a number of the countries finest white sand beaches and has become a very popular vacation destination for Vietnamese people and other visitors from S.E. Asia and around the world.

#34 Street Fruit Carts - Everywhere you go in Vietnam you will see people selling fresh local fruit along the side of the road. Even in the big cities, you can find plenty of street vendors selling fruits like Pineapple, Dragon Fruit, Bananas, and Coconuts. 

Perfect Sunset in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Perfect Sunset in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

#33 No Tipping! - Tipping is not expected anywhere, or for anything in Vietnam. During our travels we usually try to provide small tips to the people who have mundane jobs like parking attendants at a local coffee shop. But for most service jobs, people DO NOT expect you to tip and some won't even accept one If you try. We suggest not tipping, as tourism tipping has proven to affect non-tipping cultures in negative ways. 

#32 Caves! - Vietnam has explorable caves all over the country. One of them currently has the title of being the largest cave in the world with over 9km of caverns to explore. The Son Doong Cave is so large that it has its own river and climate. It was only discovered by accident in 1991. It wasn't until 2009 that an expedition team first entered the cave. Tours of the cave are available for booking, but they are on a limited basis and with a high price tag.  

An immense cavern in Son Doong Cave in Southern Vietnam.

#31 Motorbike Management - With millions of motorbikes in each of Vietnams largest cities, their sidewalks sometimes become unworkable as they become literal scooter parking lots in a lot of areas. At night though, you won't see ANY bikes being left outside as they are potentially at risk of being stolen. Each and every night, citizens around the country pull their bikes off the street and into secured gated areas, or even into the family living room. When you visit, you will see small scooter ramps leading into almost every house, restaurant or building.

The world's largest cave 'Son Doong', Vietnam 

#30 Food is Prepared Right In Front of You - In a lot of restaurants in Vietnam, it isn't unusual for the owner to be preparing and cooking the food right in front of you in the front entrance of the restaurant. 

#29 Bia Hoi - Beer drinkers will be thrilled to find a local Bia hoi (fresh beer) to park at and watch the world go by. Fresh draught beer is poured into traditional blown glass mugs that are used by all of the Bia Hoi pubs across the country. Pricing can range from .30 to .60 cents (USD) depending on where you are in the country. Some say that their draught is a little light in alcohol content, but at those prices, that's probably good thing.

Pho Ga being prepared in front of you in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Pho Ga being prepared in front of you in Hanoi, Vietnam

#28 Cheap Massages - Massage parlors are everywhere in Vietnam. They are inexpensive by western standards, usually costing around $12 USD for a 60 minute full body massage. Unlike Thailand, the vast majority Vietnamese massage shops are legitimate and don't offer 'additional' services. 

#27 You Can Live on $1000/month - After doing some research recently, my wife and I figured out that if we didn't have a need for a vehicle, that we could live right in the heart of the Old Quarter in Hanoi, with rent being $350/month, including utilities, and the both of us could easily eat for $10-$15/day. We'd be left with a couple of hundred dollars a month to use at our discretion. In Vietnam, you don't need to pay for health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, property tax, and other things that you can't live without in the west. 

#26 They Still Farm the Hard Way - If you get a chance to get out of the cities while you are in Vietnam, you will notice that the parcels of land that they farm are fairly small. That is because the Vietnamese government seized all of the privately owned farm land and parceled it up amongst the area locals to farm individually in the mid 1950's. Every family member get their name on a piece of land for which the family can grow crop in order to sustain a living. For that reason along, it is very difficult to make use of large, automated machinery to plant or harvest crops. Instead, you will find Vietnamese farmers still using cows and water buffalo to do the heavy work required in their fields. And you will see groups of farmers assisting each other with the crops that are more manually labour intensive such as Rice and Peanut farming.

#25 They Take Pride In Their Work - I've spent a considerable amount of time in Vietnam over the past few years and I am always impressed with the service and pride people take in their work. In Vietnam, you don't get the sense that everyone is just going through the motions just to secure a check every two weeks.

#24 Family Businesses Are Owned & Operated From Home - A majority of businesses are still family owned and operated in Vietnam, and a fair amount of people live above their business, just like Americans did just a couple of generations ago. 

#23 Delicious Seafood - It's plentiful along the coastal cities and inland as well. In many places you get to choose the seafood you would like to indulge in by selecting it from large freshwater tanks that sit at the front of the building as advertising for their restaurant. 

#22 The Requirements To Set Up And Start A Business Aren't Overburdensome - Vietnam is the 3rd highest ranked country in the world for small business owners, and that could be higher as a ton of businesses go unregistered due to the large amount of businesses that are cash based. Almost everyone in Vietnam has a business or side hustle that they are running. It's really quite interesting to see how capitalistic it is considering that it's designated a communist country. 

Traditional Sour Snail Soup in Hanoi Vietnam

Sour Snail Soup in Hanoi

#21 Healthcare Is Extremely Inexpensive - Most hospitals are owned and operated by the government which stabilizes pricing. But even the private hospitals (known locally as western hospitals), you can get good care at a fraction of the cost of US hospitals. 

#20 No Coins = No Change - Canadians will appreciate this one.. In Vietnam, there are no coins. Their smallest bills are 500 VND which is worth pennies in US currency. 

#19 Culturally, Vietnam is 2-3 generations behind the USA - It's easy to see the generational differences between the two countries after you've been around for a while and have spent a decent amount if time in the country. By my best estimations, Vietnam is two to three generations behind the USA. For that reason alone, I believe it's a great place for the older western generations to visit, as it emits a sense of nostalgia, charm and traditions that most modern tourist destinations just don't have.

#18 Their Kids Never Get Too Far From Home Due to the Size of the Country - I love the fact that most kids don't get the chance to get too far from home due to the size of their country. A close family structure is what keeps Vietnam such an amazing place to visit, in my opinion.

#17 S.E. Asian Food Influences - It's not hard to find the taste influences of neighboring countries, especially closer to the border towns and villages. Hanoi and Saigon also have some great restaurants serving Thai, Philippine, Cambodian, Chinese, and even Indian restaurants. Saigon is the only city in Vietnam that has an actual 'China Town' like you might find in a lot of decent sized western cities. You can find a lot of great Chinese restaurants in that area of town specifically.  We have a favorite Dumpling soup restaurant we try to visit each time we visit Saigon.

#16 They Have 'sayings' Like We Do in the West - but a lot more as their culture is thousands of years older. A lot of them are the same or similar to ours. They also have literal descriptions for things that are fun.. for example, a beauty pageant contestant is known as having long legs, but a short brain.

Lylla enjoying great Chinese Dim Sum in Hanoi, Vietnam

Enjoying some dim sum & duck!

Stunning rice field terraces in Sa Pa, Vietnam

#15 Rice Terraces - The mountainous northern provinces of Vietnam is host to some of the worlds most beautiful rice terraces.

Sa Pa in northwest of section of the country is the most popular destination for tourists to visit the rice fields and terraces. Each rice terrace is built and farmed by hand by the local people.   

#14 Asian Fruit - Who doesn't love fresh, ripe Mangos and Pineapples? Vietnam has plenty of both and other incredible fruits that you can't easily find western countries. (Examples: Lychee, Longan, Mangosteen, Jack Fruit, Dragon Fruit)

Beautiful rice terraces in northern Vietnam

#13 Good Parenting - Tough love parenting is still considered an important job in Vietnam. There is a strong focus on studying and getting good grades.

 

#12 TWO-DOLLAR Hair Washes - One of Vietnams best kept secrets is $2 hair washes. Most hair salons offer a relaxing 20-30 minute 'hair wash', which includes a scalp, shoulder massage. It's possibly the best bang for your buck in all of Vietnam. 

 

#11 They Respect Their Elders - As a culture, the Vietnamese share a strong sense of respect for older its generations. Even greeting someone older than you is done is a way that shows respect to that persons age and his or her place in its culture.

Getting a $2 hair wash in Hanoi, Vietnam

One of Vietnam's Most Inexpensive Pleasures!

#10 It's An Assault on Your Senses - That is the best way I have found to explain to people who ask what it's like to visit Vietnam. It is a welcoming blend of sights, sounds, smells that can almost be overwhelming at times. You really need to do it a few times to even begin to process it.. Then you can finally begin to appreciate and understand it. 

A typical shrine set up on a prayer house in Vietnam

​#9 The Way They Honor Their Dead - I was amazed to see how much time and care is given to ancestors in Vietnam. In most houses you will find a room where a small, but permanent shrine has been set up to honor immediate family members. They also build prayer houses so family members can visit family shrines, burn incense and pray for their gone but not forgotten ancestors.

Ancestral shrine inside a prayer house in Vietnam

#8 It's Incredibly Safe & Unintimidating - After the slight intimidation you might feel at customs on your way in, you won't feel it again while you are in country. The citizens are very docile and polite. Due to cultural pressures, the local crime rate is extremely low. Low crime results in a negligible police presence, which is comforting as a visitor. Even when you do see them, they aren't heavily armed or intimidating. There is simply no place that you can go that you won't feel safe, or welcome.

#7 Community Cultural Pressure - similar to other Asian cultures, there is still a significant amount of cultural pressure that has been handed down through many generations. The community culture as a whole demands politeness, honesty, hard work and family values. These pressures keep Vietnam culturally consistent country wide, making it a safe place to visit.

#6 Real Life Still Exists in Vietnam - After spending a total of 19 month in the country over the past 5 years, I'm really beginning to appreciate that Vietnam is still 'real life'. For the most part, the people are earning an honest living working the family business or farm. It has been largely unaffected by corporatism, commercialism and social media, although that is slowly changing.

A rice field being harvested by hand by local farmers in Vietnam

Vietnamese ladies harvesting the rice field by hand in central Vietnam

#5 Everybody Is Outside ALL THE TIME - As a westerner, you just can't help but to embrace the energy of Vietnam. The people are always outside and busy taking care of business, or just visiting with neighbors and friends. It's electric, all right in front of you, and ready for you to experience. 

#4 It's Delightfully Inexpensive - From hotel rooms, to flights, to food and excursions. It still amazes me that you can spend so little to enjoy so much. 

#3 Vietnam in 2022 Reminds Me of the USA in the 70's. - People like to conduct business face to face, do deals on hand shakes, and truly value the impact their service or product has on their customers. The country is now financially progressing at an impressive speed, but for now, it continues to hold onto the charms of its storied history and cultural traditions. 

​#2 - Life Is Still Lived At Your Own Risk - My second favorite thing about Vietnam is that unlike in the USA,  you don't feel strangulated by regulations, rules, bylaws, codes, and the government breathing down your neck. Tbh... the sidewalks are treacherous in most cities, the stairs don't always have handrails, and you hardly ever see lanes painted on roadways. It might be slightly more dangerous to do all of those things, but the opportunity to take some responsibility for yourself far outweighs the over-regulated sue-happy west in my opinion. 

#1 Street Food - It's what Vietnam is famous for from a culinary aspect and it just can't fit anywhere else for a food focused website. The street food scene in Vietnam doesn't just include small mom & pop restaurants, but also vendors who set up carts, carry fruits and vegetables all day long, and those on bicycle or scooter who travel throughout the cities and villages selling such things as quail eggs, banh mi, Vietnamese coffee, grilled squid, soup, and even salt. All of these people are integral to the identity of Vietnam and make it one of the greatest places on the planet to visit.

Lylla standing in front of a popular street food alley in Hanoi, Vietnam

One of Hanoi's amazing street food alleys

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