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Tips To Have A Great Time In Vietnam

Friendly Vietnamese FacesI am not going to say much all about how you have to prepare for your Vietnam travel, just because there are plenty of resources out there to advise how to get a cheap flight, good hotels, transfer tips and so on. I am just trying to give some advices how to get along with culture which you have to face and deal with if you want to have a good time in Vietnam.

 

Smile

This is simplest thing you can do but what you get back is more than you ever expected. Vietnamese is friendly people and willing to get long with friendly people. They are shy people t00 and normally not open with people if you don’t give them a message. And your smile will be a good sign for them in contact.   Believe me, your friendly manner will also help on stay out of scam. Friendly tourist got none or less scam or problem in Vietnam.

Follow the locals

Vietnamese got a big proud of their nation, culture and family. If you somehow are able to catch up with their ways, then you will be much impressed. For example: speak a few simple words in Vietnamese, drink a cup of rice wine, driving a motorbike with them would bring yourself much closer to gain heart of people. My advise is: try to do what locals do at your ability.

Stay away from touristy places

Tourist places mostly not represented to culture of area or country. In Vietnam, if you just travel a little further from the city center, you will see big differences. Things could be cheaper, people are more friendly and I am sure hassle will be less. For example: instead staying in old quarter in Hanoi, just try to move to West Lake area hotel. Shopping in outskirt instead of city center. Eating on street for seat back on restaurant…ect. It will be different for sure.

Understanding

Please remind yourself that you are in a developing country. Things are different, system is different, something would work in your country may not work here, something is right in your place but it could be wrong here. Things could be opposite. Try to avoid ‘teaching manner’ and replace by ‘sharing manner’ because your reaction of ‘teaching manner’ could misunderstand to disrespect manner.

All travelers has a right to having a great time in Vietnam, and I believe that how much you give is much you gain. Travel enjoyment in Vietnam never be a great luxury things you are offered but the moments of you experience with people and local activities.

Hope this help.

Most Asked Questions About Vietnam

Being a tour guide for years, I had a chance to meet and talk to thousand of travelers. And of course, a part of my work is answering people questions. It was part of the fun and educate myself as well. I am trying to gather some of the most curious questions about Vietnam I have heard of.

1, How much Vietnamese people earn per year in average ?

– In 2011, GDP in Vietnam was 119 billions USD, so in average Vietnamese people earn about 1,300 USD per year. This is one of the lowest number among the Asian countries.

2, Do Vietnamese people ‘hate’ Chinese?

– I have quite a few of friends look down to Chinese or no sympathy to Chinese. I don’t think they have any particular reasons on it but the wars between 2 countries made those feelings. Chinese often considered as wicked people by Vietnamese. I think this is a common thinking to countries that had a ‘history’ to each others.

3, Vietnamese having sex before marriage?

– They do, especially last 10 years when the storm of internet flow through Vietnam, young people feel more open and taking about sex is less sensitive than before. Older generation sometimes still find difficult to catch up with it and somewhere like countryside sex before marriage is still forbidden.

4, What Vietnamese people feel about American?

– Surprisingly, I never heard much about this on Vietnamese conversation, even on forum or other social network. It is surely people talk about Chinese than ever. I have asked this question to people including Vietnam war veteran and people feel normal about American.

5, When did Ho Chi Minh die?

Ho Chi Minh passed away in Hanoi course of illness on 2nd September 1969, before Vietnam War ended in 1975.

Vietnamese Home Foodies

I am kind of believer for best foods are not coming from 5 star restaurant. It is especially true for Vietnamese food. You are not really known of Vietnamese courses until you got into a Vietnamese family. Somebody said ‘Every family in Vietnam has a professional chef’ It is also deadly true!

Vietnamese people eat differently at home. Some of the famous courses that apparently represented for Viet food culture are rarely eaten at home. They are good, wonderful but Vietnamese somehow can not cope with them daily. They have a different menus to cheer up the family members. What are they?

Broth
A meal without broth will be unusual in Vietnamese family food, broth could be simple like morning glory both or cabbage broth, if they have time, they will make more completed courses like fish broth or oyster broth. Broth course in also the most difficult courses to make in Vietnam food.

Rice
Vietnamese is the World most rice eater. They eat about 300kg rice per year. This is a must and the most favored food for Vietnamese. Rice will be served on the bowl and people mix with other course to eat.

Omeletes
Westerners normally eat omelettes at breakfast, Vietnamese eat this course at home for lunch or dinner. It normally cooked with pork, onions and come along with a bit of fish source.

Morning Glory
Most eaten in north of Vietnam, normally boil and deep with fish source. It is good for teeth (less Northern people having problem with teeth, my friend doctor said so), it is more popular in the summer and always eaten with Vietnamese small egg – plants. It is traditional Vietnamese countryside meal.

Another course for rice
Vietnamese often set a course for rice bowl, it makes a good sense though, as rice itself is very light and flavor – less, making a salted courses like fried pork, fish with fish source or shrimp sauteed would make a better combination.

If you join a group tours in Vietnam, the restaurant always offer 9 to 12 courses menu. Vietnamese normally don’t eat that much in daily life, 4, 5 courses are maximum. Courses are changing everyday based on seasons and particular favor of each family.

Viet Value Travel offers tour to visit local family and enjoy the meal with local people. You will not only understand the local life but also experience what authentic of Vietnamese foodies are!

May I touch your nose?

Recently, I have chance to travel regularly with my Vietnamese friends. Some of them call me ‘weird’ as I am less got influences from Westerners that I have been traveling with last over 10 years. It confirms to me again that there are many big differences in the way of traveling, living and thinking between Vietnamese and other countries.

Light travel is always better?
Vietnamese prefer traveling as light as possible. They may not understand why and how come Westerners have to carry a backpack around. They are also curious of what is inside those bags. Just finished a week trip with 5 friends, I realized all they brought were 5 little bags that weighted 30kgs in total (I guess their laptops already weight half of it). Vietnamese are not great organizing travelers, it is understandable as tourism is still something new and luxurious for most of people in Vietnam. Most of Vietnamese can not afford to have a vacation, even short vacation. Don’t be surprised when you take a domestic flight and see lots of people walk out with a little suitcase.

Staring
I have heard my customer saying that she was quite scared when someone was just staring at her in public places. You will certainly get even bigger attention if you have white skin, blonde hair or larger dimensions. Why? Vietnamese are curious about what they don’t really have. Some Vietnamese even point, talk or laugh at you but trust me, most of those actions are not bad meaning. People also just wanted to grab attentions from you only. Still uncomfy, isn’t it? Just a culture gap!

Questions & … hard Answers
I used to take people on overnight or day train along Vietnam. Day train is a trip of fun as you may meet lots of locals. Travel with hard seat is even funnier as this is where poorer Vietnamese people gather. Nothing happened in first couple of hours, but when everyone seemed to be ‘friend’ with eye contact, local started walking pass us (no talk yet as they might have been still shy) and after few times, they talked to me first. The first person made ‘ice break’ then others followed him. Party started!

Many of them thought this was the best and maybe only chance that they could talk and see the Westerners in real!

Many questions were out. Beginning with ‘basic’ ones like: where is your hometown? (where are you from in English), what you do to live?, how old of your parents?, How much you earn? Marriage yet? (for couple), How your children are? Where are they (children) now? Who take care of them when you are here?etc.

When the atmosphere got more friendly, they went to quite more personal questions. ‘Why don’t you let your children/parents travel with you?….’ Someone even asked if they could touch Westerner’s nose as they wondered how comes Westerner’s nose was so straight and high or was there any bone on top of it? (I think this is good question as I have the same concern :))

Culture differences made some uncomfortable situations occasionally, Vietnamese also remain heaps of bad habits, it takes time to change actually but trust me, most of Vietnamese has warm hospitality to tourists which is a big part in Vietnamese culture. However, they just may present their welcome in different ways that sometimes not the way you expected.

‘Beat’ Luck

Vietnamese are one of the most superstitious people in the World.

Every event on people lives attached with an ceremony. The first month of life, first year,  building house, get a new car and of course getting marriage.

Vietnamese people also got a strong believe in Feng Shui to choose a right location and direction for their house and office, choosing the right color for dress and personal belongings. Those rules applied to all social classes, from a Cyclo drivers to high government position persons.

People believe that step out of their door in the morning by left foot could bring bad luck to them to the rest of the day. Seeing a lady firstly in the morning also bring a bad luck. Students are being on examination not allowed to do the hair cut either eating banana and black bean (green bean is recommended). And don’t be surprised if you see the local bus stations or airport suddenly get low traffic some days because travelling on 7th, 17th or 27th of lunar month will not bring a good sight of luck for passengers (Seven stands as Death).  They also don’t come back on 3rd, 13th and 23th.

If someone think they having a bad luck, there are number of solutions to get out of it. Eating dog meat is the most popular solution, after that Animal blood pudding. Someone burns paper in front of the shop in purpose of chasing the bad luck out.

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