Known as a peaceful country in Southeast Asia, Vietnam offers plenty of amazing experiences that you’ll never forget when you leave the country.
Aside from stunning beauty spots, you’ll find numerous fun facts in the diversity of cultures as well as the ways of living in Vietnam. From the chaotic traffic making you crazy to little weird things about traditional customs. Sometimes, you can learn a lot from these experiences about comfort zones, patience levels and a broader knowledge of your general interests. Let’s find out 6 unique things that you might be culture shocked and only see in Vietnam.
1. Rich diversity in Vietnamese cuisine
Vietnamese food must be the most valuable experience that you miss when leaving Vietnam. Unlike Western cuisine, Vietnamese offers extremely balanced savors and healthy food. It’s highly recommended to try Pho Hanoi, Pho cuon Hanoi, Banh mi Hoi An, Bun bo Hue, Banh xeo Sai Gon, Hu tieu Nam Bo, etc.
In Vietnam, everything could be edible, varying from half developed eggs (or ‘trứngvịtlộn’), insects, coconut worms, rats, turtles, dogs to many other distinctive food. Most of Vietnamese people are fond of ‘nước mắm’, a tasty fish sauce made by dead fish, and ‘mắmtôm’, a fermented shrimp paste sauce with awful smell. It’s savory once you ignore how it’s made and smell, though.
Vietnamese cuisine brings a wide range of ingredients, recipes and flavors in different regions, especially in the North. It’s perfect to join the very best of Vietnam trips and explore a foodie adventure by taking a street food tour or tasting authentic food served in restaurants. If you don’t have enough time to travel the whole country, come to Hanoi capital where you can find a specialty of any region in Vietnam.
2. Friendly and easy-going locals
Vietnamese are really welcoming and hospitable to tourists, sometimes they’re so easy-going that you’ll consider as rule behaviors. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting odd of Vietnamese characteristic then don’t take it seriously. The locals are always inquisitive, generous and positive with a bright smile on their face. Also, they like sarcasm and jokes around. Talking to the Vietnamese will fill you with lots of interesting fun and spirited mind.
If you a peace lover, it’s hard to find a tranquil place to appreciate your own space in touristy attractions in Vietnam. The locals like to speak loudly to each other, the construction is loud, the continuous horn-honking is loud and you won’t experience any quiet moments in big cities of Vietnam. Even screaming for your server isn’t rude in popular Vietnamese restaurants since they won’t come to your table unless you holler for them. This behavior may be wrong at first to Western culture, but this is how Vietnam is uniquely beautiful in its own way.
3. Organized chaos in Vietnam traffic
Main cities in Vietnam overwhelm you with thousands of motorbikes, buses, cars, bicycles and other made-in-Vietnam vehicles. One noticed thing is that main streets are the endless stampede of motorbikes in every direction with no rule, which make it thrilling to cross the street. If you stay in Vietnam long enough, you’ll know the main principle of navigating down in Vietnam streets “Flock is a driving style”. In rush hours, a flock of moto riders can move as one to thread their way through the traffic and how surprisingly it made a coordinated chaos which only happens in Vietnam.
Traffic things really got insane when you take the pedestrians into account. Walking across the street frighten every foreigner at first. It’s amazed to see how the local step into traffic and walk calmly around the motorbikes, cars, and buses which all have the right-of-way and never stop for you. So, one thing to remember if you walk on Vietnamese streets is that waiting for red traffic light or overpassing a footbridge to avoid accidents. Things will get safer if you go on foot in the old quarter of Hanoi or Hoi An.
4. Strong and flavorsome Vietnamese coffee
Vietnam’s famous for its qualified coffee products; that’s the reason why your vacation will be incomplete if you don’t try a cup of Vietnamese coffee. The authentic coffee of Vietnam is stronger than any quad mocha or Red Bull. Traditional style of making Vietnamese coffee is adding a tablespoon of ground coffee and hot water into a drip filter, called a ‘phin’. When you put the ‘phin’ on top of a glass, instead of a mug, you can watch the slow trickle of coffee brewing into the glass.
There are plenty kinds of coffee in Vietnam, ranging from brown coffee, milk coffee, yogurt coffee, iced coffee to coffee smoothie and so on. While the southern Vietnam offers ‘càphêbệt’ called Saigon’s street coffee, Hanoi will treat you an egg coffee, a rich concoction of egg yolk, condensed milk and dark coffee with an airy froth. If you’re a coffee addict, Vietnam will satisfy you with succulent taste and pleasantly low price.
5. Deep roots of Vietnamese culture
Originated from ancient Baiyue Kingdom in East Asia (or called Nam Việt), Vietnamese culture is a convergence of colonial influence on architecture, traditions, customs, cuisine, clothing and festivals. There’re more than 50 minor ethnicities living in hill tribes of Vietnam, which means the various tribal practice features over 50 different cultures in the whole country.
When it comes to arts and music, many types of traditional music performance like imperial court music, water puppetry show and visual arts of calligraphy, silk painting have drawn thousands of tourists’ attraction. In terms of traditional holidays and festivals, if you’re lucky to visit Vietnam during their Tet holiday, you’ll get deeper insights of long-lasting Vietnamese culture. Absolutely, you’ll be wondering why there’re so many complicated customs as well as how the residents could have so many days off from school and work during their holiday.
6. Vietnamese street vendors
The image of street vendors is widely popular in every country, but nowhere in the world has various kinds of street vendors more than in Vietnam. From one-carry-everything bike to street sellers walking with long bamboo poles on their shoulder. Taking a city tour and looking at the street corners, you’ll catch the moment of street sellers with colorful cargo of fruits, vegetables, flowers or food. Interestingly, many local people will eat their bought food right outside the street or whenever possible.
Street vendors are a crucial part of urban life and become an awe-inspiring picture of hardworking low-incomers who have earned their living by wandering around the street. Each of them has a heart touching story of their struggles. After all, they’re still positive with smiling face, be open to customers and even teach Vietnamese to foreigners. Despite a rising number of café, restaurants, supermarkets in bustling cities of Vietnam, street vendors are still there and contribute to the growth of the country. Somehow street vendor has been holding little old culture of Vietnam.
Here are some interesting facts that might amaze first-time travelers to Vietnam. For those in search of amazing experiences to explore deeper, plan your trip and get familiar with the locals who will guide you to the best destinations and show you the hidden charm of Vietnam. Once you set foot in this country, you’ll remember Vietnam this fascinating way.