GET LOST IN THE UNBELIBABLE SMILE OF VIETNAMESE PEOPLE
General Tips to travel to Vietnam
Your first words in Vietnamese:
Hello: Xin chào
Goodbye: Tam biȇt
Please: làm ơn
Thank you: cảm ơn
Your welcome: không có chi
Currency: Đồng (VND)
Population: 95, 54 million
Main religion: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
Safety Rating: According to the Global Peaceful Index, Vietnam is the number 57 out of 163 countries.
Solo Female Travel: Medium risk. Vietnamese people are very kind and respectful. Although I’ve never felt in danger, I am conscious that is a developing country with a different culture so female travelers should watch out and not go alone when it is dark.
Vietnam has a tropical climate as most of the rest of southeast Asia.
It has two main seasons, where the big difference is the rain. The temperatures do not vary much.
The rainy season is from May to October and the dry season goes from November to April.
Even though temperatures do not vary much, March and April are the hottest months with temperatures around 20 ºC and 28 ºC (68 ºF and 79 ºF). In December we can find the lowest temperatures especially in the north (Sapa, Ha Giang…) where the mountains are located and temperatures fall until 0 ºC (32 ºF).
There are hundreds of places to sleep for travelers on a budget. You could find much good quality shared rooms in the capital from 3 $/night. The best thing hostels have in the whole country is their “Happy hours”! In Vietnam, Happy hours are very famous and is some hostels you have one hour of free beer. Incredible isn’t it? Pub Crawls organized by hostels are also very common.
Enjoying dinner on a hostel in North Vientam
The three main airports in Vietnam are Noi Bai International airport (HAN), Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) and Da Nang International Airport (DAD). In the first two, you will be able to find international connections. Although traveling by plane is a little bit more expensive, in case you need to cross the country from Hanoi to Ho Chi Ming, it may be worth it to fly as the trip from one city to the other by any ground transport would take more than 26 hours.
Buses in Vietnam work perfectly. In my opinion, the best mean of transport is the night bus.
¿What is a night Bus?
Night buses are normal buses, but instead of seats, it has beds and it travels during the night. The two main pros I see to the night bus are:
- Price: They are very cheap(8 hrs ride for 9 $).
- It travels during the night: You save the money of one hostel night, that way you don’t spend time or money during the day traveling.
This is the most common way of traveling for the backpackers.
There are also trains in Vietnam but they take more or less the same time as the bus and they are more expensive.
Recommendation: A lot of people travel around Vietnam by motorbike. Be careful as traffic in Vietnam is chaotic and it could be a little bit dangerous. Be careful with the place where you buy the motorbike and make sure it is in perfect conditions.
Food in Vietnam is simply amazing. They are expert cooks and manage to do incredible dishes.
There are a lot of good dishes typical of Vietnam, I am only going to write down my favorites:
- Pho: The most popular dish of Vietnamese food. You will find it everywhere. It can be taken at all hours of the day. Although its preparation is subject to the usual regional variations, the Pho is a soup made with meat broth, rice noodles and pieces of meat. The dish is seasoned with lime, bean sprouts, and pepper, garnished with chives, mint leaves, basil or coriander. There are two main varieties of Pho with beef, (Pho Bo) and chicken meat(Pho Ga).
- Nems: Nem is the variety of rolls that are fried and are usually served as starters. They are rice wafers stuffed with minced pork and other vegetable side dishes such as onion, mushrooms, cabbage, etc. They can also be made of chicken meat, crab or prawns.
- Banh Mi: The bánh mì is an airy and crunchy french-style baguette, stuffed with a large combination of meats, vegetables, and sauces. The bánh mì sandwich has its origin in the French influence in Indochina. Do not miss it!!
And…cacacan’t stop writing without talking about Coffee in Vietnam!
- Vietnamese Coffee: Vietnamese coffee is a long coffee on a layer of condensed milk, which is served hot or, more commonly, with ice cubes. Incredible flavor!
- Egg Coffee in the north part of the country: You’ve read correctly! EGG COFFEE. Everyone must try it! It is coffee with sugar, sweetened with condensed milk and some egg yolks on top. It might sound weird and hard to imagine. But how strange, the taste is surprisingly good.
5 things to do in Vietnam
Karaoke night somewhere in the north of Vietnam
Karaoke nights are the best in Vietnam. Join one of them, meet local people and you will have one of the best nights of your life!
Ha Giang Loop
The alternative to Sapa. In my opinion, it is highly better. The landscape is extremely beautiful and this place is much less touristic than Sapa (so it is much cheaper). The only difference there is is that it is not a trekking destination, it is a motorbike destination. The plan is the following; you arrive at Ha Giang, rent a bike and start driving for four days. You will be stopping in random and incredible tows in the area. If you do not know how to drive you could book the trip with a guide. You will have the option to cross to china for some minutes during these four days. Do not miss it!
Cat Ba Island
Rugged, craggy and jungle-clad. Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay. It has impressive views and very good trekking can be done. You also have the option to book a day on a boat to go around Halong Bay.
Visit Hoi An
The most beautiful city in Vietnam, get lost in its beautiful streets and fall in love with this place! It is on the coast so you can take advantage of it and go for a swim.
Navigate the Mekong Delta
It’s a water world that moves to the rhythm of the mighty Mekong river. Here is where boats, houses, and markets float upon the innumerable rivers, canals, and streams that criss-cross the landscape like arteries.
Try to make as more Vietnamese friend as possible. they are amazing!