Five Things I Will Never Forget From My Visit To Vietnam

1. The time I was adopted by the local people

The Vietnamese people are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. They are always smiling, inviting you inside for dinner or a drink and eager to learn about your life back home.

When I was travelling in Nha Trang I met some local people on a trip to a nearby waterfall. They were sat having a picnic and although they spoke next to no English and we spoke barely a word of Vietnamese, they invited us to join them. They shared their food with us and invited us to join them for a swim. They laughed and joked and were very welcoming. They then invited us for dinner so we joined them in a café for some local Vietnamese food. They later they invited us to go drinking and dancing with them at a special Vietnamese event that was being hosted for Halloween. It was a wonderful experience that I’ll never forget. If you get invited out by the locals during your time in Vietnam then definitely just say yes!

2. Motorbike touring

I did an incredible motorbike trip from Hanoi to HCM, then the Mekong Delta, over to Phu Quoc Island and back. It was honestly the experience of a life-time and the scenery was breath-taking. I saw rivers, mountain, forests, jungles and beaches. This was often all in the same few days. The landscape of Vietnam is incredibly diverse.

Don’t worry if motor biking is not for you, there are plenty of other ways to explore the beautiful of Vietnam while on your Vietnam adventure. You can take the train which winds its way up the coast, through the countryside, with some wonderful views of the shore line. You can also choose to hop on one of the many air conditioned VIP coaches that have stops all the way along in places such as Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. Also, if you fancy having the wind in your hair and the sun on your back but don’t want to risk the roads here then book a motorbike tour with a driver. Have a Vietnamese person drive you carefully and safely through the beautiful coast line and experience Vietnam like a local. I highly recommend taking a motorbike trip along the Hai Van Pass, one of the most beautiful stretches of the whole of Vietnam with amazing views of both the mountains and the sea.

3. What they put on the back of their motorbikes

You will often see entire Vietnamese families on the back of motorbikes with four, five and even seven people at a time. You will witness people carrying livestock such as chickens and pigs (yes, live pigs) to and from the nearby villages. They will carry furniture such as beds, doors, full-length mirrors and wardrobes with one person driving and one person balancing precariously on the back. There are people carrying flowers, groceries, herbs and pot plants. There’s people balancing hoola hoops and random objects high above them. I’ve seen people transporting bicycles and wicker baskets, lanterns and laundry. You will forever be pointing to your friends and saying, “Hey look!” What I see on the back of motorbikes never ceases to amaze me. Come and see for yourself!

4. Haggling

Haggling is a great experience! Don’t get hung up on the price or whether you’re being ripped off. Smile, be polite and enjoy the banter. Most locals see it as a game, a source of entertainment and fun and a great way to interact with foreigners. It’s not about how cheap you can get the product or about out smarting each other, it’s about mixing with locals, experiencing local culture and customs and just “giving it a go”. If you don’t want to buy it or pay for it, you don’t have to. But give it a shot!

5. The food

The food in Vietnam is hugely varied and each area of Vietnam has a different cuisine. From Hanoi, to Hue to HCM, there is always something new to be found. While eating in the tourist restaurants is a good way to look at the menu and work out what you think you might like, I recommend eating street food (from the street) at least once. A classic street food dish is Pho (noodle soup), Bun Cha (BBQ pork with noodles and salad) and Banh Xeo (Pork and shrimp savoury pancake). You can ask your hotel, hostel or tour guide to recommend you a good place to try the local food, from a plastic table and chair in an authentic street food style.

Also, if street food isn’t your thing then try going to a local café/ restaurant. Almost all menus are in English if you are in the tourist areas or even the surrounding areas. This way, you can try cheap, authentic local food, the way it should be eaten. However, it will be a little more Westernised than the actual street food. Definitely worth a try!

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