Visitors coming to Vietnam for the first time are often surprised by what they find. Travelers typically are filled with preconceived ideas about what to expect. Ideas that often times are wrong. As the popularity of traveling to Vietnam continues to grow in popularity an increasingly large number of travelers are exposed to this magical country of Vietnam for the first time. Regardless of how much time the first ever traveler spends preparing themselves for their inaugural visit they are still amazed by just how different Vietnam is from what they first had imagined.
The most pleasant surprise is always finding out just how cheaply one can travel when visiting Vietnam. For example, a budget traveler can easily travel on $50 a day including lodging. A standard hotel room for two can be had for $15-$18 a night. While a good meal on the street will only cost between $1-$3 per serving.
No one can ever imagine the shear volume of motorbikes taking to the streets each day. Seeing rush hour in Hanoi is an astounding sight to be seen. Most locals own motorbikes not cars. Riding motorbikes is much less complicated and cost effective than driving cars. In addition traffic laws are rarely enforced making driving motorbikes much easier.
Millions of motorbikes are literally on the road in Hanoi or HCMC at any given time. The new visitors first discovers that rush hour really never ends.
The most pleasant surprise of all is just how good and delicious the Vietnamese street food really is. A vegetable soup like concoction named “pho” is the basic staple of the local diet. Made of mixed vegetables and either chicken, pork or fish it is a constant in the local diet.
The food prepared on the street is aptly called “street food” and is a basic of every Vietnamese’s diet. The food is delicious and safe to eat especially when served by a busy diner because this food is fresher. Not only is this the staple food of the Vietnamese diet but these diners serve as a social meeting place for locals as well. The friendly social atmosphere created by these diners is a favorite reason for new visitors to want to eat this delicious street food among the local customers.
The Vietnamese are world famous for a spectacular type of coffee made famous here in Vietnam during the the early 19th Century by the French colonist. This incredible coffee is made by coarsely grinding the beans before placing them in a press. Hot water is then trickled over the pressed beans creating a distinctly strong brew. The resulting brew is then mixed with a rich thick condensed milky cream producing the most incredible coffee drink found anywhere in the world, famous for its full rich flavor and known as brown coffee or brown milk.
“Nothing is like it seems in Vietnam” could easily be the theme for the surprises waiting on your first visit to Vietnam. Like an American visitor being warmly welcomed on a tour about the damages inflicted on the country during the “American War”. You will learn that often times the best part about Vietnam are the ones you don’t see coming. If you’re flexible and can be spontaneous you may stumble unexpectedly on everything you could want and more in a vacation.
The manner in which history is present often surprises visitors by the realistic tone in which it is presented. Such as walking along the edge of actual bomb craters from the war and crawling through the tiny tunnels once used by the Viet Cong to fight their gorilla war.
Even in the museums the artifacts are presented in such a manner as to make you feel as though you’re experiencing the event in the present moment. Captions on graphic photos such as ones recalling the effects of the Americans spraying the jungle with agent orange causes one to feel as though you were actually there experiencing the results just as when it took place.
The natural beauty Vietnam is unmatched by few countries around the world. Like the magnificent splendor of the terraced rice covered hills of Sapa during the growing season. Or the sweltering splendor of the southern tropical islands like those found in Phu Quoc and the towering limestone pillars reaching skyward at Ha Long Bay are perfect examples of the surprising beauty that is waiting for the first time visitors to this magical country.
A Vietnamese poet once wrote “When I look up into the sky many stars seem to be twinkling back at as though they are all smiling down on me.”
“That makes me stronger and more optimistic when I have any troubles or difficulties in my life. We could not forget their sacrifices for the dream in Vietnam and for their children.”
“Vietnam people did not keep the bad things in their mind because their hearts are not big enough to contain all of them,” the poet wrote. “In the past we were enemy of each other but today we are friends. If we always keep the past, keep the wars, we will never have any friends.”