Reasons Why We Really Love Vietnam!
Vietnam had never been a priority country to visit for Western visitors. They seemed more excited to see the beaches of Thailand and Angkor Wat in Cambodia and didn’t really know much about Vietnam apart from text book wars and Pho restaurants down on some streets. However, many travelers who have come to Vietnam said “Vietnam should be on the top of everyone’s travel list”. With its dramatic landscapes, fascinating history, epic food and pulsating energy, Vietnam will electrify all of your senses and seize you from all angles. Vietnam is at once crazy and serene, thrilling and relaxing.
There are endless reasons why Vietnam is turning into everyone’s most favorite country but now I will choose the most persuasive reasons for you to take in consideration before you pack your stuff.
The best place to eat in Vietnam is on little, plastic stools on the sidewalk. Whether it’s noodle soups, like the iconic pho or bun ca (the fish and pork-based soup garnished with dill pictured here), or bun cha — char-grilled pork served over rice noodles with herbs and dipping sauces — the street food in Vietnam is nothing short of amazing. At any hour of the day, you’ll find Vietnamese people of all ages congregating under market awnings or outside store fronts, chowing down and enjoying each other’s company. Eating on the street is by far the most exciting — and accessible — way to truly experience daily life in Vietnam, and it’s also where you’ll find the best food.
One of the first and more important things to learn when visiting Vietnam is how to cross the street. It may be intuitive at home, but the traffic in Vietnam’s major cities seems so chaotic and incessant, that getting from one side of the road to the other feels almost impossible at first. You’ll find cars and people in the street, but the preferred mode of transportation is motorbikes, and the stream of two-wheelers feels like unpredictable, roaring rapids when you’re standing on one sidewalk trying to get to the next. The trick to crossing the street is to walk steadily, at an even pace. If you’re moving at a predictable rate, the motorcyclists will move around you. Eye-contact with oncoming bikers doesn’t hurt either. The most important thing is to keep moving and not to stop or speed up. Once you’ve got the hang of crossing the street, you can really appreciate the beauty of the organized chaos.
Vietnamese Traditional Coffee
As the second biggest producer of coffee in the world, Vietnam knows a thing or two about coffee. Most importantly, coffee comes with sweetened condensed milk (a.k.a. the best stuff on Earth) pretty much without exception. It’s also an integral part of the culture, served in cafes and… drumroll… on the street, of course.
Markets in Vietnam may not be cavernous underground worlds of stunning rock formations and skyscraper high stalagmites, but they can be cavernous worlds unto themselves. Markets like this one in Danang sell everything from fabric for clothing to dried baby shrimp. Needless to say, you can get lost exploring the rows for hours. They’re most active in the early morning and late evening, when the temperature cools down a bit and shoppers come out. During the middle of the day, you might find shopkeepers taking a nap in front of their stalls. When we say you could spend all day in these markets, we seriously mean it.
In some area like Mekong Delta you also can find many “Float Markets” like in the picture where locals sell their products on their own boat.
Vietnam’s beaches may be one of the country’s most unsung beauties. While travelers may think of Thailand and Cambodia as the countries to visit for white sand and clear water, Vietnam boasts beaches that rival these countries’ beloved tourists spots. Sure, some beach towns in Vietnam, like Nha Trang and Mui Ne, get a lot of attention, but quieter, less-traveled beaches like Doc Let are the real treasures. Con Dao and Phu Quoc are some of the most gorgeous islands in South East Asia, and travelers would be wise to hurry there now, before these isolated, idyllic spots suffer the same fate as the over-traveled beaches in Thailand and Cambodia.
The North Beauty
The Northwest of Vietnam, is one of the country’s most stunning areas. Its dramatic rice terraces and surrounding peaks make this mountainous area well worth the short trip from Hanoi. You can take an overnight train from Hanoi, which makes it a popular destination on the tourist circuit. Covered by totally a green color, surrounded by big continuous mountains make this area always looks majestic.
A UNESCO World Heritage town, Hoi An is one of the most picturesque, lovely places to visit in all of Vietnam. Located in the center of the country, just outside of Danang, Hoi An used to be a flourishing port town from the 15th to the 19th centuries, before the Thu Bon river silted up and basically halted trade in the region. Fortunately in the 1990s, the town was declared a World Heritage site and tourism has since revived the so-called “Venice of Vietnam.” Thanks to the international residents — from the Chinese and Japanese to the French — during the port years, Hoi An boasts a variety of local specialities that you can’t find anywhere else in the country. Dishes like Cao Lau and White Rose Dumplings are reason enough to visit Hoi An, and when you factor in the gorgeous, canal-side setting and preserved colonial French architecture, it really does become a national treasure.
Speaking of vistas, Halong Bay, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Gulf of Tonkin, is every bit as spectacular as people say. It IS worth the roughly four hour drive from Hanoi, and it IS worth fighting the swarms of tourists to see. The bay used to be littered with a lot more trash, but with recent clean-up efforts, it’s much better these days. The 1,600 islands jut out of the sea, seemingly one on top of the other, creating a dramatic scape of mountains, sea and sky.
Kind, thoughtful, industrious, optimistic, generous — the people are the heart of country, and if you visit, you should take every opportunity to get to know them.