Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas, and bustling cities. Hanoi, the capital, pays tribute to the country’s iconic Communist-era leader, Ho Chi Minh, through a massive marble mausoleum. Vietnam has recently become a popular tourist destination among the countries of Southeast Asia. For the Russian traveler, this country is still terra incognita. Here are ten tips to help you figure out where to start exploring Vietnam: Here are 10 things to do in Vietnam
Rent a scooter
In Vietnam, there is no urban public transport in the form we are used to. There are no buses, trams, or metro. Inside the city, most Vietnamese travel by scooter. Tourists follow suit. Petrol is cheap here, distances are short, and scooter rental costs about one hundred to one hundred and fifty dollars a month. Or about ten dollars a day. The final price, like everything in Vietnam, depends on your bargaining ability.
Visit Notre Dame de Saigo
The first thing that travelers who come to the capital of southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (the old name of Saigon) do, are photograph against the backdrop of Notre Dame de Saigon Cathedral. The building was left behind by French colonists who miss their homeland. Notre Dame de Saigon is almost an exact copy of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Stop on Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc is the largest Vietnamese island located in the Gulf of Thailand off the coast of Cambodia. The main tourist attraction of the island is nature, almost untouched by industrial and tourist infrastructure. On the one hand, there are understandable inconveniences associated with this: you will not find museums and theaters on the island. On the other hand, sometimes you just want to lie on the white sand, occasionally plunging into the clear blue water. Of all Vietnam, the cleanest sea is in Fukuoka.
Order yourself clothes in Hoi An
Hoi An is a small town in central Vietnam, informally called the “city of tailors”. There are several dozen shops in which any traveler can order any piece of clothing: choose the fabric, thread color, button size, and lace length. The thing
will be made the next day, even if it is a complex ankle boot
made of Indian buffalo skin. True, the buffalo, in fact, is likely to
be an ordinary cow, but the shoes will last a long time.
Try Vietnamese coffee
Guess which country produces and sells the most coffee in the world? Okay, this is Brazil, but Vietnam is inferior to it only because it is 25 times smaller in size. Since it first entered the world’s top ten coffee exporters in 1995, Vietnam has overtaken all major competitors, including Colombia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Ethiopia. Coffee in Vietnam can be bought in any village. And this coffee will be better than in any coffee shop in the center of Moscow. The traditional way of making coffee in Vietnam is different from what you are used to: here coffee is passed through a filter into a cup of condensed milk. The drink turns out to be rich and sweet, like a thick syrup.
See the Sapa Valley
The Sapa Valley is said to be closer to the sky than to the earth. The valley is named after the small town of Sapa, which is located in the northwest of Vietnam, at an altitude of 1600 meters above sea level. If you want to see what Vietnamese clouds are made of, this is the place for you. The city is surrounded by several Vietnamese villages, whose people grow rice and corn or raise livestock. To enter the village, you need to pay a symbolic 2-3 dollars. But there you can see how Vietnam lives, to which globalization has not reached.
Spend the night in an insane asylum
The most famous landmark of Dalat is the “Mad House”. This is the name of the hotel, which has been built for more than ten years by Dan Viet Nga, an architect, and daughter of the Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The building was nicknamed “Crazy” for its bizarre architecture: with its contours, it resembles a fabulous tree. An important condition for hotel guests is to vacate the room before nine o’clock in the morning when the Mad House opens to visitors. Every tourist should have the opportunity to inspect any living room.
Try Pho soup at a street shop
For the Vietnamese, the Fo soup, as for the Russian cabbage soup, is the central dish of the national cuisine. With the difference that the Vietnamese eat Pho soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A typical picture that can be seen on the street of any Vietnamese city: a street cafe where Vietnamese sit under a canopy on small, almost children’s plastic highchairs and absorb portions of Pho that are not children’s at all. The main ingredients of the soup: crystal clear chicken (or beef) broth, rice noodles, wheat germ, herbs, lime. As you can see, the dish is quite light, so you can eat a lot of it.
Descend into the Seongdong Cave
Despite the fact that Vietnam is a relatively small country in terms of territory, the largest cave in the world is located here. In 1991, Vietnamese farmers accidentally stumbled upon a lost world in Fong Nya Kebang National Park (Central Vietnam, 500 kilometers south of Hanoi): a cave with an underground river, forest, and meadows. And in 2009, British cavers confirmed that the Shandong Cave is the largest in the world. In some places, it reaches 200 meters in height and 150 meters in width. The cave is so wide and spacious that you can fly in a sports plane inside it.
Make friends with the Vietnamese
The best way to get to know a country is to get to know its people. So that after your trip it doesn’t seem to you that you have missed something important, get to know someone from the local. The Vietnamese are a very friendly and open nation, they are interested in communicating with foreigners, especially with Europeans (and Russia, from the point of view of Vietnam, is part of Europe). Let us tell you a little secret: in Vietnam, it is considered good luck to invite a stranger who came from far away to a wedding. Therefore, if you happen to be near a Vietnamese wedding – do not hesitate, come closer and congratulate the newlyweds.