Ready for some of the most interesting, weird, wild, and FUN facts about Vietnam? From stunning landscapes to flavorful dishes that you will forever dream about, Vietnam is truly unlike any other place in the world. This incredible country in Southeast Asia has a diverse culture with so many unique customs and traditions to experience. Still, even if you spent months planning a trip to Vietnam, there’s some things you won’t be prepared for. After visiting Vietnam several times, we’ve put together an extensive travel guide. Here’s our best tips for Vietnam and some of the wildest things we have learned on
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Our Vietnam Tips & Travel Guide
This massive post is filled with 50 weird and wild facts about Vietnam that will help you prepare for your first visit. We hope you use this Vietnam travel guide to gain a better understanding of the country while also having a little fun. If you have any questions about our blog please make sure to let us know in the comments at the bottom!
50 Fun Facts About Vietnam
1. You’re Finally a Millionaire
Have you ever dreamt of becoming a millionaire? Well when visiting Vietnam it will cost you roughly $40 USD to have your first million!
It might take you awhile to get used to the large numbers, but don’t let that stop you from some spending some Vietnamese Dong. Make sure to get a print out of your bank account because you might never see this many zeros again!
2. Bia Hoi
Let’s continue our Vietnam travel guide with something very important… Also known as “fresh beer,” this drink is the perfect refresher on a hot afternoon. The popular and light beverage is brewed daily, and is only good to be drank that same day.
One of our favorite facts about Vietnam is that you can regularly drink .25 cent fresh beers! Don’t worry though, the canned and bottled beer won’t break the bank either.
3. Plastic Stools
We’ve seen countless westerners go to squat down on a plastic stool in Vietnam and completely blow them out! These small pieces of plastic may be used as kids chairs elsewhere around the world, but they’re everywhere in Asia.
You may want to double stack them before sitting down when visiting Vietnam. Otherwise, you run the risk or causing quite a show.
4. Bartering is a Way of Life
Haggling is a huge part of what you should expect to see in Vietnam. Just know that as you walk through the endless markets and stalls you’ll be thrown into the fire quickly.
Typically the vendors start high for trinkets, clothing, and other souvenirs, while even quoting double the price for some items. Bartering for food or drinks is a no no, but everything else when visiting Vietnam is fair game.
5. Crossing the Street
If you haven’t crossed a busy street yet in Vietnam you’re in for a surprise. Specifically in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh it seems that stop lights are optional, and walking signals are rarely utilized.
With that said, it’s up to you to cross the street yourself through the swarm of motorbikes! Surprisingly though, they will swerve delicately around you most of the time.
6. Pho isn’t the Best Soup in Vietnam
What?? This might come as a surprise to some travelers, but Pho is NOT the best soup in the country. Even though it’s famous worldwide, we’ve found that there are much better noodle soups available.
One of our personal favorites is Bun Bo Hue named after the famous city in central Vietnam. We know this probably isn’t one of the tips for Vietnam you may have expected to hear. Yet, it won’t be long until you see how deep and flavorful the food scene really is here!
7. If There’s A Line… Get in It!
By now you can tell that many of our best Vietnam tips have to do with eating. So let’s get to it! We know sometimes you may gravitate away from lines, but we’re begging you to do the opposite when visiting Vietnam.
Many of the most delicious food stands and restaurants have been around for generations, and people will come from all over the city to line up and get a taste. Don’t worry though! Most Vietnamese street food gets pumped out quickly so you won’t need to wait for long.
8. There are Many Ways to Drink a Coffee
Have you heard of cafe sua da? The lovable iced coffee with condensed milk has gained international praise for how amazing it is!
Although you may already know of the most famous Vietnamese coffee, you’ll find there’s plenty of other great ones. The Coconut Coffee, Egg Coffee, and Kopi Luwak are some of our favorites to enjoy at any time of the day.
9. Get Ready for the Heat
You may think you’ve traveled to some hot places, but Ho Chi Minh City in the middle of the summer is on a whole other level! The central part of the country has warm temperatures year round while the north can get a bit cold in during wet season.
The south gets particularly hot from April to July when it’s common for it to get over 100 Fahrenheit (37.7 C). The weather and time of year are very important to consider when planning a trip to Vietnam.
More Tips for Vietnam: Wet season goes from October to April while dry season runs from November to April.
10. Finding the Best Route For Your Trip
Planning a trip to Vietnam is not easy with how big it is. The good thing is since there’s so much to do, you can find a route for any amount of time.
Explore the rugged mountains of the north, the beaches of central Vietnam, and the intriguing culture of the south. We’ve been five times now and still haven’t seen it all! If you need some more Vietnam tips, make sure to check out our itinerary’s for each region below.
- One Month Vietnam Itinerary: Ultimate Guide From South to North
- Northern Vietnam Itinerary: 7 to 11 Day Routes With Easy Tips!
- South and Central Vietnam Itinerary: A Two Week Adventure
11. Learn How to Speak the Basics
One of the most important Vietnam facts that apply to traveling in any new country is the importance of learning the language. Now that can obviously be difficult especially when trying to speak something as hard as Vietnamese!
However, learning just the bare basics like numbers and saying xin chào (hello) can go a long way with the locals. Try and include this in your preparation before visiting Vietnam.
12. Knockoff Haven for Designer Goods
Brands like North Face, Adidas, and even Gucci can be found in abundance in the markets and storefronts of Vietnam. Only there’s a small catch: It may not be the real thing.
For example, Yeezy’s are a shoe that regularly go for hundreds of dollars in the United States. Guess how much they cost in Ho Chi Minh City? We’ve seen them for as low as $20 USD! Sorry Kanye.
Bonus Vietnam Tip: If you’re heading back to a cold region from Vietnam, Hanoi is the best place to stock up on cheap jackets, gloves, and hats.
13. Visa On Arrival Breakdown
The visa process for visiting Vietnam can be slightly tricky for first time travelers. Below is a quick breakdown of the steps one by one to make sure you check everything off.
These particular facts about Vietnam are essential to ensuring you don’t have any issues entering the country.
- Apply for a Visa letter BEFORE you arrive.
- Complete an Entry Card
- Have Exact Money in USD
- Bring One Small Passport Sized Photo
14. Clean Your Chopsticks and Spoons
When sitting down on a plastic stool the first thing we do is clean our utensils. You can just give it a quick scrub with lime, water, or whatever you have at your disposal.
Many Vietnamese restaurants don’t have modern day dishwashing machines so it’s all done by hand. This may not be necessary everywhere, but we’ve gotten food poisoning enough times to take small precautions like this.
15. Early Mornings Have the Most Action
Vietnamese are early risers. With the vast farmlands, markets, and other outdoor trades, they’re up with the sunrise.
This means you’ll see the most people, best food, and other activity as early as 5am! It’s important to wake up early if you want to enjoy breakfast in Vietnam, and truly experience their unique way of life.
16. Any Time is Nap Time
When exploring the streets of Vietnam there’s one thing that we are always impressed by. The uncanny ability for people to sleep everywhere and anywhere!
Due to it being extremely hot and how early they start their days, it’s easy to see why people need to nap. So whether it’s on top of a fruit stand, inside a taxi, or even laying across their motorbikes, falling asleep is never a problem.
17. Motorbikes Can Carry Anything
In addition to being a great place to nap, you should know that motorbikes can carry anything in Vietnam. We’ve seen the wildest things being carried on bikes across the country.
From farm animals like live chickens and donkeys to 8 foot tall bails of hay and giant tree trunks, there’s really no limit to what a motorbike can carry. Also, it’s not uncommon to see families of 4 to 5 people loading up on one motorbike!
18. Throwing Trash on the Ground isn’t Always Rude
Ready for more strange facts about Vietnam? If you miss the early rush at most Vietnamese restaurants you may walk into a floor covered with napkins. Don’t fret, this is very common! In fact, even when there’s a trash bin right at their feet some locals will still toss it on the ground.
We’ve been to restaurants on Phu Quoc where people were even throwing their plates and cups on the floor when they were done with them. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit! Be sure to utilize the appropriate trash bins when visiting Vietnam.
19. Eating Rats Makes You Young
In the Mekong Delta of Southern Vietnam some women believe that eating the rat will make you live longer. We wouldn’t try eating rat personally.
Yet, after seeing so many older women over the age of 90 we’re not so sure! Maybe some of these strange Vietnam facts and myths are true!
20. Get Around by Grab Taxi
Maybe we should have made this #1 instead of #20 in our Vietnam travel guide. That’s how big of a part of your life this app will be when visiting Vietnam!
Southeast Asia’s version of Uber is unbelievably cheap and easy to use. You can get practically anywhere for $1-3 USD, and it’s even cheaper if you choose the motorbike option.
You should also know that you can order food on Grab! It’s every bit as cheap as the taxi service. Any meal you want (including soups) can be transported by motorbike right to your doorstep with Grab Food.
21. The Largest Cave in the World
Another one of these facts about Vietnam you may be surprised by is that the country is home to the world’s largest cave. Hang Son Doong is located in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Central Vietnam. The main part of the cave is over 650 feet tall, and 500 feet wide!
Unlike other caves in Phong Nha, you’ll have to sign up a year in advance to explore this one. However, there are plenty of other awesome ones you’ll have access to such as Paradise Cave, Dong Tien Son, and Phong Nha Cave!
22. Sidewalks are Not Always for Walking
You may be use to taking a nice leisurely stroll on the sidewalks at home, but here you might want to think twice! The motorbikes run the roads AND sidewalks in Vietnam. Some of the cities are so congested that the motorbike parking will overflow right out onto the streets.
Nonetheless, this isn’t always a bad thing. Seeing 50 motorbikes parked outside is a good sign that the restaurant has amazing food.
Also, don’t be surprised when people drive off the road up onto the sidewalks to escape traffic. If there’s one thing you take away from our Vietnam travel guide it’s to always stay alert!
23. Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh City
If you haven’t noticed this yet in our 50 facts about Vietnam, the two most populated cities couldn’t be more different than each other. As the capital of the country, Hanoi is much more nationalistic and traditional.
You’ll also find a heartier style food there as the weather tends to be colder. On the other hand, the big southern city (formerly known as Saigon) is a tad more influenced by the west. Here you’ll find a vibrant party scene, more ex-pats, and a completely different culture than the north.
24. Are Dogs and Cats on the Menu?
I’m sure you’ve heard the stereotypes about Vietnamese eating dogs and other unusual animals. Honestly though, you should know after all our time in the country we’ve only witnessed it a handful of times.
We’ve occasionally seen dog being cooked on small side streets of Hanoi, or extremely secluded parts of the countryside. So yes some people do eat dog, but nowhere on the level you may have been led to believe.
25. The BEST Juice is From the Green Orange
When we first arrived in Vietnam we were shocked to find out what was behind this green fruit. Once we discovered the green orange we had to try a juice, and it was an absolute game changer. This is quite simply the best fresh squeezed orange juice we’ve ever had!
More tips for Vietnam: We recommend asking for no sugar when ordering fruit drinks in Vietnam. They often come out way too sweet with the added boost.
26. Basket Boats Galore
These peculiar looking boats can be seen all over the country, and in abundance on the beaches of Central Vietnam.
Legend has it that the French imposed a tax during colonial rule on all boats during the late 19th century. With their strange design the Vietnamese were able to claim they weren’t boats at all and therefore go untaxed.
27. Squat Pots and Bum Guns are Very Real
Never been to Asia? Well then you might not be familiar with the squat pot… Not yet at least! Although there are plenty of normal western toilets available you’re sure to walk in on a hole in the ground at some point.
One of the less appealing facts about Vietnam for some people is the lack of toilet paper they’re used to. That hose hanging on the wall (or bum gun as some like to call it) can be intimidating. Yet, practice makes perfect!
28. Never Leave Home Without….
Tissues, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, Imodium, Tums, sun block, and any other essential toiletries. After hearing about some of the everyday bathroom experiences in our Vietnam travel guide you should now see why this is important.
If you leave home without these simple things you’ll risk heading back with some serious horror stories! We recommend making a small bag of supplies and leave it in your backpack or day bag. That way you’ll have what you need when the situation presents itself.
29. Fastest Wifi and Cheap Sim Cards
Unbeknownst to most travelers, Vietnam is very technologically advanced. That means when it comes to wifi you’re almost always good.
Practically every cafe and restaurant will have the wifi code plastered on the wall right when you walk in. Additionally, you can get a month long sim card for under $10 USD so you can read our Vietnam tips wherever you go!
30. Twenty Four Hour Reception
Most Vietnamese hotels advertise a 24 hour reception. With how frequently we take overnight buses, trains, and flights this is always appreciated. Just don’t be alarmed if the lights are off, and you see a Vietnamese person sleeping in the lobby of your accommodation.
This is very normal especially considering many of the owners families live inside the apartments or next door. After awhile we actually became comforted by this and considered it extra security! Make use of the messaging service on websites like booking.com, or send an email if you’re arriving at a later hour.
31. Eat at the Local Markets
When planning a trip to Vietnam, the markets should be at the top of your list. Most are located in the center of town and include a portion with fresh fruits, vegetables, street food stands, and clothes.
Depending on how big it is, they may even have a wet market side where locals will be buying meat and fish. These central markets are always the best place to get a meal and experience the more local side when visiting Vietnam.
32. Endless Rice Paddies
It’s about time we jumped into nature in our Vietnam travel guide! When visiting Vietnam, you’ll see the country is filled with loads of epic mountains, rivers, and oceans.
Some of our favorite places to adventure in are the rice paddies of the central and northern regions. In Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Sapa, and Ha Giang they seem to go on forever. We’ve had so much fun hiking, or riding a motorbike alongside of these rice paddies for miles.
33. Women Run the Show
One of the most interesting facts about Vietnam is that the women run most of the businesses and households. From the restaurants and offices to bars and clothing stores, the older women have taken charge and are giving orders.
While this may not be true in other cultures of Southeast Asia, it’s very apparent right away who’s running things when visiting Vietnam!
34. Surprisingly Beautiful Beaches
You weren’t expecting to see beaches listed in our Vietnam travel guide were you? The country is known for a lot of things, but surprisingly not its stunning sands and oceans.
That’s why we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw Da Nang Beach for the first time in all its glory! You can also find some gorgeous places to swim in Mui Ne and on the many islands off the coast.
35. Remembering the Vietnam War
As Americans visiting Vietnam we initially thought people would act a certain way towards us because of the gruesome war of the 1960’s and 70s. Yet, we found that couldn’t be farther from the truth. No one seems to mind where you’re from, and everyone has always been extremely friendly and open minded towards us.
Now that doesn’t mean you should ever go out of your way to bring up any touchy political facts about Vietnam, but just know it shouldn’t be an issue along your travels. Also, make a point to stop by the War Remnants Museum if you’re heading to Ho Chi Minh City.
36. Islands of Vietnam
We just mentioned the beaches in our Vietnam travel guide so you should also know there’s a select few islands to visit, too.
The most popular for tourists is Phu Quoc Island. We’ve been there a couple times as it’s just a short flight from Ho Chi Minh, or quick trip from the unique town of Kampot Cambodia.
However, you should know that there a few other incredible islands to explore! Some other islands to consider when planning a trip to Vietnam are Con Dao, Vung Tau, Ly Son, and Cat Ba. Each one has their own unique setting, with everything from tropical paradises to temple filled jungles.
More Vietnam Tips: If you’re visiting Vietnam and the jaw dropping Ha Long Bay, make sure to include a trip to Cat Ba Island!
37. The Men Go Belly Out
One of the funniest facts about Vietnam we’ve noticed is that the men are not scared to bare it all. In the heat of the day, it’s not uncommon to see men walking around with their shirts up so you can see their stomachs.
We’re still not sure if it’s the unbearable heat, their tendency to have huge 3+ hour meals, or maybe a combo of both. Just don’t be surprised if you see men of all sizes letting their bellies hang!
38. Traveling Vietnam by Motorbike
While motorbikes are an essential mode of transportation for locals, it’s also the cheapest and most fun way to travel as a tourist visiting Vietnam! A lot of people actually buy a bike and ride the entire coast from north to south. Still, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The swarms of motorbikes can swallow up even the most skilled riders in Southeast Asia. If you don’t know how to ride a motorbike definitely try and learn before your arrive. It’s ideal for exploring the nature and countryside.
Bonus Vietnam Tips: Be sure to keep some extra cash on you in case you get pulled over. Even when we’ve had an international drivers license on us and all the right credentials, we’ve been forced to pay a 500,000 Dong fine ($20 USD) to local officers.
39. All Generations Living Together
Family is extremely important in Vietnamese society, and the most telling sign of this is actually where they live. It’s common for Vietnamese families to live all together with every generation. That means you’ll see small kids all the way up to great grandparents living in the same house.
40. Birthdays are a Big Deal
If you’re having a birthday in Vietnam you’re in for a good time! The Vietnamese take their birthdays very seriously, and you’ll see them celebrating all night long.
Karaoke parties and all day drinking accompanies music and endless food. They even have their very own hit birthday song for you to enjoy.
41. Understanding Religion
One of the most interesting Vietnam facts we learned is that most don’t subscribe to a mainstream religion. There is a small segment of people practicing Christianity and Buddhism, but the majority that aren’t Atheist follow an ancient folk religion.
The folk religion includes portions of Taoism and Confucianism from China. The main ideas behind it are praying to gods and your ancestors. Honestly, though it’s too complex to explain in this Vietnam travel guide!
42. Da Lat Wine is the Only Wine
If you’re a big wine drinker heading to Vietnam you may be slightly disappointed. Beer is by far the alcohol of choice here, and outside of international imports the wine industry is almost non-existent.
Still, there is a town where they do make wine! Located in the mountains of Southern Vietnam, Da Lat is known for producing the best wine and coffee in the country. They also have a great local market scene to explore.
43. Eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Vietnam has plenty of history to see, and that’s been solidified by UNESCO naming them eight prestigious sites. The amount of Vietnam facts and tidbits you’ll learn at places like My Son Sanctuary and the Hue Monuments may only be topped by the natural wonders of Phong Nha and Ha Long Bay! Make sure to include these in your itinerary when planning a trip to Vietnam!
44. Brush Your Teeth with Filtered Water
We hope you’ve already been made aware of tips for Vietnam like this. Still, if you didn’t know you can’t drink the tap water in most of Asia. Well that also applies to brushing your teeth! Don’t make the awful mistake of getting sick because you’ve been brushing your teeth with tap water for your first week!
If you’re at the same accommodation for several days ask if they can order you a large filtered jug. We paid around $2 USD for huge water that would last over a week. Also, they’re reusable so it’s a great way to cut back on your plastic waste.
45. Drinking Traditions in Vietnam
Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!
You’ll regularly hear this chant when walking by Vietnamese bars. Yet, this fun cheers is not the only drinking tradition you’ll observe visiting Vietnam. We’ve seen groups of men drinking for hours while they snack away on seafood, peanuts, quail eggs, and other street snacks.
It’s very common to see a waitress plop down a large crate of beers and bucket of ice for the whole table. It seems that dinner in Vietnam is more about the socializing and drinking than actual eating. We have to say it looks like a real good time!
46. Consider Shipping a Box Home
Once you see what the markets have to offer you’ll be buying things left and right. With the price of trinkets, clothes, and other items being so cheap it will honestly be hard not to!
Nevertheless, some people visiting Vietnam are including it in part of a longer backpacking trip. If that applies to you we would highly recommend shipping a box home.
You can actually ship by air or slow boat. The slow boat will be almost one third of the price, but will take a few months to make it home. If you’re not in a rush this is the way to go.
47. Bugs, Mosquitos, and Spiders
Here’s one of our creepier facts about Vietnam, but it needs to be said. The country has plenty of insects to be aware of, some dangerous and some harmless.
Specifically, you’ll need to watch out for the mosquitos which transmit malaria and dengue fever in the rural areas.
We saw the biggest spider of our lives in the Ha Giang region of northern Vietnam! It was the last day of our epic motorbike trip and we were terrified of sleeping that night.
Be sure to go to the travel clinic and see what kind of shots you’ll need while before heading to Vietnam.
48. How to Travel Through Vietnam
We’ve talked about motorbikes and grab taxis already in our Vietnam travel guide, but there’s many of other ways to get around. With that said, the most popular transit for backpackers is definitely the bus.
There’s a crazy amount of companies and routes to choose from including ones that travel overnight. We’ve also tried the train which is another option. Yet, it’s a little more expensive than the bus routes.
After reading our Vietnam travel guide make sure to check the price of domestic flights. We’ve taken several for less than $20 USD all around the country!
49. Don’t be Scared to Try New Things
Even if some of our intense Vietnam facts deter you, know that you have to put yourself out there to find the best foods. Some plates may look nasty and others you will probably have no idea what they are.
Nevertheless, those are sometimes the most amazing meals! At some point you’re just going to have to trust that the street food gods have your back and go with the flow when visiting Vietnam.
50. Everything is Affordable
Let us finish off our Vietnam travel guide on a good note! We’re sure if you’re planning a trip to the country that you already know how affordable it is. We’ve been all over the world and truly believe that Vietnam is the cheapest place for food, hotels, and transportation.
It’s one of the few places you can go where eating out will be actually cheaper than cooking! So have fun visiting Vietnam and don’t be afraid to spend a little extra money on your trip.
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own facts about Vietnam? Leave us a comment at the bottom of this post!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Vietnam Travel Planning
Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through Vietnam!
Tours: Get Your Guide is an amazing place to find fun activities all over Vietnam! There is everything from a Hanoi Cooking Class and market tour to a Mekong Delta Pagoda & rowing boat trip, and even the Phu Quoc Cable Car Ride with three island snorkeling tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are always there when we need them.
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