When you hear the word “Vietnam” the first thing that comes to mind might be the war that changed the face of a nation and transformed the way that America approaches to conflict. However, despite our misconceptions, Vietnam is much more than a burned-out battleground. Vietnam is also home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, the hub of some of the oldest civilizations, and a thriving modern metropolis full of commerce and technology.
That’s why Vietnam is one of the hottest new travel destinations. Not convinced? Well, here are a few reasons that caught my attention… Make sure you have the best credit cards and find ways to cut cost while traveling abroad.
1) Street Food:
I don’t want to accuse French cuisine of being overpriced because it really is excellent. But not all of us can afford $200 a plate. Vietnam, on the other hand, has perfected street food. It takes street food to a new level. It really is the most common way that people eat out. And you’ll be able to experience the amazing cuisine, from Bánh mì to pho, for just a few dollars per meal.
Some locals even say that the cheaper it is, the better it tastes, because those are the places that sell enough volume to make smaller profit margins work (and they sell so much because they’re delicious!) And speaking of food, Vietnam is also one of the best places you can go for fresh fruits and seafood. Honestly, I don’t know why I have to say anything more than “$2 pho” to convince everyone to go, but I’ll continue…
2) Friendly Locals (outside of the tourist trails):
I’ve heard a lot about how travelers to Vietnam have really bad experiences with the local people, whether that’s because of petty theft (which is all too common in the big cities) or negative interactions with people plying their trades to tourists. It’s true that people catering to tourists might try to screw you over. But in all fairness, tourists as a general rule tend to be obnoxious and clueless, so can you blame them?
Here’s the thing: the minute you get out of the major tourist traffic, you’ll find that Vietnamese people are extraordinarily kind and warm. Even though Vietnam was a war-torn country (with America to blame) just a few decades ago, things have changed greatly, and the culture of the country towards Westerners reflects that. As this article states, the average age in Vietnam is 29 (10 years younger than America) and people are focused on the future, not the past. This accounts for the amazing energy and enthusiasm that you’ll find everywhere you go.
3) Astonishing Scenery:
Vietnam is home to beautiful, iconic scenery. Whether it’s layers of rice paddies ringing tall mountains in Sapa or towering sea cliffs in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam’s outdoors are second to none. Vietnam is also home to numerous fascinating caves, some of which are still in the process of being discovered. Make sure you take the time to get out of the city and enjoy stretches of wilderness. And remember that some of the most well-known sites (like Sapa and Ha Long Bay mentioned above) will also be crowded with tourists. Go beyond them! There’s more than one Vista to see.
4) Fascinating History:
As we mentioned above, Vietnam’s history is lengthy and tumultuous. And although there are amazing monuments and museums dedicated to the history of Vietnam’s war with the States, there’s a lot more than that to see concerning Vietnam’s history. Vietnam is actually home to some of the most ancient civilizations, thanks to its agriculture-friendly climate and defensible position.
The Đông Sơn era during the late Bronze Age created much of the history of Vietnam’s culture and forms the foundation for what we often think of in terms of ancient Saigon. However, in about 900 A.D. Vietnam was colonized by foreign powers–first from ancient China, and then from Europe. Vietnam’s history is characterized by uprisings against foreign rule, and it’s evident in the architecture and art, as you see the play of different cultures in French colonial villages and ancient Buddhist monasteries.
Some Tips for Easier Travel
So now that you’re feeling motivated to visit Vietnam, here’s some of the best advice I have on your trip so that you can get the most out of your time there:
- Haggle. This is a general rule for saving cash in just about any travel experience (hawkers will always try to fleece the foreigners… it’s almost universal) but it’s especially true in Vietnam, where they know westerners will pay roughly what they’d expect to pay in America or Europe, unaware that cab rides, food, and trinkets are a fraction of the cost in Vietnam.
- Protect yourself from getting sick. Yes, it is a foreign country and you’ll be wandering all over, so take a few precautions to stay healthy. Eat only fresh or hot street food, protect yourself against bugs, and take breaks so you don’t get fatigued and allow your immune system to dip.
- Get out of the city. The energy and electricity of Vietnam’s major cities are intoxicating. And yes, you can find some of the most interesting hubs of history in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However, the city’s crowds and bustles can also be smelly and annoying and exhausting. So take the time to get out of the city.
Get your visa sorted ahead of time. Vietnam is one of the few countries in the world that requires U.S. citizens to get a visa ahead of time. You can either apply for a visa from the Vietnamese embassy in your country or apply for a Visa on arrival, which means that you’re pre-approved and you can pick up the Visa when you fly into the country. Either way, it’s important to take care of things ahead of time, as U.S. citizens are sometimes turned away at the border.
Is Vietnam on your bucket list?
Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.