There are many interesting facts in Vietnam that surprise not only foreign tourists but also Vietnamese people.
In this article, Vietnamdrive has selected 10 exciting facts to introduce to you, maybe they will help you more or less when you travel to this beautiful country.
Fact 1. Traffic is like a spider’s web.
Traffic is one of the concerns of most tourists when visiting Vietnam. Through the journey to discover the beautiful country, you will also become one of the factors participating in this exciting and quirky traffic life.
If you have the opportunity to stand right at any roundabout, especially from above, you will see the flow of traffic is extremely troublesome. It’s like a machine pre-programmed with IA technology for smooth movement. But the more you look, the more you will be dizzy, unable to know how the rules move.
Many people believe that there is an implicit principle among the participants of this complex transport network. However, it looks like there are no rules, but everyone obeys the rules; the latter gives way, the inside gives way to the outside, etc. Vietnamdrive wants to talk about the principle of yielding when participating on the roads.
That principle becomes a habit when driving a vehicle. Therefore, we do not encourage you to drive cars, motorbikes, or even bicycles on your own when joining the traffic for the first time in Vietnam, especially in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
Fact 2. Crossing the street is a suffocating experience.
Crossing the street may seem easy for locals, but it’s a sweaty challenge for foreign tourists. Many tourists who stand for a long time at the crosswalk cannot walk to the other side. Just put your feet on the roadway and back off, especially in places where there are no traffic lights.
Although there are crosswalks and pedestrians are given priority in principle, you will see many vehicles stopping when someone crosses the road. Pedestrians keep walking, and the motorbikes and some cars still move on the principle of a “roundabout”, that is, the drivers will go in front or behind the pedestrians depending on the distance to and speed of the person crossing the street. Therefore, you should not rush to cross the road, and never turn back when you are making a “special journey” across the road.
With places at traffic lights, crossing the street seems easier. However, you should also not be subjective when some sites allow vehicles to turn right when the light is red, or in case some people drive undisciplined traffic.
A good suggestion when crossing the streets in Vietnam is to follow the locals, or ask the locals for help because they are used to crossing the road in different traffic conditions than in your country. Remember, stop following the elderly or ask the elderly and children to help you cross the roads.
Fact 3. Too many motorbikes cause traffic jams in Ho Chi Minh City such a special feature.
According to statistics from Beam Consulting (a Japanese strategic consulting company), in 2019 Vietnam had 62 million registered motorbikes. Thus, 2 out of every 3 people have motorbikes, which is a huge number of individual vehicles.
When coming to big cities, like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, or Hai Phong, you will be overwhelmed with long lines of motorbikes. Motorcycles run on all roads (sometimes including on sidewalks). Although there is a regulation to separate lanes for cars and motorbikes, where there is an empty space, motorbikes can fill it right away.
It’s terrible that rush hour on the main roads in Ho Chi Minh City often takes place in long traffic jams. Hundreds of motorbikes follow each other, seeming to swallow any car that accidentally gets lost in the encirclement of the “motorcycle trap in the rush hours”.
It is because of the usefulness and convenience of traveling on narrow roads, motorbikes in Vietnam are still popular. Since then, many adventurous tourists will choose motorbikes as a means of transportation to explore this S-shaped country. So, you can find a lot of motorbike tours available to choose from.
Fact 4. The spirit of entrepreneurship and business is widespread.
The entrepreneurial spirit is one of the exciting facts in Vietnam. You will see thousands of small shops and restaurants along the streets, which is proof to show the wish of starting a business.
Although the main industries are controlled by the state to balance life and society, many tourists are surprised by the “entrepreneurial spirit” of many locals when they want to be self-employed and have the freedom to do business in this socialist country. That is innovation, promoting economic development in the management and administration of the state.
Therefore, you will see small shops everywhere, especially on crowded streets, intertwined with supermarkets, and large restaurants. Small business still exists and thrives thanks to their convenience and competitive prices, so they are supported by many consumers.
With a strong entrepreneurial spirit, street food shops were born, making an important contribution to the culinary culture in Vietnam and a strong attraction for foreign tourists.
Fact 5. Many people still eat rice-field mice and snakes.
It’s a surprise, isn’t it? The rice-field mice are eaten by many people as a familiar habit because they can process mice to become many tasty dishes. Many people believe that mouse meat has a lot of vitamins and minerals, which is a type of meat with cooling properties.
This habit of eating mice has been around since ancient times when there was a famine when people did not have enough to eat, people had to eat everything they could eat to live. Although today life is better, lots of people still like to eat mouse meat because of the different tastes.
To ensure health, they carefully choose mice from rice fields, not from residential areas. When in the rice fields, mice will eat rice, field crabs, etc., so the quality of the mouse’s meat is better.
With snakes, this food has become a special dish, so the price is much more expensive than other common dishes. Not all types of snakes are selected, but only a few types of snakes such as cobras, and water snakes are used. Common dishes made from snakes include grilled, mixed salad, and fried.
Currently, the number of people who eat the rice-field mouse and snake meat is decreasing, so the number of restaurants selling these types of meat is not much; it is difficult to find. Usually, only locals know where it is.
In addition to strange dishes such as mice and snakes, you will also see many people eating balut eggs (Trung Lon), coconut worms, and duck blood soup. But we advise you to think twice before trying any of these exotic dishes in Vietnam.
Fact 6. The economy in Ho Chi Minh City develops very strongly, even more than Hanoi capital.
Many tourists mistakenly think that the capital of Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City, but it is the capital of Hanoi. Vietnam’s two largest cities are located at two ends of the country, Hanoi in the north, and Ho Chi Minh in the south.
Ho Chi Minh City has strong economic development. It has many industrial clusters with a dynamic economy, creating strong growth. Perhaps that is why many foreigners mistake Ho Chi Minh for the capital of Vietnam.
Both of these cities are economic locomotives and important cultural, educational, and medical centers of the country. You will see clear cultural differences in the lifestyle, culture, and architectural layout of each place. If possible, do not miss these two cities when you plan to visit Vietnam. And, pay attention to the narrow houses, you will see interesting things.
Fact 7. Squat toilets are still present in many places.
During your trip to explore the countryside of Vietnam, you will be surprised with toilets, many places also use toilets sitting on the floor, and you have to use squat style to use them.
Be prepared to use that unique toilet if you go to rural areas where tourism has not yet developed. Practice the Asian squat more or less so you can use the toilet more easily and confidently.
We recommend that you use the restrooms at the hotel before getting on the bus for sightseeing. On long journeys, often drivers will try to stop at places that serve tourists to use “happy house” better.
However, the quality of toilets on most roads is often not good, has a bad smell, and is mostly following the sitting-on-the-floor toilets. So, don’t be disappointed and blame yourself if the driver can’t find a place with a better toilet than you expected.
However, there are also some opinions that with public toilets, the use of flat toilets will be cleaner than using high pedestal toilets.
Fact 8. There is a land that is inhabited by nine dragons.
The area of southern Vietnam where the land lies on the Mekong Delta is called the Cuu Long in Vietnamese, which means nine dragons. Because there are nine tributaries of rivers flowing into the sea, the locals call this place the land of Cuu Long.
This area indeed has a dense network of rivers, it is estimated that in 1 km there is 0.61 km of rivers and canals. Along with two large rivers, Song Tien and Song Hau, the tributaries here form a total length of nearly 14,900km.
So, when visiting this land, you will see a unique way of life, as well as the way to move and transport goods mainly by boat. Life on the river has created a strange beauty that attracts many tourists.
You can discover the river life of the “Nine Dragons” people with one-day tours from Ho Chi Minh City to Ben Tre or My Tho. With a longer duration, Can Tho city may attract you with the beauty of the Cai Rang floating market every morning.
Fact 9. Recognizing family hierarchies and relationships becomes troublesome.
A fact that becomes troublesome not only for foreigners but also for Vietnamese people, especially young people, is the way of addressing rank, relationship, and age in Vietnam.
You must determine the relationship of the communicator to know how to call him or her politely. Vietnamese people often do not call each other’s names (except for friends or the older people call the younger) but often call them with hierarchically prefixing titles before the name.
For example, if he is an uncle when talking, you need to call him Uncle A, Uncle B…to be polite. Communicators are younger people, you can call them A, B… with their only name. If there is a relationship, you can call them depending on what it is, like Chau (nephew) A, B…
Another difficulty is calling the correct hierarchy of people in society. Younger people are often called “Em”; the same age is called “Bạn” – friends; a few years older are called “Anh” – brothers and “Chị” – sisters; eight years older are called “Chú/Cô/Gì” – uncles/aunts; people over 70 years old are often called is “Ông/Bà”.
These rules of address seem quite complicated. If you are visiting a certain family, it is best to ask your friend how to call a person appropriately. If you call it wrong, apologize and ask for the correct way to address it. Often, many people overlook mistakes when calling them the first time they meet, except for difficult people.
Fact 10. Beer bars are everywhere.
A small country, but where beer is consumed in large quantities; it is estimated that in 2020 Vietnamese people drunk 4.4 billion liters of beer (source https://plo.vn/bat-chap-dich-nguoi-viet-van- uong-4-4-tilit-bia-nam-2020-post609667.html).
Therefore, everywhere from the countryside to the city, from small alleys to big roads, you can easily see beer shops. Beer prices are quite cheap, and daily life is getting higher and higher, which are the reasons why beer brands in Vietnam race to develop, and promote beer restaurants and shops nationwide.
In a witty way, Vietnam will be a large brasserie. In almost every major city along the country, you will find local beers, like Huda in Hue, Halida in Hanoi, 333 in Saigon, and Larue in Da Nang.
Trying a few beers can be one of the fun experiences for your trip to this country, and you can hear “100% bottom-up” or “Dô” at beer places.
If you are a fan of beer, don’t miss the beer streets”: Ta Hien beer street in Hanoi, Bui Vien walking street in Ho Chi Minh, Vo Thi Sau walking street in Hue. And, hundreds of bars are ready to serve you a cold beer.
Those are typical facts in Vietnam that Vietnamdrive would like to introduce to you. This S-shaped land also has many interesting things waiting for you.
Let’s explore Vietnam, experience the uniqueness, and find interesting from the cultural difference!