Vietnam is a popular destination for the backpacker, the flash packer and the ‘heavily over’ packer .
I had no idea what to expect from this country before I arrived. Vietnam was more like Hogwarts to me since I had read a lot about it and dreamed I’d get a letter inviting me there someday.
Now we are here, and it’s all I hoped it would be and more. So I thought I’d offer you a few handy tips on how to survive Vietnam.
Step 1: Run to the nearest market/shop/ man in the road and buy the backpackers uniform. This being the baggy elephant print pants. I now proudly own 3 pairs and I’m considering moving into them permanently. They are more spacious than previous London apartments I’ve lived in. Beads, tank tops with beer logos and sun hats are optional.
Step 2: Eat everything in sight. Before coming to Vietnam it’s good to train your belly. Train as if you are going to an all-you-can eat hotdog contest. Train so that you can get the maximum deliciousness into your face. Phò, Bun Cha, Bahn Mi, egg coffee…all of it! Your trip to Vietnam should be made up of 7 meals a day.
Step 3: Find a plastic chair, sit in it and beer will come. Fresh beer,Lauru and Saigon…these are mostly the words you will be shouting through the crowds of heads on children’s plastic garden furniture. All will cost you less than 50p, not all will be delicious. (Cheapest beer we found was 9p or 3,000 dong in Hoi an)
Step 4: Wear a pointy hat. When we got off the plane I stood pointing at the runway. Lee thought I was insane until he realised my joy was induced by the fact every person outdoors was wearing a pointy hat. They wear them all over Asia but for me this was the iconic image of the country. I some how… and believe me I’ve given myself a stern talking to.. Have not bought one yet. I have only just stopped being star struck every time I see someone in one.
Step 5: Phò. I realise this was maybe just my lack of all worldly knowledge coming from a small town in Wales where sheep out number people, but it’s pronounced Fu as in “Fu-dge this soup is good ” and not Foe- as in “Foe fudge sake get me some more soup”
Step 6: See the water puppets in Hanoi. It’s weird, it’s cheap. Do you need more reasons? I have no idea what was happening for 99% of the show. It’s quintessentially Vietnamese. And if you’ve seen Team America it will tickle you all the more. Their comic timing was great.
Step 7: Learn some Vietnamese. It seems in Vietnamese ‘where are you from?’ translates as ‘buy my shit’ the subtleties of language are stunning. Seriously though. Everyone wants to ‘chat’ but selling is the goal.
Step 8:No meal is a meal without spring rolls. In fact even a coffee isn’t complete without a side order of these.Step 9: Bahn Mi Queen in Hoi An is still the best and cheapest sandwich I’ve ever had.
Step 9: Sorry Vietnam, money being called ‘dongs’ will always be funny.
Step 10: See as much as you can, stay as long as you can.
I hope these will help guide you on your trip or encourage you to book your next holiday here. I’m not being sponsored by the country to say these things but if Vietnam would like to thank me for this article then they can compensate me via rice pancakes and satay sauce. Thank you