I’ve lived in Vietnam for about a year, and there’s something really special about this culture that grabs, me whether it’s the rich culinary history behind their Street food scene or their explosive sense of entrepreneurship, there’s something special about this place, but that being said having lived here for a year I’ve picked up on some things that you might want to know, so without further ado here are seven things not to do in Vietnam.
1 – Don’t stop while crossing the street
Traffic in Vietnam especially the big cities is absolutely insane, and it’s hard to wrap your head around visiting for the first time, now you’ll notice that when a lot of people cross the street they don’t falter they set a course and they walk it and that’s because the way that traffic works in Vietnam it’s the motorbikes are the cars responsibility to accommodate you into their flow, so you’ll notice that you can cross almost anywhere in the street, and the motorbikes will kind of flow around you like a school of fish, they’re anticipating you continuing on the line that you’re on and they plan accordingly, so don’t stop at random points.
2 – Don’t use taxis
That’s because everyone in Vietnam uses a service called grab to get around, which is the exact same thing as a goober, but the best part is that in Vietnam they have motorbike grabs which means if you’re by yourself it is by far the easiest way to get around, trying out uber moto option for Saigon which I have to say is both the fastest cheapest, and the most fun way to get around the city, this will always be the best way to get around.
3 – Don’t be afraid to haggle
There are so many street markets in Vietnam, that it’s impossible not to find yourself in one at some point during your trip, even if an accident, and the important thing to remember, if you want to buy something here is that every price is negotiable, and they tend to strike a hard bargain especially if you go to tourist markets like Ben Thanh market in Saigon you don’t want to pay the tourist price.
4 – Don’t skip street food
The street food in Vietnam is the most insane food I’ve ever had, both in diversity quality flavor it really has it all, there are so many amazing dishes to try of course all of it is safe to eat, and one thing I’d say about street food in Vietnam is try to find some of the lesser-known dishes that they sell on the street, everyone knows about pho but if you heard of bond sale which is a crispy crepe filled with pork shrimp or bean sprouts cut into little disks, that’s the stuff you want to look out for.
5 – Don’t confuse currencies
The Vietnamese currency is called dong, which still makes me laugh every time because I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old, the denominations are huge, for example one u.s. dollar is the equivalent of about 23 to 24 thousand dong, with the denominations going all the way up to five hundred thousand, now because of this the currency can be kind of confusing with so many zeros after it, so be sure to double-check what you’re handing a vendor, and make sure you’re giving them twenty thousand and not two hundred thousand.
6 – Don’t book online
This is surprising for people who travel a lot because as a general rule it’s almost always cheaper to book online and more expensive in person, but for whatever reason in Vietnam it’s the opposite of that if you go to book a hostel or a hotel in person, the price will always be significantly cheaper than if you booked online, and this applies to everything not just loging, run to motorbikes going on tours, stuff like that, so keep it in mind when you travel.
7 – Don’t be afraid talking to locals
The language can be pretty daunting and you’ll find it’s hard to communicate with the locals, that does not mean that you shouldn’t interact with them, and even if you just learned one word like cheers which is yo it’ll go a long way, there’s such a fun friendly and open people but the language barrier doesn’t really apply here, and I guarantee your trip will be much better if you do.