After living in Vietnam (mostly Hoi An) for 3 months, there are some things that REALLY surprised me about this country. And now I’m going to share these with you! If you haven’t been to Vietnam, it’s interesting to know these things and if you have, you can most definitely recognise these points. Let’s go.
1. The little plastic chairs. Everywhere.
I think the number of food places in Vietnam is close to the number of people. Literally feels like everyone has their own restaurant…with plastic chairs. BUT the chairs are not your average size – these are TINY. Like 20cm high. And these are everywhere! it’s funny seeing grown-up people sitting on these small chairs, but I guess this saves room and maybe it is a good tactic, cause people won’t stay for too long as it’s not that comfy.
2. The ka-ra-o-ke.
This might have been the biggest surprise. Vietnamese love to sing. LOUDLY. Most people have a karaoke machine and microphones at home and in the evenings they start to practice. So loudly that all the neighbors can also listen…Sometimes they do it in groups and sometimes alone. I’ve got nothing against singing, but you cannot imagine HOW LOUD that is.
3. The super narrow houses.
Vietnam has the coolest architecture. The houses are super narrow. Often as narrow as the front door. This is something I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. And it looks awesome. The reason? Apparently in the past people paid house taxes measured by the width of the building – so everyone built their houses real narrow. Makes sense, right.
4. The unfriendly dogs.
This one is an interesting point. Never have I ever seen so aggressive and angry dogs. I’m the biggest dog lover in the world and Vietnam was the first place I was actually scared of the dogs. Even our neighbour’s dogs didn’t get used to us after 2 months. We were told that dogs are taught to be angry against strangers because kidnapping and selling them for meat is a thing here. (cannot confirm that part). Not all dogs were like this of course – the puppies were a huge exception and we also met dogs, who loved tourists, but didn’t like locals. Haha, strange dogs here in Vietnam.
5. The pyjamas fashion
The basic Vietnamese woman’s outfit includes a rice hat and pyjamas. No joke. The locals actually wear PJs everywhere. And I totally get it – it’s comfy, it’s lightweight and it looks super cute. At first it was funny seeing people in silky nightgowns and patterned PJs, but at the end I was like: “where can I get one”. Haha, I hope this trend becomes even more popular.
6. The crop top fashion.
Okay. This is a trend that I hope passes quickly. The men roll up their shirts as crop tops with their tummies out while hanging around on the streets. The young, the old, the fat, the skinny – everyone does it. We read that the trend comes from China (google “Beijing Bikini”) and they do it to let their tummies breath. Especially on hot days and after drinking beer. Weird af.
7. The price of beer.
This is unreal. Beer in Vietnam is SO cheap. Ridiculously cheap. You can get a glass of fresh beer (like very low % tap beer) for 5k vnd which is only 0.20€. And a 0.5l bottle costs 15k which is 0.60€. Another strange thing about beer is that it costs exactly the same at a restaurant and in the store.
8. The taste of coffee.
Vietnamese are huge coffee drinkers. There are so many coffee shops on every corner and they have their famous coconut coffee, egg coffee, and coffee with condensed milk. I always order black coffee – no milk, no sugar. And here the coffee is pitch-black and really strong. Like really. And it has this special chocolatey taste.
9. The level of English.
After being to Bali, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, I thought that the level of English in Vietnam would be similar as it’s such a popular tourist destination. But actually, the locals don’t really speak English. Don’t get me wrong – it’s perfectly fine and I’m not expecting to come to Vietnam and hear perfect English, but the level surprised me, especially amongst people who worked in tourism. So before visiting Vietnam, definitely download google translate and learn a couple of expressions.
10. The signaling!!!!
I left the most important point to the end. The traffic in Vietnam is wild. Coming straight from Sri Lanka (where the traffic is also chaotic), at first it seemed better here, but actually, it isn’t. It just might be the worst traffic I’ve seen in my life. There are 2 rules: who has the biggest vehicle always has the right to go. And who has the loudest signal can also just go. So at crossroads, no one stops and looks to give way, they just push their signal to the max and drive across (basically eyes closed). Some just drive with one hand on gas and the other on the signal so they never have to stop nor look around. Traffic lights seem to be also voluntary here. All the signaling and craziness makes the traffic very stressful and unpleasant. Will not miss this.
That’s my list of things that surprised me in Vietnam the most. Don’t get me wrong – Vietnam is a wonderful country that totally stole my heart. And I know it’s not the last time I’m here. With this post, I just wanted to share some funny & interesting things you might not see on Instagram.
Thank for making it to the end. Let me know if you have any questions about Vietnam.