7 tips when you travel in Vietnam - Travel blog
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7 tips when you travel in Vietnam

7 tips when you travel in Vietnam

When Brian traveled to Vietnam with his wife in January 2017, it was to try something new and refreshing. In the lantern town of Hoi An, they brought the cookware in the kitchen, shining lanterns sent on the river while the days in South Vietnam were spent at a local family. Here you will get the whole adventure + the best travel tips in Vietnam.

We had been on a luxury trip to the Caribbean last year and it was great, but this year something new had to happen. We would go the opposite way and realized that a tour of Vietnam was another type of trip. Several of our friends and acquaintances asked "What do you want there?" And we smiled and said "we'll take care of it". With an open mind and without looking further, we went off...

The good mood and curiosity were intact when we boarded the plane and let the time count down to our different adventure. It was a long flight where we had 2 stops ahead. But as we stepped out of the plane and felt the light breeze, all the fools were forgotten. We moved into the welcome hall where we met a lovely little boy with a cheerful mood and a sign on which our names appeared. With the driver behind the road, we headed for Hoi An. Now the holiday starts.

We arrived at the hotel and were welcomed with open arms. Everyone was simply so good and we really got lost. Hoi An is a small coastal city in Central Vietnam, known for its lanterns and cozy streets, where ancient colonial buildings give the city historic style.

Vietnam is also very well-known for its tasteful food, which quickly made me realize that I might have to grab something for dinner. We headed for a small local restaurant where we were met by a heartwarming family. The kids played and in the middle of the restaurant stood a scooter right misplaced parked. It was like being at home with a local family, and the family also told us they were both living and working in the restaurant. They were not rich, but they were happy .

I was allowed to take a lot of pictures. It was VERY far from our standards, but considered to be normal in Vietnam. We ordered some different dishes including a garlic bread. The family's boy in 6-8 years was sent to buy bread. It was fun! And it also meant that we got the main course before the appetizer, only in Vietnam.

As the night fell on, the lantern was turned on. Lanterns in all the rainbow colors adorned the ancient part of Hoi An. We strolled along the romantic river that stretches through the old town. Along the river were sold small colorful and floating lanterns made of cardboard and with a small light in the middle. In Hoi An there is tradition for this kind of lantern to be launched in the river when it is full moon and we were lucky enough to experience it. We took the tradition ourselves, bought two lanterns and sat in one of the small Vietnamese wooden boats to launch the luminous lanterns on the river. The dark river, the full moon and the luminous lanterns looked like a piece of adventure. The atmosphere was enchanting!


The following day, we took a cooking course. We met the chef and caught the bus to a local market where the materials were sold. We saw how their 'butchers' look, it was a wooden table with a plate on which the fresh meat was chopped into pieces. We moved further into the maze market where we saw fish so fresh that they were still swimming in a tub. We also saw how the locals drove their scooters carrying animals such as chicken, vegetables...

Our chef continued to tell about the many different vegetables and herbs then we boarded one of the little yellow and blue boats that sailed us back to the class by the riverway.

Shortly thereafter we stood in the kitchen with mashed ginger, prepared vegetables and cooked noodles. The menu consisted of 3 dishes including fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, curry chicken and fresh tuna made with turmeric in a banana leaf , here we served all the little delights we could dedicate ourselves to, and then it tasted heavenly!

And even though it's not all food that tastes good to me. Then there's something else that can always bring me up the chair. Namely Football . On one of our walks in Hoi An we passed a bunch of kids playing soccer and I immediately notice how it's gnawing my legs. My soccer enthusiasm read them together and they waved me into the match, which took place between two primitive goals made of rock and a gate. The young boys laughed at him 'the old white football player' and we were so funny while my wife snapped off with the camera on the sidelines.

Asia and the West meet in Saigon
Now the trip went south and down to Saigon. However, the primary purpose of visiting Vietnam was that we should live with a local family at the Mekong Delta. Again we were met with smile at the airport. The sweet guide and driver drove us to the hotel in Saigon, which would be our base before and after the Mekong Delta excursion.

We spent our one day in Saigon exploring the mighty metropolis, which is an exciting mix of Asian and Western culture. We visited Independence Palace , which was really exciting to walk around and see the various offices, living rooms, sale, shooting range and much more. When the evening fell on, visited Sky Deck Skyscraper, where we at 178m altitude enjoying the panorama view of the city.

Homestay in the Mekong Delta
The following day we got picked up on time and led to the car...But hover! There were none other than us. We asked the guide. It could not be true that we could have it all for ourselves. She laughed and said of course. It was therefore quite exclusive not to travel with a large group. At the river port there was a small classic wooden boat waiting for us. We sailed out in the vast Mekong Delta, which actually runs through 6 countries in Asia. We broke into small rivers where we stopped at a fruit farm before reaching the family we were to live with. They welcomed us with open arms and a genuine delight, which made us feel welcome.

Our guide asked us if we could ride the bike to which we nodded. So she suggested that we take a bike ride around the lush landscape . The only minor issue we found out was that our dear guide was not even the most habile cyclist. When it comes to cycling, we are pretty well educated at home. It was quite fun and really cozy!

Back at the family, the mother had gone to the kitchen, and a delicious dinner was served before we were shown into our simple room, which consisted of a bed and a hole in the wall instead of a window, but with shutters that could shut it off. The family had two children, a boy of 4 years and one in 10 years. The oldest boy was busy helping and covering tables. A small trail led to a covered terrace where we ate our meals. After a good meal, we could take a "sleep" in the suspended hammocks.

The boys were curious and clearly excited about the Western people, and when we found the paper blocks and pencils and gave it to them, their eyes brightened as it was Christmas Eve. The boy of 10 stood with all the blocks in his arms and could hardly wait for him to go to school the following day, he wanted to share them with all his classmates, the little boy of 4, however, had thrown his love over the pencils with the eraser in the end. It seemed magic to him that one could draw and then suddenly (using eraser), that drawing was pissed away. The simple joy simply went right in the heart of us!

The next day we said goodbye to the friendly family and jumped on a scooter who drove us to a small ferry. We paddled to the port, and our cheerful driver met us. As we sat there in the car heading back to Saigon, we summed up all the wonderful experiences we had received. But suddenly it struck us that we had not seen a rice field. I said so loudly in the car, to which a clearly shocked guide, "I will show you the rice fields ." The driver stopped shortly at the side of the road and the lush green rice fields filled the horizon as far as the eye stretched.

Vietnam is simply wonderful in every way of a huge experience. To somebody, luxury is a great experience and this is just the opposite and we really liked it! There was something real about all the experiences we had in Vietnam . Living with a local family, playing soccer with the local boys and taste the country's glories were experiences that make us smile on our lips every time we think of them. These are experiences that you can still feel when you think of them.

We have learned a lot from our trip and we would like to share our best tips. And here we have 7 tips when you travel in Vietnam:
- Travel with an open mind and don't be afraid to talk to the locals.
- Eat locally , even if you may be a bit picky.
- Always ask before taking pictures of people.
- Attend a cooking course in Hoi An. There are many of them and it's both educational and fun!
- Bring clothes, pencils, paper, books or whatever you can do and share it where it is needed.
- DO NOT fly straight home after the Mekong Delta. Be sure to get rested before departure.
- Arrange your own guide and driver - you get 100 times more of the experience.

With these tips in the pocket, you are guaranteed to have a great experience in Vietnam.

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Testimonials

Dear Mr. Huy Hoang
We had a wonderful amazing trip and will return as soon as we can afford it again. Thank you so much! I will write a great review on tripadvisor. Really the guides and hotels and tours were awesome. Ms. Nhung was very sweet and refreshingly honest, very likeable. Mr. Tam was fantastic, highly knowledgeable and funny. Probably our best "tour" was the day we spent on motor bikes visiting the tombs near Hue. The bikes allow for a much more intimate view of the countryside. And then - as I wrote - Mr. An was absolutely the best guide ever...Read more