How to embrace local culture in Vietnam

Vietnam Travel Guide
Embrace culture, Embrace Vietnam, Embrace life

Vietnam is a spectacular country hiding diverse cultures, beautiful people and natural landscapes seemingly untouched.

Situated in Southeast Asia and bordering Laos, Cambodia and China, it is a country which is longer than it is wide. Measuring an impressive 2000 miles in length from North to South.

Vietnam sits prettily alongside the East Sea and inland it is kissed by the Mekong River and Red River.

The Mekong Delta is home to river communities and is one of the busiest rivers in the world, you will be impressed with how the Vietnamese have turned this vast and dominating river into a place of comfort and sanctuary, they call home.

Vietnam is a country offering a different cultural experience as you travel from one tip of the island to the other. Beautiful beaches, breathtaking islands, incredible views over carefully nurtured rice paddies await you to feast your eyes upon.

We have put together a helpful guide so you know what to expect from visit to such a diverse and unique country. From the incredible food to the unique way of traveling around the country, we have your travel covered. After all, Vietnam tour operators know their country like no one else.

Embracing the local culture will give you the chance to experience life in a different way. You will be able to spend the day with farmers or spend time at a local market learning how to haggle and be part of the local community.

In our snapshot guide, we cover the basics of what you may need to know whilst traveling through Vietnam.

From the local currency, the best way to travel around the country to what delicious food you can expect to devour on your travels through vibrant Vietnam, we have you covered.

boat trip at tam coc ninh binh

The local currency
The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong. Dong bills are denominations between 500 and 500,000 and coins range from 200 – 5000.

However, it is worth carrying US dollars as they are accepted in many places and can be exchanged for local currency.

In cities cash points are available and credit cards are accepted. Restaurants and shops will usually accept all forms of denominations, although be aware when traveling to markets and smaller communities carrying Dong will be the easiest way of paying.

Expect to Haggle
Some people love to haggle whilst others will hate the experience. Haggling in markets and shops is common within Vietnam and is part of everyday life. Walk through one of the many vibrant markets and you will be greeted with the shouts and calls of the locals haggling with the market traders.

If you are unsure of the etiquette in the location you are visiting, take advice from your tour operator. Your Vietnam tour operator will be more than happy to ensure you are not being taken advantage of and will know the true value of what you want to purchase too.

Haggling gives you chance to feel like a true local.

Language
Vietnamese is the local language and taking the time to learn a few basic words will be appreciated by the locals. A simple 'thank you' or 'hello' will go a long way in a country where politeness and etiquette are of high importance.

However, tour operators will typically speak many languages and will be able to assist you with ensuring you are able to communicate effectively.

How to Behave
The Vietnamese are kind, gentle and typically quiet people. They dislike confrontation and will always come across as polite and happy. Problems will often be greeted with a smiling face, a reaction which may seem inappropriate in the west.

Acting polite, refraining from getting angry and smiling in the face of adversity will ensure your travel throughout Vietnam will be calm and relaxing.

Touching the head or shoulders of a Vietnamese is not acceptable. Open touching and hugging between couples are also frowned upon. Gestures such as pointing or showing the soles of your feet are also deemed rude.

Remembering these small and important facts will certainly ensure you are embraced by the local community and the locals will certainly appreciate it.

boat trip at van long natural reserve

Getting Around
Infrastructure throughout Vietnam has improved hugely over the last few years. Roads are being improved, buses and trains are offering more services and domestic travel is extremely affordable.

You can easily and quickly book cheap internal flights, take a night train across the country or take a bumpy ride on one of the many buses cruising from city to city. Most transport will offer various types of class you can choose to travel in too.

Bus journeys in Vietnam are organised and typically managed by privately run tour operators. Buses invariably travel along bumpy roads, the risk of accidents is often higher and you will run the risk of being bombarded with people trying to sell you items every time you stop to pick up more passengers.

Due to the competitive nature of buses, very few tourists are still opting to use the railway network. Rail can actually be a more comfortable, friendly and reliable option. Rail is a safe and affordable way to experience Vietnam.

Flights are cheap and airlines offer the same comforts and levels of service we are used to anywhere we fly in the world. Vietnam Airlines are the national carrier and offer competitive prices as well as being efficient. The domestic flight competition is growing and this is helping to keep prices low and the overall service high.

Internal transportation arrangements are when your tour guide or operator can come in extremely helpful; they will always advise you of the best way to move around their country and take care of the bookings too.

Vietnamese Food
Vietnamese food is fantastic. You will be able to indulge in fresh fish, exotic fruits, delicious noodle dishes to tucking into a range of traditional food from fragrant street vendors.

Traditional food will be packed full of meat, fish, vegetables, and rice. Rice is the staple food for many Vietnamese people and you will be in awe of the amazing flavours and variations in rice dishes you be able to taste.

Vietnamese cuisine relies little on dairy or oils. The food is often cooked fresh and the Vietnamese diet is deemed one of the healthiest diets in the world.

Cookery classes are incredibly popular with tourists and are an ideal way to learn about cooking, local food and eating healthy.

vietnamese food

Accommodation
For any traveler finding the best accommodation will be high on the list of requirements, knowing that after your busy day, you will be able to relax and look forward to a good nights sleep.

Vietnam offers exceptional value for money and when it comes to accommodation for very little, you can stay in some of the most amazing places.

Imagine waking up in a River lodge alongside the Mekong River or opening the doors of your beach hut onto a white sandy beach.

Vietnam offers a unique range of accommodation; from hotels, bed & breakfast, traditional family home-stays to beautiful and picture-perfect beach bungalows. You will be spoilt for choice!

Hotels are rated in a very similar way to the western world, with many being rated on their facilities, cleanliness, and location. A tour operator will always be able to advise the best places to stay on your budget.

Safety
As with any new country, using your common sense and being aware of your surroundings will ensure you stay safe.

Vietnam is a very safe country, with a little serious crime. Tourists can be a target so if a deal is too good to be true then it probably is.

Vietnam has its fair share of people looking to take advantage of tourists; from unlicensed taxi drivers to pickpockets and bag snatching.

As long as you take all the necessary precautions there is no reason you will become a victim.

Always ensure your bags are zipped closed and if possible carried where you can see the opening, never use unlicensed drivers. Licensed taxi drivers are easy to spot and will have monitored meters in their cars.

Tourist attraction scams are however prevalent, always use the skills and knowledge of your tour operator to book the many wonderful adventures you can experience in Vietnam.

How do you book your Vietnam tour package?
Many tour operators will ask you to complete an initial inquiry form. Upon receipt, they will contact you and discuss your ideal itinerary based on the time you have and the budget you have in mind too. Booking your chosen itinerary will be straightforward and easy.

What are you waiting for?