1. They freaking LOVE karaoke
Seriously. Particularly in the north, you see karaoke bars EVERYWHERE. Most Halong Bay cruises seem to have it – all except our one, it seems! Booo. However, word has it that the bars are often dens for all sorts of unlawful activity…
2. There are tiny lizards everywhere. And chickens. And cows.
The lizards get more and more frequent the further south you go. We stopped at one place between Hoi An and Nha Trang, and I counted at least 20 just on one wall. There were even about 5 on the ceiling block above our table! There are chickens wandering the pavements of every city (sometimes in cages but often just loose!), and cows will just walk across the road in the middle of nowhere.
3. The Vietnamese are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet
I hear this all the time. Probably because it’s true! Kids will shout hello and wave in the street, and if you shout ‘xin chao’ back they’ll cheer excitedly! We had several chats with locals in the streets, in bars and in restaurants, and the family who ran our guesthouse in Hoi An were super friendly. They even stood outside to wave goodbye as we left!
4. The country’s tragic history hasn’t affected their attitude towards life or other nations at all
Sure, Americans can feel uncomfortable on a visit to the War Remnants Museum or the Cu Chi Tunnels. We even met several Americans who said they pretend to be Canadian if they’re asked where they’re from. But in actual fact, no one in Vietnam cares. They even embrace French culture after the horrors they put the north Vietnamese through, and many places throughout the country accept US dollars. Alongside other SE Asian countries, Vietnam is probably the most peaceful country in the world.
5. It has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world
This is one of the reasons I fell in love with Vietnam so hard. Ninh Binh was incredible, even in the rain; and it was nothing compared to Halong Bay. The paddy fields, the mountains, the rivers, the beaches, the jungle surrounding the Mekong… the beauty never ends. But honestly, Halong Bay is just as incredible as you’ve heard it is. And so is Vietnam.