1. Crossing the street is a sport. No matter if cars and mopeds are “stopped” at a red light, they all continue to flow through the street whenever there is a chance. Where does this leaves pedestrians? Playing frogger for dear life!
2. Fruit is abundant, cheap, sweet and delicious. Mangosteen, pineapple, papaya, dragonfruit, vietnamese cherries, etc.
3. Merchants really want exact change when you’re paying in cash. They will try to search through your bills looking for smaller ones, which can be annoying. If I had exact change I would give it to you… right? I don’t.
4. The attitudes in the South are different than the North. For understandable reasons in the countries history… the South is a lot more relaxed and westernized. Hanoi is where the expats are which makes that city more expensive.
5. Ho Chi Minh has great food, cheap street food that is really delicious.
6. Business cards are the way. All shops and restaurants will have them near the checkout! If you want to get somewhere just show the taxi driver the business card — he will understand easily.
7. Service isn’t always great here but you don’t need to tip —
8. Do not drink the tap water. Ice is okay if it’s in cubes or cylindrical shapes. Beware the chipped ice.
9. Uber is cheaper than a taxi and a great way to get around the city
10. There are a lot of weird smells. I often wear a face mask when going out at a busy time but it help filter out the strange poopy smells and gasoline fumes
11. Be vigilant with your money, especially in markets. Check the price before you pull our your bills and never let them grab what they decide is the right price. Always double check your change, it wouldn’t be uncommon to receive the wrong amount back
12. If you rent or buy a moped here be aware that you would be riding illegally. You will never get pulled over or anything but if there was the unfortunate accident you will probably be gouged for money (even if the accident was NOT your fault) and without insurance be paying loads of cash to all involved
13. As in some Central American markets, they may want to seal up your purse or have you place it in a locker while you shop. Just be sure to take out your cash beforehand so you won’t have to loop back around to get it (or as I do, go without purse altogether)
14. If you are in Hanoi, you can check the air quality
15. Food portions at Vietnamese restaurants are a lot smaller than in America (obvi) but really they do not eat a lot here… so while a dish may be cheap you might also not get so much. This may be improving though with so many foreign travelers
16. I get the impression that everyone feels what they are doing is more important than what you are doing. For example… the way people drive on the road. While it would be more than possible to wait a few seconds for someone to turn or merge, a lot of honking occurs when it is not necessary. It seems very impatient. In the market when everyone is waiting to pay, others may try to cut you if you’re not standing close enough to the next person. Even so, it may be your turn and many people will STILL try to cut just because they have less items than you. I understand being kind and letting someone go, but it gets ridiculous when it happens 3 times in a row and its not because you have told them to go ahead, but they have just decided to “cut”. It is not so civilized yet.
17. Locals here walk slowwwwwww. They don’t workout or take the fitness thing seriously like we do in the US. Haha. They drive like maniacs and walk like snails. Oh well.