I just returned from a 2 month trip in Southeast Asia and Vietnam ended up being my favourite destination by far. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason for it leaving such a lasting impression, but here are a few of the things that stand out in my mind:
1) The Food
I think anyone who has been to Vietnam will agree that Vietnamese food is some of the best in Southeast Asia- or anywhere, for that matter. Vietnamese cuisine seamlessly combines multiple flavours, incorporates fresh herbs, and is never tiresome.
Fresh seafood, Spring Rolls, Fresh Rolls, Soup, Noodles, Bahn Mi Sandwiches.. I’ve been craving Vietnamese food everyday since I’ve returned.
I’m not even a coffee drinker at home, but I could not stop drinking Vietnamese coffee. Black coffee with condensed milk, iced coffee, egg coffee, and- my absolute favourite- yogurt coffee.
I was truly impressed with the stunning scenery in Vietnam. From the beaches of Hoi An to the limestone cliffs of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam is blessed with an abundance of breathtaking vistas.
Some of my favourite experiences in Vietnam (other than the food, of course) was the time I spent in the energetic cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with Ho Chi Minh, but I did almost immediately. The crazy motorbike traffic, the colourful apartment buildings, the mix of old and new, and the drastic contrasts between each district- I loved it all.
Hanoi was also a pleasant surprise- especially The Old Quarter- which has beautiful French-colonial style architecture. It’s a great place to aimlessly wander as the streets are bustling and filled with vendors, cyclos, and young, trendy people eating and drinking in the endless amounts of cafes and restaurants.
Vietnam seems to be one of those countries that people either love or hate- there’s no in-between. And, unfortunately, the residents of Vietnam are sometimes portrayed as unwelcoming and dishonest scam artists. Sure, I saw my fair share of overcharging, I was constantly paranoid of having my purse stolen, and the touts were very aggressive at times- but these types of things are common in most developing (and some developed) countries. I don’t think it’s fair to generalize the population as unfriendly when most people are not.
Are Vietnamese people the type of people who will go out of their way to help a tourist who seems to be lost, trying to read a map on the street? Probably not. But the people I interacted with were some of the most helpful, genuine, and fun people I encountered on my entire trip. I also received some of the best service at Vietnamese hotels- better than almost anywhere else on all my travels.
Have you been to Vietnam? Did you love it as much as I did?