The Backpacker’s Guide to Winging It- Vietnam

Even if you’ve never been to Vietnam, you probably recognize it from endless reels of psychotic guerilla soldiers charging out of the jungle at good-old American boys still hazy from last night’s acid drop.

Woman-Rice-Me-Kong-VietnamActually, Vietnam is nothing like the movies. The thing you gotta remember here is that they won, and thus, bad blood only really exists in outdated films.

What you will find is a beautiful country with warm, welcoming people. Sure, the relics of the Vietnam War are still there, including their quasi-communist government, but even most of the American vets who have returned to Vietnam for travel report nothing but good vibes.

The Good

  • Welcoming, warm people who are genuinely happy to accommodate you in their country.
  • Delicious Asian-French fusion cuisine.
  • Gorgeous landscapes with think jungle and beautiful beaches.
  • Rich and fascinating history, both ancient and around more recent events, such as French colonialism and the American War (as they would call it). The latter is especially interesting as we are rarely afforded that different viewpoint, which I found to be fairly balanced, unlike China for example, which can be a little heavier on the propaganda.

The Bad

  • This could either be a good, or a bad, depending on what you’re after, but you’re not going to have access to the same comforts as home such as western banks, fast food and products, as you would in Thailand, for example. Boat-trip-Hanoi-Halong-Bay-Vietnam
  • Medical care is also a step down from some of the “free-market” countries like Thailand and Malaysia, so be extra careful, especially on that motorbike!

The Ugly

  • The big cities, specifically Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, can be pretty crazy. There aren’t a lot of traffic lights in Vietnam, and thus, the traffic takes on a life of its own. It can be daunting at first seeing the streets that packed with motor-scooters. There’s really never a break in the traffic either. To cross the street, you have to just bravely step out and trust that the traffic is going to part around you like a school of fish. Trust me, it works. It is terrifying, however.

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