• That NomadCouple

11 Things about VIETNAM that will SHOCK you!

Updated: Nov 16, 2019

Like any big country, Vietnam has vast cultural and legal differences to the west, that's part of the reason why Sid and I loved this beautiful country! This means there are some things we foreigners need to keep in mind. Having spent a few weeks at Vietnam Backpacker Hostel, we learned a few (many) things that we would like to share with you all. We hope our experiences make yours even better and safer. Don't be worried, just be wary! Let's get into it, shall we? ;)

Crossing The Street-

The traffic situation in Vietnam is one of a kind and requires one of a kind crossing method. The unbelievable volume of motorbikes, moving in all the directions, on the road can be really intimidating.

All you gotta do is- take a deep breath, look for a moment to commence, walk slowly and consistently across the street. They will go around you, have a bit of confidence and you will be a pro in no time. Trust me, the magic is that no-one will ever run into you, no matter how terrifying the situation looks. Been there, done that!


Some taxi drivers will try and take you for a ride. Ask your hotel/hostel to call you a taxi and write down the address for you. Try not to argue over a difference of 10k-20k VND when the driver suggests a rough price to the location. If I may say so, you are arguing over 45-90 cents, so don't let it ruin your day!

Motorcycle Taxis-

Vietnam has some rather interesting and untrustworthy motorcycle taxis operating at night. Their main aim is to mislead and steal from you. Please be careful, drugs are illegal and they won't be carrying them- if you like tea, that's what you are gonna get! Don't trust that they are gonna take you to their friends to buy things, a trap may be waiting!

Disagreements With Locals-

A rare circumstance usually involving boys and alcohol.

There are 2 rules-

RULE #1- Never get involved in a fight with the Vietnamese.

RULE #2- If you are drunk and a local does something, you think deserves an act of aggression, immediately see RULE #1. If a local really does something wrong, still see RULE#1.

The Vietnamese kicked China, France & the USA out of their town, you are small fry and they will treat you that way. In every circumstance, please, please, please see RULE #1 and walk away. Peace!

Be Patient When Communicating With The Locals-

Speak slowly, English is a very difficult language for Vietnamese to pronounce. But remember, their English is a lot better than your Vietnamese, so smile, laugh and enjoy the sign language. Even better, learn a little of the language!

Big Nights Out-

All of us understand that you never quite know when a massive night could come your way. We strongly recommend that at some point during the build-up, you take a moment to consider the location of your smartphone, passport, bank cards, and all your cash. If these things are in your possession when things escalate, you run the risk of turning the night of your life into a nightmare. Please leave them somewhere safe (security lockers or safes) before you get socially excited!

Getting Home-

Make sure you always have a few hostel/hotel cards to show your taxi or motorbike driver. Do negotiate a price before you begin. Unfortunately, it's rare to find a reputable motorbike or taxi driver after midnight. If you have any problems, don't make a scene, wait until you arrive at the hotel/hostel and ask night reception to assist you.

In The Immortal Words Of Mr. T ''Don't Do Drugs''-

Penalties in Vietnam are so harsh, we prefer not to talk about it. This is not California or the Caribbean. Weed is not OK, and harder drugs are even less OK. There is a large hemp-growing industry in Vietnam and some locals will try and sell dope from these plants, but the joke is on you. When it comes to drugs in Vietnam, don't be stooopid! As Mr. T also said, ''I pity the fool!''

Cheap Imitation Tours-

Be careful, especially with Halong Bay! There are a number of dodgy companies that simply don't care about your complaints after your shitty, and sometimes, unsafe experience. Many copycats pose shamelessly as long-established reputable operators. For example, there are 11 other places pretending to be Castaways island. There is only 1 real Castaways island and it has got a Red Buffalo. You truly get what you pay for. If it's cheap, then it's because the operator cuts corners.

This means their boat can be any or all of the following- dirty, unseaworthy, environmentally disastrous, and most certainly have terrible decor. You may get lucky, but you may not!


The 5000,000 note is a similar color to the 20,000 note. One is worth $24, the other is worth <$1. Don't ever get them mixed up!

Comply With The Police-

In the highly unlikely event, you run into trouble, be polite, keep your cool, and do whatever you can, to remove yourself from the situation!

That's it for this post. We are sure, this article will help you in some way or the other if you are planning a trip to Vietnam anytime soon.

If you have any other points that you would like us to add to this post, please let us know in the comments section below! Or, if you have any further questions, feel free to ask! Also, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list :)

Until the next post!

Happy Travels!

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