Who's got two thumbs and a Dikpala at his back? This guy right here does.

We loved travelling around in Vietnam, then again we didn’t travel by road for most of our journey, although we did do several day trips.

1) If you are taking a bus anywhere, get a seat on the right hand side (opposite the driver) as you will be shielded from all the honking on the drivers side.  Cars passing the bus in either direction will often honk vigorously as they pass, which can disturb your sleep.  Don’t expect too much sleep while riding in a vehicle as the roads are bumpy, and your head will bounce around alot.

Our guide (Skinny/Huy) in the Mekong said 'We eat everything that move, and some that dont'.

2) While eating, don’t expect to hurry.  Things will be ready when they are ready, and will come out in a random order when they are completed. If you want your food in a certain order, just order the appetizers and then wait a few minutes before ordering your main course.

You can order your smokes straight from the menu, you lucky devils.

3) Tips aren’t expected.  We have been leaving 5000 dong (25 cents) tip for our meal and they just get broad smiles or try to return it when they find it, thinking you have left something.

Dong is Vietnamese money. I dont know what this sign really says, but it made me giggle.

4) You may have your passport collected when you stay at a hostel or guesthouse, more upscale places just make a photocopy of it and give it back.  You will get it back when you check out, don’t be afraid to check out the night before to make sure everything goes well if you need to be somewhere in the morning.

Food or Friend? Maybe both.

5) Cash is king, many places that we went to didn’t take credit cards.  More upscale places normally take credit cards.  There are a good amount of ATMs around, so you should be able to take out cash, but be ready to pay ~$1.50 in international charges.

"Why is there no hot wat.... wait a sec."

6) If you want to sit at a table in a restaurant that is near the street, see if they have one on the second floor, you won’t get hassled by street vendors there.  Putting on your sunglasses to not be hassled by sunglass vendors doesn’t always work, sometimes they just tell you to ‘buy another pair from me’.

7) Many Vietnamese close up shop from 11am to 1pm or 12pm to 2pm to take a nap.  The Post offices are open until 8-9pm.  You will also see real rest stops on the side of the road, with food stalls, hammocks and bathrooms.

Eff You What?

8)  In all the main tourist areas, you will be asked by each shopkeeper to ‘come in and have a look’.  If you get out of the tourist areas this doesn’t happen as much, many times the people there do not speak english and so they may not even engage you. 

9) As soon as you enter a shop, one of the people in the shop will adhere themselves to you.  They will hand you items that are similar to any item you touch, and often in sizes that would no way fit you.  I don’t really have any kind of useful information on this, just don’t expect a ton of time to examine the goods by youself.  When inspecting goods the person tagging along with you will say ‘No Problem’ when you examine a stitched seam and try to show you that it is good quality.  This does not mean that there really is no problem, check your merchandise before you buy.

10) Talk to fellow travellers, I have found that travelling people are more open to random conversation, and you can learn of additional things to do and see.

Wonder what these guys sell... computers, duh!

11) When you are walking down the street, and you run into a Vietnamese person who directly engages you with good english and conversation, asking you where you are from, talking about world events or countries, normally they have an agenda to sell you something.  Many of the times they will be ‘art students’ or have family from America, be prepared to just say “No thanks” and just walk away.

12) Hotel/Guesthouse/Hostel workers may be overly friendly in South Vietnam, where your strangeness meter goes off the chart.  We were pretty much asked every day where we went, and ‘where you go tomorrow?’ every day.  I actually prefer it to the workers who just grunt and do what needs to be done.  In the North, they become less friendly.

Some ladies throwing trash into the river. No recycle bins to be found here, you are lucky to find a trash can. Most people just drop their trash on the ground.

13) There are fake taxis in the bigger towns.  Ask your hotel person which ones you should take.  Normally the cars are properly decorated, and the drivers have a standard uniform of sorts.  We haven’t run into any issues, but just be careful of who you ride with.

He's happy to push us, really.

14) If you take a cyclo, make sure you negotiate the price ahead of time for all travellers.  If you don’t they might pull the scam of saying your price was for 1 and there are 2 of you.  Also, make sure you have the correct amount, or ask if they have change before you embark.  A common scam is to say they don’t have change, hoping you just give them the rest.

Let me out of here!

15) Vietnam is not built for people my size or larger, watch your head, you wouldn’t want to get poked by one of the awnings, doorways, or hit by one of the loose powerlines that hang down.

16) The sidewalk may be unstable or tilted, watch where you step, have fun with #15 while you do this.

Why did the chicken cross the road? Oh yea, he didn't he was smarter than to try that here.

17) When crossing the street, look to see if there is not a stoplight, if no stoplight look for a slight break in traffic and go.  Make sure your motions are deliberate, slow and predictable.  People will drive around you, as it really is amazing how their system works.  If you wait for a gap, it may never happen.  We only saw two accidents and that was on the same day, it was raining and it was in Hoi’An, the least busy place we visited.

I have seen just about everything packed onto a moto scooter now.

18) Like any street market, be prepared to negotiate for your goods.  There seems to be a certain pattern to this practice.  They start by making you an offer, and then they tell you how much the item is worth.  It is inferred that ‘Clearly, as you can see they are giving you a discount’.  Don’t pay this price, you need to negotiate, choose a number based on wht type of vendor you are dealing with between 20 – 40% of what they said.  This is the price you negotiate down to.  You are going to have to go low, and they will explain that the number you have given is much too low, depending on how much they take off, you can adjust your price accordingly.  The prices will meet in the middle somewhere, and if you aren’t happy with it, walk away.  If they can go down in price, they will and they will call after you.  If they can’t they won’t, and you will just walk away from a price you were unwilling to pay. Don’t forget, sometimes you are haggling over 35 cents, and you should measure whether it worth it to you to haggle it down or not.  I hate this entire interaction, and generally settle for a higher amount, as its good for the people, and not horrible for me.

Their stock wasn't fresh, so I didnt buy any.

19) There is a tourist price and a Vietnamese price for alot of items.  You are probably not Vietnamese, so you will get the tourist price.  Meh, its really pretty cheap for most stuff anyhow.

Eatting 2 bowls of Pho on the street, total cost: <$2, taste: delicious, comfort level due to size of table: low.

20) Get some banana pancakes and eat some street food.