Vietnam is an incredibly interesting, beautiful country. It is filled with traditional cultural influence, amazing landscape, and of course delicious food. While Hanoi is becoming a more popular travel destination, the country and many of its other cities are still mysterious to most people. To help with this, we compiled a list of the most interesting and surprising facts about Vietnam.
The Binh Chau Hotsprings
The Binh Chau Hotsprings are beautiful, interesting, and great for your health! The water is about 37°C and like most hot springs, the high content of minerals is great for the skin, blood circulation, and relaxation. The hottest the springs reach is 82°C! That’s pretty hot! Visitors can buy and boil an egg there. Pretty cool, huh?
Love Markets Are A Thing
Given the landscape of the country, some find it difficult to date. In the North, there is a city called Sapa which has a love market every weekend. Young singles from surrounding villages come and basically speed date to try to find a match.
Yin and Yang Food
One philosophy of Vietnamese food is the balance of hot and cold elements. This is rooted in the balance of energy between yin and yang. It is believed the proper combination is needed for the best taste, enjoyment and health purposes.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee beans, behind Brazil. Vietnamese iced coffee is incredibly delicious and popular. Dark roasted beans are brewed with a drop filter. It is added to a cup of ice and completed with the secret ingredient, sweetened condensed milk. You can enjoy one for only .44 USD.
World’s Largest Cave
Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, was discovered in 1991 in the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park. It is more than 5 kilometers in length, 200 meters high, and 150 meters wide. Some even call it the “Great Wall of Vietnam.”
Puppets Walking On Water
Water puppetry has existed in Vietnam since the 11th century. It is a very popular, traditional form of art. There are many performances locals and tourists can enjoy. The puppets look like they are floating!
You Can See Ho Chi Minh’s Body
Ho Chi Minh’s body can be seen on display 9 months of the year at The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It is protected by an armored military guard.
Sepak takraw is kind of like kick volleyball, and it is one of the most famous traditional sports in Vietnam. It originated in Malaysia and now is played in Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and of course Vietnam.
There is much religious influence in all aspects of Vietnamese culture. Around 85.5% of the country identify as Buddhist, 6.8% Christians, and 2% identify as the indigenous religion, Cao Dai.
Biggest Cashew Exporter
Did you know 37% of the world’s cashews come from Vietnam? The country is the world’s biggest exporter.
Originally from China, snake wine made its way to Vietnam. It is an alcoholic drink made by infusing snake venom in rice wine or grain alcohol. Don’t worry, it is not dangerous to drink! The poisonous effects are mooted by ethanol. Many Vietnamese believe this drink is good for vitality.
High Literacy Rate
Vietnam has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. The Ministry of Education and Training reported it is 97.3% for people between the ages of 15 and 50. Pretty impressive!
Motorbikes Rule The Roads
Similar to other Asian countries, motorbikes are the preferred way to get around. As of 2013, there were 37 million registered motorbikes as compared to just two million registered cars.
Pale Skin is Sexy
While the trend in many western countries is to be tan, it is considered unattractive in Vietnam. Both men and women strive to have pale skin and use cosmetic and face washing products to achieve the look.
5 Tastes in Food
Traditional Vietnamese food is made in accordance with the principles of Wu Xing (5 elements). Each dish is supposed to balance five fundamental taste senses: spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. Besides tasting amazing, Vietnamese also believe finding this key balance is good for health.
Vietnam Gets Snow!
You thought Vietnam was a tropical climate, didn’t you? Well, you are right but monsoons impact the weather. There are sunny days, a lot of humidity, and quite a bit of rainfall. Usually, the temperature is between 17-29 degrees Celsius. Between December and February in the North (bordering China) the temperature can drop to 0! You can see snow then and even kids making snowmen. Who would have thought you’d see a snowman in Vietnam?
China colonized Vietnam for over 1000 years, so there is a lot of Chinese influence in Vietnamese language and literature. The language was originally written using Chinese characters. In the 13th century Vietnam developed its own script called chu nom, and finally, it adopted the Latin alphabet with diacritics. Spoken Vietnamese, like Chinese, is tonal. There are 6 tones and most language learners believe this is the hardest part of the language.
Teachers Are Very Respected
In many countries around the world, teachers are not quite valued. In many Eastern countries, including Vietnam, teachers are very much respected. There is even a Vietnamese Teacher Day every year. Even alumni come to bring gifts to their teachers on this day. Pretty cool!
Recently in just 2010, the lotus flower became the national flower. It is an aquatic plant that floats due to its waterproof leaves. It is just a gorgeous flower! It is a symbol of beauty that cannot be spoiled by mud or adversities.
Yep, we said weasel coffee. It is also called Kopi Luwak or civet coffee and it is the most expensive coffee in Vietnam. Part of the expense is due to the unique processing. Weasels consume a coffee fruit which survives through their digestion. Then they are collected from the animal’s feces. The result is something awesome! It becomes an aromatic coffee with a sweet smell and taste. Don’t be afraid, try it! It is delicious!
In the Oxford Dictionary
Vietnamese cuisine is growing in popularity. Surprisingly some Vietnamese words like Banh mi and pho Banh mi and pho appear verbatim in the Oxford Dictionary instead of being translated into English. Pretty interesting, huh?
Vegetarians in Vietnam
Buddhism is prominent in the East. One major practice is vegetarianism. The belief is in lifetime abstinence from animal food. This is most commonly practiced amongst monks.
Bamboo sticks are all over the East and can be seen at the many floating markets in Vietnam. Shop owners use the sticks to display their local products for sale. You can see mangos, durians, pineapples, and just about all the products you can think of on these sticks.
5th Happiest Country In The World
The UK Happy Planet Index reports the “happiest” countries in the world. In 2016, it was ranked the 5th happiest nation in the world. The evidence is plentifull; it seems Vietnamese people are always smiling!
This is awesome! There are free and fast WiFi networks in all the major cities in Vietnam.
No Legal Drinking Age
Drinking ages differ place to place. In Vietnam, there actually is no drinking age! Bottoms up everybody!
To summon the young minds of Vietnam to school, gongs are used instead of bells.
Did you know slinkys were used in the Vietnam War as mobile radio antenna? You gotta do what you gotta do!
The Vietnamese keep potbelly pigs as pets. We think they are adorable!
Ace of Spades
During the Vietnam War, there was a superstition about the Ace of Spades card. In Vietnam, the local people believed it was a symbol of death. A U.S. playing card company shipped crates of these cards to Vietnam in an effort to terrify the local people during raids.
Rice is everywhere! Most people eat it with every meal in Vietnam. It is common to be served several side dishes and to load them up on a giant bowl of rice.
Being polite is a key element of Vietnamese culture. It is especially important young people show politeness to their elders.
One key aspect of Vietnamese religions is the worship of spirits. The belief is spirits are the souls of ancestors. For many holidays families will have altars to honor their ancestors. Some holidays include the Lunar New Year and the date the person died.
Parents spoil their kids a bit until they are about 5 years old. Then the parenting kicks in. Parents give strict rules and also teach ethics and morality to their children. Respect is very important in their culture.
Vietnam is shaped like the letter S. Were you aware? You are now!
Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. 7.588 million people are estimated to live there.
One interesting fact is that Vietnamese is the only language in East Asia that uses the Latin alphabet. Pretty cool!
Nguyen. Has a nice ring to it, right? It is the most common surname in Vietnam.
Ao-dai is a Vietnamese traditional dress usually worn by women. It is tight, silk and usually worn over trousers.
Eating Low on The Ground
Who needs chairs anyway? It is very common to eat on the ground in Vietnam. In fact, some of the cheapest and best food can be found on the city sidewalks in this kind of environment.
One Specialty Dish
If a restaurant has one great dish, it specializes in that dish. Vendors will only offer that one dish once they are confident enough.
Yep, soup desserts are a thing, and are so so good! It is called Chè. Chè in Vietnamese refers to any traditionally sweet beverage, dessert soup or pudding. There are many kinds in Vietnam, served both hot and cold.
In Vietnam instead of drinking water, drinking Tra Da is very common. You can find it at most restaurants. It is a very mild, yellow-colored iced tea drink.
This is a very surprising fact. Did you know Congressional Medal of Honor Winner Peter Lemon was high on marijuana when he fought off two waves of Vietcong troops alone and dragged a wounded soldier to safety? Guess it made him a better soldier!
Beer is widely popular in Vietnam and super cheap! An average price of beet is about $.50.
Watch Out For Food Trash
Don’t be surprised when you see trash on the floor in eating establishments in Vietnam, it is simply a local custom.
The Vietnam War is known as “the American War” in Vietnam. Makes sense to us…
Second Gulf Of Tonkin Incident?
As part of what Edward Snowden revealed, NSA documents show that the second Gulf of Tonkin incident (which was used as a justification to start the war), never really happened.
Missing US Soldiers
As of April 14, 2017, there are still 1,611 Americans unaccounted for.
Dodging the Draft
The last mandatory draft in U.S. history was due to the Vietnam war. About 125,000 Americans fled to Canada to avoid the military draft. Around half returned to the U.S. when President Carter granted them amnesty.