Surprising and Interesting Facts About Vietnam

Published on 04/15/2018
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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?


Binh-Chau-Hot-Springs

Binh-Chau-Hot-Springs

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.

Love-Market-in-Sapa

Love-Market-in-Sapa

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.

Yin-and-Yang-in-Food

Yin-and-Yang-in-Food

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.


Ice-Coffee

Ice-Coffee

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.”


Son-Doong

Son-Doong

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!

Water-Puppets

Water-Puppets

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.


Ho-Chi-Minh’s-Body

Ho-Chi-Minh’s-Body

Sepak Takraw

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.


Sepak-Takraw

Sepak-Takraw

Mostly Buddhist

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.


Buddhism-in-Vietnam

Buddhism-in-Vietnam

Biggest Cashew Exporter

Did you know 37% of the world’s cashews come from Vietnam? The country is the world’s biggest exporter.


Biggest-Cashew-Exporter

Biggest-Cashew-Exporter

Snake Wine

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.

Snake-Wine

Snake-Wine

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!


Highest-Literacy-Rate

Highest-Literacy-Rate

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.


Motorbikes

Motorbikes

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.


Pale-Skin

Pale-Skin

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.

Vietnamese-Food-Has-5-Tastes

Vietnamese-Food-Has-5-Tastes

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?


It-Snows

It-Snows

Vietnamese Language

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.


Vietnamese-Language

Vietnamese-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!


Teachers-In-Vietnam

Teachers-In-Vietnam

National Flower

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.

Lotus-Flower

Lotus-Flower

Weasel Coffee

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!


Weasel-Coffee

Weasel-Coffee

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?

Banh-Mi

Banh-Mi

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.

Vegetarian-Pho

Vegetarian-Pho

Bamboo Stick

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.

Floating-Market

Floating-Market

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!

Happiest-Country

Happiest-Country

Free WiFi

This is awesome! There are free and fast WiFi networks in all the major cities in Vietnam.


Internet

Internet

No Legal Drinking Age

Drinking ages differ place to place. In Vietnam, there actually is no drinking age! Bottoms up everybody!

No-Legal-Drinking-Age

No-Legal-Drinking-Age

Gongs

To summon the young minds of Vietnam to school, gongs are used instead of bells.


Gongs

Gongs

Slinkys

Did you know slinkys were used in the Vietnam War as mobile radio antenna? You gotta do what you gotta do!

Slinkys

Slinkys

Potbelly Pigs

The Vietnamese keep potbelly pigs as pets. We think they are adorable!

Potbelly-Pigs

Potbelly-Pigs

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.

Ace-of-Spades

Ace-of-Spades


Rice

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.

Rice

Rice

Politeness

Being polite is a key element of Vietnamese culture. It is especially important young people show politeness to their elders.


Respecting-Elders

Respecting-Elders

Spirits

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.

Altar

Altar

Raising Children

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.

Parenting-in-Vietnam

Parenting-in-Vietnam

S Shaped

Vietnam is shaped like the letter S. Were you aware? You are now!


S-Shaped-Country

S-Shaped-Country

Hanoi

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. 7.588 million people are estimated to live there.

Hanoi

Hanoi

Latin Alphabet

One interesting fact is that Vietnamese is the only language in East Asia that uses the Latin alphabet. Pretty cool!


Latin-Alphabet

Latin-Alphabet

Nguyen

Nguyen. Has a nice ring to it, right? It is the most common surname in Vietnam.


Nguyen

Nguyen

Ao-dai

Ao-dai is a Vietnamese traditional dress usually worn by women. It is tight, silk and usually worn over trousers.


Ao-dai

Ao-dai

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.

Eating-On-The-Ground

Eating-On-The-Ground

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.

Specialty-Dish-Vietnam

Specialty-Dish-Vietnam

Soup Desserts

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.

Che

Che

Tra Da

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.


Tra-Da

Tra-Da

Fighting Elated

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!

Soldier

Soldier

Vietnamese Beer

Beer is widely popular in Vietnam and super cheap! An average price of beet is about $.50.

Beer

Beer

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.


Food-Trash

Food-Trash

American War

The Vietnam War is known as “the American War” in Vietnam. Makes sense to us…

American-War

American-War

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.

Edward-Snowden

Edward-Snowden

Missing US Soldiers

As of April 14, 2017, there are still 1,611 Americans unaccounted for.


Missing-Soldiers

Missing-Soldiers

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.

Draft

Draft


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