"Count your Dong in Vietnam" Top 5 Page for this destination Vietnam by richiecdisc

Vietnam Travel Guide: 12,818 reviews and 32,285 photos

Vietnam first came into my consciousness as a boy during the conflict between the north and south of what was explained as a divided country. All I knew was my older brother joined the reserves and got married at least in part to avoid going there. My next exposure was a myriad of movies on the topic ranging from Full Metal Jacket to Apocalypse Now. Though thought provoking, they did little to garner my desire to go there. Hell, this was a place they made you go. Not one you chose. No, it was not until my university years when I ran across a total hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Philadelphia that the seed for my eventually going there was planted. It was an as of then unheard of Vietnamese eatery. Friends joked about eating cat, dog or who knows what but I was undaunted. It looked intriguing and I just had to try it. I was faced with a seemingly unlimited number of choices, about fifty of them soups! What the hell, the first time, I chose number one and what they brought out changed my perception of Vietnam forever. That first whiff of fresh mint and coriander leaves, wedges of lime, chilies, and the aromatic broth linger in my olfactory memory even more profoundly now than Coppola?s cinematic vision of Brando gone astray in the Southeast Asian jungle. The soup was called pho and I fell in love with it. I ate it for over twenty years before I ventured to the country of its origin but if any one thing made me want to go there, it was the food.

Vietnam is a country still visibly ravaged by war and its people, though amazing survivors, are in part still a product of it. Aside from the obvious amputees and illegitimate children of American soldiers, there are few people who were not touched by a war that was anything but civil. Perhaps due to this, the people are an industrious lot bent on making a success story of what its saviors left behind. This assiduous attitude can unfortunately be seen as aggressive by Westerners less accustomed to the necessity to fight for every mouthful. Sometimes this perception is well-founded especially with regard to the tourist sector. What Vietnamese entrepreneurs need to realize is westerners go on vacation to relax and many to experience a country as locals do. What they do not want is to be treated as money cows and charged inflated prices on goods and services. Returning customers and word of mouth referrals are their future livelihood. Making less now just might lead to more later. If they want to rush to western ideals, let?s hope this tenet is one of them.

  • Last visit to Vietnam: Jan 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (32)

Comments (25)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Fine tips and photos from your trip through Vietnam! The beer we used to drink was called "Ba Mui Ba" which means 33 -- with ice cubes of unknown origin. Risky, but our medic had the theory that "maybe the alcohol disinfects it or something."

  • pure1942's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2008 at 9:35 AM

    What a great page. Your excellent tips and information are adding to my growing desire to see this amazing looking country. Thanks for sharing - Brian

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Feb 2, 2008 at 11:56 AM

    It's just another week before I head for Vietnam and Laos. I can't wait. Thanks for excellent tips; I enjoyed all of them with food descriptions, especially.

  • magdalena2007's Profile Photo
    Sep 20, 2007 at 10:00 AM

    Your photos and tips are unbeleivable!!!! wow

  • Travmad's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2007 at 6:34 AM

    I just watched a wonderfully done short film about a kayaker who navigated the Mekong from the source . It was really informative just as your tips. The film was a part of the Banff film fest that travels around every year.

  • nixca316's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2007 at 2:11 AM

    Mekong Delta---thanks for the tip...

  • shelnlin's Profile Photo
    Feb 3, 2007 at 12:56 AM

    Simply beautiful to read and enjoy. Thank you for entertaining me with your experiences, will come back and read the other sections soon. Best wishes :-D

  • thinking's Profile Photo
    Sep 20, 2006 at 1:42 AM

    Great page and tips for my upcoming trip to Vietnam! Merci!

  • canadiantravelgirl's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2006 at 10:30 AM

    Thanks for the great tips and pics!!! I can't wait to visit Vietnam!!

  • SURFIN7TH's Profile Photo
    Apr 6, 2006 at 11:27 AM

    mmm Huda beer :-)


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