Travel in Vietnam is truly one of the most rewarding experiences. You get to see new places, immerse yourself in new experiences, try new cuisines and meet friendly and unique people. However, so many people miss the once-in-a-lifetime moments and the unforgettable encounters when they depends so much on guidebooks and are stuck with other tourists at iconic landmarks. And many tourists may wonder how to discover Vietnam in a different way, how to best understand the country and how to experience the country like a local to get the best moment and unforgettable moment. These secrets perhaps will transform your trip into one you’ll remember forever. But before traveling like a local, please make sure you are not refused from entry to Vietnam by applying for Vietnam visa if required.
Go beyond the landmarks
There are some things you must do in Vietnam — like see the Ho Chi Minh Complex in Hanoi or visit the Hue Imperial City in Hue or Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). However, what so many tourists forget is to explore the neighborhoods, quirks and sights outside of these major landmarks. Some of the most memorable experiences come from the moments you veer off the beaten path and get lost in the neighborhoods, cafes, stores and parks where locals live and hang. You can join farm trips to do activities as the locals do.
Put down the camera
It’s natural to want to document every single thing you see, taste and feel on your trips. However, the focus for the perfect photos, or Facebook posts sometimes causes you to miss what is really happening around you. Whether it’s just for a moment or an entire day, putting down the camera or phone will help you soak up the most of your trip and the place you’re visiting.
Take a cooking class
Few things can give you a deeper insight into the country, city or town quite like the food. And what better way to really taste the culture of your destination than with a cooking class? These not only teach you about the place’s authentic cuisine like pho or Nem ran (fried spring rolls), but also give you the chance to remake these classics when you’re at home.
Learn a few key phrases
Since in Vietnam, English is not the first language, so mastering a few key phrases can help you navigate your way around and feel more connected to the locals in your area. Some important phrases like greetings, thank you, apologies, numbers, directions, and food and drink terms are some basics that are relatively easy to learn. In most places, the locals respond politely and positivity when they see you trying to learn their language.
When traveling, many people put so much focus on crossing things off a list that they forget to soak in the experiences around them. Toss that bucket list and get rid of those to-dos and let yourself experience the moments, the people and the culture around you.
Be respectful and observant
This one is imperative and sadly overlooked when many people travel to exotic countries. Remember: You are visiting someone else’s world, not the other way around. Respect local traditions, looks, sounds and tastes, and try to understand instead of pass judgment.
In addition, always stay observant to what the people around you are doing. What are they eating? Where are they going out? What are they wearing? Knowing the answers to these questions will truly open you up to a more local, authentic trip.
Try everything at least once
The secret to really understand a culture is through its flavors. You can’t grasp the unique complexities and values of a local destination without at least trying their favorite (or signature) dishes. Food offers a look at the city’s history and gives you a way to connect with the people who live there. If you’re not sure where the best spots are, ask a local! Whether it’s the person you rented a house from or the guy behind you at the supermarket, they’ll be more than happy to help.