- Unceasing traffic – I though the traffic in New York, London, and Taiwan was bad, but Vietnam is crazy. Only rent a scooter if you have a death wish and know that crossing the road on feet is terrifying. The secret of crossing the never ending thick stream of cars and scooters is to find a gap, however small, and walk at a slow and steady pace so that the rest of the vehicles can predict where you’re going and swerve around you.
- Speaker system – Don’t be surprised if you wake up to loud Vietnamese voices and music when you wake up in your hotel or hostel. In communist countries like Vietnam, they have speaker systems everywhere.
- Long finger nails – Some men will “honor” their ancestors by not cutting off their finger nails. Some will also keep them long as a confucianism respect thing.
- Locals may ask for your picture – I was stopped multiple times and asked if I would take a picture not for them, but with them. Apparently, if you’re tall, white, and visiting Vietnam you’re a hot commodity.
- Look out for the sales people in Cat Ba Island. – You can tell they don’t get as many tourists there as they would like as they are extremely pushy. You’ve been warned.
- Smog – Never in my life have I seen smog as bad as it was in Vietnam. You could not see a mile away from you if you tried. Their smog is bad because they don’t have any socially responsible regulations regarding chemical waste. The only time we got a little reprieve from the smog was when we visited Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island.
- Don’t trust the cabbies – People in Vietnam in general may take advantage of tourists. Make sure to report anything you’re suspicious of. If a cab driver does try to take advantage of you make sure you tell him you know what he’s trying to do. Always check prices of clothes and souvenirs at other places because some places will jack up prices just because they think you are a dumb tourist.
- Homes on water – I feel this is self explanatory. I wonder what they do when there are hurricanes? And if there is a water tax?