We have spent more than a month in Vietnam. We must admit this country is weird and we are not sure if we want to come back there. We know many people who love Vietnam though. It has a lot to offer: beautiful mountains (like Mai Chau), amazing sea and of course the Halong Bay. Vietnam may be controversial but it’s still a place everybody should visit. In this post we gathered for you Vietnam interesting facts. Some of them may surprise you, some disgust you and some will make you laugh! So here we go…
Vietnam interesting facts #1
Vietnamese people eat dogs and cats.
This is probably the weirdest and the most disgusting thing about Vietnam. Dogs and cats are very popular to eat in this country.
At the beginning we thought it is just a rumour or something to attract tourists. We talked with many Vietnamese people though and they all confirmed that ‘pet meat’ is eaten in Vietnam.
Ughh… We couldn’t try it but we saw many restaurants where they served meals made of dogs and cats.
The worst part of it is that most dogs that are eaten by Vietnamese people are raised in a house, they live with people. They are treated like all dogs in any other countries on the world. And then, usually when they are about 2 years old, they are killed and eaten.
Vietnamese claims that the best meat is from the young dog. The older the dog is, the more tough and gristly its meat is. They also said that every dog breed tastes differently.
It’s also worth to know that Vietnamese buy stray dogs from other Asian countries (like Thailand) only to eat them.
Not every Vietnamese eat dogs. Some of them treat dogs and cats as pets. They must take very good care of them- kidnapping and killing animals is very common in Vietnam.
Vietnam interesting facts #2
Munching and belching is normal in Vietnam.
Did we say that eating dogs and cats is the most disgusting thing about Vietnam? Maybe we were wrong. Munching and belching is the thing that stops us from eating in Vietnamese restaurants.
Loud eating is considered as rude in most countries on the world. But not in Vietnam (and China).
The other disgusting thing is that Vietnamese has a despicable habit of littering in the place they eat. So you will find used napkins, food scraps and cigarette butts on the floor of every traditional Vietnamese restaurant. Ugh… gross!
Not all the people in Vietnam eat loudly though. Not every restaurant is dirty, you can find the places that are clean.
Vietnam interesting facts #3
Everybody can feel like a millionaire in Vietnam.
Vietnamese currency is very funny! 1$ is more than 20,000 VND. That’s why it’s normal that you will pay 50,000-100,000 VND for a dinner or more than million VND for a stay in hotel!
Such a big amounts of money is very confusing to tourists and sadly, Vietnamese people take advantage of this.
For example- you may give someone 100,000 instead of 10,000 and he won’t tell you that you are mistaken. You have to be very careful with the money in Vietnam!
Vietnam interesting facts #4
The capital city of Vietnam is not the largest in the country.
In most countries on the world, the capital city is also the largest one in the whole country. It is different in Vietnam. Hanoi (capital) has population of 6.5 million people, whereas in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) live more than 7.5 million people!
These two cities are the biggest in the country but they are situated quite far away from each other.
The distance between Saigon (Southern Vietnam) and Hanoi (Northern Vietnam) is more than 1,500 km (930 miles)!
Vietnam interesting facts #5
Vietnamese people don’t hate Americans.
Before visiting Vietnam, all we know about this country is that they had a war very recently. And Americans played a great part in it.
Usually, when foreigners come to another country, start fighting and killing local people, they are treated as aggressors. So we thought it’s quite obvious that Vietnamese people hate Americans. Especially that The Vietnam War ended only 40 years ago.
We were surprised that Vietnamese people actually… like Americans. It’s mainly because of Vietnamese great leader, Ho Chi Minh told that they shouldn’t blame American citizens for the war. It’s the LEADERS who are responsible for all these deaths.
He said that:
Everything depends on the Americans. If they want to make war for 20 years then we shall make war for 20 years. If they want to make peace, we shall make peace and invite them to tea afterwards.
He also said:
Love other human beings as you would love yourself.
He thought that Vietnam is the most important thing in the world and Vietnamese should focus on rebuilding the country, not on hating the aggressors. We talked with many Viets and they all said that War was long time ago and they had already forgiven U.S. all their faults.
Vietnam interesting facts #6
Tortoise is a lucky symbol in Vietnam.
Vietnamese people love tortoises. They believe that they are bringing luck and health. They admire longevity of turtles and believe that keeping tortoiseshells at home will prolong their lives as well.
There are four sacred animals in Vietnamese culture. Tortoise is one of them. The others are dragon, phoenix and unicorn. So the tortoise is actually the only REAL animal of all that Vietnamese worship.
There is even a myth about a Tortoise God who helped King An Duong Vuong building Co Loa citadel on the outskirts of the capital city of Vietnam- Hanoi. The famous Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake (also know as the Lake of the Restored Sword) is associated with a myth about King Le Loi. It is believed that he returned the sword to the Tortoise God after defeating his enemies. Vietnamese people believe that the old tortoise is still living in the Hoan Kiem Lake.
Vietnam interesting facts #7
Vietnamese are smokers.
One of 10 facts about Vietnam that people didn’t know about is that it’s a heaven for smokers. According to World Health Organization (WHO), more than 25% of Viets smoke cigarettes. It is 1/4 of the population of the entire country! Smoking is considered as manly ‘activity’ so it is very unlikely to see Vietnamese woman with a cigaret.
Smoking is very cheap in Vietnam. One package of cigarettes cost less than $1! It is also very popular to smoke from the bamboo tube pipes.
Vietnam interesting facts #8
Vietnam is world’s largest cashew nuts exporter.
Vietnam produces almost 30% of all cashew nuts on the world!
Why? Because it causes very serious damage of cashew’s factories workers. Cashew has two layers of hard shell between which are caustic substances (cardol and anacardic acid). They can cause severe burns.
Many people who work in the cashew industry have permanent damage to their hands because of this corrosive liquid. The factories don’t always provide gloves to their employees.
That is why some people believe that buying and eating cashew nuts is not ethical.
Vietnam interesting facts #9
Vietnam is famous from weird drinks.
Have you ever heard of the Snake Wine? It is quite popular in Vietnam (and also in China). They put the whole snake (or scorpion) into the bottle and than pour the rice wine into it.
We tried it- it tastes quite well!
The best liquor is from the venomous snake. Its venom is denatured by the ethanol so it is harmless.
The other weird Vietnamese drink is Eggnog Coffee. It’s an coffee with… egg.
It tastes amazing! We were surprised how good this drink is. In addition to coffee and egg, Viets add to this beverage sweet, condensed milk.
So the condensed milk is on the bottom, strong, Vietnamese coffee is in the middle and egg white foam is on the top. These 3 layers look and taste amazing.
Vietnam interesting facts #10
Vietnamese New Year is celebrated at different time each year.
Vietnamese New Year is the biggest holiday in Vietnam. It is called TET (Tết Nguyên Đán).
It is celebrated in the very same time as the Chinese New Year, always on January or February. It is interesting that is doesn’t have fixed date and the time of celebrating TET is different every year.
We were lucky enough to be in Hanoi during Vietnamese New Year. It was wonderful to see the people celebrating. They behaved like people in any other country on the world- they were watching fireworks at midnight and wish themselves happy new year.
The one weird thing was that there was a table in front of every house. It was a kind of gift for the God that lives in every home. The feast included whole boiled chicken (with head), beverages (like coca-cola, water or tea), alcohol (beer, whiskey or even vodka), fruits and cigarettes.
After the midnight, people were eating all these gifts and burning fake money (to send them to their ancestors and deceased relatives in case they need them in their afterlife).