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Due largely to the heat, life starts early in Vietnam. Getting up early to witness this can give you a unique insight into the daily routine of ordinary Vietnamese people, and is well worth the early start.
Rather than shopping in vast supermarkets as has become the norm in the West, the Vietnamese buy fresh produce everyday – as such there is a great need for markets. The wholesale markets are where they go to stock up for the day and to buy items to sell on. In the cities these markets start from 10pm, when the lorries arrive with produce from the countryside. The selling starts around 3am, with most closing shop and tidying up before 7am! It’s worth the 6am start to experience the hustle and bustle of the market place and search for exotic fruit and beautiful flowers.
You will find that within the cities and towns themselves there are also many smaller markets throughout the day, not to mention mobile bicycle markets!
Then, when the markets are over, the locals take to the parks to get their exercise hit for the day. A popular choice is to join in with group aerobics or a t’ai chi class – or take on some friends in a badminton match. Songs by Boney M seem to be the favourite to work out to at the moment!
For the less energetic, you might like to try a spot of bird-watching. This is mainly undertaken by Vietnamese men, who bring their pet birds in cages to the park cafe and hang them up with the doors open, the idea being to observe them over an iced coffee. The bird who attracts the most people to its cage is the winner – having a colourful bid seems to be the trick.
We highly recommend getting up bright and early to observe morning life during your time in Vietnam. Not only will you get a fascinating glimpse of a different way of life, but the temperature is much more pleasant – and you’ll find popular tourist attractions much quieter than later in the day.