I was recently asked for a list of “weird and wonderful things to do in Vietnam”. To be honest, I couldn’t think of as many ‘weird’ things to do as I would have liked to but there is certainly no shortage of wonderful experiences is in this vast and varied country. Without further ado, here’s my list!
16) Eat scorpions in Saigon! (Ho Chi Minh City)
Vietnam has some of the world’s greatest cuisine – street food to die for and fine dining with flavors beyond comparison. And while eating scorpions probably doesn’t fall into either of these categories, you can be sure that it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
15) Drink rice wine with your hosts at a hill-tribe home stay. ~
I love walking through the terraced rice paddies of Northern Vietnam. Mai Chau is a personal favorite, not only for its scenery but for the home stays available here. There is nothing quite like sharing a big pot of rice wine after a long day walking through the country side.
14) Jumping off of the Ba Ho Waterfalls near Nha Trang.
I love sitting on Nha Trang’s beaches or taking a jet ski out in the water but I also like to get away from the resort type atmosphere and go up in to the nearby hills. In particular, I find the Ba Ho Waterfalls an especially nice option for a hot afternoon. A short walk up to the falls is rewarded with a nice swim under these pretty waterfalls. And if you’re daring, jump off the rocks above the falls and into the not-so-deep water below – at your own risk of course!
13) Pay a cyclo driver to let YOU drive THEM somewhere.
It’s great fun to be peddled around town in the comfort of a cyclo but if you really want to appreciate the hard work that these guys do day in and day out, try giving the cyclo driver a ride around the block. If nothing else, you’ll have a great picture as a memento.
12) Try eating at a street food stall where you have no idea what’s in the food.
I’ve said it before and I shall say it again… and again… and again. The street food in Vietnam is some of the best you can have anywhere so, while it may be intimidating, dig in! The best way to go about this is to simply wander around and look at what the locals are eating. If something looks good, even if you’re not quite sure what it is, pull up a stool and point at your neighbor’s food and wait for something delicious to appear. Even if you don’t like it you are bound to make some friends and you can be guaranteed that you won’t be breaking the bank.
11) Stay in a city that isn’t listed in your guidebook.
As guidebooks become ever more extensive, this may seem like a task but you won’t need to go far to get truly well away from the so-called “beaten path”. Although there is unlikely to be any “sites” you will be amazed at what a truly special experience merely by taking the daily life of the locals.
10) Buy a couple rounds of drinks at a bar where you are the only foreigner.
It’s not likely to cost you much but you can be sure that it will come back in full. If you find yourself in a non-touristy part of town or perhaps a residential area and you see a little street side bar, sit down for locally brewed beer and if you like the atmosphere gesture to the waiter or waitress that you’d like to buy a round for everybody. Locals might be impressed but they won’t be outdone. You are sure to get a few beers in return yourself and some conversation to boot – not that you’ll be able to understand of course!
9) Go shopping in HCMC’s Chinatown and find something useful to take home as a souvenir.
The Cholon District in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is one of the most interesting in the city. Food, culture and shopping unite to ensure that there is something for everyone. But rather than buying something from one of the international chain stores that can be found all over the world, try looking at the local artisans’ products. Granted, they are not always of the highest quality but if you’re a smart shopper and look closely at the workmanship, you can find a pair of scissors, kitchen utensil, tool set or nail clippers that will last you a lifetime and remind you of your trip for just as long.
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