“There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations.”
After a month of finishing a trip to Vietnam, I think I should still say something about it.
It started with a thought of going somewhere for just a weekend. We didn’t have much time, so we had to think of a place that is inexpensive, close, and of course, visa-free… Then we picked Vietnam. We were challenged by this mostly asked question “Why Vietnam?” I will try to answer that using my experiences.
We didn’t stick to the usual itinerary, temples-palaces-museums-tunnels-galleries-and so. We planned something that would make our short stay worth it. First-times made it more special… First time to go to a non-capital city, first time to plan the whole thing in less than a month, first time to travel on a rainy season, first time to go without Christmas bonuses, and first times of a lot more. Here’s my personal list of five favorites:
- The wicked street of Bui Vien – This is where you can find the cheap beers and priceless fun during the night. If you’re fine with plastic chairs, street food, cold beer, and street-side parties, this is just the right place. Solo tourists can even find travel companies from alley to alley.
- Vietnamese-style coffee – Again, for a more authentic experience, find those magic plastic chairs. The most delicious coffee can be found here without making you spend that much. Always go for the large glass since it is usually served with ice.
- Restaurant Bobby Chinn – Now called Bonbon Restaurant, a good place to have breakfast or lunch too. Honestly, I just liked being there because I was hoping to see Bobby Chinn and maybe have a picture with him. Unfortunately, I ate Pho instead!
- Saigon Square – This simply changes the word from “backpacker” to “North Facer”.
- Cyclo Ride – One of the best ways to explore the city without having those foot blisters. Beware of several scams, though. Some drivers force you to pay more than what you agreed on.
Weather is as unpredictable as it is in the Philippines; that’s why a handy umbrella should go on your checklist. Be ready to be amazed with the number of scooters, be a surviving pedestrian, and know where to find the fun. I was surprised with what I saw in Vietnam. I always tell others that I’ve read things about it but never really expected that I would see its beauty until I went there. There’s really more…
So I think the answer to the question people are asking is also a question… “Why not Vietnam?”