You Know You’re In Vietnam When…

Bikes of Burden VietnamOh Vietnam. Exotic, picturesque, delicious…you have so much to offer–but boy are you a tough cookie! Our non-stop series of shystery encounters really left a bad taste in our mouth, but in the process of putting these Vietnam blogs together, we found a soft spot in our heart for this complex country. The mystical islands of Ha Long Bay, an unforgettable New Year’s in Ta Phin, a magical full moon in Hoi An, the floating markets of the Mekong, delicious shrimp summer rolls…Vietnam’s got a lot going for it. Once you get past the commonly gruff exterior and learn to count your change thrice, you can see the beauty and the comedy in this crazy place. Here are some of the moment’s that made us laugh and say, “You know you’re in Vietnam when…”


tangled telephone wires– Electricians are really magicians with a day job.


Vietnam Ladies in Hats– Everything looks cooler in a pointy hat.


Chicken cooked in a can, Vietnam– Canned chicken looks like something from a zombie buffet.


Vietnamese quirks– Motors are dressed to impress.


penguin shaped public trash cans– Penguins are the unanimous choice in trash receptacle design. (Watch out for the man-eating variety!)


Vietnam fashion helmet– Motorbike helmets often resemble Yankees baseball hat or a Harris Tweed cap, and they offer about as much protection.


red dzao cooking– Wooden beams and a stone bowl are the official KitchenAid mixer of Ta Phin.


gargage made of reeds– A garage is in the eye of the beholder.


menu with dog meat– Foo is Foo-food and Fido is Fried-o! Eeek!


Sidewalk parking lot in Vietnam– Sidewalks are more commonly referred to by their proper name…parking lots.


plastic chair wheelchair– Bike tires + patio furniture + a heavy dose of resourcefulness and Grandma’s got herself a new wheelchair!


hanoi bia hoi corner-“Fresh beer” goes for 20 cents a glass, the only catch is you have to fit in a plastic child’s chair to drink it


So which was the silliest, scariest, or most poignant You Know You’re In Vietnam? Leave a comment below!

28 thoughts on “You Know You’re In Vietnam When…

  • March 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve never been to Vietnam but one of the things that comes to mind is that just about everyone has the same surname (Nguyen).

  • March 25, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Fabulous photos!! I also love getting shots of the funny side of exploring other cultures. Keep ’em coming!

    • March 26, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      I’m not sure if the motor dress or the lawn wheelchair gets me more. Which one was your fave?

  • March 26, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Fun to read. Surprised you didn’t mention the kiddie chairs! Just shared your packing/gear video with Jaspar and Jeri who you’ll hopefully hear from soon 🙂

    • March 26, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Deb! You are so right on the kiddie chairs and now that you bring up the national bar stool…how could we forget bia hoi: the best 20 cent beer in the world!?

  • April 1, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Hilarious! Love the canned chicken!

    • April 1, 2014 at 9:54 am

      That canned chicken makes you hungry right? Yikes! The food in Vietnam was actually really good…just have to choose from the menu very carefully ; )

  • April 4, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Super list, all so true! Though I never saw a wheelchair like that before!

    • April 4, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      That wheelchair was a gem of resourcefulness! Glad we aren’t crazy with list and that you concur! Thanks, Charlie!

  • April 8, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Oh I just love this. Too funny. Great job on the creativity with the photo captions.

      • April 8, 2014 at 10:43 am

        I;m hooked! 🙂 I will be checking them out for sure. We will be heading that way the end of July and plan to trek around for a year or so. As of now our only plan is flying from Europe to BKK, and i am researching the rest. As a family of 4, we need to take it a little slow and on the cheap. Thanks.

        • April 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm

          Heidi, that’s so exciting you and your family are taking a year-long trip! We’d love to help you prepare for you RTW and show you how we got free flights, lodging, and learned all sorts of money-saving tips that kept us traveling for two years. Check out our Trip Coach service and please let us know how we can help!

          • April 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm

            Great thanks Mike. We will meander you site. We sold it all and moved to Southern Spain Aug 2012. We have explored Europe and once this school year is complete we will be a bit more nomadic in Asia.

  • April 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Shystery… what a fantastic word! 🙂 This post really made me want to revisit Vietnam and all it’s quirky glory!

    • April 9, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Shystery had never been so apt! Vietnam is actually a great place once you get to know it. Did you see any of these crazy scenarios in your travels, Britany?

  • April 16, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Awesomely true list! Other Asian countries seem to follow suit too 🙂

    Following you guys on Twitter now, so hope to see you there sometime!

  • April 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Awesome list – funny and also true. It bought back some of those quirky little memories of Vietnam – of things that surprise you and make traveling so interesting. Have you been to India? It takes crazy and quirky to a whole new level!? Just walking down the street will blow your mind! I love it – for me, it’s the little things that make travel so special

    • May 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      glad you like it, and it brought back some fun memories. yeah we went to India (but on a prior trip)….loved it. and yes, it DID blow our minds, big time. india and china are like no other.

  • May 3, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This is great. Would love to visit.

  • January 11, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    So true! Love it. How about intersections with 40mph traffic, no stop signs and no traffic lights? Or, floating in bath-tubs = party-time?!

  • September 1, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    You know youre in Vietnam when your right calf is bandaged up and everyone says to you “motorbike accident?” That really happened to me. 13 stitches in Hoi An and better cheaper medical care than i get in Chicago. Loved Vietnam!

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