“They say whatever you’re looking for, you will find here. They say you come to Vietnam and you understand a lot in a few minutes, but the rest has got to be lived. The smell: that’s the first thing that hits you, promising everything in exchange for your soul. And the heat. Your shirt is straightaway a rag. You can hardly remember your name, or what you came to escape from.” 

Graham Greene

It’s funny how fast time changes things. Just 50 years ago,  war raged in Vietnam. It was one of the longest, most costly, and divisive conflicts in U.S. history. As many as 2 million civilians died on both sides, as well as, nearly 1.5 million military casualties (including both sides). We didn’t live through the war, but as military medical providers we saw our fare share of the mental and physical scars left from those who bravely fought.

Fast forward a generation, and relations between U.S. and Vietnam are completely different. For us, Vietnam was an absolute delight of culture, noise, food, breathtaking scenery, and very friendly people. We took our time to pay respects to those (on both sides) who fought and died in the war, but it makes us happy to see how fast some of the wounds of war can heal. There is so much to do and so much worth seeing here. So much, in fact, that we went back two times and spent over a month in the country. Even so, we left so much on the table and can’t wait to once again feel the embrace of modern day Vietnam.

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Tips on Vietnam/

  • Vietnam is CHEAP! If you are looking for an affordable exotic travel locale, it should definitely be on you short list. Hotels, food, transportation…all very inexpensive.
  • To follow up on the point above, we did find a few activities where we really do feel like its worth splurging to get a little extra. Our Halong bay cruise was a perfect example. We spent significantly more than other options but had an experience in a lesser used portion of the bay where there was hardly another ship to be seen. The serenity and beauty in our mind was certainly worth the price.
  • Don’t leave without trying egg coffee (Ca the trunk) and a GOOD Bahn Mi. Dom is king of sandwiches and these were some of his all time favorites. Check out our write ups below for some suggestions.
  • As with other SE Asia locations, Grab App is your friend in arranging transport.
  • Vietnamese Words to Know:
    • “Cam On” = Thank You
    • “Sin Chao” = Hello
    • “Tam Biet” = Good Bye
    • “Mot, Hai, Ba” = One, Two, Three