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TRAVEL AWARE – STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)
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Fun facts about Vietnam

As far as Asian holiday destinations go, they don't come much more distinctive than Vietnam, and that's not just for the long shape that it makes on the map, mixing in all manner of climates. The culture, personalities and places of this fascinating and naturally beautiful realm make it a holiday destination unlike any other. In fact, it's so different from home or any other holiday you're used to it might feel nerve-wracking at first, but take a few of our fast facts in mind and you'll have a headstart on all things Vietnam ahead of your break.


On your bike

Katie Melua may have famously sung that there are nine million bicycles in Beijing, but Vietnam has roughly 10 million motorbikes whizzing about its roads, both in rural communities and big cities like Hanoi.

Vietnam's cities are bustling and larger than life, so it makes sense that local people would prefer a more nimble form of transportation. What's more, car ownership and taxes are really expensive in Vietnam which is another reason people opt for a trusty motorbike. Perhaps surprisingly though, the wearing of helmets and safety gear was only passed into Vietnamese law comparatively recently.

Going nuts for coffee

Both black pepper and cashew nuts are enjoyed across a host of dishes worldwide, yet over a third of the entire planet's supply can be traced right back here to Vietnam.

Rice is also a big export here, second in the world only to Thailand in terms of sheer export volume. It's definitely a big part of the tasty dishes you can expect to enjoy here, but that's also true of coffee. The nickname for coffee, java, is due to its history of growth in Indonesia, but these days Vietnam is among Asia's top growers and consumers of the delicious dark delight.

Not so nosy


When you're making the acquaintance of somebody new, you'd likely pick some tame topics of conversation to get that ice broken. Perhaps a discussion of the weather or discussing recommendations of good bars nearby.

Yet among Vietnamese people, taboos are a little different, so if they ask if you're married and how much you earn almost immediately after meeting you, don't be put off by their directness. In Vietnam, such enquiries are actually the highest of compliments, as it means that your conversation partner is interested in your life and your happiness within it. Community spirit, even in the country's biggest and loudest cities, is at the heart of Vietnam's culture.

Shying away from suntans

We love coming back from holidays with the healthy glow of time spent in the sun, and with a climate like Vietnam's, you can guarantee that you'll have a sunkissed look for weeks after your trip. The local people will do their utmost to help you accomplish that, especially with such high standards of service being the norm here, but don't be surprised if you find your new Vietnamese friends a little more shy of the sunlight.

Much like many other Asian countries, Vietnam's standards of beauty lean towards the pale and mysterious, to the extent that the country's cosmetics industry is full of lotions and potions to lighten the complexion. That just means more sunshine for the rest of us though, so stretch out on that lounger to your heart's content.

Savvy and smart


Vietnam is classified as a developing country, but don't think that means that the people here miss a trick. Literacy rates here stand at around 94%, and plenty of Vietnamese are bilingual, especially among the younger generation.

On top of that, even with a population of 95 million, Vietnam has one of the lowest unemployment rates of any developing nation in the world. The people here are working tirelessly day by day to make this gorgeous destination shine ever brighter, so make sure you make the most of your Vietnamese visit, from the vast beaches and cosy islands to the vibrant cities.

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