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Published: February 15th 2018
Vietnam is a beautiful country, with many big modern cities which contrast with the tiny floating villages where people live without electricity and mains water on the river. Cities look like mayhem, crossing the road in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is a dangerous adventure in itself! There are almost as many scooters as inhabitants in the Vietnamese capital: it's easier to go through traffic with a smaller vehicle and cars are very very heavily taxed (250%). Cities feel very polluted.
Cities and villages are pretty dirty, you can see rats, mice and cockroaches crawling everywhere.
Vietnam is also an amazing place, with a variety of beautiful places: huge rock formations in Ninh Binh and Ha Long & Lan Ha bays, mountains in the North, rivers with floating villages and markets, nice beaches etc.
In terms of food, we have not tried street food in big cities as we saw raw meat being cut on the pavement, right next to exhaust fumes from the many scooters.
Otherwise, we had been told food in Vietnam was amazing: compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, food in Vietnam was really good but Vietnamese food was not amazing - although it will probably be in the top 2 food with Thailand. The famous "pho" is nothing special (a noodle and meat soup) but I absolutely loved nems (fried spring rolls) which are so different depending on where you get them - my favourite were the Hoi An spring rolls. Shaun and I thought that food in Vietnam was good because there is a wide variety of restaurants: you can eat a lot of western food but also very nice Indian or Thai food etc.
We had many nice experiences throughout our month in Vietnam. We celebrated the victory of Vietnam in the semifinals of the under 23s Asian football cup, which people were crazy about! We rode bikes through beautiful places in Ninh Binh and Trang An. A dragon spat fire at us on a bridge in Da Nang.
The worst experience was probably the traveling from Phu Quoc to Can Tho.
We met a lot of backpackers but also a lot of Vietnamese people we really liked: Leo and Dât who worked in the hostel in Hanoi, Lê who worked in the hostel in Da Nang, Ba with whom we hung out in Phu Quoc, and other people we were never properly introduced to but with whom we shared nice moments!
As for backpackers, we met many but we spent more time with Victor whom we met in Hanoi and travelled with in Ninh Binh, Bertrand whom we met in Cat Ba, Marie, FX and Valerian in Phu Coqu, Stéphane in Ho Chi Minh (all French speaking people!).
Overall, we have spent an amazing time in Vietnam. Although a month is probably not enough to see everything, we managed to visit almost all of the places we wanted to see.
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