Arriving in a new country for the first time is not always easy. Culture shock is real and as Erin found out on her first time visiting Vietnam, it can take some time to take it all in. With that in mind here is her experience visiting Vietnam for the first time and why she thinks there is no better time to visit than the present.
First impressions aren’t always right
My first time visiting Vietnam was also my first time in Asia. To say stepping out of the airport was overwhelming would be an understatement. The noise, the heat, and the smells were intense. The seemingly impossible number of people, cars, and motorcycles packing the streets with zero sense of lanes or traffic control was mind-blowing. Granted, I was exhausted from a long couple days of travel. All I could bring myself to do was crawl into a cab and head straight to the hotel to meet our friends.
The next day was a whole new world. Without the filter of darkness and exhaustion, the city is vibrant and full of life. We quickly learned to cross the street with confidence at a consistent and steady speed. The ballet (or swarm, depending on your POV – ha!) somehow magically moves around you like water around a rock in the river.
By day two we were drinking beers on the sidewalk watching the newest arrivals try the first attempts to cross the main roads. The learning curve is quick in Vietnam. Tough it out and you will fall in love quickly also.
My Favourite Place
While Ho Chi Min will always have a special place in my heart, Hoi An truly stole it. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was a major port from the 16th-18th
centuries. Nowhere else in Vietnam is the unique combination of Chinese, Japanese, and European influences more evident.
Built with winding canals and multiple bridges, the city is built with the flood seasons in mind. Port travellers from all over would float right into the city centre and up to the merchants. Storefronts were created in the second level of their homes. Families would also bring all their belongings to the second level to live until the waters would go down again. This fact alone definitely makes it worth taking a guided walking tour. Pop into some of the original homes and note where the locals marked their walls with the level of water year after year.
Visiting Vietnam – Then and Now
Vietnam will always be a place we go back to. We’ve even purposely routed our fights for other trips through so we could steal a night or two strolling the streets of Ho Chi Min. That said, it’s a place that is quickly changing – we couldn’t believe just how different it was a few years later. Tourism is certainly on the rise as is the effects that come with it. If you are thinking of visiting Vietnam, don’t hesitate!
When’s the best time to visit Vietnam?
When is the best time to visit Vietnam? It really it depends on what you are looking for. The weather patterns and temperatures can vary between the North and the South, the interior and the coast. Be sure to avoid the rainy months and ensure you can escape the heat in the summer months. That said, based on my first impression and my return I will say the best time to visit Vietnam is now!
What say you?
Thoughts on Visiting Vietnam?
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I’ve also loved my trip to Vietnam. Good to see you’ve enjoyed your time. Halong Bay became my fave place in Vietnam, next wish to explore Hoi An.
Cheers. I enjoyed Halong Bay too and can’t wait to get back.
I loved visiting Vietnam – the second time I spent a month there travelling from South to North and it was a great experience! But I know that it can be a steep learning curve getting used to that traffic!
A month! Amazing.
Our son visited Vietnam. And it quickly replaced Thailand as his favourite spot. It is a great plan to route flights so you can visit again. That way you see the changes in a place more gradually. I really need to plan a visit myself. Thanks for the teaser.
Nice. We met up with friends who just came through Thailand and they were frustrated with the extra effort Vietnam takes as, at the time, it was not very touristy. I miss that.
never been but years ago my mom went for a month – she stayed on a boat, had clothes custom made – silk pants in tiny boutiques, and ate great food – seemed like an amazing trip! thanks for sharing xx Bee
I hope the clothes turned out OK! We rushed ours and was pretty comical when we tried them on when we got home. Lesson learned.