Crawling through Viet Cong secret tunnels in Cu Chi
Crawling through Chu Chi Tunnels is one of the most thrilling experiences in Vietnam. Located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the historical site has over 120km of underground tunnels, most of which fitted with trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres.
You only get to explore a small part of the Chu Chi Tunnels, but you will get a sense of what it would have been like during the war in the 1960s and 1970s.
Experiencing traditional Tet in Vietnam
In preparation for public holidays, especially Lunar New Year, Tet in Vietnamese, you will find yourself in the middle of the only time of year when Vietnamese people begin to show signs of stress.
People work double shifts to make up for the days when they visit their families, uniformed entities knock on various doors to collect what they think is due, and robbers snatch more phones and handbags that at any other time of the year. The markets are buzzing with buyers and sellers of gift baskets, while women set up huge cooking pots for preparing the traditional sticky rice cakes for Tet.
Visiting a Hmong family
The moment you get off your bus in Sapa, in the north of Vietnam, you will be accosted in a friendly way by Hmong women in colorful garb. If you are a seasoned traveler, your instinct might be to shoo them away, but don’t. They offer immersive tours where they bring you to their villages to show you their traditional ways of life. It is an intimate experience, and you will be glad that you did not wave them off.
Riding on a cyclo
You can find these holdouts from the French colonial days near most urban tourist landmarks, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Hanoi. They are a bit bumpy, but the drivers are excellent guides with detailed knowledge of your surroundings.
Walking into 6 lanes of oncoming traffic in Saigon
Traffic in Vietnam is undeniably chaotic, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, and sometimes motorists will use sidewalks, pedestrian streets, and narrow alleyways to get to their destination. As dangerous as it sounds, it is important not to panic when you are walking into six lanes of oncoming traffic.
The best strategy is to stick with a group of locals, walk at a steady pace, and pray.
Trying egg coffee (Ca phe trung)
Egg coffee is a specialty in Vietnam. Not too many coffee shops serve it, but it is worth looking for because of its interesting texture and taste.
Egg yolk whipped with condensed milk into an airy froth meets dark coffee in this rich concoction, think of it as a Vietnamese take on tiramisu. Egg coffee first made the scene in the 1940s, when milk was scarce and egg yolks provided a convenient replacement.