Vietnam Holidays

When travelling in Asia and going to Vietnam, you collate a list of all the things you want to cover in your time there. A lot of ideas are going to come straight out of your guidebook, ‘Let’s go and see the dead body of Ho Chi Minh!’ ‘Water puppetry is what everyone does all the time here, they’re totally obsessed, we must see for ourselves!’ And it’s easy to get so carried away with being a tourist and all those things you are supposed to do that you forget to appreciate the country for the simple things that make it so wonderful. Think of it this way: how many people who live in London have been to all the sites? To Madame Tussauds and the Tower of London, all the museums and art galleries, and Buckingham Palace? Aside from obvious reasons, why they haven’t (many sites are expensive, for instance) a lot of the time it’s because if you live somewhere, you have all the time in the world to see it. If you don’t make time for it, it’s probably because you are simply enjoying where you are. And one of the most wonderful things in the world is to experience another country as you would choose to experience your own. Go and see the things you want to see but make some time to sit down and absorb the culture. And as with any place, top of the list of things to get used to has to be the food.

There are several dishes in Vietnam that are regional delicacies. The one you’ll probably hear about the most is beef noodle soup – you may struggle with trying everything if you’re a vegetarian, but you can always try the most similar vegetable-based dish on the menu.

Bún bò Huế or spicy beef noodle soup originated in Huế. It is made with beef bones, shrimp paste (something you will find in many Vietnamese dishes), dried chilli and lemongrass. The best place to eat Bún bò Huế is probably in Huế. Huế is set on the Perfume River, so called because of the scent that emits from the local flowers that drop into the water. Huế has many great restaurants. In keeping with the chilling out vibe, taking a boat up the river before your meal to lazily explore some of the hillsides and pagodas is a lovely way to while away a day.

It is worth noting that because of the French occupation in the 19th century, you will find amazing pastries in many places in Vietnam. Particularly good, are those in bakeries in the French influenced buildings in Hoi An, where you might have stopped because your guidebook tells you about the tailors here, who can whip up a suit or dress in less than three days for you. Hoi An has its own speciality dish – Cao Lau. Cao Lau usually consists of thick noodles with basil or mint, served with green vegetables or salad and with thin pork slices and croutons on top. Enjoy.

John Hutchinson has enjoyed travelling since he was a young boy when his parents first took him to visit family overseas. Since leaving home, John has tracked down family all over the world and regularly jets off to faraway lands to see distant relatives.

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