If you have a chance to visit Vietnam with natural treasures, amazing cuisine, and surprises to discover, spending some time exploring for yourself the beauty from the furthest north to the furthest south of this gorgeous country will leave you with many unforgettable memories. Let’s learn some interesting and even weird facts about Vietnam, including how fascinating the country was getting through the War over the years, in the 50 fun facts about Vietnam picked by foreigners and locals.
1. Vietnam is an S-shaped country
The very first fact about Vietnam is most people come from all over the world usually address Vietnam as an S-shaped nation due to its figure and location on the map. Vietnamese borders are winding from the North to the South like the letter S in the alphabet.
2. Vietnam is a nation of rivers
392 is the number of rivers in Vietnam with 6,734.6 km long in total, running across from the top and the bottom of the country. Therefore, the water culture has played an indispensable part in Vietnam’s civilization in the traditional value, especially among the locals living in the two most significant deltas which are the Red River Delta and the Mekong Delta.
3. Vietnam is considered the world’s leading exporter of cashews and black pepper
While other agricultural products have faced challenges and difficulties in pricing and finding distributors, cashew nuts, and black pepper continue to be popular on the international shelves, not only in the local markets but also in the world markets, with a total retail turnover of approximately 3 million dollars because of the high quality.
4. Soccer/football is the most popular sport in Vietnam
Soccer is one of the most loved sports in the world, and Vietnam is no exception. Vietnamese love this sport; whenever there are big national or international games, all of the coffee shops and restaurants are flooded by patrons coming to enjoy the fantastic soccer matches and cheer for their favorite team.
5. Motorbike madness
It might not come across as one of the most surprising fun facts about Vietnam that motorbikes are everywhere in Vietnam; no matter where you are, those motorbikes always occupy some parts of your views. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the two big cities in Vietnam, and they are also where motorbikes are used the most. Ho Chi Minh City now has 7.4 million (2016) while Hanoi has over 5 million two-wheeled vehicles (2017). According to statics in early 2017, there are more than 45 million motorbikes in Vietnam.
To have fun trips in Ho Chi Minh City, check out our authentic motorbike tours with professional local guides!
6. Vietnam is the world’s 2nd largest coffee exporter
Accounting for 10.5% of the world’s coffee export, Vietnam’s annual crop export is valued at USD 3.2 billion. Vietnamese coffee is considered to be one of the best heavens for coffee lovers coming to enjoy the unique taste, which nowhere else in the world but Vietnam can bring out. Guests who join our Ho Chi Minh city tour will get to have a cup of Vietnamese drip coffee as part of the local experience.
7. Son Doong Cave, which is the largest cave in the world, is located in this beautiful country
Discovered recently in 2009-2010, Son Doong has become the largest known cave in the world and one of the top tourist attractions for local and foreign visitors. Most travelers would know more about Vietnamese beaches and tropical forests, but these mysterious caves are such fun facts to discover when visiting Vietnam.
8. Vietnamese nationalism
Vietnam is a nation that always promotes a strong cultural unity of the Vietnamese including the ideas, thoughts, moral values, and sentiments to preserve the national identity, through historical stories and teaching of traditional customs.
9. There is always Ong Tao in the corner of every typical Vietnamese familyOng Tao, or also called Mandarin Tao, is a family member who is known as the Kitchen God in traditional Vietnamese beliefs. The locals often place him near or at the family altars with some offering to pray for blessing, serenity, and health to their beloved family members.
10. Land of tropical fruits
Vietnam is blessed with fertile lands and tropical weather that help with producing a wide range of tropical fruits. It is one of the beautiful things for guests traveling to a tropical country like Vietnam, getting to see green and fresh gardens with trees full of delicious fruits.
11. Lighter skin symbolizes beauty
Not only the Vietnamese but East Asians in general, people believe that if they have white or lighter skin color, they will be more beautiful in the others’ eyes, which is entirely different from Western people who much prefer to have suntanned skins.
12. Gift giving is not only an art but also a superstition conscious
In every country, there are rules of taboo, and according to Vietnamese customs, there is also something you should not do or even must not do when giving gifts to the Vietnamese. For example, gifting in the unlucky number 4, which means “death” (an old belief from the Chinese community), bananas which means “failed” in Vietnamese, or cups and glasses to newlyweds as it means “separate” in the local language. Bear this fact about Vietnam in mind before choosing a gift for a Vietnamese to avoid offending them.
13. Vietnam has a high level of biodiversity
Three-quarters of Vietnam’s land area are highlands and mountains covered by a number of green tropical rain forests that are home to thousands of species of fauna and flora.
14. You can be asked about your age and personal status at the first meeting
One of the fun facts about Vietnam that might cause a bit of a culture shock to first-time visitors is that some Vietnamese don’t find it awkward to discuss their age and personal status. Although Westerners find it irritating when being asked about their personal information such as age, marital status, and finances, it is completely normal for a Vietnamese, especially the older generation, to start the first conversation on those subjects. They would like to know your age to address you correctly because the pronouns are different based on age and gender. While questions about finance become less common, your marital status is still asked so that they can know what kind of topic they should talk about with you. It is perfectly ok if you don’t want to bring up these subjects, and politely avoiding them won’t make so much of a bad impression.
15. Drinking snake wine as a sign of vitality
Snake wine is an alcoholic beverage made by putting whole snakes and herbs into rice wine for a long time to enhance the flavor. It is a remedy in traditional Vietnamese medicine; it is said that those kinds of species have therapeutic and invigorating substances which can help cure back pain and rheumatism (muscular, joints, fibrous tissue pain). However, it is strong and contains a few poisonous substances that can be bad for people who are allergic to alcohol, have a sensitive stomach, and have high blood pressure, so it should only be consumed in a small amount. Read more about the Traditional Rice Wine in Vietnam.
16. Vietnamese language and its weird alphabet
Vietnamese alphabet has 29 letters instead of 26, and it is the result of a combination of the Latin alphabet and some added letters. Besides, there are 6 tones including “sac” – a rising tone, “huyen” – a falling tone, “hoi” – a questioning tone, “nga” – a rising and falling tone, “nang” – a low tone, and “ngang” – a flat tone. These complicated tones are one of the reasons why people often find speaking Vietnamese is more like singing the language and find it quite challenging to master, especially for those speaking a language with little tones or monotone like English. See also Some Useful Vietnamese Phrases for Your First Time in Vietnam.
17. Pho, Ao dai, and Banh mi are featured in the Oxford dictionary
Did you know that Banh mi, Pho, and Ao dai are three Vietnamese words that have been added to the Oxford dictionary? This fact proves the popularity, uniqueness, and recognition from all over the world of these iconic foods and clothing of Vietnam. Check out the best places to eat authentic pho in Ho Chi Minh and Must-try foods in Vietnam.
18. Ho Chi Minh is the superhero of all time
Besides the controversial Vietnam War in the middle of the last century, there were also wars against the colonists before 1954. Ho Chi Minh – or Uncle Ho, President Ho – had appeared as an excellent leader of all time in Vietnamese history, helping this country to become an independent and free nation now.
19. Nguyen is the most common last name
According to World Geography, Nguyen has been named the fourth most popular surname in the world and the most common in Vietnam with more than 36 million people, which is nearly 40 percent of Vietnamese surnames. And that is why in Vietnam, people are called by their names rather than surnames.
20. Dong is the Vietnamese currency
Dong has been the Vietnamese currency since 1978, which is issued by the State Bank of Vietnam. You might feel fancy with those many zeroes on the note, but bear in mind the exchange rate and be careful because you might be confused by the color and the zeroes (VND 500,000 and VND 20,000 bills can look alike but a day-and-night difference in value).
21. Meaning of the finger gestures
Similar to any international community, when traveling to Vietnam, you have to pay attention to your finger gestures. You should not use your index finger to point at someone because it is considered rude; use your hand when you want to address someone. Some of the Vietnamese elders do not know about the middle finger meaning, so sometimes they will point at things with it, and you shouldn’t think that they are offending you. Holding up the 2-finger pose like a V-sign in Vietnam means “hi” because “hi” is pronounced like “hai”- number two in Vietnamese.
22. It has an awesome kaleidoscope of cultures
54 is the number of different ethnic groups inhabiting Vietnam, The Kinh ethnic group or we also call Viets account for nearly 90 percent of Vietnam’s population. Some other major ethnic groups include the Tay, Thai, H’mong, and Khmer.
23. Sunny-side up eggs, banh mi, xoi (sticky rice), and banh bao (steamed buns) are the favored choices for breakfast
Vietnamese tend to have convenient, cheap, and fast breakfasts because they need to avoid the terrible traffic jams to get to the office on time or just simply take their children to school. Fried eggs and bread together with some vegetables will be an ideal option when they have breakfast at home. Banh mi, xoi (sticky rice), and banh bao (buns) are favorite takeaways for a hurried morning.
24. Vietnam’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest rates in the world
According to the World Bank, Vietnam has one of the lowest unemployment rates (2.2%) because many international brands have chosen Vietnam to invest in, and Vietnam is also ranked as having the lowest labor wages as well.
25. 5 taste elements of Vietnamese cuisine
Vietnamese food is one of the top things to attract millions of vacationers every year. The most interesting about traditional cuisine is it has 5 shades of flavors including sweetness, salty, sourness, spiciness, and bitterness that are combined smartly to create savory and dessert dishes. Coming to Saigon? Check out our fun Saigon Food Tour!
26. New Year is in February
Instead of using the Gregorian Calendar, Vietnamese use the Lunar Calendar to celebrate traditional events, and that is the reason the locals celebrate their New Year, known as Tet, which usually falls in February of each year.
27. It has a 3,260 km coastline
Vietnam is blessed with many beautiful beaches. The long coastline also helps the economy by providing the fishermen jobs at sea, travel agencies with tourist attractions, fuel exploitations, and natural resources.
28. Thousands of wonderful islands
According to the estimated data, Vietnam has over 5,800 small and huge islands. Many of those islands are in Halong Bay and on the coast in the central of Vietnam.
29. Snow in a tropical country
Want to know one of the fun facts that will shock you and your friends the most? Despite being a tropical country, Vietnam does have snow in some areas! It’s in a small town situated in the North of Vietnam, over 1,600 meters above sea level called Sapa. Therefore, Sapa is also addressed as Europe inside Vietnam where you can see snow falling.
30. Vietnam is home to water puppetry
This can be one of the fun facts about Vietnam that not a lot of people know. Water puppetry is an interesting reminder of all the precious moral values and traditions that are passed down from one generation to another generation in Vietnam. This form of art is introduced to international friends who love to explore the culture and history through art performances.
31. There are many ways to address someone
One fun fact about Vietnamese daily life is how people call others and themselves. For example, when you need to mention yourself, you just use “I” or “me” in English; however, in Vietnamese, many words such as “minh”, “toi”, “to”, “tui” and so on, all mean “I” or “me”. You need to pay attention to age and gender to use the right word to address yourself and others.
32. Men play the leading role in the family
Although women are given more rights and freedom; some of them hold high positions in society and are respected by both men and women. However, men are still considered as the breadwinners who have the privilege to make all the crucial decisions in their families. However, times are changing and women are regaining their power in family life as well as in the workplace.
Read more about Vietnamese Traditional Gender Roles
33. The world’s second position of rice production and export across the globe
Vietnam is the second country leading in rice production, holding roughly 20% of the world’s export (the first place belongs to Thailand).
34. Rice is the main dish of every meal
Rice is an everyday dish of Vietnamese because people can create so many recipes with unique flavors and well-seasoned from rice, adding to the considerable diversity of cuisines. Due to these fun facts, it is no surprise that you’ll get a chance to try many rice dishes as well as famous Vietnamese dishes made from rice.
35. There is a whole historical underground world
One of the good ways to explore the special features of a country is to visit its historical landmarks and buildings. Underground landmarks are not as common as the one that above the ground, but one of the top tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam is the Cu Chi Tunnels, a secret passage of underground tunnels created by the Vietnamese during the war with the French and US.
Check prices and reviews of the best hotels in Vietnam:
36. The country has 8 UNESCO sites
They are the Complex of Hue Monuments, Halong Bay, Hoi An Ancient Town, Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park, Thang Long Imperial Citadel, The Ho Dynasty Citadel, and Trang An Landscape Complex. Make sure to put these UNESCO World Heritages on your bucket list when making a trip to Vietnam.
37. Land of lights
All of the big cities in Vietnam like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are well-known as never-sleeping cities due to their hustle and bustle happening every day. Whenever you go out on the street, there will always be shops opened and serving even at midnight.
38. You can drive a hard bargain for almost all products!
Product prices offered to visitors are often higher than regular. It is always a good idea to go with the local guides if you want to do some shopping and watch how they bargain for a reasonable price. See Our Tips for How to Bargain in Vietnam.
39. The locals prefer to drink beer after work
Another fun fact about Vietnam is that people usually hang out with their friends and colleagues and drink some beers after their nine-to-five jobs instead of returning home; it is their way to relax and refresh after a hard-working day.
Read more about the Vietnamese Drinking Culture.
40. Traditional handicraft villages
We are living in a fast-paced society where some traditions have been falling into oblivion, but Vietnamese people still put the effort in preserve traditional values by promoting traditional villages in tourism such as Binh An drum-making village and Dong Ho painting village.
41. Ninh Binh, another filming location of Kong: Skull Island
Besides Halong Bay, Ninh Binh is another site where one of the 2017’s blockbusters, Kong Skull Island was filmed a short time ago. Its divine beauty hidden inside the gorgeous nature is the reason why it was chosen for the movie, and why it has become an attractive area for travelers.
Find your tickets to visit Ninh Binh
42. Northwest, natural beauty
Riding a motorbike and starting your discovery trip in the Northwest where you can get off the beaten track would probably be the most memorable journey in your travel life. It is less exposed to tourism, and thus you will see people of ethnic minorities living their daily life in nature and wildlife.
43. The floating market is a characteristic of the South
If the North is famous for its majestic mountain ranges, the South is renowned for its floating markets which have become a part of people’s daily routine. The floating markets in Southern Vietnam offer an excellent opportunity to get closer to the Vietnamese water culture and the local produce.
44. Unusual foods
If you are up to a food challenge, here are some unusual foods in the world but common in Vietnam: Hot vit long (fertilized duck embryo) or Trung cut lon (fertilized quail embryo), and Tiet canh (animal blood). Read more on Exotic Foods in Vietnam.
45. Vietnam flag’s meaning
Vietnam’s flag is red with a gold star in the middle which is inspired by the communists’ flag. The red represents the blood, blood of all the patriotic people sacrificing their lives for the freedom movement of Vietnam. The yellow represents the skin of the people of Vietnam.
46. Tube houses are everywhere
In Vietnam, over 95 million people are living on a land of over 330,000 square kilometers. The population is primarily denser in the cities; people do not have enough space to build houses with gardens, and tube houses are their solution for families with many generations living under the same roof.
47. Explore Vietnamese cuisine on the streets
If you ask some locals which one they prefer, an expensive restaurant or a street stall, most of the answers will be the street foods. A wide range of street foods can be found at any corner in Vietnam, and you can find many versions of the same dish because of the diversity of cooking styles and ingredients here.
48. Landmarks and buildings contain parts of history
Nowadays, you can easily find some French colony structures and buildings in Vietnam. All of them have a story about how it was built or how it has lasted until today. Many of them are hospitals and schools, and some of them were reused as museums and galleries.
49. 94.5% literacy rate
Despite being a developing country, Vietnam has a 94.5 percent literacy rate who can read and write Vietnamese is a good rate thanks to the government’s effort in education. And this is defined as people ages 15 and above who can both write and read a short, simple statement about their everyday life.
50. Buddhism is the religion with the most followers in Vietnam with just 7.9% of the population
In 2013, more than half of the population was practicing Buddhism. Even people who are not practicing Buddhism on a daily basis, still believe in some Buddha teachings. Most people fall into the spiritual category of ancestral worship, but since it is not an official form of religion, this is not recognized.
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If there any more fun facts about Vietnam that you would like to share? Do feel free to share with us in the comments!
Summary of the 50 Fun Facts about Vietnam
There are a lot more of Vietnam to discover such as the traditions, cultures, cuisines, and people. If you have not been, don’t delay making a trip to this beautiful country to get a more in-depth understanding and experience the rich culture.
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