In Vietnam and Cambodia, you’ll experience weird and wonderful new things that you’d never get the chance to at home. Check out these unique ‘only in Vietnam and Cambodia’ experiences (and if you want to experience them for yourself, join one of our group trips this year!)
1) You will finally learn what it feels like to be a millionaire
How? By simply going to the ATM. Why? With the exchange rate in Vietnam, you’ll soon feel like you’ve won the lottery. Every note is followed by more zeroes than you’ve probably ever seen in your life, all the way from 1,000 to 500,000. It’s enough to give anyone heart palpitations. For 1000 rupees, you’d receive 335385 dong! Savour the feeling …while the money lasts.
2) You’ll learn how to pronounce ‘pho’ correctly
Is it poh? Or Fho? P-hoe? Phuuuh? Faux? Wrong. Wrong. And Wrong. You pronounce ‘pho’ like the beginning of a four letter swear word which, er, rhymes with duck. Still confused? Here’s a hilarious video that might help:
Don’t forget to practice before you go as you’ll need to know what to ask for when you see bowls of steaming noodle soup on all the streets of Hanoi. And at only 10 to 20,000 dong, you’ll soon find it’s become your favorite Vietnamese dish. Soups up!
3) You will never be fazed by two wheeler traffic in India again
We all know how bad traffic can get in India. No one knows what an indicator light is. Cows are better at lane discipline than cars are. Sidewalk? What is a sidewalk? Sound familiar? Well, prepare to meet the mother of all traffic insanity in Vietnam. In India, at least drivers respect traffic lights. In Vietnam, traffic rules exist only in theory. People continue driving, even with a police officer attached to your windshield, for instance.
And traffic lights? They function more like a decoration. But don’t be too alarmed. This is normal here and after negotiating your way around the traffic insanity in Ho Chi Minh, you’ll never blink an eye at two-wheeler madness in Madras again.
4) Your name will temporarily change to ‘you-motobike-you’
No, really. On every street corner of Ho Chi Minh, you’ll be addressed as ‘you-motobike-you ?!’ by motorbike hawkers who see you walking on the street and want to get you to hire their bike for the hour/day. This is actually a good thing. One of the best and most fun ways to get around is by scooter. You’ll never know what surprising thing you’ll see.
5) You will learn to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the fake
Vietnam is a shopaholic’s paradise, but it rivals India when it comes to fake products. If your years of experience shopping for knock-off clothing with international brand names or downloaded DVDS of the latest movies haven’t been honed as yet, you’ll become an expert by the time you leave this country.
6) You will learn to overcome Indian instinct and smile at total strangers
Yes, we know. In India, if anyone smiled at you, you’d probably be immediately suspicious, think that person was up to no good and tell them to get lost.
In Cambodia though, people are genuinely friendly and open. From toothless old men to children at the temples, a lot of people will stop just to talk to you and get to know you better. This friendliness is contagious in the best of ways. You soon come to realize how much you can learn from strangers who you’d never have met if you hadn’t followed this cultural value.
7) You will feel like angelina jolie in tomb raider
Minus the six-armed guardian statues that come to life, of course.
Walking through out-of-the-way jungle-covered Angkor temple ruins in Siem Reap is one of the best things you can do in Cambodia and it’s not that hard to do. Just ask your local tuk-tuk driver to take you to a temple that’s away from the normal tourist circuit. Walking through the crumbling temples of Ta Nei, Prasat Sampeau or Phnom Bok is a dream come true for adventurers-at-heart. Here, its easy to imagine you’re an explorer/adventurer like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft just on the verge of discovering an ancient treasure.
8) You will eat more than you thought you could
Food in Cambodia is in general heartier than the delicate flavours in Vietnam, and you’ll soon spot Chinese and Indian influences in the curries and stir-fries, but once you start eating Khmer cuisine, you won’t turn back. Try fish amok, Bai sach chrouk (pork slow grilled over fire, served with rice), beef loklak (stir-fried beef with oyster sauce, paired with rice, French fries and a fried egg on top), Khmer red curry and red tree ants with beef and holy basil. This time, when you get back home and receive ‘you’ve put on weight’ comments, you can simply smile and tell them it was completely worth it.
9) You will want to move to vietnam or cambodia
Who wouldn’t? At some point of your travels, you’re bound to find yourself wistfully making plans to pack up your stuff back home and move to Vietnam or Cambodia before the sad reality will set in. Yes, you’re leaving behind limestone islands, markets of treasures and trinkets, kind locals, an adventure around every corner, and food that you can’t find in your home country. But cheer up, Vietnam and Cambodia will always be just a plane ride away, waiting for you.