Vietnam is one of those countries that is not for everyone. If you only like clean and tidy cities, shopping for latest fashions, and visiting art museums, Vietnam is not for you. But if you are up for adventure, want to travel back in time and see how people used to live hundreds of years ago, if you want to experience a culture drastically different from your own, Vietnam is perfect!
The country is stretching hundreds of miles from north to south and thus, is quite versatile, naturewise. The rice paddies and colorful Hmong of Sa Pa, the crazy colonial Ha Noi, the stunning Ha Long Bay, the ancient Hue, the old Hoi An, the modern Sai Gon, the rural Mekong Delta, they are all different but also similar in the wonderful food you will sample and the friendly and warm people you will encounter. There is even a little shopping to be done in Hoi An and Sai Gon. You will feel safe and welcomed everywhere. You can also travel on a budget here – even 4 and 5-star hotels are affordable and even gourmet food is cheap.
This is a poor country but there is no poverty. People have plenty to eat, they are not dressed in rags, their houses have several rooms, and almost everybody has a motorbike. They are polite and respectful, so the service in the hotels and restaurants is wonderful. To me, this is a country you only need to see once, but it is worthwhile to see it once. Although, I did meet several people who come here every few years.
Vietnam is a communist country with a capitalist economy. The bloody civil war and the American war that ended in the victory of the communist north was fought in vain, because the country reversed back to capitalism. I do wish from the bottom of my heart that the hard-working, cheerful, and polite Vietnamese people catch up with the Asian economic giants and enter the 21st century. But I am also so very happy that I got to see the Vietnam of today – the Vietnam of the days of yore.