How to Travel like a Local in Vietnam

Category: Vietnam, Travel Tips & Guides

Nowadays more and more people look for authentic local experiences when travelling to a new place. The best way is to travel like a local. Vietnam is a "paradise lost" where you can have lots of unique and authentic experiences different from other destinations. Here I list several insider tips for you to travel like a local in Vietnam.


A quite and beautiful street in Vietnam


Eat like a local

1. Cook Vietnamese food with your own hands

In Vietnam, you have a chance to cook local food and enjoy the results. We provide several cooking class programs in Vietnam, both private and join-in, such as at Tra Que vegetable village, Green Bamboo Cookery School, Red Bridge Cooking School, etc. Usually, you will, accompanied by your local guide, first visit a colorful market, where you can interact with local sellers and buy some fresh ingredients to be used in the cooking class later. The sights, sounds and aromas of the bustling market will give you a really unique experience. Then, head to the cooking venue, and walk through the vegetable gardens there to learn about local herbs and produce and also their traditional farming methods. Later, you will have a cooking lesson to learn the traditional ways of preparing and cooking a variety of local dishes of your choice. The chef will demonstrate how to cook each dish, and then you will prepare the same dish with your own hands under the supervision of the chef. Afterward, enjoy what you've cooked, and share with others!

The recipes may vary among different cooking classes, and may include Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), Hoi An spring rolls, fresh rice paper, seafood salad with mixed Vietnamese herbs, etc.

A beautiful place for cooking class in VietnamA beautiful place for cooking class


2. Enjoy home-cooked Vietnamese meals during homestay

During your homestay, the host will take you to a local market to buy some fresh tropical fruits for breakfast, and some ingredients for lunch and dinner. And you can also help prepare the food with the family, and enjoy the most authentic Vietnamese food together.


3. Make spring rolls on a Halong Bay cruise

On a Halong Bay cruise, you will not only admire paradise-like landscapes, but also have a chance to learn how to make Vietnam seafood spring rolls, a specialty in Halong Bay. They are easy to make by following the cooking demonstration. And then you can enjoy your own hand-made spring rolls.

The chef is teaching how to make spring rolls in a Halong Bay cruise.The chef is teaching how to make spring rolls.


4. Try classic and tasty street food

There are many reasons to try street food in Vietnam: great value, definitely authentic and tasty. It’s a very local way, and you can feel a unique atmosphere when eating like the locals around you.

The top 10 authentic dishes you should try in street-side stalls or restaurants include pho (Vietnam rice noodles), bun cha sets (grilled pork and noodle, served with herbs and sauce), xoi (sweet or savory glutinous rice and other ingredients), banh xeo (savory fried pancake stuffed with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts), goi cuon (spring roll), bun bo nam bo (southern beef noodle), cao lau (a dish made of noodles, pork, and local greens), banh mi (a typical Vietnamese sandwich filled with various savory ingredients), banh bot chien (fried rice flour cakes), and ca phe trung (Vietnamese egg coffee).

The atmosphere of street-side restaurants is really unique and authentic.The atmosphere is really unique and authentic.

Besides local food streets, you can also find delicious food in a traditional open-air market. If you have no idea about where to explore street food, just ask your local guides who will provide the most practical suggestions, and even take you to the right places if you need.

14-Day Vietnam Cultural Adventure Hanoi - Halong Bay - Dong Hoi - Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An - My Son - Ho Chi Minh City
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Travel like a local

1. Learn the great heritage of Hoi An – lantern making

If you spent a night in Hoi An, you will find the streets lit up with various traditional lanterns, making the entire town look gorgeous at night. The lanterns mean a lot to the locals. They believe that hanging lanterns in front of their houses will bring happiness, luck and wealth to their families.

Lanterns mean a lot to locals in Hoi An.Lanterns mean a lot to locals in Hoi An.

You have a chance to learn how to create your own traditional lantern with designs of your choice, and gain insights into the cultural significance of lanterns. Many lanterns are foldable, so you can take them home as special souvenirs.


2. Take a fisherman eco-tour in Hoi An

During the tour, you will visit a local fishing village to learn about the daily life of the fishermen, their families and their community. You can also learn traditional fishing techniques, join local fisherman on the river, and gain hands-on experience of round net and cast net fishing. Paddling the unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boats along the tranquil coconut-palm flanked waterways is another highlight of the tour.

The feeling of under a huge fishing net in Vietnam is fantastic.The feeling of under a huge fishing net is fantastic.


3. Cycle through rural life in Hue

Take a cycling adventure to discover Hue and its surrounding countryside. You will ride on small paths, passing by rice fields, crossing through some small villages, and cycling along narrow canals to the Thanh Toan Bridge, where you will have a break and enjoy a fresh sugar cane juice. Then head for an organic products farm , where you will learn about the crops and daily life of the farmer, and enjoy a luscious lunch made of home-grown organic products.

You may see farmers are planting rice when passing by rice fields in Vietnam.You may see farmers are planting rice when passing by rice fields.

We provide various activities to ensure you travel like a local. If you want to know more, please contact us.


Stay like a local

1. Immerse yourself in a countryside homestay

Homestaying is considered the best way to immerse yourself in local lifestyle. Here I recommend homestay in Ben Tre, a picturesque town in the Mekong Delta which is about 2-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. The homestay house is usually a traditional hut or bamboo stilt house. During your stay, you can chat with the family and gain insights into traditional rural Vietnamese culture.

10-Day Classic Vietnam Tour Hanoi - Halong Bay - Da Nang - Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City
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Shop like a local

1. Visit floating markets in the early morning

The Floating markets are icons of Vietnam, just like the rice fields and the conical hat, which may come into your mind when you talk about Vietnam. They date back to hundreds of years ago and have now become an important part of local life in the Mekong Delta. It’s said some of the local people here spend their whole life on the floating market and take their boats as their homes.

We recommend a visit to the floating markets such as Cai Rang, Nga Nam, Can Tho floating markets, etc., to feel the unique vibe. The best time to visit is the early morning, when floating markets come alive with stacks of colorful and fresh fruits, vegetables and other goods for everyday use.

Strongly recommended: wake up early in the morning, and take a breakfast cruise to Cai Rang floating market, the most popular in Mekong Delta, boasting about 250 boats selling various kinds of vegetables, fruits, etc. You can enjoy delicious food and fresh fruit juices on the cruise as your breakfast, take very nice pictures of the bustling and vibrant floating market, and even bargain for some fresh fruit.


2. Shop for souvenirs in local markets and streets

What souvenirs to buy in Vietnam? The best 10 souvenirs are silk (including silk scarves, silk clothes, silk paintings, etc.), Ao Dai (Vietnamese traditional dress), conical hats (aka. leaf hat or non la), handmade embroidery, wooden clogs (guoc moc), hand fans, pop-up paper cards, bamboo and wooden products, ceramics, and lacquerware.

A street-side shop in Vietnam selling conical hats.A street-side shop selling conical hats.

When shopping in Vietnam, don't forget to use the art of bargaining, which is supposed to be one of the most special elements. To shop like a local, you need to bargain successfully for some products. And learning some useful Vietnamese phrases is really helpful.


Talk like a local

We know it is hard to learn a language well, especially one that is very different from your native language, like Vietnamese is. But, we can start with simple phrases commonly used in daily conversations so that you can greet with locals you meet, and even gain insight into their life. They will be happy to hear these phrases from you. 

EnglishVietnamese Pronunciation
Hi/hello/good morning/good afternoon /good eveningXin chào! Sin chow
How are you?  Bạn có khỏe không?Ban co kwe kong
I'm good, thank you! Tôi khoẻ, cám ơn bạn!Toy kwe, kham un ban
Goodbye!Tạm biệtTam bi-et
Good night!Chúc ngủ ngon!Chook ngu ngon
What's your name?Bạn tên gì?Ban ten zee
My name's…Tôi tên là…Toy ten la
Sorry/Excuse meXin lỗiSeen loy
No problemKhông saoKong sao
I understandTôi hiểuToy hey-oh
You're welcome Không có chiKong co chee
Can you speak English?Ban noi tieng anh duoc khong?Banh noi thien an durkh khom
Souvenir  Qùa lưu niệmWa lew niem
How much?Bao nhiêu tiền?Bow neuw tee-en
Can you give a discount? Bớt được không?Bot duoc kong
That's too expensiveMắc quáMac wa
I don't need it  Tôi không cần món nàyToy kong kern mon ney

Also, if you travel with us, you are welcome to ask your local guides to teach you some useful Vietnamese phrases. They will be very glad to.

Vietnam has so much to offer. Besides what I mentioned above, you can wander along Hoi An's quaint streets, hike through the picturesque hills of Sapa, or just relax at one of the beautiful beaches in Vietnam … Just tell us your travel interests or ideas, we can tailor-make a Vietnam vacation for you accordingly. For any inquiry, you can reach us at .

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