It's a long country
While Vietnam isn't especially big (about the size of New Mexico), it is rather long - roughly the length of the Oregon & California coasts. This means that travel time will be a major factor in your planning if you hope to experience much of the country. Don't let the length deter you, though. From the limestone cliffs of Ha Long Bay in the north to the beaches and Ho Chi Minh City in the south, there is much to enjoy about this slice of Asia.
Walk with purpose
Specifically in the booming metropolis of Hanoi, prepare yourself for the most terrifying street crossing of your life. We've seen some crazy traffic around the world, but nothing quite compares to the endless line of cars and motorbikes that flow around pedestrians like a rock in a stream. Our tip: walk with purpose, maintain a constant speed, and keep your eyes on the oncoming traffic - no matter what the crosswalk may say.
Get ready to haggle
As with many places in Asia, all prices are negotiable. So dust off your haggling skills and have a little fun with the variety of vendors throughout the region. Prices will be very affordable for westerners so make sure that you're setting a fair price that both parties can agree upon. That extra dollar probably means much more to them than it does to you.
Save space in your luggage for a tailored outfit
If you've ever wanted a custom outfit but haven't been willing to mortgage your home to do it, Vietnam is your place. While tailoring is available in many cities, Hoi An is known for their affordable and quickly produced custom apparel. Get the full rundown on your future fancy outfits here.
The war is in the past
As US citizens, we were uneasy about how we would be viewed a relatively short time after the war in the 1960's and 1970's. We asked one of our tour guides what he thought about relations between the two countries. He articulated that leaders of that time made decisions that their respective militaries followed. The past decisions of a few should not be projected onto individuals from those countries today. While many reminders of the conflict still exist, like the Cu Chi Tunnels and the War Remnants Museum, we received nothing but the warmest greetings from any of our Vietnamese hosts.