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Tell us where you're from... Introducing Vietnam

‍Many people may think of the Vietnam War when they think of Vietnam, but this S-shaped country has so much more to be remembered for, from 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and world renowned scenery, to cuisine that is adored across the globe. This article aims to provide 3 facts, 3 traditions and 3 myths about Vietnam.

 

Facts

‍40% of people in Vietnam have the same surname! Based on this ratio, at least one in three Vietnamese people has the surname ‘Nguyễn’. There are approximately 36 million people with this surname worldwide, which is the fourth most popular surname, after the Li, Zhang and Wang surnames in China.

 

The night market is a prominent feature of city life in Vietnam. Here you can find numerous stalls selling all sorts of meals and snacks, as well as cheap clothing and souvenirs. The most famous night markets in Vietnam include the Hanoi old quarter’s night market, Đà Lạt night market, Hội An night market and Sapa night market.

 

Hanoi’s draught beer, called ‘bia hơi’, is a cultural feature of Hanoians, in particular, and Vietnamese people in general.  Even if you are not a drinker, a glass of this one-of-a-kind draught beer can still make you feel refreshed, especially in the typically hot weather in Vietnam.

 

Myths

 

Myth: Long periods of colonisation eroded Vietnam’s unique culture

Despite Vietnam being ruled by others for long periods of time, Vietnamese culture retains diverse traditional elements, unique customs and exciting celebrations and have been proudly preserved. They are exemplified by ‘áo dài’, a graceful symbolic national costume that is worn on special occasions and has even featured in fashion shows across the world; the savoury ‘bánh mì’, delightful ‘ph or irresistible egg coffee.

 

Myth: The Vietnam War looms large in modern day Vietnam

Vietnamese history dates back 5000 years when Hung Kings formed one cohesive government in 2879 BC. In this vast timeline, the American War, as it is called in Vietnam, is only one small part. With the majority of the Vietnamese population born after the war, Vietnam is an incredibly modern and forward-looking country.

 

Myth: Vietnam isn’t a modern country

Vietnam has been one of the fastest growing and fastest developing countries in South-East Asia for over 20 years with a modern and diverse economy. 

 

Traditions

Vietnamese people celebrate the new year based on the lunar calendar. This is the most important festival and longest holiday in Vietnam. Vietnamese people take part in various traditional customs during this festival, these include visiting friends and family and enjoying great food.

 

Vietnamese people believe that the first person to enter their house at the beginning of the New Year has a great influence on their fortune. Traditionally, it’s very important that they invite a ‘good’ person to enter the house, with the hope that this person will bring good luck to the whole family in the new year. 

 

For centuries, worshiping ancestors has been an important part of the spiritual life of Vietnamese people. Most Vietnamese families have an altar in their house. Before important occasions such as getting married, building a house, taking exams, etc, Vietnamese people would light incense sticks on the ancestral altar and pray for their blessings.

 

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