Local traditions and culture in Ho Chi Minh City

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Ho Chi Minh City

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    COCONUT CANDY

    by balhannah Updated Dec 29, 2013

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    On one of my tours to the Mekong Delta, we were shown the process of making Coconut Candy and given a "FREE SAMPLE" to try. It was nice, and I did buy a small packet along with most people on the tour.

    Making Coconut Candy....................

    * Firstly, you need to grate the coconut flesh.
    * Next, the grated flesh is pressed to extract coconut milk and coconut cream. We saw this being done by a "press"
    * Malt syrup and sugar are then added to this mixture of coconut milk and cream.

    [We were told this is a secret mix and the process is often entrusted only to family members of the factory owner].

    * The mixture is then heated in large woks over fire from the coconut shells. The mixture is stirred continuously, either by hand with large wooden paddles, or by electric motors driving large rotor blades.
    * The heated mixture eventually caramelizes to a thicker texture, and while it is still hot and soft, the thickened mixture is then stringed out into molds and allowed to cool.
    * The final step sees the candy strings cut into rectangular lozenges, then wrapped and packaged.

    We saw this whole process

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    RICE PAPER

    by balhannah Updated Dec 29, 2013

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    On several tours that I did in Vietnam, I was shown a demonstration of how Rice paper was made.
    It was quite interesting to watch and looked like hot work! There looked to be an art to it as it is paper thin, and every one turned out perfect, wouldn't if I was doing it!

    Edible rice paper is used for making spring rolls and other Vietnamese food. It is usually sold dried in thin, crisp, translucent round sheets that are wrapped in cellophane.

    Want to make some.......
    The ingredients of the food rice paper include white rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, and water. The tapioca powder makes the rice paper glutinous and smooth.
    The listed website has a recipe for making rice paper.

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    SNAKE WINE - TRY SOME!

    by balhannah Updated Dec 29, 2013

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    Living in Australia, I had never seen Snake wine before.
    Everybody on the tour was interested in this alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol.

    We listened carefully to the information our guide was giving us.
    We were told venomous Snakes were the ones used as the snake venom dissolved in the liquor, how-ever, because of the ethanol in the drink, it becomes inactive.

    There are two varieties of snake wine

    Steeped Wine is when a large venomous snake, sometimes with smaller snakes and medicinal herbs is left to steep for many months in the glass bottle/jar. The wine is drunk in small shots or cups.

    Mixed, is when the body fluids of the snake are mixed into wine and consumed immediately in the form of a shot. Snake blood wine is prepared by slicing a snake along its belly and draining its blood directly into the drinking vessel filled with rice wine or grain alcohol.

    Good for

    Perhaps you may want to try Snake wine for vitality, health, hair loss or to increase sexual performance.
    On the tour we could try some for FREE , only one person was game enough to try it!

    It is illegal to import snake wine to many countries because the cobras and other snakes killed in the production are often endangered species.

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    Wedding photos

    by ValbyDK Updated Mar 3, 2013

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    In Ho Chi Minh City (and Vietnam in general) it is a tradition to have wedding photos taken at various famous places around town. Therefore, it is very common to see a wedding couple outside temples, museums and so on.

    You always get a big smile and a thank you in return when you congrat them.

    My photo is taken outside the Ho Chi Minh City Museum.

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    Always be cautious in crossing the streets

    by theguardianangel Updated Nov 24, 2012

    I just want to share what happened to my former officemate, she got hit by a motorbike during her vacation here and the driver didn't even bother to help her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t unable to report it to the police station after the incident since she can’t remember the plate number of the vehicle. She was hospitalized for a few weeks before she came back home. So, always remember to be careful when crossing the street, motorbikes might suddenly run into you.

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    CHICKENS IN THE STREET

    by alyf1961 Written Oct 17, 2012

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    There are a few chickens in the streets in Hoc Chi Minh. This one was tied up at the Bai Hoi just outside our hotel. It would crow at 6am every morning but on our last day there it disappeared…………..
    Does anyone knows where it is? answers on a postcard please....

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    MOTORBIKES EVERYWHERE

    by alyf1961 Written Oct 17, 2012

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    I think everyone in Ho Chi Minh has a bike. We saw thousands on the roads, people going to and from work, carrying big boxes and other large goods on the bikes.
    Whole families on one bike, it wasn’t unusual to see five people on one bike. Highchairs were strapped to the bikes and babies riding at the front.

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    Vietnamese Lacquer

    by machomikemd Written Jul 5, 2012

    Vietnamese Lacquer Wares are known world wide for their exquisite designs and make. They rival chinese, japanese and other south east asian lacquer ware pieces and when in Saigon, this can be a very good gift item for friends or even buying assorted lacquer products for use as a home decoration. they are available everywhere but there are artisanal shops that specializes in lacquer ware in Dong Khoi Street and at the Tay Son Lacquer Shop that will cost more.

    you can buy assorted lacquer parintings, cabinets, jars, fans, powder cases, mirro cases, cups and more in the assorted souvenir shops and at the Benh Thanh Market and if you booked a private tour at the Saigon Tourist Company, they will give you free lacquer give aways.

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    I PHO T-Shirts (pun on the I Phone)

    by machomikemd Written Jul 4, 2012

    the vietnamese are really smart people and here in the souvenir stalls at the benh thanh market are some t-shirts that are made as a pun of the now Iconic I-Phone! but instead of the I-Phone in the T-Shirt, they made the Vietnamese National Noodle Dish, the Pho Beef Noodle Soup as the Icon!

    you can buy these wonderful t-shirt souvenir items at the benh thanh market and even at the assorted souvenir stalls at Le Loi and Nguyen Hue Streets and they come in different colors and designs and it will cost 50,000 VND if you're good at haggling and up to 200,000 VND if you're not.

    buy one now for the sheer fun factor in wearing it!

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    Trung Nguyen Coffee

    by machomikemd Written Jul 4, 2012

    Trung Nguyen Coffee is the largest Coffee Shop and Coffee Store in the Country. The company has more than 1,000 stores all around the country and even has branches in Thailand, Japan, Cambodia, China and even in the good ol'e United States.

    Highlands Coffee is the favorite of the Yuppies and and the young Vietnamese but trung ngyuen coffee is the number one domestic coffee brand in Vietnam.

    according to Wikipedia:

    It is most noted for its Trung Nguyên brand of coffee products; sub-brands include Creative Coffee, Weasel kopi luwak and Legendee simulated kopi luwak coffee,[2][3] Passiona low-caffeine coffee, and G7 instant coffee, along with the Tra Tien tea brand.

    The group, established in 1996 in Buôn Ma Thuột, Đắk Lắk Province,[1][4] is composed of six members: Trung Nguyen Corporation JSC, Trung Nguyen Instant Coffee Company JSC, Trung Nguyen Coffee LLC, G7 Commercial Services Company, Nam Việt Media Retail Company, and Vietnam Global Gateway Joint Venture Company. Its director and CEO is Dang Le Nguyen Vu.[1]

    The company is most noted for its Trung Nguyên brand of coffee products. Sub-brands include Creative Coffee, WEASEL and Legendee simulated kopi luwak coffee, Passiona low-caffeine coffee, and G7 instant coffee, along with the Tra Tien tea brand. Trung Nguyên coffee products use a variety of different coffee beans, including robusta, arabica and excelsa.[5]

    ypu can buy them everywhere in Saigon, at the trung nguyen coffee shops, at supermarkets and convenience stores and even in the markets.

    a coffee pack of the famous G7 instant coffee will cost 50,000 VND, a legendee Civet Cat Coffee bag at 100 grams at 55,000 VND.

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    Highlands Coffee bags

    by machomikemd Written Jul 4, 2012

    Vietnam is the third Largest Coffee Producer in the world after Brazil and Indonesia and hence they have good and quality coffee beans produced in the central highlands region and due to this, there are many coffee companies in Vietnam that sells assorted coffee in assorted blends, either the instant coffee, the fine ground coffee, course ground coffee and the whole coffe beans. One of the popular Coffee Joints in Vietnam that aslo sells these assorted coffee blends besides having coffee shops is the Highlands Coffee.

    Highlands Coffee was founded in 1998 by David Thai, a Viet Khieu (Overseas vietnamese) residing in seattle and since seattle is a coffee loving city, he got an idea to found a coffee house in his native country as coffee in vietnam is cheap (it it the second largest coffee exporter after brazil) and his idea hit off and Higlands Coffee Became Popular (some people say this is like starbucks but I would say that their design is Like Seattle's Best Coffee but is now moot since Seattle's best is now owned by Starbucks since 2005!). He founded Viet Thai International,the company behind Highlands coffee and the coffee house spread like mushrooms in vietnam!

    Highlands Coffee has traditional vietnamese blends and more like the: Gourmet Blend: This blend combines the finest Arabica and Robusta beans roasted to their individual peak flavors combine with selected flavors. The resulting taste is distinctive in body with aromatic sweetness. Traditional Blend: This blend of Arabica and Robusta beans perfectly captures the spirit of a traditional Vietnamese roast. By complementing the beans with selected flavors, the coffee delivers a bold taste and irresistible aroma, with hints of a rich buttery body. Heritage Blend: Processed similarly to the Traditional Blend, but using only Robusta beans, the Heritage Blend has a strong and intense flavor with a creamy body.

    You can buy them at the Highland Coffee Shops around the City and even at the Big Supermarkets. a 100 gram coffee bag will cost between 45,000-80,000 VND, depending on the Blend.

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    Vietnam Figurines

    by machomikemd Written Jul 4, 2012

    You can buy assorted souvenir stuffs in saigon like my favorite fridge magnets and shot glasses but I bought one kind of thing that ticked my fancy, the iconic vietnamese figurines showing a classic vietnamese girl in a blue aoi dai and a straw hat which is a famous depiction of vietnam. you can buy these figurines in different sizes and make at the various souvenir stalls lining the Benh Thanh Market and at the Le Loi and Nguyen Hue Streets and even at the Tax department store and at the Than So Nhat airport (they even put this symbol in a famous cologne called "Miss Saigon Perfume" with a pun at the musical). Prices vary from 50,000 VND of you are good at Haggling, and up to 150,000 if you are not.

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    Saigon Shot Glasses

    by machomikemd Written Jul 4, 2012

    Collecting Assorted Shot Glasses of the places that I've travelled is again one of my hobbies when going to a place and besides these shot glasses, I also collect Fridge Magnets. You can find lots and lots of souvenir items in and around The Saigon Area and buy them at the assorted souvenir stands at Le Loi Street, Nguyen hue Street, Benh Thanh Market, Tax Department store, etc. many of them are Shot Glasses and they come in assorted designs like hand painted, with stickers, with plastic encrusted at the shot glass, with bronze plaques at the shot glass and even bigger size shot glass and aluminum shot glasses. Again, you can buy them anywhere but you must haggle for the price of a regular sized shot glass will cost up to 150,000 VND without haggling and you can bring it down to 35,000 with haggling.

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    Saigon Refrigerator Magnets

    by machomikemd Written Jul 4, 2012

    As you would know by now, I'm an avid collector of kitschy refrigerator magnets and shot glasses and while on a Saigon Revisit, I must buy these favorite souvenir items of mine. You can buy the Assorted Vietnamese and Saigon Fridge Magnets at the various Souvenir Shops lining the Nguyen Hue and Le Loi Street or at the Benh Thanh Market or just buying them at the Souvenir Stalls in the Than So Nhat Airport. They are available in different designs and are either magnetized material or wood with magnets inside or Pewter with magnets or just Porcelain with magnets. Prices start at VND 25,000 if you are good in haggling and it might go to 100,000 VND if you are not.

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    Visiting Pagodas!

    by machomikemd Updated Jun 13, 2012

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    Although Vietnam is officially an atheist country, buddhism is still a major religion here and more than half of the vietnamese people follow the buddhist faith hence there are lots of buddhist temples and pagodas all throughout vietnam and also here in saigon.

    a reminder in visiting buddhist pagodas and temples in Siagon:

    Remove your shoes before entering Buddhist pagodas. Small donations placed in the boxes found in temples are appreciated. It is acceptable to keep your shoes on within Chinese pagodas.

    Never let the soles of your feet face other people or any sacred monument, such as a statue of Buddha.

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