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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    Business in Vietman

    by keeweechic Written Jun 24, 2004

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    Today, more and more foreign businesses are investing in Vietnam and setting up offices and factories there. You should set up appointments prior to your visit and exchange business cards with both hands. Lunches can be long in Vietnam so therefore it is better not to schedule appointments between 11.30am and 2.00pm. However offices do tend to open early (7.30/8.00am) and close around 5.00pm/6.00pm.

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    Chinese Bakeries

    by SirRichard Written Oct 12, 2003

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    Since I first arrived to HCMC, I felt curious of those chinese bakeries, with all those red boxes in the windows, and all those pastry things with strange names...
    So 1 day I decided to try. I bought one of those mysterious red boxes, and see what came out!! (see pic), a cutty little pig, with eyes and mouth!!
    I first thought of keeping it as a souvenir, but too difficult to carry, and I was hungry too... so I had to "sacrify" it... delicious, try it if U have the chance ;-)) Kind of sweet marzipan...

    The piggie on my hand, looking at me...
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    Chinese Bakeries (II)

    by SirRichard Written Oct 12, 2003

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    These are the shops I was talking about. So colourful and mysterious... and all the same all over Saigon. They seemed to sell the same kind of stuff, a kind of marzipan, sweet, with a hard surface... delicious!!
    You will find many in Cholon, the Chinese district, but also in many places around town.

    The shops in red
    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Food and Dining

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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

    The press at the start of the process Wrapping the candy at the end of the process Nothing is wasted!
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    Line up....

    by Fondest_Memories Updated May 15, 2003

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    Well, while I was in Vietnam I notice something I thought other travelers wouldn't like. Have you ever tried to stand in line to purchase a train ticket? I notice that people don't even have a line at all...Especially, when it's peak season. They just seem to pile up on each other at the ticket window. Everyone else seem to be okay with it, but I felt very uncomfortable having people breathing down my neck. Luckily, I had cousins who lives in Vietnam, so they did all the lining up for me. So, if this happens to you, just try to understand that it's an acceptable thing for the locals.

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    Tipping...

    by Fondest_Memories Updated May 15, 2003

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    Tipping is usually not necessary in Vietnam. Especially, in the small cafe's that dots almost every street corners of Saigon(HCMC). If you decide to leave tips, I suggest that you hand it to the person that serviced you. I, myself, is use to the western custom of leaving my tips on the table. So, that's what did the first time I visited Vietnam. I tip this young girl, about 12 years of age, at a small cafe....hahaha...As I was leaving, she frantically chased after me, thinking that I have forgotten my money...So, from then on I always hand my tips to the person directly. Besides, leaving your tips on the table is not such a good idea in Vietnam anyway. Your tips might not even reach its rightful owner, the person you intented to tip.

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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.

    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.

    Snake wine on the Mekong Delta tour

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  • whoring

    by chunk38 Updated Jan 9, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Dudes ask me about this. Ok, so if you are a single guy here is some info, but try to think about what you are doing and the consequences. Some women do it out of desperation, others just lazy opportunists. Just like anywhere but a higher concentration of desperation. Plan to recieve an STD. And a lifelong memory of the girl you exploited who is doing whatever she can to provide for her familiy's survival. Or, maybe just try to discard that thought like a piece of trash because you need to gloss over your sense of humanity in order to get your jollies.
    What to worry, because it wont be you getting the 3am phone call sobbing about renting her body as her final option to meet her obligation to try to support her family's squalid subsistence. She is probably under a tremendous pressure to support her family. You should probably understand that, but don't ask her about it otherwise if she thinks you are concerned she might just try to exploit you with sob story, guilt trip etc.

    1) Two girls (or some dude) on motorbike approach you at night in district one saying "anh oi... anh oi." and generally "anh oi-ing you" then, " you like girl viet nam?" It means one will hop off and you get on and she takes you to some place you don't know where and you try to do what you want and probably end up taking home more than you want. Maybe they steal your wallet.

    2) Bia Om - a bar where chicks give you affectionate attention. Many will do whoring. Kind of like american titty bar without the dance and lap dance stuff. You can make arrangement to meet at the hotel afterward.

    3) Karaoke girls. Karaoke - you and your friends go there and are assigned a room with a couch and table. Pick a song from the song book. Drink beer. You can pay to have girls sit with you and participate ( in singing and drinking) Depends on the place, not prostitutes, but some will do it. Depends on the place and the girl. You can make arrangement to meet at the hotel. To hang out with you (not whoring) and sing etc they cost 200.000vnd. If they are open to do whoring, it will become evident. You can arrange to meet at the hotel later. Will encourage you to buy more beer, fruit plate, snacks etc.
    Be sure to tip the waitress that brings your beer. Waitresses are probably working only for tips.

    4) Cave - term for higher end "call girl" similar to college girl "working" her way through school and/or sugar daddy but has multiple customers. Probably want 500,000 per hour. They try to get $200 usd per night probably more.

    5) Streetwalkers. They tend to wear white and just stand there, often in front of the door of a closed down business. At night. Also near the parks

    Lucky for you I think its the law now that every hotel room has a condom in it. Check the drawer by the bed

    For the middle aged man tourist maybe your best bet is to become prey of the girls who work the hotel bars/clubs in district 1. You should have your valuables pre-hidden in your room. She will probably go into the bathroom and come back out wearing nothing but the towel.

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    You, You, You!!!

    by 34N118W Written Sep 29, 2002

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    Not long after walking around, you'll notice that people will say "you, you, you" to get your attention. It's seems a little rude, but I assure you they're not trying to be. In Vietnamese, women are called em, co, chi, or ba. Men are called anh or ong. All translate to "you" in English, which explains all the 'you'ing.

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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.

    Wedding photos
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    • Arts and Culture

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  • Language

    by chunk38 Updated Jan 9, 2012

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    Vietnamese language is tonal. You can say the same word but depending on how you say it, it can have very different meanings. Once I saw a forieger get off an elevator as a viet kieu woman was about to get in. He said " hello" (xin chào) but he used the tone and inflection of engllsh so what he said was, "xinh chảo" So he called her a pretty frying pan.

    If you are reading from a guide book and am not sure how to say it, try using complete monotone, the listener will probably be less confused and assign proper meaning based on the context.

    North and South
    Northern people use some different words ex hat = mu , but in the south = non Also pronounce some differently. ex. already = rồi North will say like "zoi" but some northern people say it like, " Loi"
    Some Northern people switch L for N and some use L for R

    In the south, some country people will use a "Y" sound for "v" Example in Vinh Long I am happy =
    o vinh long toi vui. But they will say like it sounds - " o Yin Lauwm toi yooey

    If singing for an audience most all people will sing using the northern words and pronunciation.

    if you are an english speaker
    for the most part you wont have too much trouble because all over VN somebody knows someone who has studied some english and they are eager to try to practice with you.

    Mostly the problem is with a taxi driver who just doesn't have the patience to try to figure out what you want so its best to write it on paper and show him.

    Note that "no" spelled "khong" does not have a "g" sound at the end. It has an "m" sound
    "Khowm"

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  • motioning someone to follow

    by chunk38 Updated Dec 22, 2011

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    instead of a "come here" with a finger or hand like western people do as if pulling you toward them, in VN many people signal you to follow them by making a hand gesture that looks like they are fanning the ground. It may appear they are motioning you to "go away" or to be "brushing you off" but it means, "come here now"

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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 House in the Country

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 2, 2004

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    I was lucky enough to be invited to a Vietnamese farmhouse outside of HCMC. The house was amazing. The peak of the roof was probably 25 feet high and very steeply pitched. The front half of the house was the living room. The walls only went about half way up to the roof so you could look over the wall into the next room if you had a ladder. In the living room, they had a wide wooden bed with no mattress, a couch, two chairs, and an ancient TV. This house like many others in Vietnam has "video disks" similar to DVDs, but less expensive.

    The next room was the kitchen. It had no table or chairs, and the back part of the room was curtained off for a bedroom. To wash my hands I had to put on slippers and go out to the cistern (a concrete tub to store rain water). There was a small faucet near the ground to get water.

    The bathroom was even more unique; as they had a squatter and a plastic scoop for "flushing" the toilet. Again I had to put on slippers for my visit to the toilet. Did I mention that Vietnamese have very small feet?

    Next to the bathroom at the back of the house was the other bedroom, again, curtained off from view.

    The house was very airy and cool, despite the hot summer sun. I think the high roof really helped ventilate the living areas. I guess you would figure out how to build a house most efficiently after thousands of years living in the tropics.

    Living room of Vietnamese house Church on the way to the farmhouse, maybe Chua Ba?
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    • Architecture
    • Farm Stay

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