How To Bargain In Vietnam

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Americans rarely bargain. It’s frowned upon in good society. Most people see it as vaguely tacky, low-class, guache.

There are a few things that Americans do bargain for, but only when the stakes are high enough to make it worthwhile, like buying a house. Then we call it Making an Offer and do it through intermediaries like lawyers. For people in third world countries, bargaining is always worthwhile, whether for five cents off a bundle of peppers or an extra handful of rice. In part this is because there is so much underemployment that most people have a great deal of time and very little money. In part it is because $300 per year income doesn’t get you very far. Continue reading

Eat Out In Saigon

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PHO

No trip to Vietnam is complete without a steaming bowl of pho. Simple yet complex at the same time, Pho is served with flat rice noodles in a beef broth that usually takes several hours to prepare. The broth is usually topped with green and white onions, coriander leaves and bean sprouts. Accompanied with the soup is an array of garnishes that consists of gia (bean sprouts), chanh (lime), rau que (basil), hanh (scallions), tuong ot (chili sauce) and ot (sliced chilies). Most pho restaurants will have a wide assortment of meats Continue reading

Vietnam – One Of The Cheapest Places to Live in Asia

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Whenever people ask me where the absolute cheapest places to go as a backpacker are, I’ve been giving the same answer for more than a decade now: India, Nepal, or Indonesia. Those also happen to be some of the cheapest places to live, but none of them make it easy for you to stay long-term. In general, unless you’re from there, have a work permit, or are married to a local, you’ll find it very hard to spend a long stretch of time in the country without doing visa runs. In the case of India and Nepal, you’ll also have to stay out a while too before coming back with a fresh visa to start over. If you’re a digital nomad though or you’re fine with taking off for a few months when the monsoon hits, the payoff is that you can live a good life for under $1,000 a month in any of the three. The dollar is quite strong right now against all three currencies as well.

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Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City?

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It is one of those questions that pop up whenever there is a new gathering of expatriates in Vietnam. Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City? Which do you prefer?

This time it was at a soiree the day after Christmas, or “Boxing Day,” as the Brits call it.  Around the table were folks from Europe, North America, South America and New Zealand. As the young German explained his preference for Hanoi, I nodded my concurrence. Continue reading