*Vietnam is the largest producer of coffee in the world, after Brazil. Coffee is served everywhere, usually with a dollop of condensed milk settled on the bottom and brewed very strong. It's very chocolaty and rich.
*Food is incredible with piles of fresh mint, lime wedges, fermented fish sauce, chili pastes and soy sauce on the tables of all the real Vietnamese places.
*A delicious beef noodle soup called "pho bo" is eaten for breakfast and is usually around 50 cents a bowl.
*Because of the French influence, women sell pate or cheese sandwiches on the street in crusty baguette bread, there is a cafe selling fresh juices and coffee on every corner and some of the locals speak French.
*English is spoken by far more locals than in China, although the accent is much harder to understand.
*What the tourists eat and what the locals eat is, predictably, quite different in both price and quality.
*Vietnam is still mostly agrarian. Most cities are semi-rural, with rice paddies and cows wandering the streets and a million motorbikes zipping by.
*Because the Chinese owned Vietnam for nearly a thousand years, there is a huge southern Chinese influence to Vietnamese culture. Old Vietnamese used to be written with Chinese characters, although most Vietnamese cannot read this anymore. In fact, many Chinese traditions still exist in Vietnam that have died in China and colorful Buddhist temples and graveyards litter the countryside.
*It's really cheap and beautiful, so there are a lot of tourists.
*There is no pollution.
*The coastline is tremendous, meaning lots of unbelievably beautiful beaches. I'm a bit sunburned as a result.