The countrysides in Vietnam have always played an important role in economic development and in preserving the traditions and culture. In Vietnam, wherever you may visit, regardless of region, you always find the precious values that are passed down and maintained by many generations.
Over 60% of the Vietnamese population is living in the rural areas, but as there are more lands than in the urban areas, the Vietnamese countrysides' life is more quiet, peaceful with a slow and no hurried pace. Some young people leave their hometown to live and study in the big cities, then return to their hometown to marry and settle down. Others decide to find work in big cities and save a small budget and then, move back and enjoy old age in the countryside. Thus, the urbanization rate in these areas is not high, but the living standard of people here is still guaranteed.
The countryside is the place where traditional customs hold full meaning, rural people spend a lot of time gathering with each other in a cozy atmosphere. They always cook traditional dishes for meals during the day by using fresh ingredients. No matter how busy they are, they always spend time chatting with their family and having dinner together to tell each other about how their day went. Besides the rapid modernization in urban areas, Vietnam is proud to have these valuable values maintained.
On special events such as the Tet holiday or death memorial, the atmosphere gets even warmer thanks to family moments and traditional customs. Together they do everything, from preparing the offerings trays to cleaning and decorating the house. These occasions are also the opportunities for the young to come back home after a long time working, studying in other places. They also reflect the Vietnamese spiritual life, especially in rural areas.
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Most of the households in Vietnamese countrysides either cultivate plants like rice and vegetables or raise livestock. Each produce is harvested in different seasons, so people usually combine many agricultural activities to make more income. For those who live near rivers and seas, fishing is the main method to make a living. Also, there are a large number of people who live by traditional crafts, such as knitting, boatbuilding, and pottery.
In recent years, as tourism has developed, some rural areas have attracted tourists by introducing and guiding visitors to observe the traditional handicraft-making process while promoting their special cuisine. And with the demand from local-experience travels, homestay, a business organized mainly by the local, is constantly developed. These are the ways to promote Vietnam tourism to the world and at the same time bring more income to the locals in these rural areas.
Most of Vietnam's rural areas do not have an airport, so the main ways of accessing these places from big cities are by train, bus or motorbike. Because of the rapid development of highways and infrastructure, you can save more time to travel to the countrysides. However, some roads led to parts of the rural area, especially houses of locals, are still not well-constructed. You may need to transport by motorbikes, bicycles or even on foot.
People in rural areas travel mainly by motorbikes, and in some Southwestern provinces, many families own a small motorboat to navigate the Mekong Delta's waterfront. Meanwhile, in the Northwest, people mostly enjoy walking because the hilly terrain is difficult to move by vehicles. And most of the countryside in Vietnam does not have a public transit system like the bus and taxi in the cities. But one of the advantages when living here is that you do not have to waste your time stuck in traffic jams, unlike all of the noise, massed people, and vehicles in the big cities.
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According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, in 2016, there are about 98% of families have access to national electricity and 90% have access to clean water in rural areas. With the improvement of the infrastructure in Vietnamese countrysides, there are fewer problems with connection and more services related to telecommunication like telephone and internet. You can go to the province's center to shop at the markets for most groceries and at shops for electronics and clothing. Life in rural areas in Vietnam is getting more and more convenient for people.
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There is still some notice about medical care and emergency help in Vietnamese rural areas, most hospitals and health services are in the center of the provinces. If it is your first time coming to the countryside of Vietnam, it is advisable to have a guide accompanied with you to help you get around and communicate with the locals at these places, because they may not be able to speak English.
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The level of pollution in rural Vietnam is also a problem because most people do not know how to handle waste properly. However, there are less polluted from exhausted fume and noises. Almost everyone grows vegetables and cattle by themselves on their land, so you can easily find your organic food source.
You may find there are not so many reported crimes of robbery and thief in the rural areas as in big cities, but it is not redundant to always mindful of your belongings, especially valuable ones, and avoid going to remote areas alone.
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Vietnamese rural areas are where all the traditions and customs which bring people together are still valued and often practiced. These lands and the people living there are always genuine, simple, and friendly. For travelers, visiting a rural area is an authentic experience to understand the Vietnamese lifestyle, but for the locals, the countryside is a place to remind them to value and preserve the ancestry culture.
My family spent a night at the homestay in the Mekong delta, it was a unique experience, but not sure any more nights are recommended. Do bring bug repellents and ask for mosquitoes net to be put around your mattress before heading to bed.