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Vietnam by Beer

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In January this year I travelled to Vietnam with my girlfriend to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation before getting stuck in to a busy and exciting 2010. While the focus was on taking in the sights, sounds and smells that are Vietnam we made sure we got to enjoy as many different beers as possible.

For those who have not travelled to an Asian country previously, Vietnam’s masses of motorbikes, lack of road rules, in your face sales people and tight living conditions can be pretty daunting. However, after a bit of time to take it all in it becomes relatively easy to adjust.

Vietnam has a wide range of regional beers all of which are lagers. As a result it is unsurprising that they are more refreshing than they are flavoursome. Nationally the most popular beers appear to be Tiger, Heineken, Beer Saigon and Beer 333. Our most exciting discovery was that beer was available everywhere you looked; including roadside stalls, sales people on the beach and even out on the water at the popular tourist destination Halong Bay, where ladies row up to ships in their dinghy’s hoping to achieve a sale. For each point of sale beer was just one of the available items. Fruit, soft drink and Pringles chips were also commonly among the assortment. The beer was always extremely cheap, typically costing one US dollar and this for a 500ml bottle!

In both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) desperate for some more flavoursome beer we managed to find a bar called “Le Pub”. Their selection included Chimay and Duvel, as well as representation from Australia in Coopers and New Zealand with Moa beer. We also managed to find a couple of Brauhaus (Brew pubs) on our journey in both Ho Chi Minh City and Mui Ne. While the range wasn’t massive (dark beer and light beer), it was nice to enjoy a couple of brews with a bit more flavour.

As a destination I would highly recommend Vietnam. The cost of living is unbelievably cheap; once you have arrived it is easy to stay for a long time while maintaining a high standard of living. Highlights of the trip and recommended activities include:

  • Trekking and visiting the tribal villages in Sapa at the northern end of Vietnam
  • Enjoying the beauty of UNESCO World Heritage Site Halong Bay
  • Visiting the town of Hoi An to slow down, enjoy the beach, taste Hoi An’s amazing food and take advantage of the many tailors and shoe makers
  • A trip to the Cu Chi tunnels to crawl through the underground village and learn about the Vietnam war
  • Hiring a scooter and taking to the streets with the locals
  • Drinking the extremely cheap beer!
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