Traditional Vietnamese Cuisine – The Nomadic Boys

Traditional Vietnamese Cuisine - The Nomadic Boys

Oh, Vietnam you really blew our minds with all those tasty dishes! Pho, Cao Lau, Mi Quang, Bun Cha – just to name a few… Fellow foodies will be in total paradise in Vietnam. It felt like one big gourmet exploration, discovering a different dish every day, with so many unique flavors and specialties.

We knew quite a bit about Vietnamese cuisine before visiting thanks in part to the large number of Vietnamese restaurants back home in Europe. Most people will no doubt have heard of the ubiquitous Pho, but throw into the mix influences from French colonization and even a few surprises like egg coffee and you’ll really start to appreciate our excitement for this destination!

This is our detailed summary of all our favorites and the tastiest traditional foods of Vietnam that we loved and think you need to discover during your visit.

How did traditional Vietnamese cuisine originate?

Like many Asian countries, Vietnam’s food has been influenced by what naturally grows in the region as well as the history of other cultures coming to a place and then leaving their mark.

Since Vietnam has been invaded/colonized by multiple countries (like China, Japan, France, and America) each one has also influenced the Vietnamese cuisine. With noodles from China and baguettes from France becoming an integral part of Vietnamese cuisine, the Vietnamese have taken these and created their own unique (and super tasty!) dishes.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Vietnam Gay Travel Resources

Ba Vi National Park – Keep Calm and Wander

Ba Vi National Park - Keep Calm and Wander

Ba Vi National Park is a protected park just outside Hanoi. In what supposed to be an hour drive, it took us almost two and a half hours because of the unpredictable weather. It was a fight between the sun, clouds, and fog.

On our way up to the mountain, we would see the sun for a while, then the clouds covered it up – and suddenly a fog would envelop us. We didn’t really plan on what to do there. And worse, we even had no idea what to do and see up there. We just followed our GPS and stopped at a few places that caught our attention.

The road to the mountaintop was not an easy one. You’ve got to drive carefully because of its narrow zigzag-y road where one side is a dangerous cliff. Adding to that is a foggy road that we had to turn on the headlights a few times. As we got closer to the main attraction of Ba Vi National Park, the temperature also changed.

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long – Keep Calm and Wander

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long - Keep Calm and Wander

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its cultural, political, and architectural significance. Unlike other UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve been to, the citadel was kind of a disappointment to me. I thought I was gonna see much more than just one edifice of a bygone era.

Standing or sitting at the facade gave me an impression of its well-maintained domain. But, of course, I was wrong! Go up and you will find its outgrown sods.

I believe that there is more to this sole structure but they’re not showing it -yet? The brochure I had said about objects (coins, ceramics) that were excavated in 2004 but I didn’t see one.

Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Hanoi Gay Travel Resources

Caverns of the Marble Mountains – Keep Calm and Wander

Caverns of the Marble Mountains - Keep Calm and Wander

Exploring the caves at the Marble Mountains in Da Nang can be really confusing. There are just so many of them and you don’t even know where to start – even if you follow the map. Going to one direction would mean either you will miss a cave or you will have to go back on the same route to reach the other caves in the opposite direction. There are no shortcuts here. I ditched the map they gave me. I just followed the signs.

The Marble Mountains

The Marble Mountains is a collective name for 5 groups of mountains named after five elements. They are Hoa Son (Fire), Kim Son (Metal), Tho Son (Earth), Thuy Son (Water), and Moc Son (Wood).

As the name suggests, the mountain is popular because of its marbles and limestones. Climbing these mountains is just one of the few things to do in Da Nang. Aside from its beaches, I think this is the city’s most visited tourist attraction.

There are not only caves to see here but there are also pilgrimage sites, tunnels, and a revolutionary base used during the Vietnam War.

Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Vietnam Gay Travel Resources

Gay Hanoi – Keep Calm and Wander

Gay Hanoi - Keep Calm and Wander

Here are 20 things to do and see in gay Hanoi (Vietnam). If you are into Vietnamese food, this list won’t help you much. I’m not including the names of restaurants because when you are in Hanoi, you can eat everywhere, especially in the Old Quarter. The locals love their food so much that it’s no wonder food stalls and restaurants are ubiquitous in the city. The list below is mostly tourist attractions in the city which you can pretty much read in travel guides.

How to get around Hanoi

You can all do the sightseeing by yourself with no problem. However, Hanoi is huge, and walking from one attraction to another can be tiring. So, you better consult your Google map where to start first and where to end. Also, the fastest and the cheapest way to go around is by hailing a Grab bike/scooter. Another option is to rent a motorbike daily or weekly.

Tourist Attractions in Hanoi

Let’s start from the area where you can walk from one place to another. The first six attractions on this list are within walking distance from each other. 

1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

This is a heavily-guarded place where tall guards in white uniforms are freakin’ good-looking. Really! Zoom in your camera and you’d know I’m not exaggerating. Unfortunately, the mausoleum is not open to the public. All you can do is walk from the entrance to the main square and to the exit. Just in case you are wondering who Ho Chi Minh is – he was once the president of Vietnam and a well-respected revolutionary leader.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Hanoi, Vietnam Gay Travel Resources

Little Known Facts About Vietnam – The Nomadic Boys

BLOG: Little Known Facts About Vietnam - The Nomadic Boys

“Guys, take my hand, stay together and slowly cross the road. Just don’t stop or go back. Walk with confidence and all the traffic will work around you. Trust me it’s super safe!”

“Are you f*g kidding me?” I said to Stefan…

Yet our friend Quan was right. The chaotic and seemingly neverending traffic of Saigon and Hanoi all seem to work together in this sort of messy ‘union’. It’s overwhelming for first-timers. I can tell you I was terrified out of my skin at the prospect of crossing the streets of Saigon when we first touched down Vietnam. But you quickly realise it’s absolutely fine…like our friend Quan told us, start walking slowly, but with purpose, and all the traffic just negotiates its way around you!

Crazy traffic aside, we loved Vietnam. As a gay couple, we loved how welcoming we were made to feel at the hotels we stayed in. There’s even a large LGBTQ community in the large main cities with a handful of queer hangouts to check out. As foodies, we couldn’t be happier. Vietnam is one massive culinary adventure, from the rich “pho” broths of Saigon to the yummy “cao lau” noodle dishes of Hoi An and the delectable tiramisu-like “egg coffees” of Hanoi. We pretty much ate our way from the bottom all the way to the tip of this unique S-shaped country in Southeast Asia. We recommend reading more about this in our blog post about our favourite traditional foods of Vietnam.

The gay scene and tasty prizes aside, Vietnam also has a rich cultural heritage, with its first independent monarchy dating back to 900 AD, a period of French colonialism from 1850-1945 and a subsequent period of division when the North and South became divided into two opposing rival states. Since reunification in 1976, Vietnam has evolved into a crazy, fascinating and above all else, thrilling destination in Asia. We loved it and would zip back in a heartbeat!

Here’s a flavour of precisely why we fell in love with Vietnam set out as our 10 interesting facts which we learnt about it during our big trip.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Vietnam Gay Travel Resources

LVP Travel – Gay Friendly Travel Agent & Tour Operator in Hanoi, Vietnam

LVP Travel

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See the LVP Travel Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Vietnam Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Gay Life in Vietnam – The Nomadic Boys

Vietnam is one of our favourite places we visited as a gay couple travelling in Asia. From delicious foods to fantastic sites like Ha Long Bay, you’re spoilt rotten in terms of a destination rich with culture. Vietnam also has a more liberal attitude towards homosexuality, with large thriving LGBTQ communities in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the capital in Saigon.

We found Vietnam to be one of the most gay friendly countries in Asia. Locals were extremely friendly and welcoming to us, and getting a double bed was never an issue for us anywhere. However, Vietnam still has quite a way to go with regards to its LGBTQ laws, lacking any for anti-discrimination or for recognising same-sex couples. We met up with our buddy Quan in Saigon who gave us his perspective of what gay life in Vietnam is really like for LGBTQ locals in this interview.

Hello Quan, where are you from and what do you do?

Hi Stef and Seby.

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My name is Quan Nguyen and I am 34 years old. I am a web designer living and working in Saigon.

Originally, I am from “Can Tho” in the Mekong Delta, but in my teenage years, my family moved to Saigon.

I come from a Catholic family, which surprises most people because everyone assumes all Vietnamese are Buddhist. Catholicism is one of the many influences in Vietnam from the French.

Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Vietnam Gay Travel Resources

Gay Saigon – The Nomadic Boys

“Guys, just follow my lead and slowly cross the road with me: the cars and motorbikes will just weave their way around you…”

…so said our friend Quan who showed us how to navigate the crazy traffic of the streets of Saigon. Honestly, you’ve not been to Saigon until you’ve tried to cross over one of the main roads or taken a scooter ride through the busy jungle of moving vehicles; it’s something you won’t forget in a hurry!

Saigon is a lot of fun. It’s busy, frenetic, has super feisty locals, manic traffic and delicious street food. The gay scene is also pretty good, with a large LGBTQ community of both expats and locals.

This is one place we quickly fell in love with and know you will too! It’s definitely a must for LGBTQ travellers visiting South East Asia and we’ve got you covered in our comprehensive gay travel guide right here.

What’s the difference between Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City?

So we hear you asking, what’s the actual difference between Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City? Is it the same place?

Short answer – yes! The city has actually gone by many different names in its long and complicated history, reflecting different groups that have controlled it through the years. It was named “Gia Din” until the French conquest of the 1860s, when it was named Sài Gòn – and westernized to be “Saigon”. After the ‘Fall of Saigon‘ at the end of the Vietnam war, the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honour of the late North Vietnamese president, Mr Ho Chi Minh.

Nowadays the name Saigon is still used to refer to the city centre around District 1, while Ho Chi Minh City generally means the entire modern city with all its districts. But don’t be surprised to still find places (especially hotels) named after Saigon as people often use the names interchangeably.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Saigon Gay Travel Resources

Gay Friendly Asia – Nomadic Boys

Gay Friendly Asia - The Nomadic Boys

We spent 2 years travelling around Asia and completely fell in love with the continent. It offers so much in terms of cultural experiences, food and landscapes, with some of the most humble people you’ll ever meet.

But when it comes to LGBTQ rights, Asia has some serious work to do! In quite a lot of countries in Asia, being gay is either illegal or an arrestable offence, like in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. If it’s not illegal, then it’s such a strong taboo that you have to stay in the closet to avoid jeopardising your job prospects and embarrassing your family like in China, Russia and Indonesia.

Despite this, there are a number of countries in Asia that are paving the way forward in relation to LGBTQ rights. We’ve selected the top 10 most gay friendly countries in Asia, which we’ve based on the following criteria:

  • Where are they at with same sex marriage legislation, along with other LGBTQ laws?
  • What is the gay scene like and do they have any notable annual LGBTQ festivals?
  • Our personal experience travelling there as a gay couple, with reference to the most recent Spartacus Gay Travel Index.

We have taken it as a given that homosexuality is legal in the countries we’ve selected, which is why we haven’t included Singapore despite it having quite a vibrant gay scene and a famous LGBTQ PinkDot festival in June/July.

We have also included two “places” (Taiwan and Hong Kong) rather than “countries”, because although they’re not officially recognised “countries”, they can still be regarded as a “country” given they have their own flag, currency, national anthem, set of laws etc.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Asia Gay Travel Resources