1. “Vietnamese cuisine is all about Pho ”.
This is really funny as I make the same mistake too when I think that Mexican food is all about the taco, forgetting that there are many more beautiful dishes from Mexico.
We used to have customers coming to our café who knew that we specialized in “Banh mi & Coffee” but still they asked why a Vietnamese café didn’t serve Pho. Well, Pho is not Vietnam’s only signature dish- every city or province in Vietnam has a long list of traditional dishes that should be tried. You could have a different Vietnamese dish every day of the year and never have to have the same meal twice. So please don’t make this mistake and please try some different Vietnamese dishes as you could be missing out!
2. “Vietnam can only produce cheap Robusta coffee”
This is such a misconception- Vietnam is the 2nd largest exporter of coffee in the world. Many coffee farmers in Vietnam now have SCA quality in coffee processing, roasting and brewing a great cup of coffee.
Vietnam is now producing not only good quality fine Robusta but also specialty Arabica coffee beans. The third wave of coffee production in Vietnam is growing stronger and faster than ever.
3. “You can’t find any churches in Vietnam”
Vietnam has many temples and pagodas from north to south and some are ancient and spectacular representing Vietnam’s long history and practice of Buddhism and Taoism. It would also be incorrect to say that Buddhism is the only religion in Vietnam- in fact, Vietnam has the fifth largest Catholic population in Asia. Churches can be found in every city and town in Vietnam and on Sundays you can see people going to church just as in many western countries.
4. “Vietnamese people can speak Chinese very well but barely speak any English”.
The Vietnamese go out of their way to differentiate themselves from the Chinese, so no, we don’t teach Chinese in our education system at all.
If you had told me 20 years ago that the Vietnamese barely speak any English, I would probably have agreed with you. But now it would be out of date and totally wrong, - English has been introduced into our education program from Primary school to further education.
International Schools are everywhere in Vietnam, from British, French, American, German and even a Singapore International School.
From big cities like Saigon and Hanoi, to Sapa and Dan Nang you can easily find locals who are fluent in English and can help you.
It is understandable that many people have this misconception- just please remember that Vietnam is more than war, poverty or pollution. Vietnam is about the beautiful scenery, the rich culture, the friendly people and all the appetizing dishes that I believe will amaze you when you are there.