A Quarantine Culture Trip Through Vietnam

on May 12, 2020

With many of us hitting the two-month mark in our COVID-19 experience, things are probably getting…. weird. Enter: A quarantine culture trip through Vietnam! Whether you’ve blown through your Netflix watch list, downed the last of your wine stash, suffered Carpal Tunnel from endless Insta scrolling and playing Animal Crossing, or snuggled your pets till they’re begging you to go for a walk without them – WE SEE YOU. 

Maybe you’re planning to head off to Vietnam to Teach English with TravelBud, or you just need some travel inspo for the future. Like every other step in your Teach Abroad process, we’ve got you covered! We’ve put together a virtual cultural experience so you can get your feet wet while the dust settles. Before you know it, it’ll be time to dive into your Vietnamese adventure. 

Your quarantine culture trip through Vietnam:

red scooter on side of street lined with trees

Hold on tight! You’re headed for a virtual culture trip through Vietnam!

Fellow bookworms, rejoice!

If you’re like me, you’ve already consumed all of the books you stockpiled for the quarantine. Our first stop on the virtual culture trip brings us to one of my favorite places in the world: THE LIBRARY! My library opened for curbside pickup today, which I’m thrilled about, but you can find most of these titles digitally if you can’t get out! BONUS: You can pick up all of these titles on Bookshop, which supports local bookstores by allowing them to make more on each sale than Amazon and other big competitors! 

A Cook’s Tour 

Okay, you caught me, I’m just topsy turvy obsessed with the late Anthony Bourdain. If you’ve read anything by him, or have watched Parts Unknown, you know that he expressed his infatuation with Vietnam on numerous occasions. In this book, he goes in search of the perfect meal, and many of his adventures take place in Vietnam. 

a cook's tour book by anthony bourdain

While he may swear like a sailor, Bourdain promises to never sugar coat things!

The Quiet American

An American Classic, The Quiet American is written from the point of view of a US journalist in Vietnam pondering the growing US involvement in-country. Greene was inspired to write the book during his time as a war correspondent in Vietnam, and the book famously predicted the ending and outcome of the war. Complete with war stories, an exposition of blinding American exceptionalism, and a love triangle, The Quiet American is a must-read before heading to Vietnam!

the quiet american book by graham greene

The Quiet American, a classic in itself, is certainly a don’t-miss if you’re heading to Vietnam!

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit in

This memoir tells the story of Phuc Tran, who immigrated to the United States with his parents at age 11 from Saigon. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will see the story of an immigrant’s battle with fitting in, coming of age, and facing life in a new country. While telling his story, Tran uses literature as a scope through which to tell his story and clues you in on his secrets to starting over in the States. 

sigh, gone book by phuc tran

I’m not even going to tell you how many times I looked at this title before realizing the quirky wordplay. It’s embarrassing.

Catfish and Mandala 

Andrew X. Pham takes you on a journey through Vietnam on bicycle as he explores his motherland after growing up in America. Pham shares his hilarious travelogue detailing his search for cultural identity at a pivotal point in his life and sheds light on his background and upbringing in the process. 

catfish and mandala book by Andrew X Phan

Through solo travel on two wheels, Andrew Phan explores the history, landscape, and culture of the land he immigrated from.

Rough Guide to Vietnam

Rough Guides are popular for their “tell it like it is” outlook, truly preparing travelers for the nitty-gritty when it comes to exploring a new place. In these pages, you’ll get first-hand information on culture, points of interest, great food, and social norms. This end-all-be-all guide need be the only one in your carry-on when you set out for Vietnam – or better yet, read it now!

rough guide to vietnam book

Move over, Samantha Brown, this book is all you need when it comes to planning your Vietnam adventure!

Sorry Ms Jackson, OOOOOOH I am PHO real


Hands down, Vietnam has some of the best food a country can offer. No culture trip through Vietnam would be complete without some pho, a bahn mi, or some bun bo hue! During our in-country Cultural Orientation, you can try your hand at cooking a few favorites! If you’re dying to get a taste sooner, however, check out Helen’s Recipes on YouTube! Helen grew up in Vietnam before living abroad for a while, but now she’s back in Vietnam and aims to show people how to cook Vietnamese cuisine in the fastest, easiest, and most authentic way!

pho with chop sticks

Prepare your tastebuds for your trip to Vietnam by ordering from your nearest Vietnamese restaurant, or trying your hand at cooking your own fare!


Probably the most in-depth Vietnam War Docu-series ever

The next stop on our virtual culture trip through Vietnam calls all history buffs! Give Dead to Me and Outer Banks a rest, we’ve got our sights set on a new binge-worthy series. Available on Netflix, this 10-part Ken Burns docu-series gives you a raw and unfiltered look at first-hand accounts from more than 80 individuals with varying roles in the Vietnam War. Check it out on Netflix here!

Brush up on your Vietnamese language skills

You’ll get some language lessons in our in-class Cultural Orientation, but why wait to start? Youtube is full of helpful videos for learning Vietnamese, so you’ll be ahead of the curve when you arrive! This means making local friends faster, dodging tourist prices, and an all-around better immersion experience. Learn how to order your favorite meal, or ask someone about their day! I recommend Viet Pod 101 on YouTube!

vietpod101 on youtube

Head over to Vietnam with the basics by using free resources like this on Youtube!

A deeper culture trip through Vietnam: Alumni Stories!

Our alumni tell the best stories about their time in Vietnam. Check out these blog posts featuring some of TravelBud’s teachers who have walked the path before you! You can add to this collection as well – email brooke@travelbud.com if you’d like to share a story with us!

Top 8 Places to explore Whilst Teaching English in Vietnam by Ellie Borrell

Teach English in Vietnam: Public Schools vs Private Language Centers in Ho Chi Minh City – Parker’s Story

My Experiences Teaching In Thailand and Vietnam – Kelsey’s Story

You might also want to read:

About Brooke Mazac

Brooke is a qualified English Teacher and Enrollments Coordinator at TravelBud. She taught conversational English in a small town called Tak in Thailand. Teaching English to kindergarten children made her feel like an absolute celebrity and their hugs and laughs brightened every day she spent at her school.

As an enrollments coordinator she helps people get things rolling when they are looking to teach abroad with TravelBud. She answers questions, put fears to rest, and gets them excited about their new experience. Read more about Brooke →

Filed under  Vietnam • Travel 


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