Like anywhere in the world you need to be aware of the different customs that are just the norm in Vietnam. If you’re headed north from central Vietnam you’ll find that you’re likely to get stared at a lot more by the locals, but don’t take this offensively.
If you’re an Asian woman travelling with a non-Asian man, or a non-Asian man travelling with an Asian woman you’ll probably get a lot more stares than usual as people will consider you an escort or prostitute and may even get insulted or harassed.
The Vietnamese culture is heavily influenced by Southern China and the past relationship has had an effect on everything from the language to the religion. The French colonisation has also left a lasting impact – especially when it comes to the food.
Vietnam has a long history in wars – most well known would be the American War with the US where 55,000 Americans died and over million Vietnamese. So many of Vietnam’s population were killed during this war that now over two thirds of the current population were born after 1975.
As usual, and with any country including your own, it’s best to keep your thoughts on war and history to yourself until you know your fellow travellers and locals. Don’t express uninformed opinions if you plan on making friends on your gap year in Vietnam.