Vietnam Travel Stories

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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.


Currency Exchange

Vietnam Tourism has been increasing over the years. This exotic country has a lot to offer for their visitors such as culture, amazing architecture, beautiful beaches, shopping, delicious cuisine and spectacular natural beauty.

Hotels and Travel Information

Currency Conversion Site

A Quick Cultural Guide for Expats Don't be the ugly Expat!

Make the Most of Feasting Internationally 12 tips on eating well while traveling and still stay on a budget.


Two young girls at a hill tribe gathering The Many Different Faces of People in Asia

people fascinating. Sometimes it would seem that we could tell a lot about a person by the way the lines on their face are arranged or how their eyes twinkle or are filled with fire. The people photographed below all have a story, captured in their countenance.   

Chinese writing on pillars inside pagoda Vietnam's Largest Chinatown, Saigon  

The Vietnamese call their Chinatown "Cholon" which basically means "Big Market." Cholon became a city in 1879, and by the 1930s it pressed against the city limit of Saigon proper. In 1931 the two cities were merged and by 1956 the name "Cholon" was dropped from the maps, but people still refer to the area by that name.

Breezeway The Ancient and Contemporary Pieces in Vietnam's Fine Arts Museum

Near Ben Thanh Market and located in central Ho Chi Minh City is the Fine Arts Museum. After all the buzz and activity of the city with its motorcycle packed streets, this museum is a welcoming haven of quiet.

A conversation between friends The Action All within One Block of our Suite in Saigon

How much adventure do you find within one block of your home? Do you have street restaurants, outdoor garden altars and people sitting on children's chairs on your sidewalks? You can visit our neighborhood in this fascinating city by taking a look at the photos

Vendor drying banana sheet over hot coals

Delectable Treat from Street Vendors: Banana Sheets


Just outside the entrance to our place sits this lady selling made-to-order waffles (they smell great!) and freshly grilled banana sheets. They looked so exotic, we had to try them and once we did, we are now hooked.

 Flower man on bicycle The Colorful Splendor of Saigon's Flower Market

There is a very narrow web of alleyways call Ho Ky Thi which is off the larger street Le Thai To in District 10. This is the flower market of Saigon, and if you didn't know it was there, you could easily miss it.

A nice touch from Compass Living When the Unexpected Happens - A Family Death while You Are Continents Away

Recently, while thousands of miles away, we had a family emergency and received the news that Billy’s aging Mother had passed away. Family at home needed papers printed, signed, notarized and sent back. Notarized? In Vietnam?

 Fine detail of painted lacquerware

The Ancient Art of Lacquerware in Vietnam

If in Asia, one must visit a lacquerware factory. These pieces of art are highly prized for both durability and beauty and they take skilled craftsmen months to perfect. We decided to hire cyclo drivers to take us to the factory and it's a leisurely way to travel this city of over 8 million people. 

Winding up for a whupping

What the Heck?! It's International Pillow Fight Day!

When was the last time you had a pillow fight? Did you even know there was an International Pillow Fight Day? We didn't either and we were invited to attend the event here in Saigon, Vietnam at the City Park.




Filled with restaurants and shops 

The Meeting Place for Spymasters and Military Commanders during the War - Hotel Majestic, Saigon Vietnam

During the Viet Nam war, simple noodle shops frequented by military officers were run by communist commanders. Waiters reported overheard conversations to their bosses and this intelligence would be given to guerrilla leaders who adjusted plans accordingly.

Lady vendor

Compare the Old and the New Saigon, or Is it Ho Chi Minh City?

Also known as Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Saigon is not the capital of the country but it is definitely the economic hub and heart of Vietnam. More people from other parts of the country are moving here for better job opportunities and because the city is so alive. 

Vietnamese style drip coffee with blueberry cheesecake  

The Economic Saving Grace of Communist Vietnam - Privately Owned Coffee Houses

It is a little known fact that coffee helped transform the economy of Vietnam. In 1986 the Communist Party took a chance, bet on coffee and allowed privatization to enter the marketplace. The Vietnamese economy was transformed. In 1994, 60% of Vietnamese lived under the poverty line. Due to the production and sale of coffee, now about 10% do.


Verrry happy coconut vendor cutting off top of cold coconut

The Great Coconut Rip-off - This Vendor Lied to Us!

"Take this coconut! I give you this coconut! Ice cold! You will like it. Hot today." I'm just thrilled. I'm so happy that he's so happy. In slow motion, I. Take. The. Coco. Nut. See what happens next!

"The Man" in Vietnam

A Street Vendor Saves Billy's Travel Bag

Billy has a favorite travel bag that has seen more miles literally and figuratively than we can count. It is special to him because the insides have a variety of pockets and zippers to organize his "office." But his bag had seen better days, and it was time to get it repaired.

Fruit display at Ben Thanh marketplace

Vast and Curious Food Choices in Saigon, Vietnam

If you have never been to Asia, you must know that the food options here are exotic and plentiful. Everyday shopping is an adventure. You don't just purchase a banana, you must choose from a dozen of types of banana! Come take a look for yourself.   

Typical Compass Living suite

For "Close to the Bone" Travelers, This was an Adventure in Luxury

We journey in a “close to the bone” style of travel. Taking local transport, we stay in hostels or a 2-3 star hotel and sometimes we book an ocean view resort. It depends on value, available deals, what we want to do, and how long we want to stay. But this, my friends, was an adventure in luxury.

Telling my story to the Dentist

My Tale of an Emergency Dental Visit in Vietnam

Those of you who have followed us for a while know that I have this habit of seeing dentists all over the world. Not by choice, mind you, but because, well, because of one thing or another. I had one of those "things" happen while on our visit here in Ho Chi Minh City.

Dining on the street, Saigon, Vietnam

People Want to Know - Is Eating Street Food Safe?

Due to our restaurant background, one of Billy’s and my greatest joys in traveling is the eating of street food. We aren’t being careless about food and water choices; rather, we have over three decades of world travel experience and want to share our perspective with you on this topic.

Outside our 7th floor residence at Compass Parkview

The Pumping, Thriving, Animated Center of Saigon

Saigon was originally part of the kingdom of Cambodia, then it was absorbed by Vietnam in the 17th century, captured by the French in 1859 and served as the capital of the Republic of Vietnam from the mid 1950's until it fell to advancing North Vietnamese forces. Saigon, also known as Ho Chi Minh City as it was renamed in 1975, is considered to be the heart and economic center of Vietnam, and it's Vietnam's largest city.

Vietnamese Dong Simplifying Our Use of Vietnam's Currency during Our Stay

The biggest challenge we face is figuring out the exchange rate of the USDollar to the Vietnamese dong. There are lots of zeros printed on the currency and to make it convenient for our comprehension, the first thing we did was to lop off three of them. It makes it easier figuring out pricing in our head and eliminates some punches on our calculators.


Our Elite Class tickets and menu from EVA Airlines Flying to Saigon in Elite Class Seats, Our First Days in Compass Living Apartment

EVA airlines give some of the best service in the industry. Our flights from LAX-TPE-SGN took about 18 hours of travel and so we experienced several meals on board in both Asian and Western choices. Our own entertainment center was located on the back of the seat in front of us, and we had a variety of new movie releases, news, sports, and TV shows. We could also watch our in flight progress over the Pacific Ocean with graphics provided by EVA air.

BILLY AT A LOCAL BIA HOI Ha Noi, the Conservative Capitol City of Vietnam

We are staying in the Old Quarter; a tangle of streets and alleys filled with vendors, amazing shops, motorbikes and bicycles. It's hectic and a bit frenetic; so easy to get disoriented, quickly losing track of where we are. Even though the streets wind unendingly, eventually, we find some familiarity in all of this.

The Hoa Lo Prison also Known as the "Ha Noi Hilton"

They were cells of death and torture. Opened in 1896, Hoa Lo prison was the largest of the French prisons built in the north of Viet Nam. Constructed in the latter half of the 19th century, this penitentiary was part of France’s efforts to restrain the unruly and popular anti-colonial movements amongst the Vietnamese community. Hoa Lo Prison quickly became a place where thousands of revolutionary fighters were imprisoned, beaten, cuffed, beheaded and suffered the worst abuse imaginable.

A Great Natural Wonder of Asia, Ha Long Bay

One of the great natural wonders of Asia, and northern Vietnam’s biggest attraction, Halong Bay is a must see. Although there are many renditions of the legend of Ha Long Bay, this is the tale we were told while cruising one of the world’s most beautiful waterways.


Hai Van Pass, a Burning Monk and a Fawning Waitress, Hue Is Way Cool 

The views were spectacular. We chose the 3 dollar, 5 hour bus trip through the Hai Van pass to the ancient city of Hue. Twenty kilometers long, this pass is the highest and longest pass in Vietnam, often enshrouded in clouds. Today was clear.


A Thu Bon River, Paddling through Paradise

"Boat tour?" Hanging out on a bridge over the Thu Bon River at the edge of Hoi An’s morning market, she approached us. "Have boat, want to go?" In a 10 foot rowboat, up and down the river, for 30,000 Dong an hour, she wanted to guide us.


Getting Tailored Clothes made in Hoi An, Vietnam

They're everywhere. Celebrated for their tailoring shops, you cannot walk a block in Hoi An where there isn’t at least one. Walls are lined from floor to ceiling with Italian and English cashmere wool, linen, gabardine, and silk from Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam, plus cotton, and corduroy, all weights, and colors. It’s a virtual candy store for a clotheshorse.





Every Vendor Has a Story, Hoi An, Vietnam

In third world travel, street vendors are the norm. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages, selling everything you can imagine from fresh fruit, hand woven baskets, and jewelry, to bug repellent. Performing a much needed service, the product comes to you, and the experience creates colorful memories of your journey away from home.


With a Mixture of French Colonial, Japanese and Chinese Architecture, Ho Ann Has Seaside Splendor 

Hoi An, a World Heritage site, is located on the South China seacoast about half way between Saigon and Ha Noi. Sunny, clear skies with reasonable humidity greeted us without fail, so we decided to venture to the beach.

NORMAL, EVERYDAY TRAFFIC With a Thriving Pulse, This Is Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon

Bustling, churning, this metropolis is just waiting to explode commercially. You can feel it everywhere; the high energy, the industriousness of the people, the old making way for the new. The hustle and commotion are everywhere. Motorbikes outnumber cars by scores, and street markets are anywhere there is space sufficient to accommodate them. Everyone seems to be looking ahead, hungry for the future.


The Horrifying Yet Ingenious Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

The Cu Chi tunnels were built over a 25 year period beginning in the 1940’s, and became an underground city. They housed up to 10,000 people who rarely saw daylight for years at a time, choosing to live, get married, have children and then teach these children, all underground. In the evenings, they would leave this subterranean existence, and furtively tend to their crops.


Run by a Viet Cong Survivor, Hotel 127

The twenty dollar room rate included air-con, TV, minibar, and ensuite bath, as well as breakfast of fruit, baguette and jam, coffee, tea or juice, fresh fruit throughout the day, and dinner of spring rolls and noodle soup! She also provided pick-up from the airport for a six dollar charge.


Captivating Photos of Vietnam

With a wide range of beauty, ranging from the natural to the people and their handicrafts, Vietnam offers much to see at an affordable price. Take a look at some of the photos here. 

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

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