There’s lots to see and experience while you’re travelling in Vietnam from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world to stunning landscapes of mountainous highlands. Vietnam is truly a wonderful destination for many groups with different interests.
For those who are seeking to dissolve in local scenes and people’s lives, there are tens of ethnic groups and villages to explore a range of ethnicities. There’s also a huge diversity of cuisine throughout the country from south to north. It is a country rich in culinary diversity and cultural spectrum.
As a traveller with great interest in merging with local culture and people, I love to grasp all opportunities to experience and understand how Vietnamese people think, live and behave.
One great way to dive right into the strongly shared interest and passion of many Vietnamese is to watch a football match here in Vietnam. I moved to Hanoi last year and I was lucky to witness the craze and hyperactive enthusiasm and love they have for football.
Although Vietnam is not an internationally recognised country for football, there has been some incredible rise in the national team’s performance and football seems to be a powerful means pulling its nation together with hope and a lot of fun.
The peak of all was during Suzuki Cup in 2018, which is AFF Championship (previously known as ASEAN Football Federation Championship) competition for Southeast Asian countries. It happens biennially and the Japanese automobile company, Suzuki bought the naming right, thus named AFF Suzuki Cup now.
Last year, Vietnam won the championship the second time after their first trophy in 2008. I was at Hanoi’s beer street for the final match and it was truly a precious night for all the Vietnamese people as well as for many foreigners to be on the spot when everyone was out on the streets with flags, speakers and vuvuzelas to celebrate.
It was a glorious night. People were out with speakers to play victorious songs and everyone was singing and dancing along. The celebrations went on until late night or even early morning following the victory.
I was surprised to see that the enthusiasm for football never faded since then, but incremented even for matches that are not quite important in my perspective. There are 2022 World Cup qualification matches happening now and the first few matches were watched by many and lots of people celebrated every win for their first few matches.
With two more qualification matches coming in this month, November 2019, I think it’d be a perfect opportunity to take a glance at the scenes of football craze here in Vietnam. So below are the details of the match dates, where to watch and how to join the celebration with locals.
World Cup Qualification Dates
Vietnam vs. United Arab Emirates
20:00 14th November 2019
Vietnam vs. Thailand
20:00 19th November 2019
*It is maybe helpful to know that Vietnam and Thailand are strong rivals. So the match with Thailand will probably be watched with more intensity and eagerness.
Where to Watch
Both matches will be played at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, but since the ticket sales were already over in October, you can resort to local beer restaurants or pubs to watch. There will be many places with TVs or projectors to live stream matches.
My favourite place to go is a bia hoi, which is a local restaurant with draft beer. You can watch the match with some cold glasses of beer along with delicious local dishes most bia hoi places have.
When Vietnam wins a match, there’s this special celebration called “đi bão”, which is literally translated as “to go storming”. This means to go riding on a motorbike (or sometimes in a car) with the vuvuzela horn and / or a Vietnamese flag as a celebration for the victory.
After winning the last match against Indonesia in October, there were some people going “di bao” on the streets around Hanoi. As the two remaining qualifications are against strong countries, if Vietnam wins, I’m certain that you’ll be able to witness quite a crowd going storming.
You’ll hear a couple of cheers during and after winning the match. If you’d like to join cheering along, you can remember this phrase, which goes “Vietnam, Vo Dich!”, which means Vietnam victory. Another popular one is a singing phrase “Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh” that is repeated again and again until it fades.
I hope you’ll have a blast with football fans of Vietnam and I’ll be out on streets for the two matches too!