I am not going to say much all about how you have to prepare for your Vietnam travel, just because there are plenty of resources out there to advise how to get a cheap flight or Vietnam visa online, good hotels, transfer tips and so on. I am just trying to give some advices how to get along with culture which you have to face and deal with if you want to have a good time in Vietnam.
This is simplest thing you can do but what you get back is more than you ever expected. Vietnamese is friendly people and willing to get along with friendly people. They are shy people too and normally not open with people if you don’t give them a message. And your smile will be a good sign for them in contact. Believe me, your friendly manner will also help on stay out of scam. Friendly tourist got none or less scam or problem in Vietnam.
Follow the locals
Vietnamese got a big proud of their nation, culture and family. If you somehow are able to catch up with their ways, then you will be much impressed. For example: speak a few simple words in Vietnamese, drink a cup of rice wine, driving a motorbike with them would bring yourself much closer to gain heart of people. My advice is: try to do what locals do at your ability.
Stay away from touristy places
Tourist places mostly not represented to culture of area or country. In Vietnam, if you just travel a little further from the city center, you will see big differences. Things could be cheaper, people are friendlier and I am sure hassle will be less. For example: instead staying at hotels in Hanoi old quarter, just try to move to West Lake area hotel. Shopping in outskirt instead of city center. Eating on street for seat back on restaurant…etc. It will be different for sure.
Please remind yourself that you are in a developing country. Things are different, system is different, something would work in your country may not work here, something is right in your place but it could be wrong here. Things could be opposite. Try to avoid ‘teaching manner’ and replace by ‘sharing manner’ because your reaction of ‘teaching manner’ could misunderstand to disrespect manner.
All travelers have a right to having a great time in Vietnam, and I believe that how much you give is much you gain. Travel enjoyment in Vietnam never be a great luxury thing you are offered but the moments of you experience with people and local activities.