One surprising thing when you visit Vietnam for the first time is to see what cars the Vietnamese people drive.
This is even more surprising if you had visited previously other Asian countries supposedly much richer than Vietnam. So what are we talking about exactly? Well, you will notice that many Vietnamese people drive brand new SUVs. We are not talking about low quality SUVs but instead of some of the best quality you can find worldwide. This is surprising for two reasons: The first reason is obvious. In fact, since Vietnam can still be classified as an emerging country one would not expect to see that many nice cars on the roads. The second reason is more country-specific. Vietnamese drive imported cars, the favourite brands here are Ford and Lexus. These cars are already relatively expensive in their origin country but when imported in Vietnam a special car import tax rate applies which make them even more expensive. Nonetheless, many Vietnamese can still afford them. When we say "many" we mean it. One just needs to walk in Hanoi's or Ho Chi Minh's streets to see that they are not only everywhere but that there are also more and more of them year after year. This is an interesting point to make that needs to be developed more. How can so many Vietnamese afford to buy expensive and highly taxed cars?
Even if this is not an explanation as such, one important thing to know is that in Vietnam owning a beautiful car is of primary importance for many people. What you drive represents who you are and your position in society. This is something really different than what you can see in a country like France for instance in which the wealthiest people can drive average cars.