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The hidden weight loss charm of Vietnam

The hidden weight loss charm of Vietnam

Saturday, May 06, 2017, 14:18 GMT+7

Weight loss could be Vietnam’s next tourism draw card. Ignored as a potential benefit in the rush to build casinos and resorts in endangered habitats, weight-challenged tourists could do no better than to try some of the activities I’m advocating in this article.

I’m not talking about the obvious benefits of eating pho, morning yoga classes or sitting on baby stools. Bumpy jeep tours, scary racing bike country marathons, abseiling, cave exploring and sitting through a four-hour karaoke session also don’t qualify. There are dozens of things that you might not ordinarily associate with weight loss that have that ‘hidden charm’ which is promoted so brilliantly in Vietnam.

The beauty of this kind of program is you don’t have to be fit to do this, in fact, it’s even better if you have high cholesterol or blood pressure or the impending need for triple-bypass heart surgery.

With a calorie burning guide that someone should make into an app, I’ll kick off this list with arriving in Vietnam.

Burn rate: 40 to 70 calories per hour. If you’ve arrived by budget carrier, carry a backpack and need to defend your position in the visa-on-arrival queue during the rush to get to a smoking zone, congratulations, you’re already on the way to svelte-dom. If you ditch that wheeled luggage too, the strain of tense stomach muscles while consulting your GPS and finding the cheap city bus will improve your possible six-pack buffness.

Burn rate: 125 calories per hour. Traffic terror is great for losing those love-handles. Remember, the wider the road you have to cross, the more you burn. The rate increases with the attempt to magically stop traffic with an extended outwardly facing hand palm – it’s scarier. You can double the calories lost if you’re in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi – Da Nang is less but Hoi An is slightly more.

Burn rate: 150 calories per hour. Haggle in the markets – this is stressful, frustrating, time-consuming and often fruitless; excellent weight burners. Leave your wallet on the bathroom sink when you step on the scales, the lack of money from overpricing will give a false reading. It’s even better if you get into a shouting match with that tailor who didn’t sew the clothes the way you wanted and the shop calls the cops. 

Burn rate: 170 calories per hour. Start a bar or café in a busy tourist area – this is an extended burner even if you’re sitting down as the strain of getting your Vietnamese partner to deal with suppliers and all the government forms begins to get you down. Arguing with other expat café owners adds 15 calories. This suggestion is only for the braver amongst us and requires the ability to suspend belief in the face of conflicting information from your agent and the bureaucracy. Add another 5 calories if the agent is your Vietnamese lover and you have to bite your tongue.

Burn rate: 200 calories per hour. Get a Vietnamese husband/wife/girlfriend or boyfriend. I hope I’ve included every category! The simple act of trying to understand each other and ‘why you did that’ and ‘I didn’t want you to do that’ can have stunning effects on your weight loss program and may speed up the time it takes to reach peak condition. Anything involving family dinners and weddings gives you bonus 10 calories. Early morning rice-whisky has a similar effect and ensuing arguments can triple the effect. Having a baby or deciding to build a house is a guaranteed two kilos shed off your target weight.

Burn rate: 225 calories per hour. The latest novelty trend is non-free tourist-funded clean-up campaigns. Picking up, bending down, shoveling and choking in garbage fumes all contribute calories. It’s even better if you do river clean-ups in kayaks or in front of beach front resorts while taking selfies of your caring actions in clearing away the rubbish of the nation you are visiting. Add 100 calories if you’re an organizer trying to de-trash a marine park or protect a UNESCO-nominated monkey preservation area from resort development.

Burn rate: 250 calories per hour. Ride a motorbike. You can do isometric exercises at the traffic lights, practice your swerving skills on the highways and yell at the taxis. Do you know riders shed 40 calories more than office workers per hour? Add the fear factor and parking your bike a little bit further from your destination and walking there are helpful too; trying to sell your bike when leaving Vietnam adds 20 more calories.

So visit Vietnam and become a more marvelous, unhidden you!

Author’s note:


svelte: graceful and slim like a dancer

buff: having a body like a sportsperson

scales: telling you your weight but it’s often wrong

bite your tongue: not saying what you are really thinking!

isometric exercise: tensing your muscles while doing something else


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