My Thoughts on Vietnam

After reading and hearing many other peoples negative experiences of Vietnam, I decided to share my own.

Before visiting Vietnam, I was worried. I had read so much about people getting scammed, getting robbed, having awful hostels, not getting dropped off at the right location, bad customer service, bad food and the list goes on. Calum was desperate to visit and I wanted to see the war memorials so we decided to head there anyway, but that didn’t stop me from being nervous.

In the weeks we spent in Vietnam, we came across no problems at all.

Yes, we did have sellers trying to encourage us to buy sunglasses and CD’s whilst we sat outside bars in Saigon but a simple and polite ‘no’ seemed to do the trick. One hotel in Hanoi did have a few ants around a mini fridge but after expressing our concern to the family running the little inn, the daughter quickly rushed upstairs to sort it out and put some spray down. We ate street food and local food – loving every bite! We opted for taxi’s instead of group tours to visit the historic sites; more so we could spend as much time as we wanted there. We had a great time and Vietnam is now one of my favourite places in Asia.

Many bloggers have expressed their dislike of Vietnam and I am sure with good reason and when we visited, I anticipated to get scammed and frustrated but it was actually fine. I do encourage travellers not to be put off by others experiences and give Vietnam a chance to show you how incredibly interesting and amazing it is. Everyone has a right to share their own thoughts and opinions and I know that one place and one trip can be completely different to another but this experience taught me to experience a country, city, tour, event or whatever first before making a decision as to whether I like it or not. Travel blogs are an invaluable source for finding out more about destinations around the world but perhaps I rely on them too much at times. Anyways, spiel over – here is how we avoided any problems in Vietnam, using the tips and suggestions from travel bloggers.

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Ho Chi Minh City

 Transport

We were aware that Vietnam roads were bumpy and busy so decided to cut out any long coach journeys. Some may say that night buses with tourists singing karaoke is a travellers ‘right of passage’ but it turned out to be much safer, convenient and not too much more expensive to catch a flight or train between the major cities and towns of Vietnam.

Halong Bay
Halong Bay

 Scams

Again, we have heard many visitors complain about scams from the Vietnamese people. Perhaps we were just lucky but this was never the case for us. Our Halong Bay trip was booked online before we headed to Vietnam and our guesthouse organised our Cu Chi Tunnels trip for us and both went smoothly. Of course we had to haggle for prices in the markets but this was the same across South East Asia.

Hanoi Pineapple Saleswoman
Hanoi

Treatment

I have read several bloggers complain about how they have been mistreated by Vietnamese locals whilst travelling through the country. This is so sad as I would hope there is good and grumpy people in every country. During our stay, again we had no issues with the locals and they were generally quite pleasant. Guesthouse owners were always lovely and accommodating as were restaurant and bar owners that we visited. We personally had no problems with the people of Vietnam but I understand this is not the case for everyone.

Củ Chi District
Củ Chi District

Tours

A friend of mine travelled to Halong Bay a few years before our trip and complained that her boat were unorganised and overbooked. Of course, that is frustrating and it ruined her experience of Halong Bay, which is such a shame as it is such a beautiful place. For our trip, we did a lot of research to ensure this didn’t happen to us and ended up paying more than other trips advertised, to ensure we had a good company. It definitely paid off as our trip was fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for a better tour company. Unfortunately, for tours in Vietnam, you get what you pay for, so we find it’s worth paying more to ensure you have a stress-free, fun time.

We could have just been incredibly lucky or perhaps it was our British accents they warmed to or my weird, one-sided dimpled cheek (that a lady on our Halong bay boat loved to squeeze); who knows. We had a pleasant time in Vietnam and urge all travellers not to write off this beautiful country but do to give it a chance. Inspired? Why not read this perfect backpacking itinerary?

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My Thoughts on Vietnam – Pin This!
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Showing 16 comments
  • Claire Summers
    Reply

    I’ve read lots of similar negative things about Vietnam and other places but like you, I wouldn’t let it put me off. I think it’s always better to be prepared ad agree with you that sometimes you do need to pay a little bit more or spend some extra time researching to make sure you don’t get caught out and have a bad experience. I had a friend who lived over there for 10 years growing up so if I ever go I’ll be sure to pick her brain!

  • Fiona Mai
    Reply

    I’m from Vietnam and used to work in a travel company in Hanoi so I understand your worries when travelling here. There are lots of travel agencies selling cheap Halong Bay tours, but those are run on very old cruises which aren’t safe at all. Services on those cruises are also often mediocre. I’m glad you had a great time with no major problem 🙂

  • refractivesight
    Reply

    This post made me miss VN! They can be rude but the place is lovely and it’s very affordable. Though it’s really hard to communicate with them as sometimes they have a different meaning to an English word. Lol

  • OmniyaFareed Shafik
    Reply

    wow your blog is amazing! glad to see that you review places honestly 🙂

  • Jean
    Reply

    I never had any issues in Vietnam. I loved it. I’m glad that you had a great time too. It’s a beautiful country.

  • Tracy McConnachie Collins
    Reply

    Good points Katie! I too have heard negative comments about Vietnam. I think being prepared and doing as much forward planning is the key. I would say this for anywhere. Last spring we visited Paris and I read a lot about scams and pickpockets causing real problems. I purchased an anti-pickpocket bag and made sure anything valuable was in that and that nothing but clothes was in my backpack. And guess what? We were ‘crowded’ on the metro (I literally could not move) and my backpack was rifled through. At the Eiffel Tower we saw the notorious string scam in action and then a lad apprehended who had at least 20 wallets and purses on him when his pockets were turned out.

    The only thing you can do is be as prepared as possible and make it harder for people to steal etc. I don’t let it taint my view of anywhere though as I find for the one person who wants to scam you there are thousands who want to welcome you!

  • Ashley Smith
    Reply

    I’m glad you had a much more pleasant experience! I’ve only heard good things about Vietnam but you should always consider the source. However, a night bus ok karaoke sounds like my worst nightmare haha!

  • Rhiannon
    Reply

    It’s so refreshing to read someone giving a good spin on Vietnam! One of my best work friends is from Ho Chi Minh City. She’s studying here in Wales for the next year but keeps insisting that when she moves home I MUST come visit her. I’ll be honest in saying that Vietnam has never really screamed at me to visit, and most blogs I’ve read seem to be trying to deter people away from it, so I’ve been hesitant to agree. But reading yours has reminded me that it’s not all bad for everyone!

  • Amanda @ LVV Travel
    Reply

    It’s disappointing that people let negative experiences deter them from coming because I love Vietnam! You definitely have to be more vigilant but I think preparation is key – which is what you did. It makes for a smoother and more enjoyable experience for sure 🙂

    • Katie
      Reply

      Yeah and I was so nervous about visiting but so glad I did! Definitely the best travel lesson I have learnt!

  • Stacey
    Reply

    I can’t wait to go to Vietnam! I hope my experience is as good as yours. We are hoping to spend a week and go from Hanoi to Hue to Hoi An before flying out from Da Nang. I hope we have enough time to do everything

  • Christine
    Reply

    I’m half Vietnamese and would love to visit one day!! I need to go and take my mom with me. Vietnam is such a beautiful place and this post is perfect! I love all the details, definitely saving this for my future trip planning.

  • Hendrik
    Reply

    Glad to hear that you had such a good time in Vietnam! Its probably quite often also a point of view if someone sees a problem or a challenge 😉
    The Ananas photo is amazing!

  • Kreete
    Reply

    That’s interesting to hear there are a lot of bloggers out there with negative impressions about Vietnam. I have never happened on any of them so I don’t really know to speculate, but something must have gone really bad for anyone to say so. It’s all about being smart yourself too, if you let yourself getting ripped off, I believe it was your own fault. Same goes with as you say, you get what you pay for. Good to hear you guys had a great time and I am really looking forward to visiting Vietnam soon!

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