I spent three weeks backpacking in Vietnam this summer and had an amazing time. Although I was scammed a couple of times and experienced occasional hostility, most people were incredibly welcoming and hospitable. And in my opinion the sites, culture and beauty of Vietnam made up for any rare unkindness. To be honest I found some of the other tourists to be more unpleasant.
I guess sometimes you get lucky. We can totally relate! Vietnam was the most frustrating place we visited during our trip around the world. Fortunately I guess we met a fun group of travelers to spend our month in Vietnam with which made it fun and easier to watch out for one another. An odd discrepancy I noticed was that the people who have no stake in you are friendly and eager to help you out this happened all the time when my motorbike broke down in the countryside whereas the people who deal regularly with tourists tour operators, guesthouse owners, vendors etc.
Incidentally, I wrote about all this on my blog, which was eventually discovered by an expat in Hanoi who blew his top off and rounded up all his Twitter buddies for an online attack. Expats are so touchy. Anyway, their neighbours the Cambodians are much friendlier and frankly Cambodia is more interesting anyway. Never made it to laos, but I hear good things. I went to Nam back in 04 for the first time since I was 2 yrs old back in As we shopped in Saigon, the vendors did their best to grab my attention and pull me away from my family.
The street beggars stalked me constantly and accosted me when I was alone. At Vung Tau Beach, street vendors ruined our picnic by pleading with me to buy their stuff the entire time we were there. Despite these incidents, I had a great time because my mom haggled for me when I wanted to buy something.
She made sure I got the correct change although I tipped big everytime. She showed me where to go and where not to go to ensure I had a great time all the time. Hope you have a better experience next time….. Ive been to Vietnam and loved it…what did you expect? There are prices for locals and prices for tourists.. Otherwise none of us would bother travelling…. I expect and have no problem paying the tourist price. What bothered me was the attitude and overall unpleasant experience. I went to China directly after Vietnam and found the average Chinese person to be way, way friendlier than the average Vietnamese person.
They might be laughing about your big nose, height, bald spot, etc. Generally speaking, Southerners are more friendlier than Northerners. The south has more animosity towards the north because of what happened after the unification and how people were treated, not because of American abandonment.
Get over your selves. Business people are generally rude and the locals know this. There are currently a lot of scams that are NOT run by Vnamese but by people from other countries, on tourists. Most of these criminals are from the Philipines, China, Nigeria, etc,. The Vietnamese scams are more low level street peddler stuff and rigged taxi meters. Here, you have to be a complete idiot to not get on friendly terms with your neighbors. And I will go out of my way and say that this is generally what happens all over the world. Give it another chance.
How many tourists actually meet real Vietnamese citizens — damn few. Most travelers are only in contact with hotel and travel people when they tour the country. I have made several very good friends in the north of the country mostly Hanoi , and I go back to see these friends and to make new friends there. Vietnam is the real thing, but too many travelers want Disneyland! Yes, everyone should speak English for your convenience Einstein. Then to hear people bitch and moan about trivial things like getting your 2 cents returned in candies is utterly asinine.
So for this author to believe what a backpacker has to say about how Vietnamese people teach their children is borderline insane. I was just going on what an expat who had lived their for 10 years told me. In fact, my beef with Vietnam has nothing to do with colonialism. It was about the poor attitude I saw while there. It if difficult to be treated fair for foreigners in Vietnam, especially white people. However, It may happen the same for Vietnamese.
Some Vietnamese people don't have a good awareness about the way they treat tourist. Obviously, the lost their long-term customer. I agree that while the risks, like those mentioned in this article, are greater, I think the rewards are as well. Yes, I was ripped off, too. Literally, a xe om driver took the money from my hands.
I met some hostile children. I was laughed at by strangers and I laughed with them. But a stranger on a bus also bought tea for me and a woman on a train gave me food. I met a guy at a cafe. After we talked for two hours, he paid for my coffee and gave me a ride across town for nothing, even after I offered. And I could go on about all the Vietnamese I met and who I will remember for nothing more than their curiosity and kindness.
I think it helped that the sentiments were often mutual. I have visited many countries in Asia and I have to say that Vietnam was my favorite! I found the locals to be extremely friendly and helpful. I will say that I too was ripped off by street vendors and such, but I guess that is something that I was used to as I had previously lived in Thailand for almost three years. I out of all the countries I visited in SEA! Cambodia stood out the most! I can spend a whole month there and not get bored!
But I ventured mostly off the beaten path. I think most idyllic places that get overrun by tourism tend to be more of a pain to travel to, and require more vigilance, especially in the tourist areas. I also believe that you reap what you sow. For years I have been dismayed to see travelers go through countries in SE Asia and totally disrespect the culture.
Anyone who has been there knows what I mean. We have, for better or worse, changed these cultures by our very presence. I only wonder how much longer that is going to last. As a former backpacker and now running a tour operator I have also noticed the odd difference in experinces between the budget and more upmarket travellers.
As Matt says those travelling in a more organised manner definitely seem to have a better time. However bear mind that backpackers are regarded wth much suspicion throughout the region. Perhaps Vietnamese are just more overtly rude to those they consider cheap. Bad move as in the long run many of our clients are grown up backpackers looking to return inn more stlye. I spent three weeks in Vietnam in and enjoyed myself, though on every bus I took I had to fight to pay something akin to what the locals were paying.
I was warned about this before going, and so watched what others were paying, and then handed over the same. I actually traveled to Vietnam for the first time last June and spent a month there. I experienced many of the negatives you mentioned, whether I was thought to be a local or acknowledged to be a foreigner usually happened as soon as opened my mouth and uttered my broken Vietnamese. The mentality of many of the locals seem to be that the world is a dog-eat-dog kind of world. Locals from different regions of Vietnam are known for different temperaments.
The northerners are described as mean, hardworking, and smart. The southerners are described as more laid-back, lazy, and go with the flow. Although I had my share of run-ins with rude, pushy, scamming, etc. Glad I chanced upon your site! This is my exact same sentiment as well.
I had a few nasty experiences in Vietnam and it so tainted my view of the country that I vowed never to go back there again. I was harassed by a tutu driver who, despite my repeated refusals, kept following me around. Finally I pitied him and gave in. I refused and he got aggressive and threatened to wait at the lobby of my apartment.
High-end or backpackers will face the same issue … the only difference is that the high-end travellers wont quibble about being overcharged. Like any path one takes, YYMV on any travelling experience. I spent a month there in and loved everything about it: And I did NOT travel in luxury!! Just one more point: India, Cambodia, Thailand, etc.
And hoping that all the bad things never happened to me…. I had an awesome time in Vietnam, but I think maybe it was because I knew ahead of time they were going to try and overcharged. He wouldnt give me my change back. After 5 minutes of constant voice raising he finally gave in.
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Only bad experience of the trip. Sucks you had a bad time in Vietnam! See Thailand is one of my favorite places. In my travels, I have met so many Americans who hate most Americans. Look on the bright side of life! I too had a bad experience as Nomadic Matt had in Vietnam… I just got back from Vietnam less then a week ago. I a Korean-American had traveled there with my wife Taiwanese and her friends a group of 12 Taiwanese. I am not a stuck up person either and I have also traveled else where in Asia but this type of experience is a first. Just the look in peoples eyes just seem scheming like they are out to rob you.
Even the service at the Intercontinental in Hanoi Westlake was mediocre. I was staying on the first floor and the cleaning people decide to leave my balcony door unlocked and shades open for all to see my luggage and belongings. At the airport departing, the ticket counter lady would not let one of our tour group members to fly back to Taiwan, even though he carries a Taiwanese passport and 4 days prior flew in from Taiwan. Only after 2 hours of arguing they allowed him to get his ticket. Everything is so corrupt there… I was so turned off to this country. I have traveled to Shenzhen, China many times for business and when that gig was up I vowed never to go back to there, but after Vietnam and dealing with the people… Shenzhen and the people there seem to be more civilized and warm.
Hallo, your comment is an absolute truth that so many people here in Vietnam cannot speak out of a polite courtesy. It should be repeated over and over and over again until this bad reputation spreads and influences tourism in this country. I have been working here for over a year and even some of my students would suddenly bring out a obsessive underlying idea: Vietnamese culture has become a poor leftover of what it could have been.
Take a motorbike for speeding and not caring about traffic rules, icecream and superficial window shopping and consuming. Moral values have thinned from its original Confucian core. Add an extremely bad social infrastructure and non-transparent government. Instead of sharpening their critical thinking about their own country, Vietnamese evade thinking by cheating non-Viets and racing through the traffic.
It is a very sad state of affairs.
Why I'll Never Return to Vietnam
The place that you seem to like most. I was totally ripped off. Cab drivers will charge me an outrages fee, not at all going by the cab meters. One cab driver even wanted after more after we had negotiated a price! But you know what, it is a poor country, so I let things slide. But I suppose no one likes to be looked upon on as a walking ATM and definitely no one likes to be ripped off no matter where they are. Communism causes the people to do those type of things. I went to Vietnam last year, and you would think that they would treat me better because of an ethnicity similarity, but absolutely not.
Jealousy and distrust are the key traits. What a corrupt system! I may be too young to understand everything, but I do know about the war in that caused my mother country to be this way. Just got a bad experience again and still trying to recover from it. Boy I miss Thailand and Laos badly. Of course tourists get ripped of in those places as well, but at least they do it with a smile! I just spent 6 weeks in India and had a very similar experience. Sure, I had a few good interactions, which I appreciated immensely, but sadly these were quite rare.
The people always make or break a place and shape our interactions. Matt, Bummer about your experience. I ate inexpensively and got help when needed. He walked off without asking for a thing. I did get the hang of crossing by the next morning. Asian countries , I plan to return to Vietnam. Man, so you got ripped off dollars.
I think the people that travel Vietnam need to stay longer. Once, you live there longer, you know their rules. You start to hustle. For instance, if you showed up to a restaurant and they charge you more, so be it. The next few times, go back and bargain with them. Say you charged that person less and you charged me more.
Are you kidding me??!!! Also, reality check for people. After traveling to other countries, you will surely find out you got it made in America or England. My wife and I just got back from Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and we agree that Vietnam was our least favourite country to visit. Compared to Thailand and Cambodia, people in Vietnam just tended to be less friendly and in some cases downright rude.
The vendors, taxis and tuk tuk drivers were in many cases demanding or expecting tips, or obviously trying to rip us off — which is very off-putting. We did encounter some wonderful people too, but it was very hit and miss — whereas in Thailand in Cambodia it was almost entirely positive. So your point about catering to affluent travelers rings true as well. I had a terrible experience in Vietnam, but I have wanted to return in order to try and rectify the experience. Now I am questioning whether it is worth it.
I was in Ho Chi Minh volunteering with orphaned disabled children — many disabilities that are a direct result of the war. That experience was completely wonderful! I do not regret that time for a second and those children really touched my life. But, during our day tour of the city, my expensive DSLR and brand new lens was ripped right from my hands by 2 men on a motorbike.
They created a distraction by pretending to run into me. You never think that could happen to you, but it did and it was quite traumatizing… not the material aspect, but the fact that someone could look you in the eyes and violate you. It was hard to get over and during my time in India, I hardly wanted to pull my camera out. I found many Vietnamese people to be sweet and friendly. It was just this one experience, which really could happen anywhere, that tainted my view entirely.
I recently travel to New York and was robbed at gunpoint in a public restroom while 20 cops were walking outside central station. In Chicago, I got lost in a bad neighborhood and again was robbed at gun point. So lighten up and do not paint the whole country in a single brush! I never knew thinking people in location X are rude makes you a racist. Are the people who say that racist too? We will get a good laugh out of it. Thank you for exactly putting into words what I am experiencing here…was talking about it last night even. I can see why Vietnamese people dislike Westerners.
You are obviously too young to remember the Vietnam War, which the Vietnamese people call the American War, but hey, it was a totally disgusting war, which, in the end, the West did not win. Villages were bombed and totally destroyed. Children died, screaming in terror. Give your head a shake! And maybe you are right that that horrible history makes them behave like that to tourists and give tourists a feeling of unwelcomeness. I am not arguing if they are right or wrong to behave like this, but I do think you agree that I personally have nothing to do with that history.
There are lots of good people in Vietnam. Probably you need to get away from the tourist areas to see it. I have to say that for somebody that has travelled so much, you are very ignorant. Having travelled extesnively and lived within SE Asia, I think your comments are representative of many backpackers who think that they deserve better than the locals.
When you were in Vietnam, did you not notice the conditions that many locals live in? And overcharging is not limited to Vietnam… the only difference is that people in Thailand do exactly the same thing but with a smile on their face. I guess that makes you feel a lot better. An additional point is that Vietnam has not long been open to the western world. As a result, the level of English is extremely low in most places in Vietnam. So quite often the language barrier makes it difficult to embrace the people and their ways of life. I hope that you will realise how ignorant you are in the future.
Vietnam is an inspirational country where people have suffered so much in the past, and yet they just get on with life without complaining. I for one hope that other travellers ignore your advice and go see Vietnam for themselves!! I will never return to this boring country ever again! I find Cambodia and Laos much more friendlier and interesting than Vietnam! The beaches and Islands in Cambodia are way more superior than Vietnam beaches! We are 31 hours until we leave Vietnam after having spent 2 weeks here and it cant come soon enough….
Dont get me wrong, there have been some lovely and helpful people we have met along the way mostly the guesthouse owners , but nowhere else in SE Asia have we been so consistently the target of racism and money grabbing. I cannot shake the feeling that all they see when we walk down the street are a pair of dollar signs. Every time we see a newly arrived tourist falling for one of the very common scams we sigh because it just means that the locals are more and more likely to continue to scam and the few honest ones struggle to get along.
Now dont get me started on the constant hassle from touts…. I mean compare Vietnam to like say Thailand, Malaysia, or even Cambodia it just pales in comparison! I know people who spent a month in Vietnam. But for me days is enough! Saigon and Hanoi are a shithole! Wow, sounds like some of you really had a bad time in Vietnam.
But keeping an open mind is part of the main point of travel. I know I will still go back to China because the positive things to see, do, and eat outweigh the bad which is a matter of opinion. What I find most interesting is the sheer number of people who were positive about Vietnam. I have been living in the north for about 1 year. I can assure you all that the people who either sell stuff or business owners are rotten human beings. Example; you eat a cheapo lunch for 50, vnd and you give your server a 20, vnd tip they must give it to the owner or they will be fired. The average working citizens are great people with 3rd world country ignorances.
Such as; not allowing you off the elevator only to push their way in in.. Cutting in front of everyone in line, speaking much to loudly, public urination, public nose picking and my favorite is never be honest about anything. Other than those things, these people rock!!!! I was getting good tips from ur blog to prepare my grand travel when I come across the post that totally discourages the travel to my own country hahah.
This post actually made me laugh so much since it answered some questions I used to have. I always wondered if the tourists knew and felt annoyed when they were ripped off or followed by curious locals because most of them seemed pretty calmed or rather had fun with it. Well, I see now you and many other were aware of it, somehow annoyed but accepted the bad side of travelling to another country. It got me laughed again when at some point you said you were looked down on and not treated as a person.
Well, you are treated as a rich foreigner who will be willing to pay, or a walking wallet as someone call it. Now I wonder if I would feel better if they ever think of me as a walking wallet. Or you would feel better if they just make you invisible: We had a history with French and American, and we learn in school about the wars and such. With all that said, I am so sorry to hear about your bad experience and hope you would give my country a second thought. Next time if ever find a Vietnamese friend with a clever mouth to get you through the hassle, you may find it a totally different experience!
I found the people to be some of the most friendly I have encountered in the world. Smiles, kindness, helpful, honest, wonderful people. This is codified when I fell terrible ill in Nha Trang and was unable to leave my room for three days. The night security guard was the only employee of the hotel that spoke English. He came in early, fetched me food, water, and medicine. Checked on me every hours for three days! People are just trying to get the highest value for their goods or services. If you felt ripped off, be mad at yourself, not anyone else.
I also find it true that people are seldom objective. I have had both positive and negative experiences on every trip I have taken. I just chose to focus on the good parts. This is a bit worrying, as I was planning to go backpacking in Vietnam for my honeymoon in January.
We found Cambodia and Laos wonderful and the people to be so friendly. We have been backpackers in many places around the world over the last 10 years and Vietnam is the one and only place we would not return to for love nor money. We spent much of our time completely off the beaten track in Vietnam too. This is just one of the many stories that reminds me why I would never, ever visit again. I have several friends who have visited Vietnam and enjoyed it, but they knew people there, so it would have been a completely different experience for them.
I enjoyed reading this and getting a different perspective. These are mostly merchants in the city, hustling to win their daily bread, and in the process of all that, they become almost vile, heartless. It really comes down to how well one can deal with that kind of stress and either be able to ignore it, and go on, or leave and not have to feel the anger again. I guess Vietnam seems to be polarizing the travellers. Many love it and a few hate it. I had been living in Vietnam and I never had problems.
Too me the people were utmost friendly, funny and honest. I rode my little motorbike all across the country and I was always welcome, received great support and felt that people appreciated that I tried to explore their country. Prices are occasionally subject to change depending on whether the vendor likes you or not. But that happens to Vietnamese folks as well.
Matt, I had the same experiences like what you wrote about. North Vietnam was not good to me. I felt better in S. Vietnam but then again, I contracted the swine flu in Mekong Delta. This year I found my father and went to Saigon for 2 months just returned a few days ago to meet my relatives. I was always with an English speaking relative when I went out, and so was not ripped off. I almost forgot about the terrible experience back in Despite this and my relatives requests for me to live and work in Vietnam, I knew Vietnam is not for me.
The last 10 days I went out by myself and suddenly felt very…. The staring, the laughing, talking behind ones back. By this point I knew the correct price and could speak and understand back in which at that time was ziltch. For those that tell Matt to get an open mind…seriously?? I prefer to read a blog or talk to someone who is real—sharing the good, bad, and ugly.
Do you ever volunteer while traveling? You can check out the vid hopefully next month. I think, that many westerners forgot how to be tough! That is not necessary often, but sometimes, to keep my self respect up, I do it. Also if I would see, that the lady is not mixing the drink properly I would tell her to do it right or just walk away. And I never pay before I got what I have. Sometimes I also just help myself, if someone pretends to be stupid.
Plus, everywhere in Asia, use the power of the smile. If you smile to someone while buying or doing whatever else that reduces the probability of getting cheated somehow … But most of the time everything just goes fine. I moved to Vietnam 2 months ago and will probably stay out my year contract but NEVER have I been faced with such incredible rudeness in Asia and I have been living in Asia for nineteen years.
Just today I went to a shop to but some simple things and the woman barked the price at me. I have been studying Vietnamese for about an hour a day but it will take time…anyway, I smiled and mimed that she write the price on paper—she rolled her eyes then spat on the floor. Needless to say I walked out. Was laughed at and shouted at on the street and then robbed by my hotel employees. I should say hi first, right? Well,that s why the teenagers like us have to learn and rebuilt it someday…. I promise to be your guide whenever you go and wherever i know nice day, my sweetiest blesses.
I was just having a bad day—everyone was being rude to me. If anyone is going to take Vietnam safely and smoothly into the twenty first century it will be people like you. You have my admiration and good wishes. Any ways,thanks 4 your support nice day! Look, these are poor countries and of course the westerners have more money than they do. Consequently many people will try to overcharge you in all these countries except for Singapore which is modern, affluent and super expensive.
But without a doubt the Vietnamese are just plain rude and nasty people. They go out of their way to lie, cheat and steal. It really has nothing to offer compared to the countries so why bother? I lived in Vietnam for 4 long years and had a job making good money but the hassle was not worth it. It is corrupt from top to bottom. They are dirty, rude and vicious people.
The men will target women and steal from them and assault them. I have seen a big VN man punch and kick a tiny girl about 80 pounds. I have been ripped off twice for my rental deposits. I have seen numerous VN people make rude, racist comments to VN girls with foreign men. They hate people with dark skin and will make loud remarks about it. They would rather lie, cheat and steal than work. I am just giving you the tip if the iceberg here. The overcharging is the least of the problems here. An elderly couple from Australia told me that a taxi driver grabbed their wallet and threw them out of the care and drove off.
A female friend who is lawyer was punched in the face by a taxi driver.
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The people here are cowards. They only pick on single women, the elderly or the weak. It is a police state in Vietnam and the police are corrupt. Everyone must register with the police. I do not drink, do drugs nor was their a prostitute or anyone else for that matter in my room. I was alone and trying to get a good nights sleep because i had to work in the morning. It was a shakedown procedure which is common here. I will stop now because there is just too much to write and it only gets my blood boiling to think of that evil place! Though Vietnam is a beautiful place, we were ripped off too.
They ask more money. They increased their prices for us. We are Filipino backpackers but still they ripped us off. Street vendors, souvenir sellers, and motorcycle drivers. I has so many similar experiences in Vietnam! Overall I found it exhausting to deal with the hassling, cheating etc.
I am not talking about having to bargain a price down before buying. What I have found to be a pattern is those who went to Cambodia first were less impressed with Vietnam, and vice versa. Not sure if I would return, maybe. The coffee was outstanding and I met a lot of wonderful Vietnamese people who ran cafes and the like. I feel the same about Taiwan, never again.
I have found that talking to people the consensus on Vietnam is always very back and white. Kind of makes me not want to go… adly enough to say. Vietnam may be not good, but there r good people too. Vietnam just beautiful the way it is and if you just want to see without discovering,only see what your eyes can show you,then dont come to Vietnam anymore. If come and be back with such an unhappy feeling,then you should stay home,try to see the beauty around you,or else,anything is just a waste im a Vietnamese.
This post is for mr been there done that, know it all, Jason T. Secondly, seem to me that you spent a lot of time there in Vietnam, a place you furiously dislike so much. Reading your comments, i can see why you feel the way you feel. Having an outlook like yours and still wandering around will land you in the hospital someday. Atleast that is what i would have done if someone lookdown on me. And as for your bad mouthing, there is no cure, what a waist. Matt, you obviouly have interacted with lots of Vietnamese; you have Vietnamese friends back home.
What you experienced in Vietnam, unfortunately, is fairly common; may not be to the extreme as you described. In a way, it is how things are done overthere. I can assure you that you are not being singled out. Be open minded and take it with a grain of salt, you will have blast. Keep in mind, Vietnam is far from being a developed and civilized country like the US; She is changing rappidly everyday as the economy getting stronger and quality of life improves.
Vietnamese are born fighters and fast learners, they will do what it takes to better the country. So Matt when you do decide to revisit, you will have a more enjoyable time. Went to South East Asia with a tour and Vietnam was also my least favorite. It is an interesting country though but I kept asking myself what I was doing there. Cambodia, Laos and Thailand were a blast though!! OMG, your article on Vietnam are so true.
I am fluent both in reading and writing Vietnamese. I had an especially terrible time in Hue — cheating, lying, scamming, etc…. I vouch to never come back to Vietnam too as I was having such a terrible time. I have lived in Nha Trang, Vietnam for awhile now. My best advice for not getting ripped off is by getting out of the toursit areas. If you mix with the locals in local places away from tourist districts you will be treated kindly and probably never get ripped off.
The people here are lovely to me, they are kind and funny.
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If you want the best food at ridicously low prices go to the local places. That can be scary for many people to step out their comfort zone like that and go into places that probably has never had a white person eaten there.
Why I’ll Never Return to Vietnam
The locals love it, you are still a thing of curiosity in most places in Vietnam. They have the best food in the world, hands down amazing. Vietnam is also extremely safe, I would walk anywhere anytime of the day or night. Watch out in the toursit areas because they will steal your phone or purse in a heartbeat. Anything in this country that is not nailed down is as good as gone.
My dad was hit by a car when visiting Vietnam just by himself last week and his state is very critical. We have for days tried to get him transferred to Bangkok for a better hospital, but the greedy, inhumane hospital is ripping my mum off and are refusing to let SOS International transfer dad to Bangkok. The hospitals in Vietnam are not good. You are right to get him to Bangkok asap. Try calling your consulate in HCMC.
Maybe they can help. I lived for the 12 months I lived in Vietnam, with Vietnamese people. First, a lovely family we took good care of me, and no one, even the cleaner, did not steal anything from my room. Let me tell you a thing, in my native country, Holland, my bike got stollen so many times, while in Hue, I didnt even needed to lock it. Second, maybe Vietnamese girls in Saigon are easy. But its quite rare to see a mixed couplde in Hue, and its also rare but less rare as in Hue , to see a mixed couple in Hanoi. In Hue some people tended to be a bit negative towards mixed couples, but still there in general, people still said more positive things than negative, I think that the negative comments in Hanoi were completely absent.
Try to be more nuanced in giving your opinion about Vietnam. You are not presenting facts, and you will never able to do so. The same like me. But I can clearly see that you are frustrated about something. What is more interesting for me is to find out way you are so frustrated. Crossing the street is easy once you know how it works. I thought that even you would know that… — Like I said before.
A vietnamese person has never stolen anything from me, in the time I was in Vietnam. I often did not lock my front door, my host family never stole anything from me, nor my Vietnamese roommates. I can easily trust my vietnamese friends with my wallet, its never going to happen from the people I trust. They are like any other people. And sure, some of them are bad, but you cannot generalize. Are u also accusing them from being anti-semitic? I cannot deny what happened to you but you want to deny what happened to me.
As far as race goes, you define it as nationality. Race is not nationality. But you must go to school to learn these things. You happened to be lucky. Once again you are putting words in my mouth. I said that Hitler was admired in Vietnam. As far as crossing the street goes, tell that to a scared, little child or a frightened elderly person.
They are Vietnamese but I guess you have it all figured out how they should cross the street in their own country. What about not pulling over for an ambulance? What I said about theft was that many, many of my students claimed that their friends, neighbors and relatives came into their homes and stole things. I guess you are calling them liars? Stick to your own experience because I know what mine is.
We had exactly the same experience: We did lots of research and were aware of the inevitability of being ripped off. So we tried our best to be polite, fair and respectful to show that not all travelers are oblivious asses in the hopes that we would be shown the same respect and fairness in return. All this just made it worse when we got charged 16x more than locals for a bus… multiple times. Just one of the memories that will last a lifetime from our travels there! Vietnam does have lots to see, eat and experience.
I had a terrible time in Beijing. Will I ever go back? No, not anytime soon. Do I hate Beijing? Because I know understand why people act this way and the history behind it all. I agree with OP, i live and work here, and sometimes on my flight back to saigon and see travellers coming in from other places i feel sorry for them. Dont ever compare to Thailand, thailand is heaven compared to here, i go there to get sanity back, for me bustling bangkok feels like a quiet resort compare to this place.
Its all about the money here, and there is not the soothing buddishm and politeness that you find in thailand, yes people try to rip you off some places in thailand, but they do it with a smile and you can have a good laugh about it. Here they will get downright mean and angry at you and they will try to maximize it in levels that only China can beat thats the worst place. Dont take the war into this, its nothing about that, its about a mentality of cheating and lying thats the core of it all, it goes through all levels also business.
To understand it you should think of going from china to vietnam — that will be experienced as a nice wind of change, going from any other SEA country, even a poor Laos or Cambodia you will most likely get a pretty decent chock. Ofcourse there are some sweet people here, alot of people have touched my heart here and you are able to make real friends which can be harder in ex. Zeke when you got a rooted culture of cheating and lying then its hard not to.
As an expat who has been here for six arduous years. I have also seen and experienced a great deal of rudeness and dishonesty from people in every walk of life. In fact, living in Vietnam has made me realize how much I love the United States. When I first came here, I was a happy and naive fellow.
That is, I was easy pickings for every silly con available. Now, I am mean. If I get shouted at, I shout back even louder. If I am treated rudely, I treat the other person even worse. I got off the bike. Shouted at him at the top of my lungs. He cursed at me, and I cursed right back. Finally, we reached an impasse. I took off the passenger helmet, threw it into the street and tossed a smaller sum of money than was originally agreed on the ground and walked away.
He continued shouting while he ran to recover his items. Frankly, if enough visitors and expats stopped taking the abuse silently, then perhaps the people would change. I was robbed at the weekend night market in the Old Quarter full of people. I was pushed down very hard in a crowd. Then they used a knife to rip my bag and steal my wallet. I then went to the main travel office in the center of town. They refused to call the police and told me to keep my voice down. While I was there, another lady said she had the same thing happen to her the night before. On the same weekend, a man had his wallet stolen too.
Anyone can get robbed. The thievery in stores is also such a problem that there are strong-looking security guards carrying sticks at the end of the check-out lanes who are there to watch and pound people who steal. Today, I saw a thief steal from a local vendor. She started yelling and it stopped rush-hour traffic. They chased him down with a butcher knife. The crime in Hanoi is the worst I have seen anywhere in the world. I lived in Thailand five years , South Korea one year and spent many months at a time is several other countries. Vietnam is the worst!
The people are extremely rude or extremely nice. They rarely smile or apologize. I would advise people to give Vietnam a pass and check out places with less crime and better treatment. The bad service and scams in Vietnam make Cambodia look like kindergarten play. Just read your post now, but it turns out we were at about the same time. We experienced all you said and worse. Of course there are exceptions, but very few and all the rest ruin the country. We blogged about Vietnam and got plenty of hate mail and comments for telling the truth.
Where we come from we do have a right to freely express our opinions based on our experiences. We like reading your blog because you express the good and the bad, unlike other bloggers who are always trying to be PC — boring…. I share your feelings! I went a week and litteraly ran away 2 days earlier so fed up i was being cheated, scammed and pushed. People were rude, impolite, uncivil. Everything was not overpriced I am used to the quadruple standard of Thailand but plain robery, particularly when you come from a neighbouring more developped country and have some idea of what things cost we were charged 3 times what we would pay in thailand for a coffee in the street.
Up to the airport for our flight back to Bangkok, for which i gladly paid a charge to change the date and leave sooner, the airport duty free cheated us on the exchange rate and on the bill! As the plane took off I was finally able to breath again. Note that I am not a naive backpacker. I am well travelled and have lived in South East Asia Thailand. Thank you so much for this post!
After visiting Thailand and Cambodia, this was such a change and I must agree with every your sentence. I intend to travel in Vietnam later this year or in early Based on the reports of quite a number of Australian friends who have enjoyed the experience of travelling there. Not in luxury but at a basic level using local public transport etc. Unfortunately they report that there is still a lot of resentment towards Americans……. These are your worse experiences in Vietnam!!??? Please be open minded…these people are poor, and they will do many creative things to gain more money from tourists as yourself…be smarter about things going forward, and you should be ok with being overcharged!!
What gets me is the culture of violently robbing white people at knife point as they go about their own business. Or stores that never treat customers like customers, but rather like potential thieves because theft is such a problem there. On the flip side, as an American, I have mostly received a positive reception from average Vietnamese when I say where I am from.
Vietnam 40 years on: how a communist victory gave way to capitalist corruption
My Korean student is having problems nearly every single day as she takes a taxi and they drive way out of the way to cheat her on the way to school. The same thing happens to her father. A 40k dong ride that should take 10 minutes will cost her k and over 30 minutes. Does she have the right to complain as an expat. But I believe years ago people were much nicer to one another and of course to international visitors.
Should we blame this on the communist education which emphasizes hatred rather than compassion? Or should we blame this on the recent fast economic development which is unfortunately not accompanied by a corresponding ethics education? Among native Vietnamese ourselves we always complain that people nowadays are much less ethical. Corruption, cheating, and robbing happens everywhere. Government officials cheat, and so do ordinary people.
Young people come out of the seminars "motivated and convinced in pursuing life choices following the evangelical principles", notes Tran. Effective leadership starts from within the heart", he says. A girl among the participants, Nguyen Phuong told Fides: I want to be like Jesus and this is a journey of transformation. This course taught me how important it is to love God, love others and love myself.
I experienced a powerful faith, trust and hope in God. I felt a strong peace, God came to meet me and told me: I know you, I forgive you. He is always with me, but now I have recognized him".