Before you go onto reading this article, let me clarify a few points.
Travelling is a partially subjective and I believe each country has its own charms and is unique to travellers in terms of experiences & culture.
While writing this piece I had several discussions with many travellers who had mixed reviews to give on their travel to Vietnam. The country is beautiful with some great experiences to offer but if you’re a seasoned traveller, you may find yourself in lack of appreciation.
I write this article to help fellow travellers have an insight into the country as Vietnam is and to make an informed choice of Travel as I personally feel if someone wants to take time off and travel in order to explore and rejuvenate, there are many other better options than Vietnam.
I am not making swooping generalisations about Vietnam but expressing my personal disdain with my experience which didn’t quite live up to what I was expecting.
Here are a few reasons why I’d advise travellers against visiting Vietnam.
1. Rude locals
The first thing to know about Vietnam is that the locals are preposterously rude. I know it’s wrong to label them all, but as far as my dealings went, I found them to be very unpleasant & unhelpful. There is lack of basic etiquette & very often you will notice the locals laughing at you & making a mockery of the fact that you can’t understand their language. Yes language is a major barrier in the country. It’s extremely difficult to communicate due to lack of a common language, English isn’t easily understood.
2. Scams galore
The locals charge three to four times the actual rate of things to foreign travellers.
The currency can be confusing and can take some time to get a hang of, until then you should be prepared to be ripped off! It’s not before 2-3 days you realise you have been over charged for almost everything! On top of that, the locals will be laughing on your face while they cheat you, yes the atmosphere is uncomfortable.
3. There’s not much to see or do in the country
Vietnam is beautiful alright but it doesn’t offer anything that made me go, “wow”!
There’s nothing in the country that would make me want to go back.
I did visit the popular sights in Ho Chi Minh City, and well they were quite over rated. War Remenents Museum was drab and very dull, because considering the rich history, I expected more. Chu Chi Tunnels weren’t that exciting either. I thoroughly felt that I wanted more from every experience & my thirst for adventure wasn’t quite quenched.
I was told Hoi An was exceptionally beautiful. Well, after a point I realised it’s a city made of lamps and that alone, there’s nothing more there.
The famous lake center in Hanoi is average, kind of unpreserved. The shopping complex is nice, bustling streets but again, the night market is okay too but there’s nothing memorable or worthwhile there. All I remember is being ripped off at the Night Market after which I lost all interest in shopping.
Halong Bay, is majestic but sadly the cruise we booked which promised a great deal, was horrendous, probably the worst night of my life where they served unhygienic dirty food and not much of an experience.
The beaches are such a let down! I mean, c’mom I expected some beauty there, but they’re mostly dirty and unkept.
4. Food is disappointing
Ordering food at a restaurant in Vietnam is like disarming a bomb. You have to be extremely careful and every move must be precise and forget about explaining any specifications of your order. Further on I love street food and I understand what cooking conditions are like in less privileged countries – by that I mean I didn’t expect Michelin star dining, I mean I am an indian, and I can make do with the simplest kind of street food and appreciate it.
However, in Vietnam, hygiene is quite unheard of. Local cuisine is prepared in tiny shops which are almost on the road, where the plates are rinsed next to a pile of garbage. I couldn’t satisfy my stomach due to lack of cleanliness. Local food is prepared in dirty spots. Only once in Ho Chi Mohan City, I visited a great night Food Market which was bustling with variety and hygiene wise, it was decent. I expected street food to be like that throughout but it sadly wasn’t!
Coming to the flavours, the food in Vietnam is just sad. Barring a select few dishes I had in the city (which were reasonably delicious) the food was bland, mostly drowned in flavourless broths and scrawny seafood or meat. I enjoyed some Pho and Bahn Mi but eventually I wanted more and all I used to get was over fried greasy meat or lumpy sad noodles.
So yeah, more or less my trip to Vietnam was disappointing because of several factors. I was certainly warned against a few matters but being a traveller I wanted to experience the country on my own. As evident, I didn’t like it as much I thought I would.
The Asian country is cheap, infact very cheap, which attracts a lot of tourists but being cheap, I still felt I didn’t get my buck’s worth.
The only delightful element of my trip was the cheap internet & data plans which worked superbly, other than quick connectivity and the data services on local sims, I didn’t find much to rave about.
If you you plan on visiting Vietnam, do your research first. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet .
I hope your experience will be much better than mine.