Well, I fell in love with Saigon on the day of arrival. Was I worried? Had I heard all those things they say about Vietnam? Like hell I was. But our friends were there to pick us up and show us around, to hold our hand in the country which given the many different reviews was the most intimidating country on our South East Asia trip.
With the fantastic baguettes, the possiblity to explore country’s rich past, the endless crowds of people on motobikes, the mix of colonial history with the Vietnamese values made a very fascinating mix convincing us that we may have to extend our travel and explore all that is there to see in this fascinating country. I wondered why they spoke ill of it. It seemed like India – wonderful, busy with its self and with a million smells and tastes. But the first day trip itself, followed by a trip to the war remnants museum convinced us that maybe what they say about Vietnam is, in general, perhaps a little over hyped and, in particular, is possibly not meant for us. And as we traveled to its much famed sights, our faith in Vietnam continued dropping. Hoi An was pretty everything else was a disappointment upon disappointment.
Here are five reasons why I will never return to Vietnam:
- The country wide policy of overcharging the tourists – If you are a tourist. You must pay extra. Period.
- Scams – Number 1 is fine if at least you know how much extra. But, in Vietnam everybody will try to take from you as much as they can. You have to be on your guard forever.
- Lack of cheap budget accommodations – Every place to stay comes with a minibar, air con, television and breakfast too. What if I don’t want those? All I want is cheap place to stay because I am on a budget but Vietnam lacks budget accommodation which makes anywhere else in South East Asia much more attractive
- Lack of eye popping spectacular – For the prices you are paying and people you are dodging, I found the scenery and the sights of Vietnam less than spectacular. How many war sights can I visit in every city I go to and the beaches, well, they are overdeveloped and full massive real estate developments. In Mui Ne, there was nothing besides a patch of white sand dunes. Halong Bay disappointed me too. Hue was not really old enough. Moreover, in Vietnam, there are no places to relax and go with the flow. For that you must hop over to border to Laos.
- Too commercial – People in hotels will smile more than necessary because they care about your cash and those who don’t care about you, frankly just don’t care about you. There are too many travel agents selling too many things. Everybody has a certificate from tripadvisor to lure you in, to tell you how good they are. Elucidated on a million hoardings infront of a thousand shops you will find any possible travel idea sold as a trip or tour. To find something off the beaten track and quiet in Vietnam is impossible. Everything is commercial and super busy.
We tried hard to make the country our own, to leave with positive experiences and memories of spending a long time in different places and but every time we tried to befriend the country, its people merely scammed and broke our heart. Finally, we could not take it anymore and lost our faith in South East Asia altogether and took the bus out to Luang Prabang to go home soon thereafter. Thankfully, Laos was there to restore our faith in travel and South East Asia.