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Why bother with Vietnam?

Travel Forums Asia Why bother with Vietnam?

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1. Posted by ravine90 (Budding Member 9 posts) 10y

If the communist government sucks in most, if not all, of the money poured in from tourism while ordinary Vietnamese are still struggling to survive, then why should travelers support this greedy and inhumane policy? Poor people need to eat too. And when tourists and travelers are preceived as ones with money, they become a natural targets of crimes. Two European were killed in a robbery several years ago. And that was an example of my point. Though this problem isn't unique to Vietnam (New York City is no exception), the communist government has done little, if any thing, to help the poor of Vietnam. The contrast between the quality of life for communist party members and the ordinary citizens is so sharp that made me sick. I can't see any reason to spend money in Vietnam only to enrich the communist elite, who use their power to continue to step on the back of the poor.

Also, why isn't there any youth hostel and budget accommodation in Vietnam? I truly hate the idea that travel to a foreign country is an exclusive right and privilege reserved only to the rich. Eveyone should have the freedom and the opportunity to expand their mind through traveling. And actions by the government in imposing rip-off visa fee, playing the stupid game of power and control, and preventing development of budget accommodation shold be condemned by all who value freedom and democracy and fairness.

2. Posted by Peter (Admin 5811 posts) 10y

Similarly, you could ask "Why travel to Australia", where the government manages to treat some of its most underprivileged citizens in the most appalling ways.

Not many countries' governments help their poorer citizens as much as they should. I don't think that refusing to travel is the solution.

You seem to have benefited in your understanding of Vietnam by visiting. Why would you begrudge anyone else the same privilege?

As for budget accommodation in Vietnam - we have quite a few options listed on our site including a few hostels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Vietnam Budget Accommodation

3. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 10y

You have an interesting take on the subject, and like Peter said, very few countries in the world look after the poor. All countries have super-elite classes that own 90% of everything.

Capitalist society's and Communist society's all have the same elite classes taking advantage ot the lesser. (For the main reason that there hasn't been a 'true' communist society yet.)

I travelled through Vietnam for a time and it was one of the best places I have ever been. Everyone I met was warm and welcoming. I never fealt threatened in any way.

I do understand your concern, that your tourist dollars are only going to the top of the pyrimid, but it's not completly so, you can make tips and donations to people.

I'm not sure about hostels, but I stayed in cheap hotels for about $20 USD per night... pretty much the same price as a hostel in Europe. I would say go for it and check it out for yourself. :)

4. Posted by ravine90 (Budding Member 9 posts) 10y

While in many countries, traveling is affordable for the "locals" , it's not the same story for the Vietnamese. The average wage of an ordinary Vietnamese citizen is about $1.60 USD/hr. The average budget hotel/hostel in VN is about $30 USD/night (though, a 5-star hotel room in Da Nang could be yours for $600 USD/night). At the same time, the minimum wage in Germany is about $6.00 USD/hr. As Brendan pointed out, a hostel room in Europe goes for about $20 USD/night. This means it can be super tough for an ordinary Vietnamese to travel around in their own country, while the communist elite's kids spend their springbreak vacation on the beaches of Italy, thousands of miles away from home!

You can argue that this isn't unique to Vietnam. And I do agree that the similar picture, though at different scale, can be found in other countries like the Australia and USA. However, the contrast is so extreme in Vietnam (as it is in India and other developing countries). while I strongly support and value the education aspects of traveling, I feel that not enough pressure has been placed on the ruling party/organisation/gang/government to help improving the living condition of the poor and the opportunity for them to travel and be enlightened like their fellow countrymen in the communist party.

5. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 10y

I had been going to Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia & Singapore since 1990
and did not want to support the Communist gov't in VietNam. But in 2000 I decided to go. I now like VN more than Thailand for a place to visit and perhaps retire. Of course meeting a special lady does color your perceptions of a country, but I would still like VN if I had not met her. VN is the most capitalist country I have traveled to. Everybody is eager to make money and move up the ladder to middle class. This is why telling a postcard seller, food hawker, book seller, hotel tout, moto taxi or pedicab driver 'no' does not deter them. They are just more persistent in making a sale. Very persistent, as all visitors to VN will attest.

The gov't is following the China model and is encouraging their citizens to start a business or to learn English and upgrade their job skills. They want everybody to succeed and have a better life than in past years. I think most of the money we spend as visitors does help the 'little guy'. A successful restaurant, hotel, guest house, tour company has to hire more employees as it becomes more profitable. You can certainly do your part by buying from the street sellers, taking the pedicabs or moto taxi guys, buying handicrafts from the minority villagers, etc. Support the little guy whenever possible.

There are plenty places to stay in every VN city for under $10. I was in VN in Feb. for a month and never paid more than $8/night. Not many countries are as cheap to visit as VN.

'Ravine90', you certainly are entitled to your opinion and you can continue to boycott VN, but I think you are misinformed as to what is now going on in VietNam in 2006. My 2 cents.

6. Posted by Mikey B (Respected Member 181 posts) 10y

Quoting ravine90

Also, why isn't there any youth hostel and budget accommodation in Vietnam? I truly hate the idea that travel to a foreign country is an exclusive right and privilege reserved only to the rich. Eveyone should have the freedom and the opportunity to expand their mind through traveling.

No budget accom in Vietnam! Did you walk around with your eyes shut or something?? Guesthouses are certainly more expensive than in Thailand but it's still easy to pay less than US10 a night for a decent place to stay almost anywhere.

7. Posted by ravine90 (Budding Member 9 posts) 10y

Quoting vegasmike6

'Ravine90', you certainly are entitled to your opinion and you can continue to boycott VN, but I think you are misinformed as to what is now going on in VietNam in 2006. My 2 cents.

I may not have an in-depth knowledge of Vietnam like you do, but from the little experience I've had being a member of a youth development program in VN from June 2004 through December 2005, I've realised a very troubling reality for the poor in VN.

Most profitable businesses and key industries are owned by the communist party members. Their children enjoy the life of royal family while the ordinary kids are deprived of virtually every thing, including basic nutrition, let alone a decent education.

I am pretty sure the government is well aware of this. But history has shown that keeping the poor down at the bottom of the barrel is an insurance policy held so dear by the ruling communist party members. However, I was encouraged to see some snail-pace changes in VN in the positive direction where non-party members (ordinary citizens) could have some hope for a better future. I am sure this has something to do with presence and interaction with the "outside world". In this context, I want to clarify my point: I strongly support backpacker-style of traveling for limited-budget folks, especially student travellers. What I would not support is a tourism that is limited only to those with big bucks and small hearts, i.e., people who walk around with an exploitive colonial mind setting - the kind of mind setting that had sent VN down the bloody path leading to the state in which VN is struggling to get out of today. I also would not support the kind of tourism that exclusively benefits the elite few in the ruling class. In some sense, extreme capitalism does possess these same abhorable characteristics of greed and exploitation.

I also wish to point out that the problems in question aren't unique to VN and that the people of VN are better off than the majority of folks living in North Korea. But VN still have a long way to go in terms of equality and justice that are suppose to be valued and upheld by the communist doctrine.

If the government of VN truly care about its people (not just the communist party members), it would invest in education and infrastructure that foster long-term growth. Kids of VN - not just the elite's kids - should be given plenty of opportunity to travel abroad to enable them to learn and participate in the shaping of their own future in the global market place.

8. Posted by Peter (Admin 5811 posts) 10y

Quoting ravine90

If the government of VN truly care about its people (not just the communist party members), it would invest in education and infrastructure that foster long-term growth. Kids of VN - not just the elite's kids - should be given plenty of opportunity to travel abroad to enable them to learn and participate in the shaping of their own future in the global market place.

Replace 'VN' above with 'Australia' and unfortunately it wouldn't sound a bit strange

9. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 10y

Ah, I like your second post ravine and agree with what you have to say.

10. Posted by DakLak2 (Budding Member 18 posts) 10y

The average wage of an ordinary Vietnamese citizen is about $1.60 USD/hr.

The average budget hotel/hostel in VN is about $30 USD/night

a 5-star hotel room in Da Nang could be yours for $600 USD/night)

As a resident, and employer, in VietNam, I think that the three quotes above highlight ravine90's lack of knowledge. I suggest that he check www.gso.gov.vn/default_en.aspx?tabid=508&idmid=&ItemID=2961 and get his numbers right.

I would be interested in knowing where this fabled USD$600/night room in Da Nang is - the highest in the region is the Furama which tops out with a rach rate of around USD$320/night - which is far below the USD$1000/night suite available in Ha Noi.

As for the budget hotel he should try the Indochine on Hai Ba Trung in HCMC which, for USD$25/night - 3-day stay offers great amenities.

VietNam's visa fees are reflective of the charges made by any given countries charges made to Vietnamese visiting it. For 'rip-off' check the USA rates + the need for an interview.

-snip-

His other comments are not worth addressing except to say that if VietNam is Communist, outside of the organs of government, he should check out China where every e-mail is computer checked for content and the police walk around with radio's fitted with card swipes - so they can demand anyone's ID card and get an instant history on the person.

[ Edit: Let's keep it nice please. ]