Hey there, ... im sure many of you can help me with my question ...
I've been hearing a lot of negative press about Vietnam. 9 out of 10 people have had bad experiences - the main problem it seems isnt with the scenery, lack of stuff to do, great food ... its being ripped off.
I've had stories of getting on a bus for ten dollar fare then the driver asks for twenty five - when refusing to pay 25 they were subject to threatening & aggresive behaviour... it took over 45 mins for the driver to come down to 14 dollars (still above the advertised price) ..
another guy was on back of a moto being driven to guesthouse, the driver of the moto proceeded to unzip the rucksack which was tucked between his knees - and slowly stuff his pockets with the backpackers goods - all the while the irish guy is sitting directly behind him ... ! (pretty brave if you ask me)!
an ozzie couple told me of bad exp where they had paid a lot of money for a boat trip and it ended up being nothing like what was originally booked - .. one of the crew members of the boat kept all passengers passports refusing to give them back ...
So please help! Im sure there are a million great experiences to cancel out the bad ... isnt there?????
We had a chat about volunteering in PP, let me know in a PM about that. Now VN. I met my GF in DaLat, so that is a positive story!
Let's be honest. Most of VN's people are poor and look at us as walking ATM machines. If they get a chance to overcharge you, they will. Just the way it is. They see nothing wrong in lying or taking advantage of foreigners. You are rich, I am not, so it is my duty as a poor VN citizen to relieve you of some of your wealth. Knowing this, you do need to be constantly aware of what is going on around you. There are thieves and bag snatchers out there, just make yourself a difficult target. This is where travelling with others is so helpful. Much tougher to steal from you when there are others to witness or deter the theft.
Now a positive story. Denis, an Ozzie guy I met in Hoi An had unique experiences while in VN. He would get up at dawn and walk the streets or dock areas. There he met the real working people out there at 6:00am in every city he went to. Denis was invited to several homes to share tea and have a chat with his news friends. He did not speak Vietnamese, but they did communicate. This happened in Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue. They would look at his map and tell him they had a relative or friend in the next city he was going to. Denis had a very different experience than I did because I was not up at 6:00am. He raves about how wonderful the VN people are.
There are good people in VN, as there are in all countries. Linzi, don't let other BPers bad experiences deter you from having a great time while in VN. Find out the real price for everything you will want to do or buy. Haggle and argue if you think they are ripping you off. Be aware of what is going on around you. Make yourself a difficult target to steal or cheat. If you are a victim of theft or overcharging, think of the great stories you can tell the folks back home!
I heard the same story from lots of people also , just go and see what you think . I have a couple of good friends from Vietnam and i cant wait to see them again in April , if i took other peoples advice i would not know them.I think the more north you go the more of a pain it can be for people trying to rip you off , i love Saigon so if you are gonna go dont think that its all the same because you can meet some really cool people in different places . Just agree on a price before you do anything and if they change there mind you can walk away without any confusion .
Also get to know some Vietnamese people and do things with them , you wont get any hastle if you are with a VN friend .
Coming back from Hanoi, a couple of days ago-I couldn't agree with you more. The Vietnamese will think of many creative and delightful ways to milk you of your money-so you need to be a little cautious. But if you take it with a light heart and a warm smile; it generally disarms them. Don't be afraid to walk away from a deal you're not happy with and `tipping' is NOT necessary.(It's not an Asian thing.) But I think, this facet gives Vietnam it's character. Before you go, have a rough idea about what things cost. (Like a cup of tea is USD0.40 (5 000 dong) so at least you'll know how much extra they're charging you.
Try to explore Vietnam is smaller groups. Large groups tend to attract the worst con-jobs. You can read about our colorful adventures in Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa on our blog site. http://reciii2008.googlepages.com
I'm sure you will live to tell it and it will definately make you a stronger traveller post-Vietnam. As for me-I loved it!
I had heard similar stories about Vietnam before I went, but when I got there I abosulutely loved it - the food, scenery, and the people. I would definitely not let any negative press put you off.
It's a very crowded country and you will get hassled more than most other SE Asian countries but if you are not interested just smile and walk away. Make sure you always agree a price before you get into a cyclo otherwise they may try and rip you off. The only negative experience we had in Vietnam was when we did not agree a price beforehand for a short cyclo journey in Hanoi and when we reached our destination the driver and his friend tried to charge us an extortionate price for the trip and got quite aggressive. we negotiated but still ended up paying well over the odds. Apart from this all the people we met were amazingly friendly and welcoming. As Mike says, its a poor country and people are only trying to make a living.
Hey - I spent 3 months travelling from Hanoi to Saigon an its still my favourite country in South East Asia...yes of course u can get ripped off like any cab/taxi driver in any city of the world when u get off a plane..its upto yourself to research beforehand like bookin buses thru an agency rather than just jumping on...common sense plays a big part...i travelled with a group of 5 an not one of us had any trouble thats worth mentioning...just remember as somebody else said that you can always just walk away if you think someone is trying to rip u off
Have a gr8 trip
Actually Vietnam is a piece of cake compared to places like china. Of course the fact I'm twice as big as most vietnamese may be a factor in the bargaining process, but I never paid extra for anything, anywhere. So long as you are alert and aware of your surroundings and don't try to bargain below the correct prices you'll do fine. Just get everything in writing - pay in advance (and get a receipt marked paid at the hotels) and buy your bus tickets from the hotels and not on the buses.
It's all very easy to listen to the bad things about a country and work it up in your mind to seem worse than it actually is. You can get scammed anywhere, particularly if you are new to travelling - it's just part of the experience. If you are an experienced traveller, you can spot the con men and know how to deal with it appropriately. Personally, I had no trouble at all in Vietnam, I had the most trouble in Cambodia (we affectionately renamed it 'Scambodia' as things got so bad for us there!) and in India I was constantly having to dodge scams, but knew how to recognise them by that stage of my trip. But asked if I would do it again, yes I would. It is an annoyance, but you can get it off your chest by sharing stories with other travellers and sending funny emails home. In reality, you don't lose much money - maybe a pound or two to a dodgy rickshaw driver or fake priest once in a while - it really shouldn't be anything to worry about. Obviously use your common sense, steer clear of anyone offering gems for sale or money for carrying goods, or any 'deal' that seems too good to be true, keep your luggage locked and near you, ensure you lock your room & ensure windows are shut etc. You'll have a good time despite a few rip offs here and there - you get used to it.
As for Vietnam itself - I spent a month there and loved it! Halong Bay was amazing - we did a 3 day boat trip. Nha Trang was fantastic for beaches, meeting people & partying, Da Lat for a look around, Mekong Delta was great - especially the floating markets (I did a 2 day tour from Saigon) and Hoi An is a gorgeous town and great to spend a few days wondering around the museums & temples there whilst having some clothes tailored! I also hear Sapa is wonderful too, but I ran out of time! The food....not so good as other Asian countries, but not bad, especially if you like bananas as you get a banana with everything The food has a very 'French' influence, so if you are into crusty baguettes, you'll be fine!
Oh, and the scenery is spectacular in parts. Take a look at my photos!