I'm a dental student in the UK and this July/August I have the opportunity to volunteer doing dentistry on a project somewhere in the world for 2 weeks and then travel afterwards. Initially I found a project in the Philippines which visits several islands around the Cebu, Bohol region. However, now I have seen another project which looks interesting in Vietnam, based in Da Nang. I am a little bit torn between the two. The projects themselves are fairly similiar so the deciding factor is going to be which place itself.
Having researched both Vietnam and the Philippines both look like beautiful places to visit and each has their own unique appeal. Initially I was a little concerned about the reputation the Philippines has for being dangerous but after a previous post on this website that no longer concerns me. I would like to know however how much potental there is to travel in the Philippines whilst staying in fairly safe areas?
I was hoping to get some advice from people who had been to either Vietnam or the Philippines, or even better both, and find out what people thought the good and bad bits were from each.
So what would you suggest? Vietnam or the Philippines?
Thanks in advance!
[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jan-2011, at 03:57 by robbiew121 ]
I don't think you can go wrong with either place. Some things that might help you make up your mind:
What kind of food do you like more?
Which places sounds more interesting for its history?
Do you want beaches, cities, or something in between?
Which place allows you to get more bang for your buck?
Whenever I go somewhere new, I know it won't ever be "enough" -- but you can always go to another place at a later date!
Most people who travel to Vietnam either love it, or hate it. There's nothing in between...
And ... most visitors to the Philippines will return...
I've visited both countries, and obviously they both have their own appeal. But if you're looking for a unique experience, I would recommend the Philippines.
It's much more undiscovered by the crowds, the locals are more laid back (Vietnamese in touristic areas can be a pain in the ass), the nature is more untouched and there are a lot of undiscovered gems waiting for you!
But... the local food sucks (especially in comparison with Vietnamese, it's heavenly), and the accommodation is pretty expensive for what you get...
I've only been to Vietnam (just came back from my 4th trip), but have not been to the Philippines. All I can say is that one really feels welcome in Vietnam, the food is super, everyone smiles and says hello, and prices are rock bottom. I'm sure the Philippines are quite nice too (especially the beaches), but beaches are the least of my concern. I think you'll just have to toss a coin!
You will find scams all over SE Asia, and the Vietnamese can be aggressive at times in the big cities. Danang has beautiful beaches and is next door to the wonderful resort (great food) of China Beach & Hoi An. Danang also has very good transportation with an international airport and good train service to Hanoi (the most interesting city in SE Asia). Danang has a wonderful international fireworks exhibition/competition coming up - I always seem to miss it, but would love to see it. Danangkids is a student group that gives free tours of the area in exchange for English practice - really nice for travelers, and an easy way to meet the locals.
I will say that the Danang area is quite developed now - you will see large construction projects underway for several fancy resorts/golf courses because of the proximity to Hoi An. The area is very popular with hoards of tourists from the world over (Aussies, Koreans, Japanese, Chinese) with charter flights now coming in nonstop from Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei + a scheduled flight from Singapore. If you were looking for someplace more remote, this would not be a good choice. English is widely understood in this area. Hoi An & Hue have some of the best Viet regional food, and a major cottage industry in Hoi An is custom tailoring. Danang is a small city with the major port area on the Central Coast and the transportation center of that region. Hoi An is an ancient Chinese fishing village that has been transformed into Vietnam's premier tourist town. Hue is just a few hours drive north - Vietnam's center of education and culture.
[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jan-2011, at 10:54 by Daawgon ]
Just to answer your question about safe places to travel to in the Philippines, as long as you don't go to the west of Mindanao then you are OK. It is a tiny part of the Philippines that is unsafe to travel in, the rest is great. The Visayas where you would be going to are beautiful.
I have been to both and will vote for VN. The P. I are great for diving, snorkelling, but not as interesting IMO. Another factor is easy of travel. I went from Cebu back to Manila and you are on/off ferries hopping between islands. Can be a bit trying. VN is one long country and much easier to get around. Both are cheap for western citizens, but I had more fun in VN. With 2 weeks, you can see much of VN via bus or rail. Hue, Hoi An are close to DaNang, HaNoi an overnight bus or short flight away. Same with Nha Trang. Leave Hoi An in the evening, arrive NT early am via overnight bus or train. Great beach and water in NT.
Good luck with your planning.
Go for Vietnam... It's all about which has the best food :D
Toss the coin, and you'll know where to go
hi, im jm from the southern part of the Philippines...actually, Philippines is safe country, cebu and bohol are one of the best place here to visit, they have one of the best tourist attractions to see, this includes beaches, old churches and one of the worlds wonder, the chocolate hills in bohol. speaking of beaches, cebu and bohol have much to offer. you will see here one of the best beaches in the country(IN CEBU: BANTAYAN ISLAND, MALAPASCUA ISLAND, BADIAN, MACTAN ISLAND, CAMOTES, ETC., IN BOHOL: ALONA BEACH, BALICASAG island etc.) thou private resorts are little bet expensive but yet there are lots of cheap beaches you will see around the islands....people here are friendly, helpful and respectful. we have a lots of different foods according to what you want and English is our second language so it will be easily for you to communicate anyone in the country.....
i'm from the philippines. and i've just been in boracay and puerto galera. good beaches. if you like crowded areas with lots of foreigners to talk to, then go to white beach, boracay..should you need peace and quiet, go to PUka beach, one tricycle away from white beach.
i haven't been to vietnam though.. but pictures from that country looks interesting as well..
i guess choosing will depend on which mode of traveling you prefer the most. if you like buses and rails to go around the city, then go for Vietnam.. if you like boats and ferries, go for Philippines. if you have enough money to afford the plane, then you can go domestic airlines.