Vietnam is a great tourist destination. Every year millions of people come to this Southeast Asian country in search of the exotic paradise of the past, when the french ruled in Indochina. People want to explore and enjoy the company of the local farmers. Unfortunately it’s not like this anymore, if it ever was. Now it’s a country devoted to tourism, trying to get till the last cent they can from the “rich” foreigners.
It was disappointing, very disappointing. And most foreigners we’ve met felt the same, most of us even wanted the vacation to be over sooner to leave this country. I don’t know what went wrong with them, but most vietnamese we’ve crossed can’t see us as humans anymore, we are walking dollars.
Anything is licit to get extra money. They even seem to get genuinely offended when you don’t buy anything they are selling at a ridiculously hight price. They even dare to insult you in Vietnamese at your back. You don’t need to speak the language to know they are insulting you, with disgust on their tongues. I didn’t feel comfortable in this country.
You know that feeling when every vacation you take is the best so far and you get sad when you need to go back? It’s unlikely to get it in Vietnam.
However there are a couple very nice places, not sure if they are worth a trip to the country, but once here better enjoy them. Of course, if money is not an issue, get the luxurious packs and the risks of trouble will be minimized. Still paying more doesn’t mean better, be careful!
I cycled to Ho Chi Minh where I picked up my girlfriend at the airport. Then I started a little break from cycling in which I went around Vietnam by various transports trying to make the most of it, combining seeing the tourist attractions and relaxed times to just enjoy being with my girlfriend after 4 months of not seeing each other.
Ho Chi Minh is huge and very chaotic, there are lots of vegan restaurants, but not that much to do or see. Here the war museum is interesting enough, and not far the Cuchi tunnels, where the Vietcom hid fighting against the americans, and the Cao Dai temple are worth too.
But as we wanted to relax a bit and there was no chance here, we quickly left north to enjoy a couple days by the beach at Nha Trang.
Then we reached Hoi An. This is a must see place in Vietnam. There are too many tourists, but still the city can keep up with it. The old town is simply amazing, specially at night with all the lit silk lanterns and the night market.
The way from Hoi An to Hue is very beautiful, so I think the best way to do it is by motorbike. That’s the way we did it and I don’t regret it at all.
Hue, a bit further north, is ok. It has a huge imperial palace, but by this time I was already getting tired of pagodas and imperial buildings. Honestly to me all look too similar to actually enjoy them. Also this city is where we started getting annoyed with how people behaved. Too aggressive, screaming, not letting us alone, paying tourist prices … so we continued north.
The Phong Nha cave is interesting. I have seen several in my life, some of them quite big and impressive, and I did enjoy this one. So I would say it’s worth. If you have 3000$ I would recommend to go to the biggest cave in the world, Son Doong, not far from there. For that money they let you join (probably finance) an exploring tour, in which you will camp six days inside.
Ninh Binh, getting close to Hanoi, is a small town, where we thought we could relax a bit from the people and the chaos of the big cities. Well … no chance here! The karst formations around are quite impressive, so a motorbike ride to Bai Dinh, the biggest pagoda in Vietnam, is totally worth! We went in the evening and the views were astonishing.
Then we saw Ha Long Bay. It can easily be one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. We paid a bit more to have a better boat, but it didn’t matter. Our boat smelled, it was dirty, and the guide was not only a horrible one, but also one of the most disgusting persons I’ve ever met. He threatened us with not giving us a room and food, and not happy with it he even threatened to kill us … Still, this didn’t stop me from enjoying the natural beauty surrounding us.
Hanoi, what can I say about this place … horrible, don’t come here! … it’s not enough! Apart from the water puppet theater which was quite enjoyable there is nothing but trouble. Javi got his phone stolen, I got in a fist fight (the first one in my life) five vietnamese against me, and a woman almost run over my girlfriend and then wanted to report us to the police because her mirror broke (against my girlfriend’s elbow) … should I continue?
So to finish this vacation, we decided to skip the rest of the things we wanted to visit, fly back to Ho Chi Minh, where people are calmer, and with the money we saved we got a nice hotel with swimming pool. We barely left the hotel but to eat, and it was the time in Vietnam I enjoyed the most.
So before planning a trip to Vietnam think about it … Is it really worth the money and hassle?
At least I managed to get some nice pics: