How To Have A Pleasant Journey In Vietnam

I know, I know…this has nothing to do with food, but I do want to explore other aspects of Vietnam from time to time as well.

Tuoi Tre is a national paper I now write for and many articles in the English language online version have focused on tourists being ripped off by unscrupulous businesses.   This can happen anywhere but such scams seem more prevalent in developing parts of the world.  I just wanted to counter all the negativity with some positive solutions to enjoy this colorful country.

The vast majority of people come away from Vietnam having enjoyed their visits and I can tell you first hand living here this is an amazing place to visit.   If the link doesn’t work for you, here is the text below:


Based on several recent online articles, we could easily believe a visit to Vietnam is a trail of rip offs and scams.   Of course such problems do exist, and at some point we will all cross paths with a shady operator.  Any merchant or tour operator who exists solely to cheat tourists is inexcusable indeed, but visitors and residents alike have the ultimate choice when dealing with such businesses.

We have the power to vote with our feet and wallets.   Most of these scams appear to originate at the lower end of the spectrum with offerings targeting backpackers and low budget travelers.   One good litmus test in the West is the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, than it probably is.”

Why not just use this common sense approach here?  If that tour operator is offering a trip to the Mekong Delta at a price below others, then buyer beware and all bets are off what services will ultimately be delivered.  Spending just a little bit more money could make the difference between a trip down misery lane or a lasting memory cherished a lifetime.

A few easy steps can help ensure a pleasant journey:

1. Spend some time away from the tourists.  For example, wandering around the neighborhoods away from the usual tourist haunts can provide a few hours of relatively hassle free entertainment.  The sidewalk vendors even charge the local prices for fruits and vegetables.  After all, is this not the real Vietnam we seek?    What a difference this is from the tourist domain down in District 1 and Ben Thanh Market, with the hustlers and uncomfortably aggressive touts.   Soak in all the local neighborhoods offer for a  one-of-a-kind experience.

2. A few minutes online can save hours of hassle later.  Fellow travelers who have “been there and done that,” so to speak, are a wealth of information.  Many people blog or post comments in forums, providing indispensable information, such as tour operators to avoid, or tips on how to travel from city to city.  But do keep in mind everyone has an opinion so take some online information with a grain of salt.

3. Many sales people try to rush us or toy with our emotions to solicit a fast transaction before we change our minds.  “No” is a very powerful word and these two simple letters can help avoid purchases or decisions that may later lead to regret.   If in doubt just slow down, clear your mind and walk away if you have to.  We owe a sales person nothing and are under no obligation to ever complete a transaction with which we are less than comfortable.

4. Finally, we must trust our intuition and gut instincts.  Situations or people that do not seem right, most likely are not right.

Living or traveling in Vietnam is a unique experience duplicated nowhere else on earth.   Armed with some common sense and a little bit of research, we are now ready to successfully navigate all the joys this colorful country has to offer.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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