Vietnam is the best country you will ever visit, its charm, character, people, places and food are unlike anything you will ever experience, down to earth, simple yet complex, vibrant yet peaceful.
Walking the streets you can feel safe and confident that you won’t be hassled by beggars, shop or restaurant owners as you would in other developing countries.
So what are the features of Vietnam that makes me return year after year, first and foremost it’s the people they have survived hundreds of years of war, conflict and rule from foreign powers yet it’s the people, who gone through so much they are so down to earth, it’s something I think us in the western world should aspire toward.
Of course what I have written above is not entirely true (most of it is true) I am sure you can use your common sense to know the sections of this piece that are not, (note everything I have written from this point is the truth) I totally love Vietnam the people and the experiences it’s a great country which I have and will continue to return to nearly every year, however with any developing country there are downsides, you will get hassled by beggers, Xe Om, Taxis & Cyclos driver, Tourist Shop and tour operators, and some local will think because you are a Westerner you loaded with cash.
There was one time, I think my second trip to Vietnam we visited the Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang, several high school children offered to give us a free tour of the pagoda, their ploy was to practice their English, however when the tour was over they demanded we purchase post cards from them for what equated at the time to $15 each. There was no way we were going to pay that sum so we quickly exited. That was my first of my two bad experiences I had in Vietnam in the 10 years since I have been travelling there, I think it’s a fairly good track record. In reality though I should have seen it coming, I was an experienced enough traveller at the time and had similar experiences in other developing countries that I should and could have avoided the situation, however I was travelling with my family and mother, and you don’t always think straight when you are looking after largish group of inexperienced travellers.
You might be thinking what is the point of this article and where I am going with it!
Around two weeks ago I read a post by Nomadic Matt that made me sad and angry both at the same time the title of Matts post was “Why I Will Never Return to Vietnam” Matt’s article totally bagged Vietnam and its people, and he vowed to never return to Vietnam as long as he lives, below is my theory about Matts article and his motivations about writing such a piece.
Matt, being an experienced travel writer would and should realise you have bad trips and good trips and just because he had a single bad trip he totally ruled out the possibility that what he experienced was out of the ordinary, and declared that he would never return to Vietnam again, for a travel writer with such a profile as @NomadicMatt you would think he would be smarter than that.
Personally I have travelled to Vietnam nearly 10 times in the last 10 years and also work and lived in Vietnam for various periods, and it is rare that I feel I have been mistreated or ripped off (maybe once or twice)
Matt talks about constantly getting ripped off because he is a westerner, how is this different from any developing country, hell even the local Vietnamese need to haggle, regardless of who you are or where you are from if you are not willing to haggle you will get ripped off.
Another point apart from the fact that you do have bad trips, things have changed a lot in the last 10 years and even more so in the last 5 years since his last trip, he owes it to himself and his readers who love Vietnam to at least to return give it another try!
However what I really think is going on here is Matt is a really smart guy he knows the reaction he will get from the hundreds of thousands who have visited Vietnam and absolutely love the place such as myself, he knows he will get more views to his blog and more media exposure by posting such a negative article. How does the old saying go “There is no Such Thing as Bad Publicity” i.e. all of this negative reaction to Matts piece increases Matt’s profile and that of his blog/website more than if he wrote a positive story.
Even just me writing this piece I am increasing Matt’s profile, which is why I am not going to provide a link to his post, I am sure you can find it via Google should you feel the urge.
There is one thing is for certain I will be returning to Vietnam! (I am actually finishing off and editing this article while on route to Ho Chi Minh City on JQ74/JQ77 Jetstar Sydney to Darwin/Darwin to Saigon)