Friendly and low-hassle places in Vietnam
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Feb 11, 2013 3:53 AM Last Post By: Trota1
Jan 30, 2012 1:57 PM
Friendly and low-hassle places in VietnamI was reading the recent post by the traveller who had such problems in Vietnam and it inspired me to pose the question- what are your favorite "off the beaten track", yet still accessible, places in Vietnam? Places that are friendly, (relatively) hassle-free, and scenic. In planning my trip I find myself including all of the supposed "must-see" tourist sites that are simple to get to, and yet I know that the touristy areas are where more harassment is likely to occur.
I know what some people will say- that any place can be friendly if you talk to the right people and approach it in the best way. But if someone asked me the question about the USA, I would not try to convince them that NYC is friendly to tourists. :) So for those who have travelled or live in Vietnam, please do chime in.
Jan 30, 2012 3:33 PM
1Harassed and hassled?
I get it. Places where the locals are friendly, but the tourists are buffered from intrusions and interactions from the locals which often prove irritating to foreigners on holiday...
I think you need a time machine. You would have LOVED colonial Vietnam!
NYC gets a lot of foreign tourists, by the way..they seem to enjoy the place...
Jan 30, 2012 4:20 PM
2In no particular order, Ha Tien, Sa Dec, Tra Vinh, in fact anywhere in the Delta, Kontum, Dak Glei, Dong Van, Hue...and the countryside just about anywhere.
Hue is about the biggest town in the list above and seems to be a marker which can be used to divide people into "them as love Hue" and "them as love rushing about" :-)
Saigon too, I would add, but not the PNL ghetto.
I am sure I have sometimes paid more than I might have got away with if I had spent time researching and haggling, but, these days it costs me about $1000 to fly to Vietnam, so the odd $ here or there that I might be 'overcharged' isn't going to change my life. I have equally been treated with great kindness by people to whom $1000 is more than they could ever hope to accumulate and who have asked for nothing in return.
Vietnam is like eBay: Only pay what you are happy to pay. The fact that someone else got a better deal doesn't mean you were ripped off. If you are only willing to pay a pittance, don't expect to come away with a real Cartier watch. If you paid a Cartier price and got tat you're maybe shopping in the wrong place.
I also find the "must-see" mentality bizarre. Who is it who dictates what tourists "must see"? Nobody ever forced me to see anything, but it is easy to see that if lots of tourists arrive every day, all believing that they "must see" , that unscrupulous folks will set up their businesses to take their cash... Seagulls follow the trawler...
Jan 30, 2012 4:45 PM
3Oops, yes sorry I meant harrassment, not hassle. I knew people might take this the wrong way, and that wasn't my intention. I've just been a number of places where people are trying to get something out of you at every turn, and I've read/heard that it can be a problem in some parts of Vietnam. I don't see why trying to find out what places aren't like that is such a bad thing. And of course plenty of foreign tourists like NYC, that wasn't my point. But if someone were looking for a friendly town. I'd recommend something like Savannah.
Thank you for the suggestions William. I think the problem is that most of the guidebooks, travel websites list "must-see" things like Halong Bay, Sapa, etc. and so while there may be plenty of nicer alternatives, then they don't get as much "buzz" the info may be harder to come by. Hence my post. :)
Jan 30, 2012 5:00 PM
Jan 30, 2012 5:32 PM
5JB, I have great memories of Dak Glei - it poured with rain most of the day, the shower room in the hotel was by far the least pleasant I ever came across, but we (me and my two sons) had fun. We still talk about it.
Got up next day, got some breakfast in the roadside 'market' and sat on our bags by the side of the road until the first minibus came through and we negotiated a ride out... No tour, no harassment, no hassle. Just honest folks going about their business as almost everyone is in Vietnam (and everywhere else).
Jan 30, 2012 5:35 PM
6I think the biggest problem is that most people want torist services wherever they go.You can find numerous places in VN to chill out and enjoy,it all comes down to individual tastes.VN has a tourist trail that most people do, just divert from that and you will find some nice small towns that the people are very friendly and less harrasment. I go to PNL sometimes and its a pain in the arse, the street sellers are used to harrassing tourists but you wont find it so much once you leave the tourist areas. As far as the OP, you cant say you were ripped off once you find someone else who has paid less for the same thing.
Jan 30, 2012 7:44 PM
Jan 31, 2012 1:00 AM
Jan 31, 2012 5:23 AM
9In NYC if you go to Queens or Brooklyn or Washington Heights it's relatively quiet and hassle free (and actually I found New Yorkers very friendly and helpful) and in Vietnam you go to anywhere that isn't the guide book must see. I like Thanh Hoa, Tuyen Quang and Cao Bang in the north and Sa Dec and Soc Trang in the Mekong. I even like Pleiku in the Central
Highlands. And I love Hue. In HCMC any district other than 1 is great, though still mostly noisy, and Hanoi get away from Ho An Kim lake and a lot of the old quarter and you'll hardly see another tourist. There are a lot of lakes and parks in Hanoi and it can be very interesting getting to them.
Jan 31, 2012 2:58 PM
Feb 3, 2012 10:53 PM
11I vote for Phu Yen - Nha Trang, there are lovely & friendly people :)
Feb 6, 2013 7:46 PM
12Dan Nang is underrated. Spent a month there, made tons of friends. Later went back for Tet, always a wonderful experience. China Beach is beautiful and calm and at times no one was on it. Nice veg restaurants. If you're into history, the Cham museum, near downtown, is excellent.
Finest Cham ruins are at My Son, a bus tour out of Hoi An.
Between Da Nang and Hue is Bach Ma National Park. A mist-wrapped peak, the sea slumbering far below. Stay in the mouldering old French resort, which is rich in atmosphere even though you'll be sleeping on a matress on the floor. Hire a guide to take you to the waterfall. Spend three hours walking down the main road to the entrance -- you'll see maybe five cars the whole time.
Feb 11, 2013 3:52 AM
13A little bit off the beaten track, but we found it almost hassle-free: Ba Be Lake - Meo Vac - Dong Van - Hagiang. You won't get more scenic than the road from Meo Vac to Dong Van, unless you get a day when the mist covers the valleys and mountains. Even then you'll probably find a town in the area having its weekly market, quite spectacular in its own right. Tourists in Meo Vac and Dong Van seem to be a bit of a rarity. A couple of times in restaurants people came to our table, asked what we were doing in the area, and invariably offered us all a small glass of rice wine, which invariably led to another and another and some very interesting evenings.
The other "off the beaten track" place we went to was Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, staying at the Phong Nha farmstay. Paradise Cave is spectacular, but it won't be off the beaten track for long. Even now, it's best to get to the cave early if you want the place for yourself.
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