Costly visas, dual pricing, scammers are why tourists don’t return to Vietnam: expat

Keep your ears wide open or you will miss your stop on the non-English speaking trains in Vietnam, says an expat on explaining why few tourists will make a second Vietnam trip

A foreign tourist is besieged by local vendors at a backpack shop in Hanoi.

Editor’s note: Tuoi Tre News is encouraging our readers to share their stories about their trips to Vietnam, or give comments on or offer insights into the current downfall of the country’s tourism.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

An expat preferring to be known as A.H., who runs a real estate business in the central city of Hoi An, is among the very first readers to answer our call. In the following story, H., who said he has resided in Vietnam for six years, gives comments on why tourists do not come back to the country.

This article exclusively reflects the author's personal views and experience.

As the founder of a real estate business in Hoi An, I deal with both visitors and long-term residents so I get many different opinions. Here are my comments as to why tourists don't come back.

Visas and the immigration

When neighboring countries such as Thailand offer a free 30-day visa, the competition is already tough.

Vietnam's visa on arrival is extremely old-fashioned and your first Vietnam impression comes with the immigration police who barely speak English; are very rude; and have always short changed.

For example, I give them US$30 and they are supposed give me back $5. But they don't.

The last time we came to Vietnam, we had the pleasure of being asked for money by an immigration officer, who asked my Vietnamese wife, not me.

So you basically feel very unwelcome with such visa cost and terrible service.

Dual pricing

Dual pricing, which is just too frustrating and very obvious, is also in my list of reasons why I would decide to leave Vietnam.

Most visitors do not want to have a conflict with locals and just put up with it but they feel cheated, which they are of course.

Local coffee shops in touristic towns like Hoi An almost all have an English menu with double prices. Even when you are resident, you end up being asked to pay more.


A table quoting two different types of ticket prices is seen in front of a tourist attraction in Hue, located in central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Transportation

Unless you are on an organized trip with flights booked ahead, it is quite hard to book a flight a few days before to destinations such as Nha Trang, Da Lat or others and you are left no other choice but to take the bus or the train.

Talking of the bus, the drivers are simply insane and I won’t be surprised if the headlines soon state a massive accident involving tourists.

The trains are a better option, but restrooms filthy and you’d better keep your ears wide open as no one really speaks English so knowing your stop becomes tricky.


Passengers board a bus in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The traffic

It’s simply dangerous.

Scams

Scams, which are obvious in every touristic area, are deterring tourism.

For instance, xe om [motorcycle taxi] in touristic towns picks up tourists late at night and charges them a fortune.


A local street vendor encourages a foreign tourist to use his stuff for posing for a photo, then charges him $30 for the try. Photo: Tuoi Tre

As I live in Hoi An, here are my thoughts on what could be done a lot better:

The $6 entrance fees [to the old quarter]: this is completely ridiculous and you are almost attacked to pay it.

The old town is full of businesses, so if they want to charge, remove all the tailor shops, shoes shops, restaurants, etc., and make it look like an ancient town!


International tourists walk past a sign that reads "Ticket-Requested Area" in Hoi An. Photo: Tuoi Tre

[Shop attendants always shout out] “You, you buy something”: someone needs to teach them that it is extremely rude to call someone 'you' and the 'buy something’ as well. I do not use that slogan for my business.

[With regard to] parking, you cannot actually park your bike or bicycle without having a very awkward moment with the parking person that tries to convince you that it costs VND50,000 [roughly $2.5] to park a scooter.

Vietnamese people are very kind people, but a few scammers are giving a bad name to this country and these people need to be stopped.

They do not contribute anything to the country except to their pocket.

Tuoi Tre News greatly values and appreciates any contribution to keep this series about Vietnamese tourism going. We are still waiting for your stories.

Have you ever been disappointed by your trip to Vietnam? Do you have any bad experience with the country’s tourism, or suggestion to improve it? Do not hesitate to share your stories with us in the comment box below or email them to ttn@tuoitre.com.vn.

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