Editor’s note: While Australian Brian M. doesn’t deny that scams exist in Vietnam, he also believes the country remains charming to foreigners, and hails peace and safety as its major asset.
I am writing in response to Keith’s article on the falling numbers of return tourists to Vietnam.
Over the last six years, I have spent quite a bit of time in Vietnam on both business and holiday trips.
I have noticed some alarming changes for the worse as well as a few improvements, especially recently, to try to address the issue.
Personally I have become used to the scams and know most of those targeting tourists by now, so they really don’t affect me.
Just as in the case of Keith – he knows what to buy and for what price, purchasing clothing and other goods is not a priority for me as I know I can get original items for a better price elsewhere.
Overall, the reason I return to Vietnam is the people, who despite life's hardships show resilience and have a tendency to sum up a person's character quickly.
If you come across as a warm, polite, happy individual you will go a long way to gain the respect of the average person and life will become a lot easier.
On the negative side: a lot of taxi drivers, merchants, tour guides, and restaurant staff know when a person is "fresh into the country" and will often take advantage of them to earn a few extra dollars.
Most of these scams are, however, harmless and represent a few dollars here and there.
Nevertheless, once tourists know they have been scammed, it does leave a bad impression, and they will not relax and subsequently refuse to give any tips. In a lot of cases if service is good, I tip. When I know I have been scammed, there will be no tip.
I have also noticed a few measures that have been introduced to assist holidaymakers and change perceptions.
Speed limits have come down on motorways, rubbish collection has improved and reduced tourist visa restrictions all help.
Vietnam is still a safe place to visit and that is also a major asset. There is the view that Vietnam is a safe country to visit as a tourist and I agree with that, especially compared to some neighboring countries.
I have spoken to friends who recently returned from Vietnam and they said they were alarmed at the quality of the taxis.
In the end they ordered most of their taxis through the hotel, as they could not trust the well-established companies who have for many years done a good job.
This is alarming and needs to be addressed quickly.
I have also read some of the recent articles about taxi scams and most have been tried on me over the years. The major taxi companies are getting a very bad reputation abroad.
Overall this country has a lot to offer especially to the Westerner as it is so different to most established countries and that is a part of its charm.
I hope the government here will not allow an increase in the number of scams to prevent tourists from spending valuable dollars in your country.
|What do you think are other major assets that enable Vietnam to remain charming to tourists? Write to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.|