When your trip to Vietnam ends up as an unsatisfying and disappointing journey, should you blame the country for its troubled tourism, or yourself for lacking adequate planning while having too many unrealistic expectations?
Lani Nguyen argued in a piece published earlier this week by Tuoi Tre News that travelers should blame themselves, provoking both for and against feedback from other readers.
Here are excerpts, edited for clarity purposes, from a few of the comments we have received.
I agree with the author about the rewarding experiences if you put more time and effort into your Vietnam trip.
I too have had the best experiences off the beaten track, and unlike many other visitors, I think Vietnam is still my favorite country in Southeast Asia. I'd gladly return any time with my experience.
But it can't be denied that in comparison with neighboring ASEAN countries, Vietnam has some grave issues in terms of scams and a lack of action on the part of tourism authorities.
Of course these issues need time to be resolved, but bear in mind that even Myanmar, which only opened itself a few years ago for mass tourism, already has a better reputation among tourists and backpackers.
The problem with tourism in Vietnam is not the tourist...
Yes, your first experience when you arrive at the airport are cheating taxis and bus drivers trying to scam as much money from tourists as possible. (Yeah that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.)
Ho Chi Minh City is full of tourist traps. But don't get me wrong – I love Vietnam, yet tourism is not one of its strengths.
You get everything, from meters not working on taxis to over the top pushy salespeople selling China’s low quality products (especially in Ben Thanh Market). If you are a tourist in the city, you pretty much have a big red bullseye on your back.
Vietnam is a welcoming country for the most part, but scams are one of the problems.
The others are that Vietnam is not a hub of technology and definitely not a place for luxuries.
Tourists visit the country to see and experience the history that does not get a terrible rendition of a top-tier luxury destination.
How about letting tourists walk safely through sidewalks without being run into by a bunch of mopeds?
It was nearly impossible to traverse the cities without mopeds running and honking behind you on the sidewalk as well as from all directions when crossing the street.
I could not even hold my wife's hand when walking.
And all of this occurs even though traffic cops are on every corner (Is that too hard to use traffic fine revenue to fix broken sidewalks?).
No wonder no tourist wants to come back, it is impossible to look at the scenery when you have to look in all directions just for safety.
Is it too hard to enforce traffic laws, educate locals on keeping order, or keep the streets clean?
If the country wants to improve tourism, just look at the environment in which these tourists have to go through first.
Clean that up and you'll have tourists give good ratings. Nevertheless, this may all be bad ideas for me, as I enjoy traveling when there're not too many tourists around.
It is easy to blame the tourists, but it is impossible to change the tourists.
It is more useful to look at what can be changed inside Vietnam.
What really matters is that those same tourists will go to Thailand, Europe, Australia, and the Americas with the same mindset that they had in Vietnam and have a great time.
I think one of the biggest issues is the tour groups.
Vietnam's tourist industry is heavily geared towards putting people into tour groups and then trying to get as much money as they can from those groups without focusing on the quality of the tours.
There is a complete lack of innovation in the tour groups and no one seems to focus on quality.
The tour companies use the same techniques with foreigners as they do to Vietnamese, even though their cultural expectations about customer service and tourism are very different.
Ripping tourists off and trying to overcharge them for things are also a major issue that is not being adequately addressed.
When a tourist's very first experience with Vietnam is getting ripped off by a taxi driver at the airport, you can't expect that not to have an impact on their trip in Vietnam.
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