Tourists and locals have recently encountered several problems in Hoi An, causing the city to leave an unfavorable impression upon visitors.
Hoi An City is located in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam.
Several locations in the old town are “in chaos,” admitted Dinh Xuan Nghi, a chief police officer.
The situation manifests itself partly through price gouging – something that is present in a number of tourist attractions across Vietnam.
A resident in Hoi An, L.N., said on Monday that he had been charged VND1.7 million (US$75) for four tickets which he purchased for two foreign friends at a ticket counter of the passenger transit company Queen Café.
Actually, the tickets cost only half that amount.
As the passes showed no price, he was unknowingly confronted with a fait accompli.
Dissatisfied, he returned to the counter, only to receive an unpersuasive explanation for the overcharge.
The manager at the spot had to apologetically reimburse L.N. for the difference after he expressed his anger over the bus company’s behavior.
L.N. is not alone in a practice that reeks of fraudulence, since forcing tourists to pay unfairly prices is common, especially at restaurants and on buses, according to the owner of a souvenir shop on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street in Hoi An.
“I’ve seen cases of foreigners being overcharged on almost every bus trip between Da Nang City and Hoi An,” the owner said, adding that international passengers were usually greeted with a cold look from conductors after asking for change of their payments.
Xe om or motorbike taxi drivers also tarnish Hoi An City’s image.
They collectively cruise in front of restaurants and bars, raucously plying for hire.
“After drunken foreigners already have been taken home by xe om, they willy-nilly pay the drivers, whatever the charged cost is,” said a local in the old town.
Incidents in which foreign tourists are hit by xe om are numerous, said Nguyen Van Son, deputy principal of the Hoi An City People’s Committee.
The local government has been grappling with the above problems, but so far to little avail.
Part of the difficulty lies in the management of Hoi An City, which is hobbled by the increasing influx of tourists, and the rising number of immigrants from other domestic areas, according to Son.
These internal migrants indiscriminately chase after profits at the expense of the ancient town’s reputation, he commented.
Another hindrance, he said, is that regulations which have previously guaranteed Hoi An’s peace are now outdated.
The local government has repeatedly made proposals for the city’s own set of rules for more efficient urban management, which the authority from above rejected, citing its unconstitutionality, the vice-principal said.