As I look to the future and think about what I want and where I want to be I couldn’t help but find it easier to write a list of places I didn’t want to be instead. I’ve traveled my fair share of this globe and visited a few countries in my time most of which I loved, liked or felt indifferent to but there are only a few places I really disliked. Vietnam was one of those places. I know I am in a minority with this opinion as I have only met 2 other people in my travels which feel the same way but Vietnam was a huge disappointment. Here’s why –
- The People. Usually it’s the people who make or break a place and unfortunately for Vietnam they broke it. We were followed, harassed and scammed at every opportunity and it soon grew tiring having to constantly be on edge (the corrupt Police were no help either). Everywhere in Asia you can barter for lower prices and it’s expected they will originally pitch a higher price but it’s usually done with a smile and an understood game follows where the price eventually gets lowered to somewhere resembling a fair deal for both parties. In Vietnam I found this game malicious and with the sole intent of ripping people off. (Disclaimer – The people in the South of Vietnam were friendlier and more helpful in general but still nothing compared with the rest of South East Asia).
- The traffic. I know all of Asia has traffic issues but visiting places like Hanoi was mind blowing and if you stop to think about it or pay attention you would never cross the road. In order to get anywhere you had to just take a deep breath, step out and hope for the best. It was like watching schools of fish collide when watching all the bikes and mopeds cross intersections and then pop out the other side unscathed and carry on their way. Don’t get me wrong – it was fascinating to watch but made getting anywhere stressful and potentially dangerous.
- The scenery. Granted I didn’t explore as much as I could have mainly because I had lost interest with the country due to the above 2 points but I never had any wow moments while there. Ha Long Bay was probably the closest I came and while the caves were impressive the smog and pollution in the rest of the bay spoiled it and tainted the experience. Nowhere in my limited travels did I find somewhere that made me appreciate the countries beauty and inspire me to stay and spend more time.
Granted my visit was a few years ago so I am sure a lot has changed since then but I for one wouldn’t choose to go back or recommend Vietnam as a holiday destination. Maybe because of their history they had an underlying mistrust and animosity towards white people or maybe because they were trying to compete with places like Thailand to make a tourist dollar but whatever the reason Vietnam has a ways to go before redeeming itself and being put back on the ‘return to’ country list.
Do you have a holiday destination you just don’t like despite what everyone else thinks? Let me know your unloved travel destination in the comments below.