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> Fierce competition for tourism dollars is ruining Ho Chi Minh City
starlagurl
post Jan 11 2008, 04:40 PM
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I've never been there, but from this article, it sounds like a crazy place. I don't think I'd feel too good staying in a place where everyone's always trying to get into my wallet.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/features/?cat...mp;newsid=34917

Between 1995-2000 disorientated backpackers got off their motorbike taxis (xe om) in the center of HCMC and started looking for a place to stay.

They checked their options on foot, peered at guidebooks and sought advice from registered travel agencies.

Yet this image is now changing as unregistered guides, known as “co” in Vietnamese, swoop on tourists at the airport or bus stations and persuade them to stay at chosen places.

In addition, despite an organization designed to assist tourists, street vendors still pester tourists on the streets of Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham and Bui Vien in District 1, causing disorder and irritation.


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revelstoke
post Jan 12 2008, 08:18 PM
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Well, I'm not sure how good you will feel about going to many other backpacker districts in Asia, at least any that have been around. While some differ from others in their charm or lack thereof, just about all of them have one thing in common... they are all trying to get into your wallet! I think it really just comes down to two things: the type of person/traveler you are and the natural deterioration of a high traffic district over time.

Now I must first concede that I've not (yet) been to HCMC so I can't comment on the validity of this article first hand, but this just seems to be another example of the unfortunate but natural deterioration of backpacker districts in general. Take Bangkok for example. The constant solicitation starts at the airport and continues to every major tourist attraction and to the backpacker area of Khao San Road. If there was a place that was wanting in your wallet, it's Khao San Road. It can be a real turn off to some travelers but it can also be a fun place to stay... it really depends on what you are looking for and whether or not you've done your homework and know your options.

The traveler who just flies by the seat of his/her pants will undoubtedly run into the confusion and disarray of deteriorating backpacker districts. This traveler will no doubt have a much easier time in the newer districts that pop up when it's become clear that the old one has lost its lustre. But for those who don't fluster easily, experiencing this can just be part of the fun of backpacking. On the other hand, the traveler who plans in advance can often avoid the confusions and tribulations of this nature, but this can also lead to missing out on strange but interesting experiences that come with the 'unplanned' encounter. Sometimes, it's these situations that make the best stories when you come home smile.gif

Backpacking districts are not alone in this natural deterioration. This is a natural cycle that occurs in any city district anywhere, although due to their high traffic, this may occur much faster in popular backpacking areas. When things are shiny and new it attracts people and where people are attracted businesses follow, and then competition arises and soon you see the age and deterioration of the place. Then a new place opens and draws a bit of the attention away from the older district and the cycle happens all over again. What happens to the old district? Well it can go many ways... it can continue to deteriorate and turn into a slum or eventually get bulldozed and give some developer the opportunity to build condos and make the place "trendy" again, or it can take the break as an opportunity to revitalise itself by reducing the old clutter and focusing on the original charm that made the place great… this time round hopefully it will better protected.

Regardless there will always be one thing... the more foreigners that visit an area, the place will, without question, lose some of its charm and authenticity. Any foreign object introduced into a new environment has an impact on the environment no matter how hard we try to prevent it. And if that foreign object his a westerner with money introduced to place that does not have much money, there is no avoiding it. So is HCMC deteriorating, perhaps but I bet you will still have an amazing experience in this city rich with culture and history that will make the experience more than tolerable.
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sianeth
post Jan 13 2008, 03:10 AM
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Aw, that was a nice post!

I've heard its worse than Bangkok though... does anyone know?
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rbisset
post Jan 13 2008, 01:31 PM
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I found the pestering in HCMC to be more of a nuisance than most cities in SE Asia. The second we got dropped off in town we were surrounded by touts and eventually we just told them where to go and found some place to stay nearby. You constantly got hounded to buy cigarettes and fake books every couple of minutes. I didn't like HCMC at all, although it's the same all over Vietnam.


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revelstoke
post Jan 14 2008, 02:15 PM
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well like I said I've nver been to HCMC so I can't compare it accurately but since my recent travels to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand I now really want to visit Vietnam. Almost all the other travelers I encountered told me how amazing Vietnam was... some of them even tried to talk me into forgoing my leg of the trip planned for Thailand and heading to V instead smile.gif Just based on their many recommendations I got the impression that it was pretty amazing there.

But good to know another opinion... so when I do go there I'll be prepared for the excess of touts smile.gif

Oh by the way, so sorry for the super long post... I didn't realize that I had written a novel sad.gif
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wakingdream
post Jan 14 2008, 02:36 PM
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QUOTE(sianeth @ Jan 13 2008, 03:10 AM) *

Aw, that was a nice post!

I've heard its worse than Bangkok though... does anyone know?


That was a nice post smile.gif

Hey, when you head to a country where many, many people live in poverty and there's an influx of tourists, I'm not sure how anyone can expect not to get hassled. Goes with the territory and some places are worse than others for it.

BUT, there's no way you can let that influence you're experience or you're just shortchanging yourself. Find your own way to handle the situation as affectively as possible. Either you get used to it or learn to get used to it.

I found HCMC to be particularly active with touts, but so is Bangkok and lots of other places too.

QUOTE
Almost all the other travelers I encountered told me how amazing Vietnam was... some of them even tried to talk me into forgoing my leg of the trip planned for Thailand and heading to V instead smile.gif Just based on their many recommendations I got the impression that it was pretty amazing there.

Revelstoke, it is amazing. I loved Vietnam. You'll love it too when you get the chance to go smile.gif It's especially nice outside of the large cities in the countryside, away from the beaten path.


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travelparadissa
post Jun 10 2008, 03:08 AM
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I trust that anywhere turning touristy, same things happen. Travel builds Smartness, and us, tourists, have to be aware of those.


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starlagurl
post Jun 10 2008, 09:41 AM
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I'm confused...what exactly are you getting at?


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starlagurl
post Jun 25 2008, 09:54 AM
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You're right... don't travel and expect the same comforts you find at home! Complaining because things are different is the best way to have a horrible trip.


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wakingdream
post Jun 25 2008, 12:35 PM
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QUOTE(starlagurl @ Jun 25 2008, 10:54 AM) *

You're right... don't travel and expect the same comforts you find at home! Complaining because things are different is the best way to have a horrible trip.


Isn't that the point of traveling??? To see and experience things that are different!? If you travel to another country and you expect everything will be just as it is at home then you might as well take holidays around home, n'est pas?


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starlagurl
post Jun 25 2008, 12:39 PM
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Yep, correct as usual, Susie.


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macau2000
post Sep 19 2008, 10:23 AM
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QUOTE(smile_4_deaf @ Jul 17 2008, 09:29 PM) *

Hi all,

I live in Vietnam and I love my country and people. I think you will find more good things here than bad experiences, like everywhere else. We travel to learn and enjoy new things. Vietnam has beautiful landscapes, very friendly people, delicious food, interesting daily life and amazing traffic. You will not find out those things without coming here.

Welcome to Vietnam.

Dung

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macau2000
post Sep 19 2008, 10:49 AM
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Hello everyone,

Just to add a quick note regarding vendors, touts, and the like. In Saigon, much similar to just about every place in Vietnam, these are the three main tips that will resolve most of the casual traveler's problems:

1. Vendors, touts, peddlers, shoe shine boys, panhandlers, lottery ticket sellers, etc. Simply reply in a quick "no", without eye contact, and without even acknowledging that the "person" is there, will quickly get the message out that you are NOT interested. Please note that this is not being RUDE. It is what it is. If the vendor insists, simply look the other way. Don't answer. Don't acknowledge the second attempt. This will quickly get the message that you are a "seasoned" Vietnam traveler. Knowing this, the "person" will quickly "give up" and attempt to make the "sale" at another traveler. PLEASE NOTE: the more you "talk" or engage with the "person", the more trouble it will become to "disengage". It's like SPAM email. If you answer that you "no longer wish to receive this spam email", then they will flood you with 50 additional SPAM emails. A quick "no" with no eye contact and no acknowledgment that the person is there will do the trick every time. IT IS NOT RUDE. Please also note that this is the trick that the locals use to "get rid" of the peddlers.

2. Taxis. Simple. Just pick the "brand names" and you'll be just fine; i.e. pick "Mai Linh" taxi, or the new yellow taxis. Most of the new taxis have legitimate fare machines located on the dash. If the taxi looks like a run down vehicle, DON'T do it. If it looks like a car used for personal purposes (i.e. no phone number decals, no colors, no stripes, etc.), DON'T do it. Just pick out a nice looking taxi, and you'll be just fine. Simply avoid the guy with the run down taxi, don't make eye contact, don't talk to him (or maybe just say "no thanks"). Just walk right past him to the guy with the "brand name" taxi. Wave him down and you're in business.

3. "Xe om"(s), cyclo(s), etc. Best to negotiate before getting on. Most fares are extremely reasonable, i.e. should be between 10,000 - 40,000 dong(s) max in SG, with 10,000 being the more usual fare. Current exchange is approximately $1 USD = 16,000 dong(s).

You will find that the people of Vietnam are as friendly as can be. Once you're free of the "peddlers", you'll find that Vietnam is an amazing place... a beautiful country with extremely nice people. I've been to SG many many times. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Best,

Michael
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lauraandmark
post Sep 26 2008, 04:52 AM
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Thanks for that note Michael really interesting. I am travelling to Vietnam in Nov/December this year as part of my se Asia trip - can you look over what I have planned (typical backpacker route) we want to see as much as possible plus venture away once or twice to see more local culture but not too sure how to do this (first time this type of travelling). also for budget we have allowed for 2 people 40 GBP per day ($80 US dollars) is this enough. we will try to take sleeper trains where possible

Thursday 27th November Vientianne (travel by plane to Hanoi) VIETNAM
Friday 28th November Hanoi
Saturday 29th November Hanoi travel to Sapa (Sleeper)
Sunday 30th November Sapa
Monday 1st December Sapa travel to Hanoi (Sleeper)
Tuesday 2nd December Hanoi travel to Halong Bay
Wednesday 3rd December Halong Bay
Thursday 4th December Halong Bay
Friday 5th December Halong Bay (Travel to Hanoi and get sleeper train to Hue)
Saturday 6th December Hue
Sunday 7th December Hue
Monday 8th December Hue (travel to Hoi An)
Tuesday 9th December Hoi An
Wednesday 10th December Hoi An
Thursday 11th December Hoi An (travel to Nha Trang by sleeper)
Friday 12th December Nha Trang
Saturday 13th December Nha trang (travel to Mui Ne by sleeper)
Sunday 14th December Mui Ne
Monday 15th December Mui Ne (travel to Saigon)
Tuesday 16th December Saigon
Wednesday 17th December Saigon
Thursday 18th December Saigon
Friday 19th December Saigon (travel to Moc Bai (border) to Phnom Penh)



IS THIS REALISTIC SORRY FOR ALL THE QUESTIONS

THANKS TO ANYONE WITH ANY COMMENTS
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macau2000
post Sep 28 2008, 05:36 PM
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Dear Laura (or Mark?):

Given the time constraints, if I were you I would trim my stays in Hue & Hoi An, and perhaps make an adjustment to the schedule by adding a 2-3 day venture to the Central Highlands of Dalat. You can go overland to Dalat from Nha Trang (a 3-4 hour drive by land) and from there go back down to Mui Ne (Phan Thiet).

I think a visit to Dalat is well worth it.

I think that you can cover Hue & Hoi An in a day to a day and a half each.

In addition, since you are traveling from Hue to Hoi An, you'll be going through Da Nang. If you have the time, do a day trip to Ba Na region off of Da Nang. It's an old French Colonial outpost and well worth your time in my opinion. Ba Na is simply amazing.

Good luck and have fun on your trip.

Best,

Michael
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lauraandmark
post Sep 29 2008, 04:21 AM
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Thank you so much for your response that is exactly the kind of information I needed - we will try that route instead thanks so much!

Also what did you think of our budget it is only £20per person per day ... is this manageable and weather and clothes wise will it be raining a lot or just short rain (if that makes sense) just wondering on packing clothes!

Thanks so much
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macau2000
post Sep 29 2008, 10:55 AM
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Not a problem at all and glad I could be of help.

As for budgeting $80 for two person per day, it just depends on your traveling mode. If you're doing the backpacking route, then it's adequate for Vietnam. Most of the places you're going is a "tourist destination" and hence should have plenty of "phong tro"(s) available. These are like guest houses with a room and toilet. Their cost range from $3 to $15 per night.

Food is relatively cheap. Fresh fruit is cheap. If you eat the food out on the streets, make sure your stomach has a strong constitution. Food on the streets is very cheap, approximately $1-$3 per person per meal (10,000-50,000). Drink bottled water only (about 50 cents per). Make sure to bring plenty of medicine just in case, i.e. diarrhea, stool softener, Advil, etc.

Weather wise, since you're traveling in December Vietnam has a diverse weather climate. In Hanoi, you'll actually be exposed to winter like conditions albeit in tropical climates. It could get to near freezing during night time (coldest) and there could be constant light drizzle rain during the winter months. Sapa will be cold at night as its elevation is higher. Hue, Hoi An, and Da Nang should be relatively milder (more perfect weather). Dalat is always cooler year round as its in the mountains. Saigon is always hot, no matter when. Could be slightly cooler around December.

Have fun on your trip.

Best,

michael
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happyolive
post Oct 3 2008, 11:03 PM
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To Macau2000 and LauraandMark

We are also planning on a Vietnam trip this December (but only for a week). This post is so timely. Thanks so much.
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