Scammed in Vietnam, While Touring Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay

November 15, 2007

Vietnam was a complete disappointment. It is an ultimately sketchy place where they try to rip off on every corner if you are white. Only about 1% of the population speaks English here, so employees of my hotel would not speak English, neither the tour guides. When you arrive to Hanoi and you try to book trips to go to places around here, they will sell you everything and tell you that everything is first class and five star and later you find out, that they booked the cheapest of everything for you and they took a huge cut of the money you paid them. All the tourists were complaining on the trips, but nobody cared about it. It was quite an adventure for sure, because you never knew what came next. So Vietnam was a total scam. I saw some unbelievably beautiful things while I was here, but I don’t know if it was worth all the drama that a tourist has to go through to be honest.  Sapa Vietnam

Images of Hanoi

Images of Hanoi

Hanoi

Hanoi the capital of Vietnam is a very crazy, dirty, poor and polluted city. I arrived here late at night and the place was totally intimidating. The buildings are falling apart and the streets are dirty. In Hanoi everybody has a motorcycle and you see hundreds of people riding their motorcycles (mostly without a helmet) and everyone is beeping all the time so the noise level is insane. Once you are used to the traffic and the noise level, you can make an attempt to go sightseeing, the town has some nice sites to see. I saw the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex. I particularly liked The Temple of Literature.

I also went to the Vietnam Ethnology Museum. There you can see how people lived in huts a hundred or so years ago in Vietnam. Their small houses are preserved there. In the end I also found a giant Lenin statue in a park, reminded me of a the good old communist days in Hungary.

Sapa Vietnam

After spending a day in Hanoi, I felt like I saw enough of the city and had enough of the dirt and crazy noise level. So, I took the over night train to Sapa. The guy who booked the trip charged me for a first class train ticket and bought me the cheapest possible ticket. I got into the cabin and I saw that the cabin has 6 beds on three floors (instead of the usual 2 or 4 that we have in Europe.) This did not look like a first class cabin that I paid for at all, so I waited for my cabin mates, soon 5 non-English speaking Vietnamese arrived and they started blasting the Vietnamese radio. Soon, I realized that these are the kind of compartments where the locals travel. The music was the icing on the cake, so I packed my stuff and left. I found the non-english speaking conductor of the train and bribed him with $20 to upgrade me to first class. I met an English guy in the compartment where I was supposed to initially stay and he was bitten by bugs all over him when he got off the train. So I am sure the $20 I spent on bribing the conductor was the best investment of the trip. Sapa is only about 300km away from Hanoi, but it took the train 9 hours to get there. I could go on and on about the craziness of the whole trip, but in the end, the only thing I can do is to laugh at the whole thing and keep the nice memories. sapa vietnam

Tribes in Sapa - Sapa Vietnam

Tribes in Sapa – Sapa Vietnam

Sapa was unbelievably beautiful. On the first day we went to the Bac Ha market, where the locals tribes selling hand made things to tourists. They were all wearing their different colorful tribal outfits. We spent the day trekking around the mountains of Sapa and along the way we visited two more tribes. One tribe was wearing a black outfit the other one was wearing an enormous red thing on their head. The scenery was spectacular. We saw the rice terraces. It was also really amazing to see how these tribes lived in the mountains. They were really poor, but very nice people. The day was so lovely that it even made me forget about my horrific train ride up to the mountain the night before.

After another day of hiking I took another night train to Hanoi. I had to upgrade my ticket again to first class. We arrived at 4:30am to Hanoi. The taxi driver of course overcharged me. What a surprise! I do not even get angry any more. When I arrived to the hotel I saw that the hotel staff was sleeping on the floor in the lobby. They told me to use the Internet until 7:30, because they wanted to sleep and they did not want to deal with checking me in. This would not even get me angry at this point. It is amazing how your tolerance level is adjusts when you are in a less developed country.  Sapa Vietnam

Vietnam is also the home of the World’s largest cave. Read more about the Hang Son Doong cave by fellow blogger Mike Still on LiveTravelTeach.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is so beautiful.
We spent two days on a boat cruising in between the giant lime stones. The scenery was stunning. We stopped and visited an enormous cave. It was so colourful and beautiful. Halong Bay was a truly romantic experience. sapa vietnam

Halong Bay - Vietnam

Halong Bay – Vietnam

I spent my last day in Vietnam visiting the Parfume Pagoda. It was another Chinese looking temple complex just outside of Hanoi. We also found a nice cave to visit and later we took the cable cars to the top of the mountain to see the view from up there. Overall, I saw many beautiful things in Vietnam, but the circumstances were so rough, that I was glad to depart for my next destination in LaosSapa Vietnam

Kids in Sapa in Tribal Outfit - Sapa Vietnam

Kids in Sapa in Tribal Outfit – Sapa Vietnam

 

 

 

Pin It Up!

Scammed in Vietnam, While Touring Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay | Sapa Vietnam| Things To Do in Vietnam | Things To See in Vietnam | Jet-Settera Travel Blog | Vietnam Travel Tips

Save

Save

About Barbara

Barbara is a London based luxury travel and lifestyle blogger. She started traveling through Paris, London, New York, Milan, Tokyo at the age of 17 to conquer the World as a model. Ever since, she has visited 67 countries. She writes about the most exclusive jet-set destinations such as Cannes, Venice Film Festivals, Monaco Grand Prix, Oscar Parties in LA, Fashion Weeks in Milan or Paris as well as yacht parties in St-Tropez, Miami Art Basel, Biennale in Venice, Frieze in London or the Royal Wedding in Monaco.

4 comments

  1. Comment by Katie@worldwidevegetarian.com

    Katie@worldwidevegetarian.com Reply August 1, 2015 at 7:04 am

    It’s a shame you had such a bad time in Vietnam – I have heard wonderful things abput thi country but your experience makes me think twice. But then again I spent 4 months in India and I got pretty used to being ripped off. Thanks for an honest review!
    Katie

    • Comment by Barb

      Barb Reply August 3, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Katie, I think you should still go to Vietnam and experience it. Everything is an experience whether it is good or bad. You should form your own opinion about the place. There are lots of interesting things about Vietnam overall, but I experienced lots of scams and harassment to be honest. Let me know how your trip goes.

  2. Comment by Alice Teacake

    Alice Teacake Reply July 30, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I’m wondering how long you stayed in Vietnam. Yes, at first in the big cities, everything can be a bit overewhelming and the Vietnamese will try their luck with you. I felt stressed too BUT we’re going to have to agree to disagree that Vietnam is a total scam. Get under the surface of it all and you have one of the most beautiful, varied and exciting countries in South East Asia with seriously crazy history. Get away from the tour groups and do it yourself: then you’ll see the real Vietnam. I rode around the whole country on a motorbike for 3 months and slowly but surely fell completely in love with it. I encourage others to stick with it, go local and you will really reap the rewards.

    • Comment by Barb

      Barb Reply August 3, 2015 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Alice, I m glad you had a wonderful experience in Vietnam! I only stayed for a week but that was more than enough for me to be honest.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Go top