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What I don´t like about Vietnam

If you’ve seen my videos, I’m always talking about the stunning places, amazing food, kind people and affordable cost of living in Vietnam. Everything sounds really great because it is. 

Vietnam is a beautiful country and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to experience its wonders.

That’s why a lot of people are looking for retirement. The demand for digital nomads is growing more and more. But not everything is perfect, right? 

There are some things that I don’t like personally about this country. Don’t take it the wrong way. That doesn’t mean I don’t love it. If you've been following my videos, you’ll know I’ve been talking about all those great things that I love about being here.

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In fact, if you’re planning to visit the country you might find this useful and you’ll be prepared for the good and for what might confuse or dislike you. Stick around and I’ll show you my personal opinion:

Queueing up to wait doesn’t work properly

You’re going to be surprised by the kindness of the people in Vietnam. They are happy, patient  and helpful (more if you don’t speak Vietnamese). Now, If I have to complain about something, is that queueing up to wait doesn’t work properly.

A lot of people cut in line. It has happened to me quite a lot of times. I consider myself an introverted person and the first time someone did this to me, I thought: It’s ok, it’s just a person who is probably in a rush. But no! They kept doing it. I wasn’t ever going to get to the front of the line. If you don't aggressively hold your position, you’ll never get through.

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This doesn't mean that all the people do this, or that there aren’t queues. But it’s very common for the queue to turn into everything except a queue, or for people to ignore the queue and just rush up to the front. 

 

Of course, I’m generalizing. If you’re Vietnamese please let me know if gender plays a role regarding who cuts.

Traffic

We already know that there is a lot of traffic and that doesn’t bother me because it’s an icon of Vietnam. I’ve said before that I actually think that in some way their system works once you get used to it. 

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For example, the drivers use the horn to let other drivers or pedestrians know that they are approaching, warn them, and to avoid accidents.  Most of the honking is not in signal of anger or danger — it’s mostly to say, “Hey, I’m here, be careful!” This could sound like a good system but when there’s no place to go, there is no reason to honk. There’s quite a lot of reckless honking and I personally think the safety purposes of honking are being confused for many people.

This confuses me a lot. When I’m driving my bike and waiting for the red light to turn green, I already have someone in a hurry insisting me to get out of their way or wanting me to run the red light as well. I’ve been really tempted to do it, I’ve felt a lot of pressure.

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Some people honk on the red lights and the duration of honking can be unbearable. I’ve even seen people honking when there is nobody surrounding them. The noise on the streets never stops and I think there’s a big noise pollution problem in big cities here.

 

Is too much right? I know I’m going to receive bad comments and I’m not sure if I’m ready.

Customer service

As I’ve mentioned before, people in Vietnam are very kind. Some beautiful people have helped me when I’ve been in trouble and I really appreciate that because despite having the language barrier, they are very patient. But there’s something that confuses me quite a lot and coincidentally, this has happened in established places.

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I’m going to tell a story that actually happened to my husband and me in a fancy restaurant. 

 

We recently had moved to Da Nang and to celebrate it, decided to go to a nice restaurant and have a romantic dinner. We went to that restaurant next to the beach. Everything seemed perfect. The beautiful terrace, the smell of the food and the waitress was a very smiley girl. So we ordered.

We were waiting for our food and suddenly, something from above landed on my husband's empty plate. We didn't pay much attention because we thought it was something that the wind had brought.

After two minutes a cigarette butt landed on our table. We noticed someone upstairs was throwing his cigarette butt. We complained to the waitress and she told us there was nothing she could do. We then asked her to change tables to avoid contamination of our expensive food.

 

She didn’t do it because it seems she needed to ask permission to the manager.  Minutes later, the restaurant manager came. He didn't want to change tables and just told us that everything was going to be fine.

 

We got really upset because there were so many empty tables and someone had thrown garbage on us.

Suddenly, I guess the same guy or family upstairs dropped a big rock. It landed and fell very close to the manager. It could have killed him.

The end of this story is that he never changed our tables and never apologized. We left the place.

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I have more situations with bad customer service and it happens to be in not cheap places. I’ve seen they are openly annoyed at customers requests, and most of the time, make an excuse to not do it. It seems to me that some tend to have the mentality that they know better than their customers.

 

As I said, this hasn’t happened to me on the streets. People are always helpful. I don’t know if this has to do with bad salaries or a bad environment in restaurants. What do you think?

Pollution

Pollution of every kind is a problem in major cities. The quality of the air is generally not great. That’s not a surprise. 

 

I lived a year in Hanoi and the quality air wasn’t good at all. It was impossible to see the clouds and the sky almost every day.

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Of course, if you’re on holiday, you might not be aware of that but after a while, you’re going to feel it. I’ve got friends that told me they started to feel their throat dry after living there for some months.

That’s why a lot of people wore masks before the pandemic to filter out the dirt so they were not breathing so much of it.

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Of course, the whole country is not like that. Vietnam has quite a lot of beautiful cities, countryside and small villages with clean air.

Near Hanoi, you can find the beautiful Ninh Binh. I think it is on the top of my favourite places in all of Vietnam. You can find beautiful countryside, clean air and wonderful sceneries.

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Garbage

There is no social stigma against throwing your rubbish on the street. It’s sort of a custom because street sweepers pick up all the rubbish at night. It must be quite hard work for them! I’ve even seen people throwing big bags of rubbish on the pavement just because. And there’s another interesting custom.

In some street food restaurants you’ll see the locals simply drop the leftovers on the floor until someone comes along to clean it up later. This is totally accepted here and there are restaurants that encourage you to do it because it’s easier to clean up afterwards anyway. 

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This can make for a pretty disagreeable eating environment. However, I’ve learnt to focus my attention on the delicious food in Vietnam. Of course, it’s not in all restaurants. It’s more common when the restaurant is a seafood restaurant.

In spite of this, I still believe, visiting the markets and street food stalls is a must. You’ll find authentic food with beautiful people.

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I totally respect their customs and I consider Vietnam to have an interesting culture.

And once again, I love this country but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, right?