There is, of course, a LOT to love about Vietnam. Its stunning natural beauty and friendly people make it a perfect destination for holidays and yes, more permanent stays.
However, like any other country, there are some things about Vietnam which might just have you gritting your teeth. And I mean the kind of gritting your dentist is going to be rubbing his palms in glee at…
Of all the annoying, mind-numbingly absurd things that you’ll find in Vietnam, I’ve rounded up five downright killers which might just turn you off the mighty ‘Nam (and I’m not even going to include the crazy traffic as one of ’em!)…Hold on to your hats!
1. Rubbish and plastic waste EVERYWHERE
It’s sad, but you’ll find plastic waste everywhere in Vietnam (it might surprise you to learn that Vietnam is, unfortunately, one of the world’s worst plastic polluters); when traveling between cities it’s glaringly obvious, thanks to some unsightly piles of trash by the side of the road in countless Vietnamese towns.
There is a lot more awareness today, thankfully, but many locals are still completely unaware, and continue to throw things from their car windows, and dump waste bags by the road. It’s very annoying for those of us from more environmentally-aware climes, but let’s put it down to municipal practices, rather than the cleanliness of the Vietnamese themselves.
2. You can’t speak the language
Vietnamese is extremely hard for Westerners to speak. It has six tones, which often makes it seem more like singing than speaking! Obviously, as a visitor, you want to try your best to speak the language and at least grab the basics; it’s just that in Vietnam you’re likely to be laughed at!
It’s probably going to be obvious enough that you’re a foreigner, and trying to speak Vietnamese may make you feel even more uncomfortable. Just don’t take any laughter personally, think of it more that they’re laughing with you…
3. It’s always noisy
Especially in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), be prepared for an onslaught of noise, at all times of the day and night. Celebrations for both business and pleasure are carried out as long as the weather permits – you can expect car horns, karaoke, celebratory fireworks, the sweet lilt of a crowing cockerel at 04:30, and much more!
And yes, even when someone dies, expect 3 days of noise, including tribute karaoke, and the banging of drums at 06:00! Seriously, pack some earplugs if you want peace and quiet in the city.
4. You’re fair game for fleecing
Although the practice is less common these days with the Vietnamese realizing that tourism is a real boon for their economy, Vietnamese sellers (and of course, taxi drivers) may well try to fleece you. Again, this is nothing personal; wealthy-looking locals will also be targets for prices higher than normal. As they see it, they are just trying to make a living. Annoying as hell, though.
5. Animals are objects
If you’re an animal lover, you may have to close your eyes quite a lot in Vietnam. Animals are seen as things to be made use of, rather than taken care of, which means they’ll often end up in some dish or other. Dogs and birds are often kept in cages on street markets or thrown into bags and carried around on the back of motorbikes.
As a dog-loving Brit, one of the most horrible sights I’ve witnessed is the barbequed body of a dog on a roasting spit. And this was on the main street running through the resort island of Phu Quoc. So yes, Vietnam can be quite a stomach-churner…you have been warned.