Things I Dislike about Vietnam
Generally, I love Vietnam and its people and the magnificent landscape that never fails to “awe: me.
After 16 years of living here, I consider Vietnam my home for reasons above and beyond being married to my wonderful wife.
Listening to foreigners whingeing about Vietnam is one of my favorite “sports”. I have heard people complaining about being “shortchanged” 10,000 dong and seen arguments over 50,000 dong.
While this is quite petty, there are some valid reasons for people to feel aggrieved. Especially if they have been here for a while.
Not that we want special privileges for lasting so long, lol. More for the fact that we know that you know the scam about to be perpetrated.
Here is my small list of “complaints”. Just another whingeing foreigner, go home “”Om Tay” or, my favorite “Tay balo”…..Mr Backpack. Lol.
My Favorite Peeves.
My normal response to people who moan and complain about a country they were not born in, is…to go home. But there are things over the last decade and a half that I have tried to avoid but not always successfully.
Before I start my “decompression”, let me start by saying every place has its pros and cons and luckily the cons far outweigh the pros, albeit you can find a lot of them here too. Lol.
Sitting over a hot computer and a cold beer (75c U.S.A)here is the list I have come up with.
It is not so much the heat, but the consistency of the heat. Yes, I could move out of H.C.M.C. Unfortunately, that is where our business is.
One of the best jobs in H.C.M.C Vietnam would have to be a weather forecaster. There are seasons, but they all revolve around hot. For example, hot and dry or hot and wet. Sometimes even hot and windy.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Vietnam has the second-highest motorcycle ownership in the world, after Taiwan. As of 2016, there were over 37 million registered motorcycles in Vietnam, accounting for more than 90% of all vehicles on the road.
Motorcycles are the main mode of transport for most Vietnamese people, as they are cheap, convenient, and flexible. However, they also contribute to many traffic problems, such as air pollution, noise pollution, road accidents, and fatalities.
And I feel like I am caught in the middle of it. Just crossing the street can be hazardous let alone driving. I do not know of any foreigner who has stayed for a long time and not had a traffic accident of some description or another.
The traffic congestion in Vietnam is mainly caused by rapid urbanization, the lack of public transport infrastructure, the poor road quality and design, and the low compliance with traffic rules.
HCMC is the most affected city by traffic jams, as it has a population of over 9 million people and an area of only 2,095 square kilometers. The average speed of vehicles in HCMC during peak hours is only 15-20 kilometers per hour, and sometimes even lower than 10 kilometers per hour.
Traffic Accidents and fatalities in Vietnam.
The road accidents and fatalities in Vietnam are also alarming. According to the WHO, Vietnam ranked among the top 10 countries with the highest road traffic death rates in the world in 2018, with 26.7 deaths per 100,000 population.
Roads are being fixed and things are slowly changing, but it remains one of my pet peeves. Just about everyone I know has witnessed a fatality. I have seen two very traumatic fatalities and even watching it leaves you shaking.
Higher Prices for Foreigners.
Even after living here for 15 years I am still obviously viewed as a foreigner, and because of that the natural assumption is that you are rich. Because of this when shopping in a lot of markets, especially the touristy ones you are charged triple the normal price.
The best way to deal with this is to quote a reasonable price and if it is not accepted, walk away. Quite often you will be called back grudgingly and the price agreed upon. But please don’t haggle over a few thousand “dong”. The merchants do need to make a profit and it is embarrassing to see foreigners haggling over a few cents.
Petty Crime in Vietnam.
Vietnam is one of the safest countries I have ever lived in. It is safer than Australia and most Western countries.
But opportunistic petty crime can be a pain. It is not rampant, but there is enough to make you nervous about holding your mobile phone in a street situation. I have seen and been a victim, of people on motorbikes snatching your phone or bag if you are negligent in safety.
Vietnam Hospitals and Doctors.
The doctors who have helped me here in Ho Chi Minh City have been great. Let me tell you my hospital story about bowel cancer and then the little niggling things that don’t quite add up.
Approximately 11 years ago my stomach swelled up and I was rushed to hospital after several days of constipation. I had a bowel blockage caused by a cancerous growth.
I was taken to surgery ASAP and operated on over 17 hours. The doctors saved my life, however it did cost me about $15,000. Probably not much for the USA, but a lot here. Anyway, I certainly couldn’t complain.
That being said, medical communication in Vietnam differs greatly from that of medical communication in my own country. In Vietnam they give you only the essential information here, ignoring any things they consider to be “optional.”
Not being able to buy what I want.
After living in Vietnam for so long it can become difficult to buy certain things, especially clothes in Western sizes. Purchasing specialized sports goods, hardware, large-sized clothing and shoes, and other uncommon items can be quite difficult in Vietnam.
I am frequently compelled to buy goods from abroad or arrange for a family member to buy them for me and have them shipped to Vietnam. Of course, this operation means that there are often long delivery delays—up to one month.
A real pain if you want the right-sized underpants.
Overall I love Vietnam, but if you are thinking about staying for a while it is also good to know about the problems.
Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.
There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.
You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.