Friday, October 28 2016


Price is right in Hà Nội but traffic is a pain

Update: August, 05/2016 - 09:00

Last week, Việt Nam News asked its readers what they thought about Hà Nội being named the cheapest international tourist destination among 39 cities worldwide by TripAdvisor. We also asked if Hà Nội should do more to attract more tourists for a longer stay.

Here are some of the comments:

Nhật Phương - Hà Nội

I have travelled to many countries among the 39 places that TripAdvisor mentioned as the cheapest destinations from all over the world. I think the information and cost estimation given by TripAdvisor are reasonable. However, there are a variety of accommodations where tourists can choose the ones suitable for them. And the cost from TripAdvisor for two people to stay three nights in Hà Nội would be the lowest price. A very important issue is how to improve tourism services, attract more customers and keep them in Hà Nội longer. I think it is a very big job related to many factors and policies. From my view, there are some key strategies to fulfil tourism requirements. The first thing is to release a long-term and comprehensive plan for this sector. Another task is to improve infrastructure including transportation and tourist accommodations, and accelerate the single visa for ASEAN countries. Last but not least, Hanoians should be friendlier, easygoing and willing to help tourists efficiently, especially people working in hospitality sectors. All in all, Hà Nội is a very good place to visit with reasonable prices and enjoyable activities.


Josie Weir, a reader

I’m an ESL teacher in Hà Nội. I would change only a few things. First, the motorcycle pollution. If people could change to electric bikes, that would be nice. Secondly, Hà Nội needs more parks. I live near West Lake, but there is no park area.


Andrew Burden, Canadian in Hà Nội

A retired economist on vacation in Thailand told me Asia is expensive. I said it was really cheap. He replied that was the illusion. In fact, people think it’s not expensive, so they relax their guard and spend more, buy more and stay longer.

Hà Nội is deceptively friendly, where the taxi driver at the airport smiles and says “the bus service has stopped”. Jump in, but negotiate the fare. At the market the saleslady smiles as she starts the negotiation price high and also cuts the exchange rate in her favour.

The hotel staff smiles while saying “sorry” for forgetting to tell you about the free breakfast. The cyclo driver smiles and says “sorry, no change” and keeps a generous tip, as you are too tired to argue and didn’t carry small bills. Everyone smiles.

On the plus side, Asia is safe and full of interesting ethnic and cultural sites. I absolutely dare the Government to cancel visa fees. Thousands and thousands more tourists will visit. Look at the policy and TV ads from Indonesia. Their travel numbers are way up.

As I have said many times before, there should be a 24-hour phone hotline to report crime and theft, and to provide honest travel and tour guide advice. If you leave it to social media you will get one person complaining and many more gossiping about some small thing. Better to take advantage and manage your reputation in advance.


Terry Christopher Taft, a reader

For tourists, it is probably a ‘cheap’ destination, but that depends on what you want to do when you get here. There’s a wide range of food, from The Metropole to street food. 

The best thing that can happen is to ban motorbikes from the centre of the city, as it was done in Yangon. There is a plan to do that by 2025. But unless they stop selling motorbikes now, that will never happen. Then, of course, there’s the simple fact that many people simply do not follow the rules of the road, and I don’t have to give details on that because we’ve all seen it, every day. There seems to be a perception that those rules are for ‘you’ - not ‘me’.

I’ve never felt stressed walking in Hà Nội. Careful, yes. Stressed, no.


Jack Laurenson, a reader

For tourists to enjoy Hà Nội more, it needs to be made safer and more convenient for pedestrians because walking is such a great way to see new cities.

As for tourism attractions, sure there can always be more. I’ve lived here for ages and there are still museums I need to visit!

But wouldn’t things like pedestrian crossings, clearer pavements and more underground parking be cool, to make it safer and easier to walk? These are space issues and city planning issues. I think Hà Nội will get there in the end, but population levels will be a constant challenge.

I’m in Yangon frequently, and the ban on motorcycles has accomplished nothing but make congestion (cars, taxis, SUVs) in the city absolutely unbearable. I really don’t see what banning motorcycles will accomplish, unless there’s a viable public transportation alternative. I’m not sure if the metro or skytrain could work in Hà Nội. Possibly.

Well, there are two metro lines "under construction". So let’s wait and see! The bus system isn’t bad, but Hà Nội clearly needs more public transport.


Lê Mạnh Trung, Cần Thơ

Some people like city tourism; some people don’t. Some prefer the mountains or the beach. In my opinion, you wouldn’t want to stay in any of the cities for a long time if you really want to find interesting things when you come.

Yes, Hà Nội is cheap. I love Hà Nội, in particular the uniqueness of the Old Quarter. Street food is so delicious.

Local tourism businesses should create reasonably-priced tours that help visitors explore more areas of Hà Nội, like one-day trips to Bát Tràng.

You’d have to make Hà Nội cleaner and greener while still keeping it as cheap as it is now.


Joel Hartley, a reader

Hà Nội is a cool, bustling city, with everything you would expect from a major city in Asia, plus culture, architecture and people-watching. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t enjoyed their time here. Why go to Nha Trang, which is just tourism and bars. The problems expats have with Hà Nội don’t really apply to tourists because they don’t have to deal with them long-term. -- VNS

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