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halsar Apr 13th, 2006 06:51 PM

Americans in Vietnam?
Was interested in traveling to Vietnam for honeymoon but in doing reasearch in Lonely Plane we saw a boy disfigured from agent orange. This made my fiance very sad and decided that things like "best affordable place in Asia" might not outweigh the effects of war on this country. We decided that traveling here might make us feel uncomefortable-Do you think this is justified? What is your experiance?

rhkkmk Apr 13th, 2006 07:11 PM

i have travelled in north vietnam...i did not see one disfigured person quite honestly....i just saw lovely hard working people....btw some stats state that about only 205 of the population was alive during the VN war..

if you think it may bother you, then switch your honeymoon to thailand or to bali...

rhkkmk Apr 13th, 2006 07:12 PM

could i also suggest that you take a step up in guide books from lonely planet....fodors, frommers, insight guides, etc...

Kathie Apr 13th, 2006 07:18 PM

No one can tell you how you feel or will feel. Only you know that.

I found VN fascinating. And yes, I did run into things that reminded me of what the Vietnamese call the "American War." And, yes, I'm from the US.

Asia is a place to go if you want your thoughts and feelings stimulated. It will give you a different view, of the world. You might want to read some people's experiences in Cambodia, for instance. There is a post here about the Ponheary Ly Foundation - check it out. It will give you a feel for how this might impact on you. Of course, the destabilization of Cambodia that allowed the Khmer Rouge to gain power was also an effect of the "American War."

Neil_Oz Apr 13th, 2006 08:33 PM

That figure of 205 beggars belief - I find it hard to accept that the figure would not be several million out of a population of about 70 million. However, it's a fact that most Vietnamese were born after 1975 and are far from being obsessed with the war or our shameful part in it. They're happy to move on. (I'm including Australians, as we were involved too.)

The war is an escapable part of their recent history, and many Vietnamese are in fact living with the effects of poisons and war injuries. However, this won't be in your face on a daily basis and you may not be aware of it at all.

If you just want a low-cost vacation without the distraction of learning about, and to some extent coming to terms with, your host country's history you can certainly do that, and a honeymoon is as good a reason as any. From where I sit it would be a pity, though. I agree with rhkkmk that the Vietnamese are the most polite, courteous and good-humoured hosts you could hope for, their country is beautiful and as a bonus the cuisine is excellent.

While I agree with rhkkmk on the virtues of the Vietnamese I don't share his views on Lonely Planet, which suits our style of travel.

Neil_Oz Apr 13th, 2006 08:50 PM

Sorry, I've got down off my soapbox now...

artmarth Apr 13th, 2006 09:01 PM

Having just returned last week, I can tell you, the only place you may not want to see is The War Remnants Museum in Saigon (HCMC).
Some of the photos from "The American" war----as it is referred to, especially in Hanoi, might have a negative impact on your fiancee.
To my mind, it was worth seeing, to remind us about the past.
As noted here, Americans are welcome and treated wonderfully----and, we tried to recipricate.
Go, and enjoy.

KimJapan Apr 13th, 2006 10:35 PM

I think Bob's 205 is a typo and should read 20%. On my keyboard, the % is on the number 5 key.

I would suggest browsing a variety of guidebooks. I've yet to find the perfect one. We use Lonely Planet, Frommers, and a handful of others, as well as the internet. We take a bit from one, a bit from another. Also keep in mind that guidebooks are just that...guides. In that light, the more you read beforehand, the better prepared you'll be when you get there.

Neil_Oz Apr 14th, 2006 01:35 AM

Er - thanks, KimJapan, why didn't I think of that? Losing my grip.

halsar, you may also want to steer clear of the "Hanoi Hilton", although the most grisly exhibits there are the guillotines left behind by the French colonists. As you know, the French were just one of a long line of foreign invaders expelled by the Vietnamese, but that doesn't stop large numbers of French tourists visiting their former colony these days.

Come to think of it, we found the least pleasant aspect of Vietnam to be French tour groups, particularly when you had to fight them for your place in the lineup for breakfast. Terrible manners.

rhkkmk Apr 14th, 2006 05:43 AM

sorry, yes 20%

dperry Apr 14th, 2006 07:08 AM

I have always had an interest in seeing Vietnam. I went to Hanoi in 2004, and absolutely loved it. In fact, I'm returning to Vietnam again this weekend! I wondered how they would treat Americans, given our history with them. I found them to be very warm and polite, although when we'd say we were american they would often look twice at us, but not in a negative way. I found it to be very different from other countries I've visited in SE Asia. It's important to remember that it is a developing country, and you can expect to see people living in standards very different from what you are used to seeing. Much of the world lives differently than we do in the US. Don't let this disuade you from seeing an amazing place with welcoming people. That's what travel is all about.

halsar Apr 14th, 2006 07:31 AM

Thanks all. We'll add it to our list of places to see in the future.

Neil_Oz Apr 14th, 2006 02:15 PM

I've yet to meet anyone who wasn't delighted by their experience in Vietnam - including a friend who absolutely hates hot, humid weather but took the plunge anyway and said she wouldn't have missed it for anything. Yes, it's a long way from being a well-off country, but it's the opposite of depressing - you get the sense that with its people's talent, energy and optimism, Vietnam has a bright future. They also have a great sense of humour (with their history, they needed it).

Eekthecat Apr 15th, 2006 02:16 AM


I was just about to jump on my SOAP BOX to exclaim that there were more than 205 Vietnamese alive during the VN war!

Made me laugh when I read KimJapans logical answer.

We're off to VN in August [trip report to come] and we are using a tour by imaginative Traveller. We chose to go with this tour company because they had a really unusal trip.. kayaking in Halong Bay, 2 days snorkeling on Whale Island etc etc. So its a trip designed to get you out of the tourist traps and see rural VN.

Anyway.. back to Halsar..

All the Vietnamese I have met and know, all appreciate visitors to their country , be it Americans, NZer's or Australians.

You will get beggers in the streets [as in anywhere in the world] but the VN police are trying to move down away from the tourist areas. You might want to think of it as helping the VN economy by spending your tourist dollar in VN.

Overall, the VN people are a proud bunch and would welcome you to their country. one thing I should add is that they appreciate humility and sense of humour. So getting vocal and emotive when haggling its probably not the best path to take.


khtodd Apr 15th, 2006 09:11 AM

We just got back from our honeymoon in SE Asia... and Hanoi was definitely one of the highlights of our trip... we loved that city, and definitely plan to return... we saw no effects of the war - we even saw the Hanoi Hilton, which was mostly centered around its use by the French colonialists to imprison any Vietnamese uprising... there is I think 1 room devoted to American detainees during the Vietnam war (they call the American war) but our guide kept telling us how it was actually a great place for the Americans - how thye had lots of activities, were able to go to the movies in town once a week, had good food, etc. etc. - which is why it's called the Hanoi Hilton, because it wsa like a hotel...

Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to visit any other area in Vietnam, so I can't give a full report of the rest of the country...

If you want, you can check out my trip report (almost finished)... do a search for "Honeymoon in SE Asia trip report"


Neil_Oz Apr 15th, 2006 07:05 PM

Eek, you're dead right about the inadvisability of getting all emotional. Showing anger, raising your voice and so forth will if anything weaken your negotiating position, marking you out as someone who can't control yourself. Loss of face, big time.

artmarth Apr 15th, 2006 10:04 PM

Note to Ken. We just returned from touring SE Asia, including twice visiting Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi.
I'm afraid Ken's guide may have sold him on the same propaganda that's posted on the walls of the "American section."
It was hardly a place where the Americans were treated well. Too many died as a result of the horrible treatment they received during their incarceration. Just ask Sen. John McCain, who was held captive for 5 1/2 years.
Sure, Vietnam is a great place to visit, and the people are wonderful, but don't buy into that "stuff" about the "Hanoi Hilton."
By the way, most of the prison is now occupied by the high-rise Singaporean Hotel.

khtodd Apr 16th, 2006 06:44 AM


Thanks for the note... we actually did take a lot of what our guide told us with a "grain of salt"... everything has its own slant...

One of the main differences we noticed between our Thai guides and our Vietnamese guide is that teh Viet. one definitely seemed to dish out a lot more "propaganda"... whereas, the Thai ones told us how things are (once we got to know them, that is). The Thai guides were much more free with their opinions - and this was obvious because we had two guides with totally different ideas about the government, etc...

artmarth Apr 16th, 2006 11:29 AM

Just to reiterate on the propaganda, we had a real sweetheart for our guide in Hanoi. She was so nice, the morning after our arrival---after she and driver picked us up at the airport, she met us at our hotel with a dozen pink roses for my wife. How thoughtful, and nice was that?
However, during our visit to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, she noted that "Uncle Ho" is probably the most reverred person in the world.
Without trying to "deflate her balloon," I delicately tried to tell her, while I'm sure that is true in Hanoi, I don't think it's true all over the world.
The point is----at least in northern VN, especially Hanoi, that is what they are taught as children, and it carries over to adulthood.
That's just the way it is.
I thought I'd pass this tidbit along.

halsar Apr 17th, 2006 12:43 PM

I actually just got to see a one hour special on Saigon on the Travel Channel (one of my Fav's) I am for the most part politically ignorant, and didn't know what Saigon would look like. I was in awe of the size and glitter of the city and the city plan for 2025. The "special" higlighted on how the government had taken homes from people by eminent domain and given them little compensation and sold/leased the land to private developers (like in Conneticut). It explained that the distribution of class is like a dumbel...whereas before I guess there was no middleclass.

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