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Friday, March 31, 2017

The problem with traveling to Vietnam just because it’s cheap

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Tourists love the country because it’s cheap, but low costs come with risks.

Yet another travel list has named Vietnam among the must-visit places in the world because it’s cheap.
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This time, it’s Emily Zemler, a writer from Refinery29, who describes Vietnam as one of the best “super cheap” destinations in the world.
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“Asian destinations like Japan and Singapore can be pricy, but Vietnam is notably budget-friendly. The food, which is just as good from a street cart as it is from a sit-down restaurant, is cheap (usually less than 10 bucks a pop) and hotels are reasonable, with luxury properties averaging around $80 per night…
Don’t be afraid to sample the street food, which includes signature dishes like beef pho and bun cha, and make sure to spring for a countryside bicycle tour from Hoi An, which run $17 and up.”
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 To be fair, cost-based recommendations like these are what Vietnam, still an emerging travel destination, needs now.
It’s perfectly fine to love something when it doesn’t bankrupt you – it’s even better when that something is also good. “Cheap” is not a dirty word. We don’t need to avoid it and replace it with pretentious phrases like “budget-friendly” or “best value for your buck” when we promote a product or a travel destination.
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But “cheap” does come with a connotation: some sort of compromises must be made and accepted.
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For cheap travel, the biggest compromises are on quality and safety. In Vietnam, this can mean anything: drinking a beer that tastes like water, sleeping on a hostel bed with a dirty sheet, getting food poisoning after a meal at a delicious sidewalk joint, drinking toxic moonshine, or falling from a waterfall. And the list goes on.
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Many travelers will take these risks without blinking an eye. Ask any backpacker in Saigon and they will tell you how happy they are when they only need a few hundred bucks to travel in Vietnam. Diarrhea and those serious travel safety warnings don’t faze them one bit.
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