6 Things All Expats HATE About Vietnam

fire man

I’ve been in Vietnam for over a year AND I’m American, so this gives me the authority to write an article about all the stuff wrong with this country. Every expat that has been in Vietnam for any significant amount of time will have similar complaints.

Leave a comment about the stuff you hate about Vietnam.

To the fragile white knight expats and boomers that this article will surely attract:

A: I’m not trying to “change” Vietnamese people because I understand they’ll never be on the same level as us. I’m just pointing out stuff that annoys me.

B: No, I won’t go home.

This article is just pointing out stuff. It’s something that normal and non-fragile people do. Get over it.

Note: This is coming from my 1st world western perspective. If you’re coming from some dumpy country like Africa, then Vietnam will probably be amazing.

#1 Nothing Works Properly

The first major problem with Vietnam is that nothing in this country seems to work properly. I’m painting a broad brush with this because well… nothing really works properly.

The Vietnamese are just not good at properly maintaining anything. Cars, motorbikes, buildings, roads, boats, businesses, and so on.

Just take a look at any buildings built by the Vietnamese… they look awful after 5-10 years. The ones built 30+ years ago look straight up scary with crumbling concrete, rust stains, burglary bars, and metal bars (discussed later). Like something from a Saw movie.

Even my old apartment had cracked concrete, broken doorstops, a leaky ceiling, and at least one elevator was broken almost everyday….

It was a “luxury” highrise built in 2014.

Meanwhile the French, with their backwards culture, built buildings all over Vietnam that are still intact over one hundred years later. And that’s with Vietnamese people repairing it, I think. It wouldn’t surprise me if European contractors were maintaining the French buildings.

Click that picture to check out my review of Vietnamese Tinder.

tinder girl lingerie asia

Anyway, all this crumbling Vietnamese infrastructure makes sense when you have a Vietnamese man repair something for you.

They’ll fix it, but their fix will never last for very long. Getting any kind of repair that will hold up long-term is pretty much impossible in this country.

Hence the crumbling infrastructure and general disrepair of the country.

#2 Vietnam is a Loud Country

People always complain that Americans are loud.

Yeah, ok. Americans are generally louder than Europeans. No denying that. Must be the extra testosterone or something.

However, America is not a loud country.  

Vietnam is a legitimately loud country. Vietnamese people are extremely loud people.

Walk outside and you’ll hear non-stop horn honking, loud exhaust, street vendors blasting their menu through a speaker, random dragon dances, funerals, karaoke, and weddings.

Walk back inside and you’ll hear the exact same thing because the walls are paper thin. Heaven forbid a Vietnamese person is talking on the phone in the same room as you. You won’t be able to hear yourself think.

Simply put, there is no escaping the constant noise in this country.

Even worse, you’re liable to hear it at all hours. Especially if your neighbors are fond of karaoke. They’ll do that at full volume all day and night.

That’s not an exaggeration. They don’t have sound ordinances here. Or a strong concept of law for that matter.

asian girl sitting on steps

#3 Air Pollution

Vietnamese cities have a massive amount of air pollution. In fact, Saigon and Hanoi are among the most polluted non-Chinese and non-Indian cities in the world.

Recently, Saigon was so polluted that the temperature dropped to 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). A nice haze covered the whole city. The tops of skyscrapers weren’t even visible.

Some Vietnamese people said it looked romantic.

I thought it looked like lung cancer. That’s just me though.

I don’t think I really need to say much else. Living in a literal pollution cloud isn’t fun and something that every expat hates. 

#4 Petty Theft

Vietnam isn’t a particularly violent country. Though they do have plenty of violence if you go looking for it. Vietnam does have a petty theft problem.

This country is actually the textbook definition of a low trust country. Everything not locked down will get stolen. Even stuff that is locked down still might get stolen.

Pull your phone out on the sidewalk?

Two guys on a motorbike will zip by and rip it out of your hand. It happens all over Vietnam, but is especially common in the big city.

Live in a house?

Some Vietnamese guy will try to break into your house even if you have burglary bars, a big metal gate, security cameras, a 10 foot wall, and a dog. 

Leave your expensive motorbike unattended on the sidewalk?

A Vietnamese guy will use a cut key to steal it. Or he’ll try pushing it away while you aren’t looking. 

It just seems that everyone is trying to rip you off. Even when filling up gas they’ll try and not reset the pump (if you aren’t vigilant) to make you pay extra.

And yeah, it’s annoying coming from a high trust society to a low trust society. The good part is you get used to it, but…

all so tiresome

#5 Traffic

Another thing that everyone hates about Vietnam is the traffic. I’m not talking about traffic jams either. Every city has those.

Saigon actually has less traffic jams than other cities because cars are so expensive in Vietnam. Even my significantly smaller American hometown has much worse traffic jams than Saigon.

The problem is the way the Vietnamese drive.

They drive like absolute lunatics.

There’s already a large amount of literature on the way the Vietnamese drive, so I won’t go into detail. No one really obeys any traffic laws other than stopping at red lights (sometimes). They also don’t yield.

It just sucks.

#6 Garbage Everywhere

dirty beach

Yes, this is Taiwan. Some Vietnamese beaches look similar.

Finally, Vietnam has a large amount of garbage everywhere…

Everywhere.

There is no social stigma against just throwing your garbage in the street. It’s actually encouraged because street sweepers pickup all the trash at night.

Yes. That is how garbage collection works here.

Just toss it in the street and it will disappear in the morning. 

The problem with that is it makes the city look like a literal dump. I’ve been here so long that I’ve kind of forgotten what a clean street even looks like.

So I guess you do adapt over time.

20 Comments

  1. #3, 6, 2, 1 in that order for me. You hit the nail on the head with the low-trust society. It’s really a shame.

    An expat acquaintance once told me that the Vietnamese spend more per mile (or km if that works for you) building and maintaining their roads than any other country in the world because their workmanship is so shoddy. Instead of doing it right the first time and only doing it once, cheap and hasty is the name of the game in VN.

    #7 should be how friendly they all claim to be, yet deep down they’re really not friendly at all (kinda goes hand in hand with the low-trust society). How often do you see Vietnamese people interacting with one another without uttering a word? And never mind if you’re unlucky enough to be a cleaner, maid, security guard, etc. These people are basically ignored and treated like shit by locals who have a bit of money. Little pleasantries like “hello, how are you” go a long way and are completely lost here. As white foreigners, we get treated better, but it’s starting to creep into our interactions as well. Want proof? Go to Annam Gourmet–where a lot of wealthier foreigners frequent–and observe how apathetic the staff is. “Hello! I’m trying to spend money here. You could at least be pleasant while I do so.” Good manners grease the wheels of society. Maybe that’s why this place is so dysfunctional.

      1. Customer service here is so fucking bad. In fact, that term doesn’t even exist here.

        I got scammed by Fit24 recently. They promised me that when I signed up for a 3-month membership at 5+ million VND, I could extend it to a full year for an additional 4.116 million. ~9 mill for 12 months makes financial sense; 5+ mill for 3 months does not. When my membership ran out they said they couldn’t give me that deal anymore for some bullshit reasons and then said if I wanted to extend my membership, it would cost me 7 million. I complained via email (which was dumb on my part because these neanderthals aren’t smart enough to use email, you gotta get on the phone with them, except wait, THEY CAN’T SPEAK ENGLISH PROPERLY for fuck’s sake) and got in a text argument via Zalo and that did nothing. “That’s the rule and we can’t change it” was their response. What a load of brainwashed horseshit.

        Everyone raves about Timo, right? Wrong. The weekend of Tet I innocently walk into an ATM (an MB ATM to be precise) and try to take money out. Their ATM proceeds to swallow my card. I try calling Timo with the expectation that they’re actually gonna help me seeing as how I have over 350 million VND sitting in my account, and they tell me a full 10 days later that I gotta pay to have my card replaced. 55k, chump change, yeah, but I gotta eat the cost for someone else’s fuckup. So I go to the offending bank and tell them I want my card back and they give me a bunch of bullshit about how I gotta wait till the upcoming weekend. This is AFTER Tet mind you. So I have my gf call the number that’s next to the ATM (they leave a name and phone number next to the ATM for you to call when this thing happens because it’s so frequent) and suddenly my card is ready and waiting at the MB bank branch. Except I gotta first go to Timo to get some bullshit paper proving the card is mine (my name on the front of the card isn’t good enough for these halfwits). I walk into the Timo office, they take my info and then they tell me I have to come back the following day to pick up the magic paper! How fucking hard is it to print out some paper on the spot and stamp it with your official goddamn stamp?! I tell them they’re terrible and walk out and return to MB. I look pissed (because I am) and stern and hand them my passport. After some pussyfooting, they finally return the card to its rightful owner, proving that the magic paper requirement was more fabricated-on-the-spot bullshit by incompetent morons. I ask the reason their shitty ATM swallowed my card in the first place. “Because there was problem with internet.” Real reliable. Even their electronic systems are about as reliable as the most braindead among them. So I had to go running around town for close to two hours, not to mention going without access to my money for 10 days, to rectify their fuckups.

        Another reason Timo licks balls is because over 75% of the time that I walk in there to deposit a fat stack of my monthly earnings (because my company cheats the government and avoids paying taxes by paying me in cash), their ATMs are “full” which means they’re non-functional. So let me get this straight: a bank wants deposits, right? Their only way of securing the cash is by using an ATM (have you idiots ever heard of a vault?!) and once the ATM is full (because their currency is inflated more than a blimp) it can’t be used anymore until some dimwits come over and empty it? Some bank ya got there, you fucking boneheads. Real efficient.

        Forgive the rant. I used to actually like this place. But after a long record of being fucked over and shit not working the way it’s supposed to, I realize this place will never change as long as dumb VN people run the show. They’re just not mentally equipped with the ability to make things go smoothly, efficiently or intelligently.

        1. That sucks with the Timo card getting eaten over Tet. I read that if you keep insisting they’ll cave to requests, which it sounds like they did. Saving face and all that. I personally would have just paid the $2.50, saved the headache/time, and chalked it up as 3rd world problems caused by 3rd world people.

          >I realize this place will never change as long as dumb VN people run the show. They’re just not mentally equipped with the ability to make things go smoothly, efficiently or intelligently.

          Yeah, I think most expats will come that realization over time. Living in a 3rd world country is really the best way to see the reality of the situation. I mean, these people were literally living in bamboo huts while American/European men were trying to build the first airplane.

          1. +2 for Neo
            “3rd world problems caused by 3rd world people.”
            “I mean, these people were literally living in bamboo huts while American/European men were trying to build the first airplane.”
            Nail on the head
            and +1 for the men part. Touche my man

  2. Vietnam is just China Jr. They claim to hate the Chinese (I mean, how can you not), but they’re just China Lite.

    Other things I hate:
    a complete lack of common sense
    massive groupthink, the individual is non-existent here
    the men are lazy and effeminate. I’d estimate that only 1 in 50 has a pair

    1. Are you talking about the men who defeated the Chinese, the French and the American empire?
      It is highly recommended not too provoke them too much despite their apparently weak appearance.

      1. This is always a dumb point. The US could have completely wiped Vietnam off the map if we didn’t have rules for war and stuff. Like turned the entire country to glass or just carpet napalmed the whole damn thing. The Vietnamese certainly didn’t follow any rules.

        Vietnam didn’t defeat the US. The US defeated itself.

        EDIT: Most of the men in the South were helping the US.

    1. Yeah Thailand seemed the same except with different people and way more cars. They drive much faster too. I will give them credit for building a great public transport system in a somewhat reasonable amount of time. They do a great job maintaining it too.

  3. #8 Remarkably slow dating pace and sex speed compared to the likes of Philippines, Indonesia, or Thailand.

    Too much of a ‘pussy trap’ culture where girls are sizing you up hard before they spread their legs. And fwbs always fail here bc they try and lock you down fast.

    #9 Not wanting to give your change back or giving you partial change especially at the local joints.

    1. Hmmm I never had them refuse to give me change or try to short me, but I’ve heard it’s common with nightlife. Them not having change and having to go next door to get change does happen a lot.

      1. write about
        -juggling multiple hoes on fake feminist “holidays” like valentines and vn womens day. i say there’s an optimal way to do it (for you)
        -a young girl’s decision to reject traditional gender roles and dating/marrying/fucking VN guys and opt for fucking foreigners instead
        -women hitting The Wall in VN and how it comes much later here than in the west because they think naively that they can have children into their 40s

  4. have you ever been harassed by security for walking into a grocery store without putting your backpack in their little locker area? i have, and i always tell them to go fuck off.
    today a little punk security guard full of piss and vinegar chased me down into the grocery area when i walked in and completely disregarded their retarded rule and tried verbally dressing me down. “hey you, man, dude, HEY, hey, you can’t come in here with your bag. you need to put it in the locker”
    Me: (deadpan) “No.”
    (walk right past)
    him: “what? what do you mean no?”
    Me: “No.”
    him: “well that’s the rule of every grocery store here.”
    Me: “I don’t care about your rules.”
    him: “well then you shouldnt be here.”
    Me: “what are you gonna do about it?”
    him: “well…nothing now, but next time…”
    …blah blah blah

    what was astonishing about this exchange a) was how determined he was to get me to follow the rule, when most security guards would realize it’s not worth their energy after i picked up one item in plain sight of everyone and then went directly to the checkout line, and b) how well he spoke english compared to the average bonehead security guard.
    at first i thought it was just dogma and blind devotion to rules, which is maybe only 40% true. later i realized that the other 60% was ego stroking and justifying his reason for being there in the first place. why go with security cameras alone when you can supplement them with actual security people that you only have to pay 70 cents an hour

    newsflash genius, i’ve voluntarily come to live in a place with a long history of ignoring human rights and due process. do you really think i’m gonna shoplift a carton of eggs when i make more in a week than you do in an entire year and jeopardize my most precious asset–my freedom? let’s not be a complete dumbass

    1. haven’t actually had that problem. surprised he spoke English too. literally never met a security guard that speaks English. my guess is most of them just think, “I don’t want to lose face by him not understanding me, so I’ll pretend not to see him” and go back to their phone. like the time I accidentally waltzed through a restricted area (or something) to go past a security checkpoint at BKK.

  5. write about
    -juggling multiple hoes on fake feminist “holidays” like valentines and vn womens day. i say there’s an optimal way to do it (for us men)
    -a young girl’s decision to reject traditional gender roles and dating/marrying/fucking VN guys and opt for fucking foreigners instead
    -women hitting The Wall in VN and how it comes much later here than in the west because they think naively that they can have children into their 40s
    -how to have a 3some here without having to pay
    -once she goes white, she never goes back OR how we contaminate them for life in viet guys’ eyes
    -how far is too far when dirty talking with a viet slut
    -when reason will trump superstition/dogma/traditional mindsets

    1. the third to last one… LOL. how haven’t i thought of that. I know that will piss people off if done right, which is the main reason I started this site. and I’ll do a 3some article when that happens.

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