Compared to other Southeast Asian countries,
accommodation in Vietnam can be poor-quality and expensive. This is particularly
so in remote areas, where standards of cleanliness and service still leave a lot
to be desired. In the major tourist and business destinations, however, a hotel
building boom continues to drive standards up and prices down. There are a
growing number of luxury resorts, especially along the coast around
Nha Trang and
Hoi An, in addition to some attractive
boutique hotels and, at the other end of the scale, Vietnam's first youth
Another consequence of the number of new hotels springing up in recent years is
that getting a reservation is no longer the nightmare it once was, and even
among international-class hotels there are some bargains to be had, particularly
at weekends. However, if you're keen to stay in a specific hotel, especially the
more central or popular addresses, it pays to book ahead. Around the Tet
festival (early spring) booking in advance is a must.
When you check in at a Vietnamese hotel or guesthouse, you'll be asked for your
passport and often your departure card. Depending on the establishment, these
will be either returned to you the same night, or kept as security until you
check out. If you're going to lose sleep over being separated from your
passport, say you need it for the bank. It's normally possible to pay your bill
when you leave, although a few budget places ask for payment in advance.
Room rates fluctuate according to demand, so it's always worth bargaining –
making sure, of course, that it's clear whether both parties are talking per
person or per room. Your case will be that much stronger if you are staying
All hotels charge ten percent government tax, while top-class establishments
also add a five percent service charge. These taxes may or may not be included
in the room rate, so check to be sure. Increasingly, breakfast is included in
the price of all but the cheapest rooms, though in budget places it will consist
of little more than bread with jam or cheese and a cup of tea or coffee.
Although the situation is improving, hotel security can be a problem. Never
leave valuables lying about in your room and keep documents, travelers' cheques
and so forth with you at all times, in a money pouch. While top-end and many
mid-range hotels provide safety deposit boxes, elsewhere you can sometimes leave
things in a safe or locked drawer at reception; put everything in a sealed
envelope and ask for a receipt. In the real cheapies, where the door may only be
secured with a padlock, you can increase security by using your own lock.
Most hotels have a luggage room or cupboard where you can store bags for a few
days while you're on a trip. Since this can never be one hundred percent secure,
it's best to take your valuables with you, or leave them in the hotel safe if
In some older budget hotels, rooms are cleaned irregularly and badly, and
hygiene can be a problem, with cockroaches and even rats roaming free; you can
at least minimize health risks by not bringing foodstuffs or sugary drinks into
Pretty much any guesthouse or hotel will offer a laundry service, and
Western-style laundry and dry-cleaning services are widely available in
Ho Chi Minh City and other major cities.
Washing is often given a rigorous scrubbing by hand, so don't submit anything
Finally, prostitution is rife in Vietnam, and in less reputable hotels it's not
unknown for Western men to be called upon, or even phoned from other rooms,
during the night.