In 2018, there are 28,000 tourist accommodation establishments according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam. Travelers have a wide range of accommodation choices in the S-shaped country. Noisy hotel room or unprofessional services may ruin your trip to this beautiful country. Fake reviews about properties are popular in not only Vietnam but also in many other countries. Here is a list of 10+ Must things to know before booking any hotel in Vietnam, which helps you to choose suitable rooms, avoid inconveniences and problems. The article is not about popular tips on how to choose a hotel but less-known information about tourist accommodation establishments in Vietnam.
Caution: wet bathroom floor
In Vietnam, there are many bathrooms in which there is no barrier between the showering area and the toilet area, wash basin area because of the low cost. The bathroom floors are wet after they take a shower. They usually put flip-flops in front of the bathrooms in order to keep their feet clean and dry in the bathrooms. In guesthouses, homestays, 1-star, 2-star and 3-star hotels, you may see bathrooms without barriers. 4-star and 5-star hotels and resorts have Westerner-friendly bathrooms with glass shower doors or curtain between bathtubs and toilet areas. Check if the showering area and the toilet area is separated before booking your hotel. If you must book the hotel with such a bathroom, check if they provide flip-flops. Old people should not choose rooms with these bathrooms because wet floors are very dangerous.
Sitting toilets are available in cities and towns but out in the countryside. If you are not familiar with squat toilets, make sure that your hotels, homestays, and AirBnb are furnished with sitting toilets.
Mattresses may be hard for Western people
In the past, Vietnamese people sleep on flat wooden or bamboo beds with or without sedge mats. Mattresses have just been popular in the country for a few tens of years. Some people still think that hard mattresses are better, a large number of hotels provide hard mattresses. If you can only sleep on a soft mattress, you should read some reviews about it before booking any hotel. In some professional hotels, you can ask them to change the mattress. At small hotels, guesthouses and homestays, the staff can not do anything to make your sleeping surface better.
Sharing a hotel room with a Vietnamese person is not allowed
Vietnamese law prohibits foreigners from being with Vietnamese people in the same hotel rooms. So that you can not share your room with your Vietnamese girlfriend or Vietnamese friends. It is acceptable if you are a married couple or a family. The staff will check documents proving the relationship before allowing you to stay at the hotel.
However, this rule is sometimes broken and some hotels do not enforce it. So that you should contact the hotel and let them know the situation if you are going to stay with your friend or girlfriend. Letting them know before booking or arriving helps you to avoid being forced to book another room for your Vietnamese partner.
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The majority of hotels ask to keep your passport but do not let them
Receptionists at hotels in Vietnam usually ask to keep your passport. You should not leave the passport at the reception due to the following inconveniences. No one makes sure that your passport will not be lost, plucked to another guest, or damaged. Getting an emergency passport may cost you a lot of money and time.
In fact, the hotel only needs the passport information to register your stay with the local police, a photocopy of the passport is enough. Bringing the passport when you are out of the hotel in Vietnam is not recommended. You can leave it in the safety box or a secret place in the room and bring a copy of the passport with you.
So you should prepare some photocopies of the passport before starting your trip. Making photocopies is cheap and simple in Vietnam, but it takes a little time to find and come to a photocopy shop instead of enjoying a great place.
Fake reviews about hotels in Vietnam on TripAdvisor and OTAs
A large number of fake reviews are created on TripAdvisor and online travel agents (OTAs) such as Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia and AirBnB. Vietnam’s tourism and hospitality industry are plagued with fake reviews. Some of the accommodations’ owners and his staff create tens of fake accounts and leave dozens of good reviews about their properties. They also ask their friends in Vietnam and other countries to review the accommodations on these websites.
The employees are rewarded based on the number of reviews in which they are mentioned. The staff only ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. Unsatisfied customers are lazy or do not have time to write reviews. A small number of customers who are really angry at the services of the hotels leave negative reviews.
On OTAs, customers must pay and stay at the properties before posting reviews so that there is not a high number of fake reviews. On TripAdvisor, a new user only needs to register using his email or log in using his Google or Facebook account. So that the proportion of fake reviews on TripAdvisor is higher.
How to deal with fake reviews?
- Do not count on a review from an account that left only one review. Certainly, some of the one-time reviews are true and the others are fake. A large number of reviewers write reviews once and never return to the site for some reason.
- The fake TripAdvisor account usually does not have an avatar, detailed profile and recent activities.
- Facebook and Google accounts are more reliable because Facebook and Google require phone numbers and verification codes to create accounts successfully.
- Rely on Facebook and Google accounts that have profiles, avatars, recent posts, photos and activities on TripAdvisor.
OTAs save money and provide flexibility
Besides famous hotels, customers find it is difficult to search for good accommodations without surfing the internet and browse TripAdvisor and OTAs. Agoda and similar online travel agencies provide discount codes (promo codes or coupons), rewards programs in order to attract customers. Last-minute rooms on OTAs cost extremely cheap because they only want to balance the loss due to empty rooms. OTAs also recommend the best choices with the help of artificial intelligence systems. Free cancellation option is a good offer from OTAs although it is not fair for hotels.
For more information, OTAs charge their partner hotels a commission percentage lying between 5 and 25 percent. OTAs must run their company, pay employees including support teams, launch marketing campaigns. Some customers usually compare prices on different OTAs and book with the OTA providing the cheapest prices. In recent years, OTAs tend to cooperate and show the same prices. You can contact the hotel directly after finding it on TripAdvisor or OTAs and ask them for a better price. However, I am not sure the price offered by the receptionist or the sales manager will be cheaper than on OTAs. It takes a little time to contact one hotel and some times to contact some hotels. So that if time and money are not issues, you can book directly on OTAs.
AirBnB helps to save a lot of money
In recent days, accommodations on AirBnB are popular in the country and are much cheaper than hotels. The quality of apartments and rooms is not worse than hotel rooms. The hosts and staff at AirBnB are sometimes not as professional as at hotels but most of them are all friendly and make you feel like locals. If there are many people in your group, you can save a lot of money. For example, a three-bedroom apartment is much cheaper than three rooms in a hotel with the same quality. It is not easy to pick a good one from countless AirBnB accommodations so it is recommended to read reviews thoroughly before booking.
Some hotel rooms are noisy at night
Not all of the hotels in Vietnam are soundproofed and not all the guests sleep well. If it is difficult for you to fall asleep when it is noisy, you should stay away from the following hotels and rooms:
- Hotels in crowded areas such as walking streets and non-sleeping street (Bui Vien), backpacker areas (Pham Ngu Lao, Ta Hien) where they drink until the late night. It is fun for young travelers to stay right in the backpacker area where they enjoy the crowded tourist areas and find budget hotels, guest houses, restaurants, spas, laundries and other services.
- Rooms next to rooftop bars where they drink, play music, dance at night.
- Hotels impacted by construction noise (metros, other buildings). Sometimes, there may not be any review about the noise because the hotel is only noisy during your stay. You can request a full refund and move to another hotel.
- Rooms facing crowded and noisy streets. Do not forget to contact the hotel staff after booking, tell them that you need a quiet room.
Some AirBnB apartments and rooms may be impacted by noisy neighbors. Although making noise from 22:00 to 6:00 is subject to fines up to VND 160,000,000, Vietnamese people usually sing karaoke
A La Carte is served instead of buffet
Breakfast buffet is included in your hotel rate but they may serve you A La Carte instead. Serving A La Carte instead of a breakfast buffet is popular in low season in Vietnam due to the small number of guests. In comparison to tens of foods and drinks served in a buffet, guests usually have fewer choices such as plain bread + egg omelete, bowl of Pho or other noodle soups, instant noodles, broken rice, stir-fried rice noodles/rice, a few cakes and fruits, coffee, tea, orange juice. If breakfast is important to you, do not hesitate to check with the hotel before booking.
Wifi connection is not always good
In Vietnam’s countryside and tourist destinations in mountains, on islands, Wifi may be so-so. In Vietnam’s cities, Wifi connection provided by many hotels is quite good. However, the Wifi signal is weak at some hotels, guest houses, homestays, motels or in your room. Check reviews about Wifi at the accommodation before booking if you need a good Wifi signal.
Some hotels specialize in Western tourists, some are specialized in Chinese people while others are good choices of local people
It is recommended to choose hotels which are specialized in Western people if you are from Europe, Australia, North America, etc. At these hotels, they serve sandwiches, cheeses, sausages, salads and soups in Western styles, pasta, baked cakes and other Asian, Vietnamese foods. Some hotels specialized in Chinese guests serve more Asian foods and it is usually noisy in lobbies, restaurants and escalators.