Booking a hotel in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia is a lot different from back in the States. In the US, online hotel booking is quite competitive and hotel inventory in any city is high. You can find some great deals by searching and booking hotels online. In developing countries like Vietnam it's quite different. Most hotels aren't online and can't be booked online. The ones that are online charge higher rates if booked online than if booked in person! That never happens in the US. On my first trip to Southeast Asia, I made the mistake of booking hotels online for the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. and either then or now I found out that I paid way too much for my rooms. I booked online because I didn't think I could just arrive in a foreign country and easily find a hotel. In the US, if I flew to another city and didn't book a hotel first, I would have a hard time finding a reasonable hotel (first I would have to rent a car) and I would surely pay more than what I would pay if booking online. Now I've traveled all over Vietnam and stayed in dozens of different hotels without reserving rooms in them first.

Finding a hotel in Vietnamese cities

Tourism is a large and important industry in Vietnam. This includes domestic tourism. This means that there are hotels everywhere, ranging from run down no-star "motels" to backpacker-friendly guesthouses to medium-sized 2 or 3 star business hotels on up to the large, branded 5-star hotels. When you arrive in a Vietnamese city, head to the center of town and you should find an area with a high concentration of hotels. For example, in Hanoi you might head to the Ho Hoan Kiem (Hoan Kiem Lake) area. In Ho Chi Minh City, you would head to the Pham Ngu Lao backpacker district, or Bui Thi Xuan Street, or the area around Ben Thanh Market. In Dalat, you would also head to the lake and main market area, or Bui Thi Xuan Street. Without knowing the names of any hotels (and not letting any touts take you to their hotels) you can quickly look at several hotels and make a choice.

I've since traveled by bus, plane, train, bicycle, and motorbike to cities from Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Da Lat, Vung Tau, and many others and found cheap hotels using this "method". Just go to the center of town where there's a concentration of hotels competing with each other, investigate a few, negotiate the price (90k VND and up for a "nha nghi" guesthouse, 200-300k VND and up for a large room with a big bed or two and bathtub), and leave your passport with them - this is Vietnam.

When investigating rooms, here is a short checklist of things to look for:

1. Turn on the A/C. Is it blowing out cold air or is it just a fan?
2. Run the hot water. There will probably be a water heater attached, if not make sure hot water comes out. Is there a hot water tank? It may need to be turned on for awhile before there's hot water - good luck.
3. Do you smoke? Are you bothered by stale smoke?
4. Is the fridge unplugged? Is there melted ice?
5. Do you want a mosquito net?
6. WIFI - Most important. Check that it works and the signal is strong enough. This is why you should have a smartphone in order to quickly check the wifi connection in a room. Except for expensive hotels, ironically, most hotels have free wifi. Some hotels don't have any wifi, but it's rare for hotels except the luxury hotels to charge for wifi.

Syndicate content
© 2010-2014 Saigonist.