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There’s nothing I love more than traveling (okay, okay, maybe my dog). And when I visited Vietnam in 2017, this country completely stole my heart and made it to the top of my favorite countries list. But since then, things have changed… here’s why I won’t be going back to Vietnam anytime soon.

The Magic of Vietnam has Disappeared (Why I Won't Be Going Back) • The Wanderful Me

Let me start off by saying that Vietnam is still an incredible country to travel to. It’s super duper cheap (which is great for backpackers on a budget!), absolutely stunning with an array of varying landscapes, and boasts tons of incredible experiences to have.

In fact, after visiting Vietnam for the first time two years ago, I’ve been saying over and over again to those who ask that this is — without a doubt — one of my favorite countries in the world.

And sure, it’s still pretty cool, but…


I just recently visited again, spending a month traveling the country, and holy moly, Vietnam has done a 180 and flipped itself into something totally different than what I experienced last time.

And what I experienced this time has made the yearning to go back to Vietnam again and again shrivel up and die.

Okay, sure. That might be a bit dramatic but I’m dead serious. (Pun intended.)

The magic of Vietnam has disappeared.

And left something totally touristy, overly visited, and somewhat scammy in its place.

Hoards of tourists packed in boats along the river in Ninh Binh, Vietnam.
Quick! Let’s play a game… who can spot the tourist in a life-jacket?! (P.S. I didn’t realize it was going to be this crowded and it killed me that I was one of these forsaken tourists.)

Which completely broke my heart.

Let me share with you an example… there’s this absolutely magical temple and viewpoint in a Vietnam town called Ninh Binh.

Now this place was pretty much off the radar for any Vietnam travelers when I visited back in 2017. Like not even a blip or a spec of dust on the radar.

I’m not kidding when I say my 2 fellow travelers and I were 3 of 5 people up on this viewpoint overlooking what they call Vietnam’s Inland Halong Bay.

It was blissful.

The quietness, solitude, and just being able to actually enjoy and appreciate this view without any disturbance was blissful. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

This time was completely different.

Imagine what was once a quiet little viewpoint setting now made into something Instagrammers would live for. Even the small walk from the ticket desk to the mountain base has been completely redone into something so overly touristy and ridiculous I couldn’t stand to see it.

Like I literally left.

I shit you not, this place even made — yes, made — not one but two waterfall settings where tourists could take photos.

Who the heck has the bright idea to put together a man-made waterfall when the whole point of the place is to climb up and look at this beautiful landscape mother nature herself created?

Beautiful view of Ninh Binh, which has been overrun with tourists.

Safe to say, I was more than a bit disgusted.

But hey, if the swarms of Chinese tourists love it and will happily pay for it, why not, eh?

A viewpoint in Ninh Binh featuring gorgeous views of the countryside, as well as hundreds of tourists.

If I sound bitter, sure, I might be… a little.

But hear me out… it’s heartbreaking seeing a country I once fell head over heels for fall into the tourist trap; only building and turning things into something that will make a profit.

Not to mention the swarms of tourists — yes, literal swarms (look at the pictures below) — are completely destroying the natural environments that make up the beauty of Vietnam.

Hoards of sunset watchers at the Mui Ne Sand Dunes.
I’m not kidding when I say this was about 10% of the people here to watch the sunset at the Mui Ne Sand Dunes.

One tourist destination that comes to mind with regards to environmental destruction is the Mui Ne fairy stream.

Once hailed as the “Grand Canyon of Vietnam”, this place has been totally destroyed by visitors climbing on the sand sculptures, littering in the river, and — one of my most hated things — partaking in animal abuse by riding the ostrich and fondling the animals at the animal petting zoo, which are alongside the fairy stream.

The tourists have ruined the natural landscape of the Mui Ne Fairy Stream.

After reading all that, it’s probably no surprise that I didn’t partake in a lot of the activities and touristy things I did the first time I was here.

Due to the overwhelming crowds at destinations and the scammy people trying to swindle me out of more and more money (which I’d happily give if they weren’t trying to take it from me dishonestly), my once-abundant love for Vietnam completely died while I was there.

And, for that reason, I sadly won’t be returning here anytime soon (or likely at all, for that matter).

That’s not to say I didn’t have an amazing month in Vietnam this time around. I met some incredible people who will be lifelong friends (hopefully — LOL), got to show Dan around the country, and ate some delicious food (hello, bahn mi!).

Still, I couldn’t stop comparing this trip to my previous experience and how it blew anything I’ve ever done outta the water.

But, as they say (whoever ‘they’ are), you never know what the future holds! So we shall see… we shall see.

Tell me, have you ever visited a place for the second time, or even the first time, only to find it’s been ruined by tourists? I’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments.

Sophie xx

P.S. This post is not intended to stop you from traveling to Vietnam; I merely wanted to share my most recent experience and how it compared to the one I had back in 2017.

With that said, go and check it out for yourself and form your own opinion! That’s the best way to visit a new country after all, eh?

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There's nothing more heartbreaking than seeing one of your favorite countries turn to sh*t. Here's my opinion on Vietnam now and why I won't be returning! | #vietnam #southeastasia #asia #travel #opinion #tips
Vietnam has turned into something unrecognizable... and the magic has disappeared. Here's my personal opinion on the country nowadays and why I won't be returning anytime soon. | #vietnam #southeastasia #asia #travel #worldwide

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