Monday, December 10, 2007

Making Bookings In Hanoi

I remember about 5 years ago when I had just arrived in Hanoi, my friends and I went to play tennis and the court keeper insisted that we pay in advance. We did that but in the middle of our court time, the court keeper told us that some other people needed the court now because they had also paid in advance the day before. I argued how unfair and unorganized this was but she told us to get off. This is quite typical of how some business is done in Hanoi. Most tennis courts in Hanoi and some other businesses operate in the same way.

That’s an experience I learned very early after coming to Hanoi to live five years ago.

Booking a hotel in Hanoi also presents the same problems. If a guest is willing to pay a few more dollars for the room then they will give a previously booked room to them. I've had this happen to me many times while trying to book hotel rooms for friends from overseas. The last time was two weeks ago when two of my readers from the USA came to Hanoi for their vacation. I booked them in at the Prince Hotel in To Tich Street a month before they arrived and re-confirmed a few times in between then a final confirmation one day before they arrived. The hotel receptionist said everything was fine but the next morning they called me and told me that they didn't have any rooms for my friends.

Even though the flooding in central Vietnam had caused travellers to change their plans to come to Hanoi earlier, I was still very angry that my booking was taken. In the past there has been no reason at all. In the process of trying to find rooms in other hotels, I also realised that the hotels in the old quarter had all raised their prices by 30%-50% to make more money from the sudden crowd of people.

Finally, I found two rooms at the Trang An Hotel but I had to be sure that I really had them. I went to a tour agency and asked them to book me those rooms to be double sure. When the tour company picked up my friends from the airport (they arrived at midnight)and took them to the hotel, their rooms had been given away to other people! I called the hotel many times between 11.50 Pm to 1am to confirm that everything was okay and they kept repeating that my friends hadn't arrived yet. I couldn't believe it the next morning when my friend said that the taxi driver had driven around for an hour trying to find another room. The hotel staff called and found them a room in a guesthouse in the middle of nowhere and forced them pay to $40 in advance before giving my friends the address. Later they found that the guesthouse rooms were only $25!

I couldn't stand to hear anymore and called to give the hotel staff a charge. This was after my friend had returned to the hotel the next morning and was told that the new charge on the room would be $55, $25 more than the price I had been told when I booked. They also cheated her by giving her fake money and old money that isn't used anymore and also put the price up for their airline tickets from 665,000Vnd to 880,000Vnd for Hanoi to Hue. The hotel owner had a really bad attitude as well and she didn't believe that her staff had behaved in such a way.

What can I say? These people are ruining tourism in Vietnam and I hate this kind of cheating. They shouldn't be allowed to operate with such bad service and bad behavior? What I am going to do is name all of these hotels and warn people to avoid them! Be careful with any transactions with hotels in Hanoi!

  1. Prince Hotels- To Tich street
  2. Trang An hotel - Hang Gai street
  3. Lucky Star Hotels
  4. Morning Star Hotel - Hang Hanh street
  5. Golden Sun Hotel - Hang Hanh street
  6. Heart Hotel - Hang Hanh street


chanchow said...

wow, thanks for the heads up. we are thinking of going to Hanoi next year. for those trying to make advance reservations from the U.S., do you recommend doing it via email so there is a paper trail?

Applecart T. said...

thank you. interesting culture note; what can visitors do, though, but take that kind of treatment?

are these hotels privately owned or do they belong to the same major group or corporation - am I silly, are there corporations like that in VN?

: )

Buddhist with an attitude said...

Is there a government Tourism Department where one can file a complaint against this kind of operators? If enough complaints are filed against the same establishments, they will get their permits withdrawn.

Furkids in Hong Kong™ said...

Wonderful of you to give us all a warning. You did the right thing.

This, unfortunately, has made me very wary of travelling to Hanoi. As the previous commenter mentioned, can the authorities do anything about this? Nothing remotely similar would ever be allowed here in HK.

I hope (and believe) there are more people like yourself that can somehow change this terrible practice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tu,
I'm no longer living in HN but i will be back there for the holidays with some friends. They're looking for a comfortable and friendly hotel in pho co around the price range of $15-20. I would hate to shuffle them into any old backpacker you have any recommendations? Thanks so much!


Jade L Blackwater said...

Hello GodKnows - I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you and your blog with the "Bloggers for Positive Global Change" award from my Brainripples blog. I value the window you create for others to learn about the Vietnamese world. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience with Golden Sun. I'd booked with them one month in advance for a group of 7 and was keen enough to re-confirm with them on a weekly basis. One day before we arrived, I received an email saying that the rooms were unavailable. Horrible!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately,all throughout Viet-Nam, this has happened to many of my friends and colleagues as well. Thanks for listing the specific locales in Hanoi and the timing of your post is perfect, for we will be traveling there in the next few months. We appreciate your humble, honest and insightful perspectives. First hand, insider information like yours is going to make our trip to Hanoi so much more enjoyable. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

You can also add the Heart Hotel on Hang Hanh Street to your black list. Very nice and clean hotel but booking problems...

Boulet Family said...

I guess we are lucky that this has never happened to us when travelling in Vietnam. However, I can certainly picture it happening. I hope the people that I doing this type of business will realize that it is not in the best long term interest of Vietnam. Just in the short 6 years that we have gotten to know and visit Vietnam we have seen such change for the positive. Let's hope that this type of behavior is not widespread.

P.S. Great blog, always enjoy reading it, keep up the great work! Maybe we will run into you the next time we visit VN!

Van Cong Tu said...

Thanks everyone for commeting on my blog.
Boulet Family , let me know if you come again Ok.

Walter Mason said...

Good on you - this has happened to me also in Nha Trang. I think a lot of Vietnamese tourism operators make the mistaken assumption that visitors will only be coming through once.
But let's face it - even government owned operations blatantly rip off tourists, so it must be hard for the little guys to resist temptation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this warning, I will be linking to this post for the adoptive families coming to VN! We look forward to coming to VN in the next couple months, and had the Heart Hotel on our list of one of the places we would want to stay, I guess we will be crossing off our list! Have you heard anything about the Hoa Linh or the Zephyr? We might just go to the Somerset Westlake to have peace & quiet with our new little one after all.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

The Hanoi Guesthouse in Bat Su was fantastic when I was there. No booking problems, airport pickup, clean, *fantastic* staff who made all our bookings at the best prices, all for $10 a night!

I know there are some shonky places (in Vietnam and everywhere else) but Hanoi Guesthouse isn't one of them!

Anonymous said...

That happened to me when I went to Hanoi, and as I was arriving a week early, I decided to book a room at the Golden Sun Hotel where my tour was meeting at - and when I arrived, they'd given away my room!

I dug my heels in and demanded that either they find a room for me or give me a full refund and direct me to a hotel available. After a hour's of talking, they got so fed up that they gave me the money and told me to go down 2 streets where I ended up in this little hotel that was so much more nicer and more friendly than the Golden Hotel, with cats staring at me as I ate their breakfast and the rooms were much more cooler, prettier and comfortable!

Thuy said...

I have an American friend that just came back from Vietnam. He told me that he felt like he was being ripped off in Hanoi. He travels to Vietnam twice a year and said that he's staying down south for his next trip. As much as he would like to go to Sapa, he doesn't want to go back up to the northern part of Vietnam again. Too sad.