Unusual time in Nha Trang The Russians have landed

Buss full of Russian tourists
Bus full of Russian tourists

This is a very unusual time in Nha Trang and perhaps other areas in Vietnam. I do not know what it is but there are currently very few travelers exception of Russians in town. I and other business owners are absolutely stumped as to what is going on. It is usually a slower time of year but not this slow. Perhaps it is a fear that many of us currently have that is the cause. Please take into consideration that the following is the opinions of local expats and Vietnamese business owners that work in the tourism industry and may be way off the mark…… but also maybe bang on. You decide. Firstly the sad facts that have affected me….

For years I have worked to develop tours that take people to places where no others go. It has been a very successful journey and I have had a blast showing people what I love about this country. One untouched place was a small hill tribe still living in primitive conditions in stilted houses. I have taken people there for years and only once seen another Easy Rider there. About 6 months back I dropped off my customers to walk through the village. As a normal part of my strategy, I drive my big louder motorcycle ahead to let all the natives and oodles of kids know that foreigners were walking through town. Until now it has always been a big thrill for

At least English get equal size
At least English get equal size

them……. But not today. Huh?? What the heck???? The children were all hiding. I did not understand but then I rounded a bend to drive to my waiting point and saw a large group of tourists all walking together. Oh My God!! The villagers were scared and hiding in their long houses. As I approach the crowd, I look to see locals that knew the sound of my bike peek out the window and wave to me. What a shame. I passed and heard the group speaking French. Ok… I think to myself, It must be a rare thing that just happened. This was a first occurrence and I discussed the situation with my riders. How will this affect my tours? I thought is just a freak event and would not happen often when we saw a small bus operated by a Turkish Tour Company that specializes catering to Russian clients came to pick them up…. Oh Oh….. Since that occurrence, there have been a number of large groups walking through the village. The result has always been the same. The villagers are cowering in their houses while the group gets an experience of what the village is not like. It seems even the farm animals hide from them. Sadly, I will no longer take visitors there and the community will probably transform into another place with endless stalls to buy handicrafts imported from India and China. Last week I was travelling the back roads to Tuy Hoa when I encountered the same tour company taking a group to this non touristy town. I talked with a restaurant owner in Tuy Hoa about it. Originally he was looking forward to the tourists coming as he has the only western food in town but now is disappointed in that they have everything pre arranged none of the local businesses are getting any spin off. The same thing has happened in Dalat. I arrive in local Dalat attractions to see 3 or 4 – 45 seat Tourist busses overwhelming attractions. Even at these touristy attractions, the results seem to be the same… The

My friend at Rafting Pro is already on board
My friend at Rafting Pro is already on board

local population is intimidated by the large groups of leery travelers. I sit talking with other local Vietnam tour guides and company reps and it is all the same song………. This company is affecting their business. This is a bit of what I have been experiencing. These tourists have paid this large company in advance for a package price and very little of the money goes towards the local businesses. I was told that this company was the one that opened charter air service between Moscow and Siberia to Nha Trang and Danang. There has always been a Russian presence in Vietnam, especially in the Mui Ne area, but about 10 months ago, the street signage in the tourist area changed from predominantly English that is now taught as a second language to Russian.

The opinions and conjecture that I am hearing is that this situation may be hurting tourism for central Vietnam as many people still have issues and prejudices when it comes to Russians. I do not agree with them but I can understand. I have met some very nice Russian people and look forward to them staying with us, however, I can see people being uncomfortable. I have been told that in Russian culture that a person portrays weakness if always smiling, therefore most walk with straight faces. Even if they are the most gentle of people, it may not look that way and it is partly this that has so many people wondering if it is their presence that is affecting the lack of other tourists here at this time. Is this the

Dam tourist market with no tourists
Dam tourist market with no tourists

reason? I do not know…. I hope not. It is true that the local guides, transportation, and other tourism related business are not benefiting from the tourists in town at the moment. The easy riders are mostly on their regular spots with no work because most the people in town are on a pre-arranged trip. There is the general attitude that these tourists are cheap but I suspect it is more advice of their guides that have caused them to be wary of purchasing anything.  In a country where foreign tour guides are not allowed, this Turkish tour company seems to be an exception. That chokes me a bit as I have tried for the same right and have been denied.

Regardless the reason for the tourism business in Nha Trang being so slow the last couple of months, it will be up to all of us to adapt. This company has just as much right to operate here as anyone else. I only hope it operates as a fair player. I have met the Regional Manager and he seemed a nice fellow. One of my friends in the business has already converted sales brochures and marketing strategy to Russian and has benefited from it…. Others will have to follow. It does not matter where a person is from…. They still have to eat and be entertained. My case is different in that I do not operate in tourist areas where most the others do. All of my customers find my services through the internet looking for exactly what I offer and often I will get an email from people who are coming to town and want to hire me.  If it is indeed true that people are staying away, I guess I will have to make my services a bit easier to find. Until now, I have kept this blog separate from business and only mentioned it is part of the ongoing story, but now that will change. I will be adding a new post with a permalink to my business interests.

Post navigation


Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

16 thoughts on “Unusual time in Nha Trang The Russians have landed

  1. Spent 5 days in nha trang after 3 weeks in saigon , mui ne , hanoi , dong hoi and caves around there , hue, danang and then nhatrang and back to saigon , russen deserve to be charged extra on account of their rudeness , they cant even say CAM ON or tam biet

    Nhatrang locals were friendly and the barbeques are amazing , just look where locals eat and grills , i liked the beach and po ngar and surrounding area , amazing small side streets with many tasty treats near po ngar , follow your nose and avoid crylic and ugly men 😉

    1. North of the river is the best of Nha Trang. I woyld not recommend a person stay in the backpack area unless the need to be close to bars, hamburgers, and husslers.

  2. How can you take tourists to undeveloped hill towns/locales and not expect word to get around?

    As for Russians, they’re grim lot and tend to drink too much which lends itself to a whole other set of issues Vietnamese have to deal with.

  3. I have been visiting and living in Nha Trang for the past 16 years, and sadly you guys need to accept the fact that times change, Nha Trang as I/we knew it has died and sadly with newer areas opening up in Asia and the Sub continent for Backpackers and more user friendly places available elsewhere for other tourists (ie minus the Russians) Its time to just let go, nothing local tour operators are going to be able to do will change the way things are now. So rather then getting upset with it, maybe its time to move on.

    1. I personaly do not have problems with Russians, however, very gew have ever used my services. You are correct. Adapt or die. What is really bugging me is that locals are starting to try to chatge me rediculously high prices thinking I am Russian. I dislike anybody getting unfairly charged

  4. Its not hard to figure out. If you have manners, are polite and friendly you will avoid the Russians go elsewhere. Vacations are supposed to be fun and unfortunately their nature sucks the fun and class out out of most places they go.

    I was looking forward to a holiday in Nga Trang until my research showed the high Russian density.

    Tooany of any group is a provlem. Eliminating the charters and making everyone make their own accomodatiins wouldhelp ppromote a Bette balance. Unfortunaly greed and a lack of understanding of culture clashes gets in the way.

    1. I agree about many not liking the changes but NT is still one of the better places to visit if you experience the areas away from the main tourist area.

      1. Hi Owee, if there is any private/international hospital in NT would you be able to give me the full details?

        much appreciated


  5. Hi was hoping to visit Dalat and Nha Trang this week but after spending a few months in Thailand almost everywhere I go is full of Russians and those Pegas tour buses. Really wanted to see the beautiful scenery on offer in the area but cannot face spending anymore time surrounded by these tours. There’s nothing wrong with them, just the volume. Having a good mix of independent travellers is more healthy. Sounds like nha trang is Vietnam’s answer to Pattaya.

    1. Pattaya? Well not really. A person can still see a beautiful side of Nha Trang away from the crowds but you have to venture to my side of town. I will be in Dalat in a few days expecting to see busloads of Russians visiting the waterfalls. This is only a recent thing. Even some of my tours are being affected as I am all about not even seeing other foreigners.

  6. Hello!
    I’m russian 🙂 I’ve been to Vietnam in March 2013.
    Nha Trang seemed to me overcrowded with russian tourists.
    Not Mui Ne … in Mui Ne you can see lots of russian kiters. They are actually not usual “stereotyped russian tourists” with bottle of vodka in their pocket. Most of them know how to behave 🙂
    A simple thing – now we have very cheap package tours from Moscow to Nha Trang & Phan tiet. You can buy B&B + flight for 10 nights only for 700$.

    So in Mui Ne you can see so called “independent tourists” who didn’t buy a package tour, but only air tickets.

    We’ve been in Phu Quoc, Nha Trang & Mui Ne.
    Nha Trang was the place like Thiland … with lots of rude russians who don’t know how to behave …

    1. I am aware that Pegas tours has hit Nha Trang in a big way. In the past, all the Russian tourists I hosted were very nice. The problem with the current trend is that as you point ou, an inexpensive tour can be purchased. It is the tour company that is benefiting from the traveler, not the local economy it seems. I guess restaraunts will do ok but the hotels, tour venues, attraction, and even souveneir shops are partnered with the system. There is a local consensus that many North American and European travelers are becoming hesitant to visit Nha Trang due to the sudden changes. (this only started in the last year) Last year I might have seen only 1 or 2 big white busses in town. Now I cannot go anywhere without seeing dozens of them every day. Hopefully other tourists from abroad will return

  7. Ga day Owee
    I was just wondering if you might be able to help me with a bit of info, I’m coming back to Vietnam again for my 5th trip in a couple of weeks and I had seen some info on a group of Islands down out from Rach Gia called Nam Du and was interested in going out to visit them. Have you heard anything about these islands and how hard would it be to go out there I have read that there are boats that leave from Rach Gia daily. Any info would be a big help.
    Cheers Dave.
    P.S I noticed last October how all the signage was in Russian in Mui Ne and found that very strange till we realised that there was a very large population of Russian tourists. Just hope Vietnam is not heading the same way as Thailand.

    1. I wish I could help. I was not even aware of them. I will be with friend… the owner of V’Explore travel in a week or so. I will ask him if he is aware of anything… Same as Thailand??????? Gawdddd I hope not

Leave a Reply to Robin Cancel reply