We hope you enjoy this fascinating post from guest blogger Ali Rennoll!
— Eric Poole
Vietnam has emerged from the shadows of an oppressive past to become a rising star in the LGBT tourism world. According to Taiwan news outlet TTR Weekly, Vietnam has surged up the LGBT-friendly tourism rankings to take on a +30 ranking, reflecting a country that, while still marked by some discriminatory legislation, has made efforts to liberalize itself with regards to people who identify as LGBT. Today, much of the country is safe for people identifying as LGBT, and as a positive consequence, there are few better areas of the country to visit than its rural heartlands.
Why the heartlands?
There are two main reasons why visiting the more rural parts of Vietnam is a good move. Firstly, the rural areas of Vietnam are absolutely beautiful and harbor some of the most unique individual cultures to be found anywhere. Combined with this natural beauty is a new level of development, that, according to Nhan Dan online, is seeing the sheltered regions of the country benefit from investment, reducing poverty and creating truly enrapturing places to visit.
Secondly, the heartlands of Vietnam are easy and affordable to reach. Motorbiking is a common past time of tourists and locals alike, and for good reason; the best Vietnam motorbike routes take you through gorgeous rural areas and stunning sights, all with minimum baggage and maximum room to maneuver. The Hai Van Pass and its surrounds is one great example.
Another popular form of travel through this region is via a 5-star cruise down the Mekong. River cruise ships like the luxurious Mekong Jewel make for a refined way to see Vietnam as it has been lived for centuries.
Away from the cities
The cities of Vietnam are a must-visit, but perhaps not to stay in for extended periods. According to Vietnam News, laws continue to be used to selectively discriminate, including against LGBT people; outside of parades like Pride, the government are notorious for perceiving any sort of dissidence as speaking out against their authority, and this extends to those advocating for LGBT rights. As often outlined by the US State Department, be careful not to get caught up in any activism, and stay away from large gatherings or potentially controversial situation.
Away from the potential confusion over legal rights battles, there is a positive LGBT culture in Vietnam that makes it a pleasant place to visit. Most recently, the South China Morning Post reported that the country had legally recognized transgendered people. Flaws in the legislation are present, and putting it into the state legislature has been fraught with difficulties. Progress remains, however, and this is creating opportunities for LGBT tourism. According to Culture Trip, a number of city spots have opened up specifically to cater to that now more open LGBT community. Highlights include party venue THI Bar, Republic Lounge and the sparkling new Avenue Cafe, all in frequent tourist landing spot Ho Chi Minh city.
(Ho Chi Minh City)
Vietnam is one of the most up-and-coming locations for LGBT tourism in the east. Joining other progressive countries, it marries together wonderful sights with a more liberal culture that provides a unique way for people who identify as LGBT to enjoy tourism and the company of the city. Be wary of gatherings and protests, and you’ll be able to enjoy the country as it was meant to be enjoyed.