I just came back from a quick trip to Vietnam. The trip to Vietnam from my abode in Kunming was about the same schlepp as from Chicago to Charlevoix,  Michigan.


There aren’t any McDonald’s to stop at along the way,  but a lot of fun sights that made this get-away memorable as well as reasonable.



The entire adventure costing under two hundred bucks. That includes train, hotel, a via, and lots of pho that was phucking hot.


The hotel was $25 a night, and that’s after the upgrade. Which, comes to the point of this post.  When traveling in the country with just one star on the flag, keep in mind the hotels might just have one star as well.


Don’t pay the extra two dollars for the promoted upgrade at Agoda.

One star is as good as it gets.

No matter what the website promises, if you visit a city that doesn’t have a major airport, don’t expect those amenities.  Wifi is spotty, maybe one bar in the hotel lobby at best. Toilet paper might not be included, nor towels or free drinking water. Bathrooms– while clean– will be one small room that’s both a shower and a toilet, with hot water on a timer on your hot water. Beds will be slightly softer than the ground. If TV is included, you’ll only get a handful of channels, mostly in languages you don’t understand.  And of course, there will be bugs outside your room the size of hot wheels and just as fast.


But remember…you’re in the jungles of Vietnam on your Amazing Race fantasy trip… not Beverly Hills.


So don’t be bummed if there’s not a mint on your pillow of if outdoor seating at a restaurant looks like this.


While the mattress may be smaller than your yoga mat at a one star hotel, the room is most likely safe. And, there will be local tour guides everywhere who’ll want to show you around.


But, some one-star hotels might be fire traps.


In Hong Kong, I stayed in one of the countless hotels located in the Chungking Mansion. While the cropped pictures at the website make it look like a deal, the hotel was the traveler’s equivalent of an Indonesian sweat shop. The slightly sleezy building was a labyrinth of hotels, so many, that you had to wait in a line to board the elevator. And the rooms were small: about the size of a sleeping cabin on a train.


While I didn’t fear something would get stolen, I fear that I’d roast like a marshmallow if the place went up in flames.


I don’t think these are marshmallows…

So go for the one star hotel. At least you won’t be disappointed that you paid too much.

Here are some pix of my five star memory  in Sapa.

Deng Hang Pho Temple.




Business Savvy Women.


Drive thru.


New Construction!


Vietnamese Breakfast Burrito.


No fudge shops here, but lots of  locals selling ooey -gooey- bees -still-swimming- in -it honey.


Sunday at the Church.


The local Walgreens.




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