In 2005, Vietnam was named one of the world's safest countries by Aon, a large insurance broker. In the past, Vietnam was considered an off-beat alternative to Thailand, but as more travelers discover the charms of Southeast Asia, it is becoming a popular destination in its own right.
Viet Value Travel, a tour provider specializing in Vietnam, says that "women and independent travelers have found it relatively hassle-free and easy to travel throughout the country." As more English-speaking tourists explore the country, its tourism infrastructure has become more developed. Vietnam tourism was the topic of a BBC News article in which Claire Boobbyer, a writer for Footprints Travel Guides, says "[The Vietnamese] have a good background in the service industry, and they know what service means ... There is a good range of services for tourists, from high-class hotels to backpacker's hostels. And I was amazed for what you could get on a budget."
Susan Cortell of Montauk, New York, traveled to Vietnam in May on a Gutsy Women Travel tour (in conjunction with Women's Sacred Travel tours) that focused on sightseeing and shopping, and included emphasis on wellness (massage) and the metaphysical (a Buddhist cleansing ceremony).
When asked about her experiences in Vietnam, Cortell says "I loved Vietnam ... I not only felt safe there, but very, very welcomed. Especially in Hanoi and Hoi An." Cortell also notes that she appreciated how far her dollars went in Vietnam. She remembers paying $3 per person for a three-course dinner in Hoi An, and buying silk scarves for less than $5. In fact, Cortell says "a group of us want to go back just for the shopping, as the savings will pay for the trip."