As an African American male traveling alone through Vietnam I thought I’d have a rough time.
But I could not be more pleasantly surprised. Initially people are wary, but s single interaction make them your best friends.
Male, female and especially kids are extremely friendly and the service rivals and exceeds that of other neighboring countries.
i just took the night train from Saigon to Hue and by the time I got to Hue, even though I and my roommates did not understand a word of each other, we shook hands - a pregnant lady and two older men - all strangers to each other and knew that if we came across each other again everyone would remember.
From the smallest town to the biggest city, expect to make friends and just be accepted no matter who your are.
The atmosphere is unhurried, like the bikes on the street. It’s like a symphony of everyone just moving together in harmony. I’m highly impressed on this my first visit. I’ll be back again many more times in the future.
UPDATE - June 7, 2019
In Vietnam again. This time in Ha Noi. Even more friendly than HCMC. This time I’m traveling the country with my 15 year old daughter. Hospitality in the north is very very good and many people just approached us to welcome us to the city without needing anything.
One downside is that we did get scammed (a small one) but it was so nice that we did not realize that it was a scam until it was over! But you live and learn.
As an experience we did take the train from Hanoi to Saigon (33 hours) and the staff on the train took extra special care of us - not to mention our fellow passengers too!
I will be attempting to spend a year here beginning next year because of all of this.