I’ve always wanted to try Airbnbs and now that I have, how can I ever go back to staying in hotels? This is way, way, way better — much more space and the feeling of home for much less cost. It gets addicting poring over the choices but once you’ve made the choice and dive into it, the rewards are enormous.
The first one we stayed in Ho Chi Minh was in a little alley in the older part of town and even though the roads are noisy, you are completely protected once inside. The space was a celebration of light, of getting light through to the inner areas and of simple and honest construction. Joshua can’t forget the banh mi on the street corner down the road and I can’t forget the pho.
The second one was in Nha Trang, a bit off the central area. The unit was on the 35th floor of a tower block and it was a bit inconvenient going up and down because there were too many people and it made me yearn for being in a low building like the first bnb. The reason I chose this over the others was rather silly but practical. It was because it had Netflix! This location had another unexpected advantage: the beach is quieter and less populated than the longer stretch of sand Nha Trang is famous for.
The third was back in Ho Chi Minh but this time we picked a spot near where James lived which is where a lot of expats are concentrated where there are a number of International Schools. Modern areas meet the older parts of town in a healthy jumble. The owner of this Airbnb enjoyed adding touches of home that even the WiFi password, “welcomehomemydear” makes you feel exactly that way.
Three Airbnbs, two nights each, allowed us to vegetate, chillax, do a good share of study and work in the comforts of homes that don’t make you feel like a total stranger in a strange land at all.
After writing that, we went to the airport where too belatedly, I realized rather sheepishly that 1:35 does not mean PM but AM. I needed to scrounge for a fourth Airbnb and if the first three were a walk in the park, the fourth one was anything but — giving me more lessons in an already learning-laden trip. The owner of the condominium unit was from Korea and because I had booked on the same day, the cleaners arrived late so the owner did not know on the ground what was happening. I kept messaging him and he assured me everything was okay when it was not. Anyway, long story short, there is the side of Airbnb that may not be as idyllic and it’s as business-driven as any. They seem to raise prices on weekend and the more you search like other algorithm maximizing platforms.
Still, adventures into the unknown are beset with uncertainty and the more you experience, the better it is for your learning curve. The lesson learned in this case is — it’s better to book in advance when it’s Airbnb. However, when you do need the Airbnb right away, be careful of owners who have multiple units in the same building because there might be a mix-up and be ready to accept that it might not be cleaned up on time.
Still would choose Airbnbs over hotels if given the option.