While tourism in Da Nang is no longer considered ‘off the beaten path’, it is by no means ‘touristy.’ There’s still plenty of places you can go where you can meet and interact with real locals, who are genuinely curious about your life, where you’re from and inevitably your marital status and income. And that’s part of the charm of coming here. People in Da Nang aren’t jaded; they’re genuine. Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of psychology that goes on during these ‘genuine’ interactions.
Tourism & Psychology
Simply stated, the Hawthorne Effect tells us that subjects change behavior when they know they are being observed. In the original study, workers supposedly increased their productivity when they knew the boss was watching. This same principle applies outside the workplace as well. Knowing they are being watched changes how people act (and yes, that camera around your neck is a dead giveaway that you are, in fact, ‘watching’).
This is a principle from physics, but I think it applies equally well to tourism. The Observer Effects states that you can never observe something (or someone) perfectly, because any observation makes changes to the environment (or person) you are observing. For example, using a tire pressure gauge always lets a little air out of the tire, thus changing the original tire pressure. Or how the metal of a thermometer changes the water temperature slightly.
Applying these ideas to tourism in Da Nang, it’s easy to see how with relatively few ‘observers’, the ‘object’ hasn’t changed much. People in Da Nang, for the most part, are still very genuine. But a quick trip to Hoi An will show you what can happen when a quaint village becomes a major tourist attraction. It changes the people. Boat drivers shout at you to go for a ride as you walk along the river. Farmers-turned-entrepreneurs follow you around with a board full of sunglasses, cigarettes or trinkets. Smiling old ladies will ask you if you’d like to hold their gánh (baskets, usually of fruit, balanced on either end of a pole) to take a picture, then demand 5 dollars. And none of these things are really BAD per se, but it’s just not really what makes a trip to Vietnam great.
So what? You’re only here for two weeks, what difference does all this make? It’s about authenticity, the best thing that tourism in Da Nang has going for it. Less observers means a more genuine experience. Spend a bit of time and get away from the major tourist traps. You may be surprised how differently people treat you.
Want to check out some authentic local food at some very non-touristy eateries? Try my Da Nang Food Tour!