So far we are happy with Vietnam.
First comparisons with China: there are much less people, they are poorer and there is a much smaller amount of rich people (mainly counting the cars and their sizes).
Then things that made us “happy” – people understand a “no, thanks” and leave us; people do not scream to each other while chatting.
Also, I find Vietnam cities much more bearable than Chinese. Probably due to the french influence, roads are much narrower; There is a huge bunch of motorcycles and is almost impossible to walk on the sidewalk full of parked motorbikes, food sellers and people eating in improvised canteens (with kindergarten sized plastic tables and chairs). But walking on the road is ok, once you trust the motorbikes and bicycles will not hit you.
We are now in Hue, which was once an imperial city. It is very green with many parks surrounding the river with small terraces with local people drinking coffee or juices. There is a ‘citadel’, where the emperors used to live which was done by the same architect as the Beijing’s forbidden city. Here fortunately there were very few tourists and no screaming Chinese tour guides, so we could stroll and enjoy the peaceful place for couple hours.
The trains so far have been nice, no more people than places and with delays not bigger than 10minutes. They are old and slow (average of 50km/h) but the soft seats are comfortable and they serve nice food on board. The only annoying part are the televisions a bit laud, but still acceptable.