ABSTRACT: Prior to 1990, Vietnam did not have a resettlement programme for situations where the state appropriated land for its own interests. Vietnam is now revising its resettlement policies to meet international standards. Drawing on interviews, ethnographic research and government documents, this paper compares the Hoa Binh (constructed between 1979 and 1994) and Son La dams (formally under construction since 2005) to seek answers to the following questions: How have resettlement policies evolved over time? How have resettlement programmes been implemented in Vietnam? The comparison between a dam built in 1970s-80s and one now under construction shows that the improvements in policy may bring limited improvements in dam development planning and practices to Vietnam.