Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) is an important component of the Paris Agreement. Inclusive decision making is essential to ensure REDD outcomes, but there is limited anecdotal and empirical evidence demonstrating that stakeholder participation in REDD+ decision making has improved over time. This paper presents an analysis of the Vietnamese government’s claim that stakeholder participation in REDD+ had been improved over the course of 2011–2019, specifically focusing on various actors’ perceptions of their level of interest, engagement and influence in REDD+ policy events. Findings show that the country’s legal framework on REDD+ demonstrated Vietnam’s political commitment to improve inclusive decision making, and initial effort was made to provide political space for actors to engage in REDD+ decision making. However, momentum has been lost over time. This suggests that understanding the political context, addressing underlying power dynamics in the existing government regime, building up coalitions for change among political elites and civil society, and fostering sustainable political will and commitment are all essential to ensuring inclusive REDD+ decision making in Vietnam.