Traffic in the Old Quarter of Hanoi
Traffic in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Dangers & Annoyances in Vietnam

While claimed among the safest countries in the World for travelers, there are still dangers and annoyances that you may want to pay attention to when traveling on holidays in Vietnam.

Begging & Postcard/Souvenir - Selling
Begging is not a common practice in Vietnam. Still you'll encounter some on the streets of cities like Ha Noi or Sai Gon, since Vietnam is a country with a lot of disabled people and it doesn't really have a proper social welfare system.

Most beggars are not that aggressive, but they can be very persistent sometimes. At times, you'll see them as amputees or disabled, or with a needy small child/baby. Some of the beggars really need your help, some just pretend to need your help. If begging is a profitable business, then you'll see more and more beggars whereever you travel and you help to make foreign tourists targets for the beggars.

Many ruthless even use child/baby beggars to make money from tourists: Say, you give money to the child/baby, only a meagre part stays with them; the big part goes to the boss. Doesn't matter how much money you give the beggars, you are not going to change their life; believe it or not, the next day you come back, they'll still be beggars chasing you around. It's recommended that you buy some food/cakes for the disabled/child/baby and never give them money.

Souvenir/Postcard-selling boys and girls are more encountered than beggars and they are very persistent if not aggressive sometimes. The recomended practice is to say "No" (or "Khong" in Vietnamese) and keep doing your job. Or otherwise try to sell something back to them or try to befriend to distract them from focusing on their job.

The Vietnamese authority has done all possible methods for stopping people from hassling foreign tourists. In cities there are people dressed in normal clothes. If they catch any one selling things to or begging fofeign tourists, they'll be caught and brought to the local police station. The first time caught, they'll be warned; the second time caught, they'll be sent to a so called "social welfare center" for 02 months; the 3rd time caught, they'll be sent away for 6 months. This definitely helps to improve the situation. Nowadays the travellers in Vietnam enjoy a much better peace touring the tourist areas in Ha Noi, Hue, Hoi An or Sai Gon.

Scams
Basically scams to foreign travellers involves taxi/motorbike-taxi or Xich-Lo (rickshaw) drivers. Many of them don't speak good English or pretend not to speak English. Before you hop onto the taxi/vehicle then it's one price, when you pay for the trip, it's another price. To avoid all troubles from this, use the metered taxis only.
Some taxis with fraudulent meter may show you a shock after the trip, so it is wise to use well-known brands only: Mai Linh, Vinasun, Taxi Group (Hanoi Taxi), Noi Bai Airport.

In the case you have to use a taxi of another brand, then watch the meter closely as you travel. If the meter goes abnormally, then you had better jump out of the taxi immediately. In the case that you only find out the possible fraud with the meter after the trip, and that you have to pay a hefty amount for a trip within the city, then try to get the driver to take you to your hotel and call the police, or write down the plate number of the taxi and report it to the police. Many fraudulent taxi drivers and rickshaw drivers in Hanoi have been in big trouble for cheating on tourists.

For long distances such as from the city to the airport, make it clear who'll pay for the road tolls. It's recommended to carry a note and a pen with you and write the prices down before hopping onto the vehicle.

Arriving at an airport, make sure prices are clear before you get into the taxi. It's reported that some ruthless taxi drivers know your name from the cheap hotel you've booked with and they'd offer discounted or complimentary ride to town. In the middle of nowhere you'll pay a hefty amount for the transfer otherwise you'll have to get off the taxi and get stranded there.

When you go to local restaurants, be sure the menus have prices. Without prices it's quite possible that you get a shock seeing the bills. This happens quite often even to the locals.

Going to bars at night, pay close attentions to free drinks! It happened to some travellers who enjoyed "free wine" from a bar in Nha Trang only to find out next morning that they'd been drugged the previous night. Please always keep it clear in mind that nothing is free!

Booking a tour from a cafe may make you a victim of scams. The reason is that there're hard competitions among the cafes to get the backpacker clients. Prices go down to the point that there's no profit, if not a loss. The result is that food quality goes down, accommodation quality goes down, bus quality goes down...It's no surprise if the bus get broken down and the passengers get stranded for a few hours; or bus with open-air only; or that the air-conditioner in your room stops working in the middle of the night; or the food doesn't make you feel alright after the meals...

Keep it clear in mind that all hotels have at least an extra key to your room and your belongings are dependent on the room keeper's/hotel owner's honesty. Some cheap hotels may lack good people and some may want to make quick money. Hotels are not responsible for your belongings unless they are declared and deposited when you check in. Be sure you know what you are booking before a tour!

Hanoi
If you are a victim of a scam in Hanoi, then you can report the scam to and request for help from Hanoi Tourism Department:

  • No. 47 Hang Dau Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • Hotline (24/7): 043 926 1515 and 0946 791 955.


Quang Binh Province

  • (052) 3833399, (052) 3503399.

Quang Ngai Province
Dial 08887.00008 and an extension number:
- For English 111
- For urgent support 112
- Report security issues 113
- Report tourist service issues 118

Ho Chi Minh City
If you are in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), then you can contact one of the following hotline numbers:

  • Criminal police:                                       08.38.387.200
  • Traffic and Transport Inspectors:               08.38.300.701
  • Tourist assistants:                                    08.39.250.000
  • Tourism Department:                                08.38.234.056

+ Criminal police for cases related to breaking security and public disorders, violating tourist's properties and well-beings.
+ Traffic and Transport Inspectors for cases related to transport scams, losses of belongings in taxis,..
+ Tourism Department & Tourist assistants for assisting tourists in reporting scams and annoyances.

Khanh Hoa Province (or Nha Trang City)
If you are in Khanh Hoa Province (or Nha Trang City) and need urgent assistance, the hotliine numbers are
Visitor support center    058.3528000 – 0947528000

Traffic Accidents
You may have heard a lot about the traffic in Vietnam before arriving in the country, the reality is still beyond your expectation when you weave your way among thousands of mopeds and motorbikes blowing up their horns. Honking a horn means that they are coming and that you are in their way, but so many keep honking their horns at once informing you that you are in their ways! What should you do then? As a local you'd ignore it and keep walking at your own pace confidently. Keep moving slowly, carefully and confidently while in Vietnam!

If you happen to have a reckless driver while touring it's better to ask him to slow down. Else, call his travel agent or tour operator or get off the bus. As long as you are safe, it's never too late to travel to certain destinations. Be sure to be safe and sound, always!

 

Saigon Vietnam
Pay close attention when attending the traffic in Vietnam! If you want to cross the road, do it slowly and decisively forward!

Theft & Street Crimes
Serious crimes in Vietnam are not as rampant as in many other countries. Still it's never too much to use your common sense while traveling in this country. There are still pickpockets at train stations or crowded places in the country. Be aware of drive-by snatchers while in Saigon. Never have your belongings such as cameras, wallets, bags dangling loosely when traveling. Never swim with your belongings on the beach without someone reliable to watch them.

It may happen that you get off the train early in the  morning and some stranger comes up, hugs and kisses and leaves you... and so does your money.

Some advice to keep you from situations:

Some advice to keep you from situations:
1. Never carry too much cash, jewelry on you while traveling: Most of your belongings should be put to the room safe or deposited at the reception of your hotel. Cash should be just enough for your daily expenditure. Your passport is needed if you stay overnight at another place or when you cash money from your credit card/traveller's cheques at a bank counter. No need for credit card if you intend to use ATMs to withdraw money.

2. Travel with a partner. This is especially useful if you get sick, or at train stations, or on beaches.

3. Never accept free food/drinks/cigarette from a stranger.

4. Acquiring insurance for your belongings on holidays overseas. In the worst case that you have them lost or broken, your tour guide may help you to have certification from his/her travel agency or tour operator or from the local police.

Violence
Violence is not common among the Vietnamese, especially for you a foreign traveler. Still it's recommended you are ready with a big smile if you run into situations with the local boys at bars or in the streets. No one wants to loose face and bearing a smile doesn't make anyone loose face. In fact keep smiling is the best way to get out of situations in Vietnam.