Vietnam is a generally safe country to travel in. The police keep a pretty tight grip on social order and there are few reports about muggings, robberies or sexual assaults. There are some scams and hassles in big cities like Hanoi, HCMC and Nha Trang, so be careful anyway. Be particularly wary if you’re travelling on two wheels on Vietnam’s anarchic roads – traffic accident rates are high and driving standards are pretty appalling.
Here below, some advices:
1 – Prepare the papers before leaving
Before leaving, it is strongly recommended to make photocopies of all your sensitive parts (valid and legible): passport, ID card, bank card … or scan them and put them on a USB key. It is better to leave these documents in a small safe at your hotel if it is not necessary to carry them with you.
You can ultimately have a copy of the passport on you. For greater reliability, you can scan your passport and store it in your e-mail address. So, you can access it at any time because there is an Internet connection in Vietnam present in every corner.
2 – The theft in Vietnam
Vietnam is one of the ten safest places. However, we can determine the offenses that are to be feared. This is the case for thieves that occur in shopping centers, markets, hotel rooms or luggage. Popular objects of thieves are cell phones, cameras, purses or money. Violent crimes – looting or theft are very rare.
So as not to be coveted, it is advisable not to display jewelry, cameras or valuables, and even bags slung! The well-honed rogue techniques are superior to your ingenuity: shamelessly, they will simply cut the strap with sharp tools.
In case of theft of valuables, money or documents, you must contact the police for help you need for the recovery of documents at the embassy. If you want to know the location of the nearest police, you can get the information to a hotel, passers-by or simply ask the police officer down the street.
3 – The solicitations
The main problem that is found throughout the country are the small thieves and the solicitations of the local population. Merchants and citizens are trying to sell something “speculative price”, with stubbornness, and in the most unexpected places. Even when you do not know, some of them will do their best to get your attention by pulling your shirt or nudging you. They are generally harmless, but you will see them almost everywhere in the city. Fraud is not uncommon either. In fact, you may be asked for money for services or goods that you did not ask for, or to mislead you during the exchange.
4 – Be carreful with your money!
Do not leave money or valuables in the same place as paper and airline tickets. If you lose a bag without money that contains the papers, you will have a better chance of finding it. Try to store them in the locker of your hotel.
In any case, avoid carrying large sums of money and documents, especially when visiting busy places or markets.
Make purchases or exchanges only in Vietnamese banks or exchange offices. You are not advised to illegally change your currency on the black market, in the street, … where scams are numerous and especially with trafficking of fake coins. Always make a small amount for your small purchases. Also check your currency to avoid counterfeits.
Always keep in mind that the Vietnamese language is quite complex and has a lot of words. Even the names of certain places or streets, are pronounced in two or three variants. When traveling around the city, ask the hotel staff to arrange a taxi for you. For a good trip, it is recommended to register the different places you want to discover to make you understand by the driver. Memorize the taxi number or take the taxi card if you have forgotten any personal items in the car.
Prepare a personal lexicon with your key phrases like “I would like to go to …”, “Where are the toilets?” to communicate with the local population.
6 – Scam
Scams are common in this country but are not inevitable! Like everywhere in the world, there are not only benevolent Vietnamese. Some behind their broad smile will not hesitate to rush into the fault when they see one. Be careful!
The scams that usually affect tourists are the taxi driver who traffics his meter, a hotel that suddenly inflates prices, the price of parking that fly, the Spa where you start the massage and add small more. Nothing serious in itself but you will have to be patient to get what you want.
Always negotiate and compare prices. The sellers will not hesitate to make you pay x times more than the normal price for this or that object. Whether in a shop, in a restaurant, in the street and according to your head, we will not hesitate to charge you double or triple the true value of the merchandise. Find out about the real cost of goods and merchandise, see what the locals pay, and always talk about the price before taking out your currency.
Always take pictures of your scooter in front of your renter and test the basic elements (brakes, tires, meter)! It makes him want to tell you that you have scratched the right wing!