Vietnam: Scams to Avoid & Safety
Emergency lines are: 113 for police, 115 for fire, and 114 for ambulance.
Vietnam is a favourite amongst travellers to SE Asia, its friendly locals, stunning scenery and beautiful bays make it an awesome place to visit and explore. However as with any location popular with tourists there are always those who are looking to make a quick buck and Vietnam is no exception. Below we’ve listed some of the scams and dangers you could come across but read up on surrounding countries too as scams can spread fast!
Secure bags and other belongings when travelling, thieves who usually work in groups will snatch bags anywhere an opportunity exists; from a moving tuk tuk, cyclist’s basket or right from your hands. Leave valuables in your hotel safe or in a secured back pack.
The chance of being short changed is very high, more than in most countries due to high denominations and very similar looking notes. A seller could quote a price as “five” which can mean either 5,000₫ or $5usd which is quite a difference. Many prices are quoted in $usd, you’ll be able to pay in $usd or ₫vnd but always confirm the price in the currency you’re paying.
If a price is listed in $usd but you want to pay in ₫vnd or the other way round, check the exchange rate given for the conversion it’s often appalling, though it’s not worth moaning on small transactions. Carry a small cheap calculator to help, particularly when the seller speaks little English.
Fake War Relics
Found in tourist areas and markets in Vietnam and Cambodia, you can get all sorts of war memorabilia which is rarely authentic. Sellers use drills to make ‘gunshots’ in surplus military equipment and etch replica war time zippo lighters.
When asking a driver to take you somewhere, try to give the address as well as the name of the establishment, and keep an eye on a map or road signs. Copycats can use the same names as reputable establishments, they also pay drivers commission to bring them unsuspecting tourists. You might not realise at first, but lesser food quality and service will make you suspicious.
Tourist Information Offices
Instead of impartial travel information, government run tourist offices in Vietnam are like any other profit driven travel agency, who encourage booking tour packages and spending as if they were receiving commission. Not so much a scam but misleading all the same.
Pauper Pen Pals
Long term type of scam which can go on for years, usually targeting lone males. Victims meet a friendly Vietnamese person who after one or two conversations will want to exchange email addresses to keep in touch. The scammer will keep in contact with targets for weeks even months, once comfortable they’ll start requesting money, many sob stories are used and are rarely true so don’t send anything.
Moto and Taxi Drivers in Vietnam
Always ask if the driver is on a meter before getting in a taxi or if taking a ride in a tuk tuk or moto taxi, agree on a price before getting in, once the driver has set off you’re snared and have lost any bargaining power. Check if the price stated is a total or per person and never pay a fare upfront. Taxi drivers also have a habit of rounding up fares without telling you.
Dodgy drivers pretending to be taxis threaten to leave tourists in rough or remote areas unless they hand over money. Use the official taxis they are easily identifiable; Mai Linh and Vinasun are well known, reliable taxi companies.
Extra Luggage Fees
A bus or train employee will demand a fee regarding your luggage. Normal or large in size, no luggage should attract extra fees unless it’s an additional bag, even then it’s rare. A simple con, stand up for yourself and insist there is no fee.
Drug & rob
This can happen anywhere in the world, when travelling by bus, train or taxi never accept food or drink from a fellow passenger, no matter how kind and honest they might seem, as there is a chance you’ll be drugged then robbed. Not such a problem in groups and it is a rarity.