Vietnam Safety and Scams: Yes, You Will Get Ripped Off, Yes You Should Go Anyway

Vietnam safety

Picture by Lucas Jans/Flickr CC

In Vietnam, safety is not usually a big concern, but the area is widely known for people trying to scam you. Most everyone will overcharge you. There are even different prices on the English menus than on the Vietnamese ones. It’s very easy to feel disrespected from all the people who don’t give back correct change or try to charge you more.

However, Vietnam is a very inexpensive country to travel in. So, if you remember not to take it personally, you can still enjoy your travels in Vietnam.  Yes, it’s an unfortunate way of doing business, but it seems almost every country has their ways to make extra money, and sometimes you just have to look at things as a “tourist tax”, and not let it ruin your view of the country itself. Here are some of the most common travel scams in Vietnam.

Currency Scams

Many people find the currency is very confusing in Vietnam which makes it easy to not get the proper change back or to pay the wrong amount in the first place. Also, many of the prices are quoted in US dollars, but when you pay in Vietnamese dong, things can get quite confusing.  My favorite tip is to carry the fxCheatSheet in your wallet.  You can print it out before you leave, and carrying this will make your transactions much smoother.

Motorcycle Rental Scams

If you plan to travel by bike and are planning on renting a motorcycle in Vietnam, always rent it from the place you are staying. It won’t take long for you to realize that everyone will offer you motorcycle rental as you walk through Vietnam’s streets.  Many people are offering to rent you their personal motorbikes. This is risky, as some people have rented bikes that have already had existing mechanical problems and then were told that they were responsible for repairing the bike when they have returned it.

Others have had the motorcycles they rented stolen by the original owner with a spare key.  Also, don’t rent a bike if you don’t have your Vietnamese driving permit.  If you are stopped by the police without one, they can impound the bike for a month, and you will still be required to pay the rental charges.  If you want more information on getting a motorcycle license in Vietnam, check out, “The Expats Guide To Getting A Vietnamese Motorcycle License”.

Taxi Safety in Vietnam

While Vietnam safety is usually not something you have to be concerned about, one thing you should know that some tourists have experienced has happened in the Hanoi area of Vietnam.  Some drivers pretending to be taxis have picked up passengers, driven them outside the city, and robbed them.  Only use official taxis for your own safety in Vietnam.  Also, always make sure that the taxi you choose is running the meter to avoid being overcharged for your taxi rides.

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