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Exploring the streets of Vietnam you are likely to see signs of poverty such as people begging in the streets or children pushing you to give them money or buy items from them.
The kids on the streets of Vietnam do need help, but keep in mind that giving them money isn't the best option as often the child is being exploited by an adult. The majority of the time any money, or item that has selling value, will not go to the child and often they are not attending school as a result of this exploitation. Consider donating money or required items to organisations which help lift locals out of poverty or volunteering your time.
Crime in Vietnam is low, but it's best to keep it on your radar just like anywhere else you travel. Don't leave your bag dangling from your body, as the infamous “Saigon Cowboys“ love the drive-by snatch. Keep valuables in your hotel safe so if you do come across a snatcher, you can just let your bag go and head to the markets for a new one. Don't try to hang onto your bag or you may risk being dragged or injured.
Some children in the streets of Vietnam, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are adorable but sneaky. They're able to lift wallets, cameras, and passports without effort. While talking to one, keep an eye on the other.
When a hotel becomes popular, others actually spring up with the exact same name in hopes of stealing business. Confirm the address of your hotel, rather than just giving the taxi driver a name.
One of the most common scams visitors encounter is the oldest in the book. If a taxi driver tells you the hotel you are going to has closed down or is full, make sure you are taken there anyway. Taxi drivers attempt to take travelers to friends or family-run accommodations, where they will receive a commission for their efforts. This scam is huge in Hanoi, where the streets are confusing, and you just want to rest away from the noise.
Hotels in Vietnam have been known to double rates upon checkout by claiming that the price quoted was per person, rather than per night. Ensure you confirm rates and payment upon arrival. Better still, book and pay in full before arriving.
Motorbike rentals where the owner steals back the bike.
In places like Mui Ne and Nha Trang, the police also impound the bike and can charge you extortionate amounts to get it back. The bike owner will also charge you for the loss of the bike in order to get back your passport. Mechanical problems can be another issue. Always use your own lock, test drive the bike and ensure that you have a Vietnamese driving permit.
Cyclo/tuk-tuk drivers taking you to the middle of nowhere and overcharging you to get home. Avoid this by agreeing on a price before you hire one or booking via your hotel or tour operator.
Some drivers will also use slight of hand tactics to switch whatever money you pay them with to smaller denominations. A favourite is switching the 500,000 VND to a 20,000 VND as they are both blue in colour. Avoid being duped by paying with small denominations.
Fake train tickets are sold by touts at the station or via online websites. Use websites like Rome2Rio and Seat61 to find information about train travel in Vietnam and buying your tickets online.
No matter how friendly and helpful some people on the street can seem, things aren't always what they seem to be. Shop owners will often try to get you into their shop, or partake in a card game, or to buy a very expensive round of drinks/tea at a bar.
Some vendors who invite you to take a photo of them or their products such as the fruit ladies of Hanoi, bamboo basket vendors, bug sellers etc. They will then turn around and demand an exorbitant fee, a tip or for you to buy their products.
If you're confronted with a tricky local, here are a few things to keep in mind:
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Laws in Vietnam may not be as strict in other countries, but can be policed heavily. Here's what you need to know, to stay out of trouble with the law in Vietnam.
We look at the best seasons to travel to Vietnam, vaccinations to get before you go, plus food and water hygiene tips so you can enjoy your trip safely.
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