Reading all the articles and posts about the safety tips when traveling to Vietnam can make you a bit doom. The speechless scenery, UNESCO natural heritage sites worth it, nice people but scammers targeting tourists are also common. You may heard about the aggressive sales behaviors, bag snatchers, massage scammers, v.v…
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But hold on, first thing first! Let’s answer the question if it’s safe to travel to this small country in Southeast Asia.
To my surprise, a lot of people ask me “Is Vietnam safe to travel in 2019”. Since the country is listed among the safest destinations in the world according to the most updated report of the Travel Risk Maps. My answer is Yes, a huge YES! But since the country is still in the third world countries, we can’t expect everything nice. Even in your home country, things are not always as bright as we expect so use your common senses and aware of your surroundings.
One of my unforgettable memories when I was a tour guide in Vietnam, is when I was asked by an American if the Vietnamese hate him since he is from the US. My answer is always “No, no local hate just because you are American”. Firstly, for the Vietnamese, anyone who is from Westerners looks the same to them. Secondly, apart from the Viet Cong soldiers (VC) who fight for reunification of today Vietnam, there are Vietnamese families whose fathers, mothers work for Diem’s regime too. The Southern Vietnamese who enjoyed Capitalism were suddenly forced to live in Communism after the reunification after 1975.
Read more: How to avoid common scams in Vietnam
After 1976, South & North Vietnam became one. But since the Communist Party did not trust those who worked for Americans, a lot of businesspeople, intellectuals, writers were sent to jail and their property was frozen. My explanation is for your understanding that until today, there are Vietnamese locals who prefer Capitalism. Some dream about the “Sài Gòn Xưa” which means “old Saigon” when the Southerners lived in modern life with great music, modern Vespa, cars. The Vietnamese are not naive, they just don’t hate the Americans because they understand that it’s the past.
From 1994, the relationship between Vietnam and the US has been improved a lot. In 2000, Bill Clinton became the first US president to visit Vietnam after the war and Vietnam is now a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
If you are an American, it’s safe for you to travel to Vietnam. I’ve seen a lot of Viet Cong soldiers shake hands and hug the Americans then talk about the past with love and peace. It’s touching.
So my mission is this article is to provide you safety tips & advice when traveling to Vietnam. Most of the advices are very universal and can reserve not only to Vietnam but any country you travel to. The good news is: Terrorism in Vietnam is almost non-existent. How nice is that! Below is the rest:
All of your valuables should be in your backpack or bags on you all the time. Only leave things you are willing to lose when the suitcase or bags are out of your eyes. This rule works for both the travelers and the Vietnamese locals. The luggage handlers in Vietnam airport are not to trust since some of them were reported for stealing property from the passengers.
This personal safety rule is not applied for Vietnam only, but any country in the world and on any vehicles. Whether it is by plane or bus. Personal documents like passports you can keep them safe in your hotel and it needs to be separated from your other valuables.
Safety and security are better if you stay in reputable hotels. Hotels and even travel merchants don’t like to receive the bad reviews about their service once there are door break-ins at their hotels which causes the loss of their customers. But in case you stay in hotels on a budget, make sure that you put your valuables in a locked suitcase or bring it with you to avoid the loss.
Leave all bags with thin straps at home and only carry those with decent strap and wear it around your chest, not one side shoulder, and not on your left side if you are a right-handed person. Bag snatchers don’t have the chances if you are aware of that.
Spending a night with the local beer in the backpacker areas Pham Ngu Lao, Bui Vien street can be a fun thing to do with your travel buddies but imagine that you are drunk and your smartphones, wallets is in your open pocket. That’s when you go panic that you lose your stuff after a drinking night.
The touristic the areas are, the more possible you get into the motorbike scammer. Luckily for you that Vietnam now has Grab, a car and motorbike taxi apps similar to Uber that you can trust. There are kind Xe Om drivers but if you want to totally avoid the trouble, stay away from them. They are for the photo models when you traveling, not for a ride.
But most travelers who visited Vietnam give you the advices of doing a motorbike tour in Vietnam, especially in Ho Chi Minh city, they are right. The traffic might give you some nerves when crossing the street but it’s not the case when you go with the local drivers. Motorbike tour operators are the ones you can trust due to the training of the drivers and their good English to be fun with.
Read more: How to get around in Ho Chi Minh city
Since you are in a new country, no matter how friendly you are, you still need to exercise caution. Danang city is very clean and nice. But Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city have beggars and lottery ticket sellers on the street.
My advice is that you should just say “Khong! Cam On!”, which means “No! Thanks!” then look somewhere else or walk away before they pull your shirts or nudge you. Avoid giving them money or the sign that you are having too much sympathy. Most of the beggars are old, disabled and harmless but if you want to do a charity, better look for the orphans or NGOs that work for a cause.
Last but not least, try to get out of the city center to see more of the country. Making local friends is not for everyone but if you want to engage with the local people. Since Vietnam is worth visiting, don’t let the fear avoid you from exploring this beautiful country but to prepare the safety tips before you come. I wish you travel to Vietnam and have nothing but a wonderful experience.