Vietnam is generally safe for tourists but does have some scams. As with many destinations worldwide, there are some pitfalls to be wary of as a tourist. Here’s a list of seven common traps to ensure your trip remains a positive and memorable experience.
7. Street Vendors
Vietnam’s streets have many vendors selling various products, from local delicacies to handcrafted souvenirs. However, some street vendors, particularly in tourist-heavy areas, might employ tactics to lure unsuspecting travelers.
For instance, they might pressure you into buying something, or the quality of products might not match the price. Another common scam involves taking pictures with fruit stalls or bicycles, followed by demands for payment or forced sales. Tourists might either be asked for money post-photo or be sold the fruit/coconut at an inflated price.
6. SIM Card Fraud
Buying a local SIM card can be incredibly beneficial for tourists, but be wary of where you purchase. There have been reports of travelers being sold already-used or expired SIM cards. This scam is even present at airports. To avoid this, it’s recommended to buy SIM cards from official stores of reputable telecom companies.
5. Motorbike Rental
Be cautious while renting a motorbike: there are rental shops known to rent out bikes in poor condition or claim damages upon return that were pre-existing. Before you rent, inspect the motorbike thoroughly and take photos of any existing damages.
Another scam involves motorbike rental staff stealing their own bikes from renters, who are then forced to pay huge sums. Besides, a valid driving license is necessary, though some shop owners may say otherwise.
4. ‘Free’ Squeaky Donut
The squeaky donuts are popular among street food vendors. Some vendors, however, might offer them for ‘free’ and later demand payment, causing an unpleasant surprise. On the other hand, the oil used for frying these donuts can be unregulated and unsanitary. Consuming these donuts has made some travelers sick.
3. Unexpected Luggage Handlers
At bus stations or other transit points, you might encounter individuals rushing to help you with your luggage, only to ask for a fee afterward. While it might seem like a kind gesture initially, it’s best to handle your belongings yourself or agree on a price in advance if you do need assistance.
Some bus staff might falsely claim a baggage fee, but there is no official baggage fee in Vietnam.
2. Fake Taxis
Fake taxis, or those not associated with taxi companies, can sometimes overcharge or take unnecessarily long routes. Some taxis imitate licensed cabs, attracting tourists with false promises. They can overcharge or even rob passengers. To ensure a safe journey, always opt for reputable taxi companies. Using ride-hailing apps, where available, can also be a reliable option.
1. Overcharging For Almost Anything
Perhaps the most common trap tourists face in Vietnam is overcharging. Tourists might be given less change or told they owe an obligatory tip. From restaurants to souvenir shops, always be sure to check prices in advance or compare with similar others. Familiarizing yourself with the local currency and having an idea of standard prices can help you avoid potential overcharges.