31 Most Common Scams in Vietnam

Safety at Ha Giang, Haiphong, Dalat, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue, Dong Hoi, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Vinh, Can Tho, Ha Long Bay, My Son
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Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

 

A place of breathtaking natural beauty and unique heritage in Asia, visitors to Vietnam can marvel at the picturesque Halong Bay, explore spectacular cave systems in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, see grand colonial mansions from the French era and many more!

Vietnamese street food is another great draw, with its incredible subtleties and outstanding diversity.

However, Vietnam was the place where the contributors of this site encountered their first travel scam, and is the country that has inspired the creation of this site! 🙂

Home to many shrewd scammers, most tourists here have encountered or fell for one.

So read on to learn how to protect yourself!

 

 

A. TOURIST ACTIVITIES

1. Cyclos

A cyclo in Hoi An

A cyclo in Hoi An

 

How it works:

Those three wheel bicycles / trishaws you see lining the streets at tourist attractions? Avoid unless you wish to be scammed (like with the tuk tuks in Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka).

They will approach you and offer a ride where you can pay as much as you want, or not at all! Now, alarm bells should have begun ringing.

However, what they do next is brilliant. They will take out a notebook and show you all the positive reviews in it (using the social proof sales technique).

You will find extremely detailed reviews praising the driver and the trip in different languages and in different handwriting.

The cyclo operator is also an extremely glib speaker. He is able to build rapport and address any of your fears and questions.

Once you get on, the driver will then attempt to build trust with you bit by bit.

End of the day however, he will bring you to a dark, secluded corner and demand payment. A price list of inflated prices based on number of hours on the cyclo is stuffed in your face.

 

What to do:

However, it must be said that a cyclo experience can be an interesting one.

To protect yourself, agree on a clear price before the ride and make sure that you stop at a place you know. Also make sure that you have GPS so that you would not be held hostage.

Further, we recommend concealing your valuables with a money belt / hidden pouch, and to use a cheap, spare wallet with little cash inside to act as a decoy.

This is to show the driver that there is little point in exploiting you should he demand an inflated payment.

 

2. Trading on popular names

Sinh Cafe copycats

Sinh Cafe copycats. Source: flocutus.de

 

How it works:

When any company in the travel industry becomes popular / famous in Vietnam, there will be new companies popping up with similar sounding names and many have been scammed in the process.

For instance, good companies that have been a victim of their success include (the real sites have been hyperlinked) ODC Travel, Handspan, Kangaroo Café.

The most notorious of the lot would be the dozens of Sinh Cafes around the country – the real one is now called the Sinh Tourist (http://www.thesinhtourist.vn/)!

Besides tour operators, this can happen to hotels and restaurants as well.

 

What to do:

For tours and accommodation, only use legitimate booking platforms and look through the reviews.

For licensed, reputable tour operators, find them via:

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • Klook: best day tours platform in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operators: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

As for accommodation, find them via:

  • Hotel and apartments: Agoda – leader in Asia with the best selection and rates here generally.
  • Staying with a local host: Homestay – if you are up for gaining genuine insights of Vietnam by staying with a local host!

 

3. Overcharging and confusing currency

Vietnamese Dong

Vietnamese Dong. Source: hochiminhcityhighlights.com

 

How it works:

This scam is common around the world, but is much more easily executed here due to the large note denomination.

Overcharging can occur in many different ways:

  • Over conversion of currency
  • Giving less change by rounding up / down
  • Not giving any change by insisting on a tip
  • Changing the fare once the service is completed!

Many places also quote in USD to make overcharging easier for them. This is done by rounding up to USD (higher than the value in Vietnamese Dong) or by demanding payment in Dong while using an unacceptable exchange rate.

Also beware when a vendor tells you 10, it could mean 10 USD, 10,000 Dong or something else!

Besides this, always ensure that the fee is for the whole group and not for each individual.

For popular tourist markets such as Ben Thanh Market or the Hoi An Night Market, prices are also marked up by a few multiples, more if you are a Caucasian.

The culture here is that they do not see “overcharging” as a scam, but something acceptable since you can afford to pay more.

 

What to do:

Always clarify the price to be paid, in what currency and if it’s for the whole group. Also, always check your change.

Finally, at markets such as Ben Thanh Market, be ready to haggle, starting with 1/4 of the list price.

If you do not wish to bargain, then head to the formal shopping malls or government owned shops (e.g. souvenir shops on Tran Phu in Nha Trang) with fixed prices.

 

4. Pickpockets

 

How it works:

Crowded streets, train stations, public transportation, markets, shopping malls, tourist attractions, hotels, nightspots or anywhere tourists hang out at are pickpockets’ favourite spots.

You can find them in the major cities such as Ho Chi MinhHanoi and Nha Trang.

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelry / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they surround you and then work like this:

  • One keeps a lookout and blocks passer-bys from seeing the scene.
  • Another blocks, pushes or distracts you (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it).
  • A third steals your valuable / slashes your bag and then passes it on.
  • The last hides the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

Make it impossible for thieves to steal from you with these methods:

  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead of the actual one.
  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch, large valuables in a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag.
  • Leave most valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) to cover loss of valuables.

 

5. Hanoi shoe repair

Hanoi shoe shiner

Hanoi shoe shiner. Source: juliasuh.com

 

How it works:

This is a less common scam, though watch out if you are wearing worn out shoes!

For this scam, some guy approaches you out of nowhere and applies glue to your shoes.

Next, he would take out a thread and tell you that your shoes are about to fall apart, which he can repair for $1.

If you didn’t realise, that glue is actually a solvent that dissolves stitches! Should you say yes, he would then proceed.

However, the trouble does not end when the job is completed, as he will be demanding $10 or more!

 

What to do:

Be alert and not let anyone apply anything to your shoes!

 

6. Street vendors of all kinds

Fruit lady of Hanoi

Fruit lady of Hanoi

 

How it works:

There are vendors who sell books in boxes at cheap prices. But alas, those books are photocopies! You would not know as these “books” are wrapped up. Some are also of low quality – e.g. errors in pages, etc.

There are also vendors who will invite you to take a photo with them. Once taken, they will demand a fee or that you purchase their products.

For instance, we have the fruit ladies of Hanoi who may offer to lend you a fruit basket and to take a photo of you.

Also, you may come across fake beggars, such as fake cripples, hungry babies who are actually asleep due to alcohol and people who fake sickness and weakness.

Moving on to Sapa, we have the textile women who will try to guilt trip you. They accompany you on trips and will share their sob stories. At the end, they will ask that you buy handicrafts from them while crying.

Finally, avoid pesky photographers who offer to take photos of you. Firstly, they will take multiple photos and demand a much higher payment. Secondly, they will not deliver the photos to you as promised.

 

What to do:

Avoid donating to street beggars and avoid engaging the fruit ladies of Hanoi, textile women of Sapa and fake “photographers”.

Do be careful as some of them may work in groups, hound you, distract you and then steal from you.

To protect yourself conceal your valuables securely either in an anti-theft bag or a money belt / hidden pouch.

 

7. Unscrupulous tour companies

Cat Ba Island in Hai Phong

Cat Ba Island in Hai Phong

 

How it works:

There are many such black sheep in the industry (but it happens all over the world, e.g. in Australia, Morocco, etc).

For instance, some of them claim to provide snorkelling, island trips etc which they do, but only allow for a meagre amount of time.

There are also many grey areas they capitalize on such as allowing trips to be overbooked.

For boat trips, it is also important to buy return tickets rather than one way ones, as you might be exploited when you find no other means of return.

 

What to do:

Engage a licensed, reputable tour operator which you can find via:

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • Klook: best day tours platform in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliate tour operator: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

To determine if an operator is legitimate, ask these questions:

  • Is the operator licensed and is there a professional website, physical office, business email and working telephone number?
  • Are there online reviews? Do they sound legitimate?
  • Is the price too low to be true? What does it cover (vehicles, guides, safety, insurance, hidden fees, etc)?

When paying:

  • Avoid paying in full upfront unless through a reputable platform / operator.
  • If using an online platform, do not make payment off the platform.

 

8. Restaurants with tourist menus

Vietnam cuisine

Vietnam cuisine. Source: sbs.com.au

 

How it works:

Be careful of restaurants that list prices in USD.

When it is time for payment, they might demand payment in Vietnamese Dong and use an unreasonably expensive exchange rate.

 

What to do:

Avoid, but if you must try, do ask about the prices before ordering. If all you get are vague replies, that’s the sign to leave.

Do some online research or check with your hotel / hostel staff on recommended places to dine at.

 

9. Overcharging by restaurants in other ways

Outdoor barbeque at Ivana Hill

Outdoor barbeque at Ivana Hill

 

How it works:

Those nuts or fruits they serve you before the start of the meal? Reject them, as they cost an exorbitant amount.

For those who tend to stay long at restaurants, try to keep whatever you’ve ordered at your table be it empty plates or bottles.

This is to collect evidence and prevent restaurants from overcharging you by asking you to pay for something that you did not order.

 

What to do:

Check your restaurant bill carefully.

Should you point out something that has been charged but not ordered and a new bill is given, check it again.

Sometimes, they might not have changed the variable taxes.

Do some online research or check with your hotel / hostel staff on recommended places locals go to eat at.

If researching is too much of a hassle, you can also consider joining a fun local food tour!

  • Klook: best day tours platform in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliate tour operator: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

 

10. Shopping scams

 

How it works:

Always inspect your goods after purchase, especially those that are wrapped, as they might have been swapped (same scam in Hong Kong) with a different, lower value item.

The same goes for your change or if you were to change money at a money changer.

Also, note that a common scam in Vietnam is that vendors will claim that something is free.

Once you have used it (service, food, etc) however, payment will be demanded.

Besides street vendors who peddle fake ware, there are many shops which sell fake stuff as well, such as silk and even war relics!

 

What to do:

You can find these by doing some online research or by asking your hotel / hostel staff.

If you find researching too time-consuming, other options available include:

  • Using local connections: get a local to bring you around.
  • Shopping tour through Klook (best day tours platform in Asia): get a professional guide to bring you around.

Also always verify any items purchased both before and after purchase.

 

11. The place is closed

Buu Long pagoda

Buu Long pagoda

 

How it works:

A popular scam in Asia (Thailand, India, etc), someone might approach you and inform you that the nearby tourist attraction or bus station is closed.

They will then offer to bring you somewhere else where they can get a cut.

 

What to do:

Never trust an overly friendly stranger who approaches you on the street, especially one who can speak good English.

 

12. Karaoke / prostitution

 

How it works:

This is a simple scam, yet one inexperienced male tourists may fall for.

At the karaoke, a male tourist might be approached by a hooker. Money is given to book a room but the hooker disappears.

Next, the bill comes and the tourist is charged an obscene amount. If you refuse to pay, you will simply be beaten up by the mafia there.

As shared by a reader in the comments section below, even the hookers are a scam in themselves.

Pretty girls are advertised on flyers, but when push comes to shove, they do not turn out to be as advertised.

 

What to do:

Avoid such activities.

Else, we recommend using a cheap spare wallet with some cash inside to give up when threatened by any armed person, while you hide other valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch.

Finally, get travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) for two key purposes:

  • Monetary compensation for any loss of valuables.
  • Medical coverage in case you are assaulted.

 

13. Hanoi massage scam

Hanoi at night

Hanoi at night

 

How it works:

As shared by another reader, massage places in Hanoi are a big scam.

They advertise a low price for their services, but when the bill comes, you will find that you are charged for a ton of ancillary products such as water!

 

What to do:

Only check out reputable places by researching online or asking your hotel / hostel staff for a recommendation.

Else, we recommend concealing your valuables with a money belt / hidden pouch, and to use a cheap, spare wallet with little cash inside to act as a decoy.

This is to show the scammers that there is little point in exploiting you when caught in such a situation.

 

14. Robberies and snatch thefts

 

How it works:

Thieves will usually strike while you are unaware and then run, while others will use distract and grab techniques.

Generally, there are two versions of snatch thefts – strike and run, or distract and grab, in many possible contexts:

  • Bikes / mopeds riding past, with a pillion rider doing the snatch.
  • Snatching from behind you, then running into a getaway car to escape.
  • At restaurants, stealing unattended bags / valuables on the chair or table.
  • Hotels airports, where distracted / tired tourists carry all their valuables out.
  • The beach where tourists are relaxed, or when they head to the water.
  • Nightclubs, where “prostitutes” pretend to proposition tourists by grabbing them but are really trying to steal your valuables.
  • Seats beside a train’s doors where a thief gets out just before the doors close.
  • Stealing of bags on overnight trains / buses.
  • Valuables snatched through a car / bus window.
  • Thefts around ATMs.

 

What to do:

At crowded places, even seemingly safe places like at a restaurant or hotel:

While out walking / on transport:

  • Use a cross body anti-theft bag facing away from the road / windows of your vehicle.
  • Do not carry valuables in your hands when walking by the road or when beside a vehicle window / train door.
  • Avoid wearing obvious jewelry which can be easily ripped off.

Other protection measures:

  • Leave valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) to cover loss of valuables.

 

B. TRANSPORT

1. Unofficial airport drivers

 

How it works:

For those who arrange transport from the airport to your hotel, be it at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh or the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, do be very careful.

There are operators who learn the details of these arranged pick ups and pose as the assigned driver from the hotel.

For instance, one easy way is for a scammer to go around looking at the names on the placards which pre-assigned drivers hold up.

They copy a name and a hotel on a piece of paper to act as a placard, and try to intercept you before the pre-assigned driver.

When they pick you up, they will pretend to call their accomplice and then claim that the hotel is fully booked.

They will then bring you to another hotel where they get a commission from.

 

What to do:

Get the number of your pre-assigned driver so that you can contact him via a call to verify.

 

2. Fake taxis

Signs of a fake taxi in Vietnam

Signs of a fake taxi in Vietnam. Source: innoviet.com

 

How it works:

These unofficial taxi drivers camp outside airports, train stations, tourist spots, etc and will grab you / your luggage to load onto their cars once they see you.

Their cars have been disguised to look like one from the reputable companies (VinasunMai Linh):

  • Similar but different phone number on the side of the car (real Vinasun: 38 27 27 27; real Mai Linh: 38 38 38 38)
  • Identical but different car decal of the company logo (e.g. Vinasum, Vinnasun).
  • Some will have fake name cards of Vinasun or Mai Linh.
  • Having a tiny, dodgy looking meter.

They may tell you a low fee to entice you at the start, but once you you take the ride:

  • An inflated fare is demanded during the middle of the trip on a highway / secluded place.
  • All doors will be locked and you have to pay an inflated fare to get out.
  • Driving you to an armed gang.

 

What to do:

Only take cabs from Mai Linh (green taxi), Vinasun (white taxi). At the Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh, you can find them at:

  • Desk inside: taxi attendants in uniform will direct you.
  • Taxi stand: on the left when coming out of the International Arrivals Terminal.

To spot a real taxi, check these out (credits to swog.sg):

 

 

A much cheaper alternative (~10,000 Dong vs ~160,000 Dong) is to turn right when exiting the airport and take bus 152 to Ben Thanh Market (last bus at 6pm).

If you still need a taxi after arriving at Ben Thanh Market, do not take one there as there are tons of rogue drivers.

 

3. Overcharging taxis

 

How it works:

A couple of ways taxis can overcharge:

  • Rigged meter: jumping too fast or too much.
  • Extra fees: additional fake surcharges such as a bag fee.
  • Taking a longer route: pretending not to know your destination or claiming to avoid a traffic jam.

 

What to do:

Taxi meters are based on distances, not time. So if you see one jumping wildly even when you are stationary, you know it is a scam!

To prevent yourself from falling prey to those, only take cabs from Mai Linh (green taxi), Vinasun (white taxi).

The reputable taxi companies in Vietnam

The reputable taxi companies in Vietnam. Source: tuoitrenews.vn

 

Also, never agree to a fixed fee, unless you have done your research and know the market rate.

You can estimate the fair price of any route by checking:

  • With your hotel / hostel staff.
  • An online taxi fare estimator / online travel forums.
  • Taxi booking apps like Grab.

Take a photo of the car license plate and also of the driver’s license in case anything goes wrong.

If all these are too much effort, you can also consider:

  • Using a rental car.
  • Arranging private transport through your hotel / hostel.
  • Or vehicle transfer through day tour platforms like Klook (best in Asia).

 

4. Saigong Tourist Taxi

Saigong tourist taxi

Saigong tourist taxi. Source: Wikimedia – EurovisionNim

 

How it works:

You will find these taxis at the airport, or around 5 star hotels, which are their turf.

Do not take them, unless you wish to be driven by thugs. They have been witnessed to beat up other cabbies who have driven into their turf.

Also, they are not afraid to use all the overcharging methods as mentioned earlier to scam you, and threaten you with force if you do not comply.

 

What to do:

Just avoid, it is not worth the trouble even if you have travel insurance.

Also, if your hotel engages them, do not use them. Head somewhere else to hail a cab or use apps like Grab.

 

5. Motorbike rental

Motorbiking in Vietnam

Motorbiking in Vietnam. Source: north-vietnam.com

 

How it works:

Motorbike rentals can get pretty tricky in Vietnam (especially in Nha Trang and Mui Ne).

There is the standard scam, where the owner follows you, “steals” your bike back with a masterkey and then demand compensation from you for “losing” his bike.

Another common scam would be mechanical problems or even imaginary problems with the bike which the owner will demand a repair fee for.

Also, note there are many fake Honda motorbikes around.

 

What to do:

Rent your bike from a reputable place. Consider investing in your own lock so it can’t be “stolen” by the owner.

Also test the bike out upon rental to identify any problems and sound out immediately.

It would be ideal to know your bike or to research the specs on the web before renting so that you are able to tell a fake Honda bike from a real one.

Do also note that a Vietnamese driving permit is needed to drive here.

If you are caught without one, your motorbike can be impounded for a month AND you would have to continue paying for the bike.

 

6. Motorbike taxi

 

How it works:

Some motorbike “taxis” might approach you with an offer, which they claim is cheaper than normal taxis.

Or they might say don’t worry about the fee, just go first and if you’re happy, you pay how much you want.

They might even say that there is no bus to the place that you want to go! That is usually nonsense.

Some others use the same trick as the cyclos, where they claim to bring you around for free but in actual fact, will bring you to a secluded spot and demand a huge sum of money.

Do note that these drivers have no training or certification. This means that not only is your wallet at risk, your life may be at risk as well.

 

What to do:

Avoid using, unless for short trips and with a fare agreed before the ride.

 

7. Purchase of train tickets from private travel agents

How to read a train ticket in Vietnam

How to read a train ticket in Vietnam. Source: seat61.com

 

How it works:

You might find touts approach you and claim that the mode of transport you are taking is delayed.

They then offer to help you get a new ticket. However, they will buy a cheaper ticket than the one you requested / need.

As most people do not know Vietnamese, they are unlikely to spot the difference. If you are caught by an inspector, be prepared to pay a fine.

There are also some who might offer to carry your luggage as the distance to the platform is rather far and then ask for a tip.

 

What to do:

Reject the help of these touts no matter how official they look.

Only buy a ticket through these sources:

  • Direct from company / official counters.
  • Licensed retailers.
  • Your hotel / hostel if such a service is provided.
  • Day tour platforms like Klook (best in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee).

 

8. Purchase of train tickets online

 

How it works:

Would you believe it, there are even fake train websites in Vietnam!

A good resource for train planning is Seat 61 (http://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm).

 

What to do:

Only buy a ticket through these sources:

  • Direct from company / official counters.
  • Licensed retailers.
  • Your hotel / hostel if such a service is provided.
  • Day tour platforms like Klook (best in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee).

 

9. Long haul buses

 

How it works:

This is a common transport option for backpackers wishing to travel from the North to the South or vice versa.

However, there are also many scams associated and it is important to only buy from reputable companies!

Besides booking a lower quality bus than you had paid for, some buses might even stop unexpectedly at night and force you to stay elsewhere.

Lo and behold, there is only one hotel in the vicinity and the owner is more than ready to accept you.

Another version is that they stop at a petrol station and force you off.

Coincidentally, someone at the petrol station will extort you to pay an amount to take a cab to somewhere to transfer to another bus.

 

What to do:

Only buy a ticket through these sources:

  • Direct from company / official counters.
  • Licensed retailers.
  • Your hotel / hostel if such a service is provided.
  • Day tour platforms like Klook (best in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee).

 

10. Luggage fee

 

How it works:

Sometimes, you might be asked to pay more because you have a larger or heavier bag by bus or train staff.

It is pure nonsense, there is no such rule.

 

What to do:

Do not pay.

 

C. MISCELLANEOUS

1. The cash grab / sleight of hand

Taking Vietnamese Dong out

Taking Vietnamese Dong out. Source: christinas.vn

 

How it works:

When opening your wallet to pay for something, be extremely careful not to expose your cash / notes too much.

Some vendors / service providers will simply grab your cash on the pretext of helping you sort out a currency that they assume you are unfamiliar with.

In the confusion, they will quickly pocket some of your cash through sleight of hand before returning the remaining cash to you.

 

What to do:

Only store small cash in a cheap spare wallet, and keep your other valuables / cash hidden in an anti-theft bag or a money belt / hidden pouch.

Or you could get a RFID blocking wallet that organizes notes without exposing them too much.

 

2. Invitation to a card game

 

How it works:

This is a pretty common scam around the world, such as in Malaysia and Morocco.

Firstly, a friendly local approaches, asks where you’re from and remarks that his relative will be going there to work or study!

He will then invite you over to his house for lunch where he hope you can share helpful advice over a meal.

However, upon reaching the house, the man’s sister / daughter is not there!

Instead, you find the man’s brother / uncle who will get you to play some card game such as blackjack or poker.

You might also be taught some tricks so as to work together to cheat other visitors who will be coming soon.

Regardless of the situation, you will lose. Here’s a fascinating recount of an experience with this scam.

 

What to do:

Avoid engaging an overly friendly local on the street, especially if he has a good command of English.

 

3. SIM card scam

SIM card rates in Vietnam

SIM card rates in Vietnam. Source: globetravelholic.com

 

How it works:

As shared by one of our readers, Frank, he paid 290k VND for a SIM card through an agent at the airport.

It was supposed to provide 30 days unlimited 3G access, but “died” after 5 days.

When he went down to the official store, that was when he realized that the plan he had purchased was a 90k VND plan.

 

What to do:

Only buy a SIM card through these sources:

  • Direct from company / official counters.
  • Licensed retailers.
  • Your hotel / hostel if such a service is provided.
  • Day tour platforms like Klook (best in Asia – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee).

 

4. Fake hotel scam

Sofa

Sofa

 

How it works:

In today’s online world, it is easy for unscrupulous hotels to create fake reviews. Some hotels also advertise low room fees online.

However, when you arrive, they will claim that the low fees were for the standard rooms which have been fully booked.

To book the higher end rooms, you have to pay a lot more.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, there are also many copycats hotels which trade on popular names.

 

What to do:

Only book via legitimate platforms such as

  • Agoda: leader in Asia with the best selection and rates here generally.
  • Homestay: if you are up for gaining genuine insights of Vietnam by staying with a local host.

Next, some due diligence you can done for individual listings:

  • Search online reviews and Google the names of the owner.
  • Call the phone number provided on the listing.
  • Grill the “landlord” by asking specific questions, such as room dimensions or something unique as seen in the photos.
  • You can even pretend something exists in the online photos and test if the “landlord” can call your bluff.
  • Search if the property has another online presence or contact number and engage that to see if they are consistent.
  • Test the owner by requesting for a visit from a local friend before booking – it doesn’t have to happen, you just want to test the owner’s receptiveness.

Finally, avoid paying in full upfront or making payment off the platform.

 

5. Hotel fee scam

 

How it works:

Some hotels demand that you pay more (e.g. double) as the fee advertised was for one person and not for one room (usually double rooms).

If your passport is held at the reception, your bargaining power is further reduced.

Besides this, some hotels might advertise certain facilities online, such as a fireplace or air conditioning.

However, to use them in your room, they will demand additional fees!

 

What to do:

Remember to ask for your passports once the hotel staff has inspected them upon check in.

Also clarify the fee to be paid, and if possible, do not pay everything upfront.

 

6. Drugs in Hue

 
Tam Giam Lagoon in Hue

Tam Giam Lagoon in Hue

 

How it works:

If you are offered drugs, do NOT take them.

You will be reported to the police and the “reporters” will be rewarded for tipping the police off.

 

What to do:

Firmly reject.

 

7. Internet cafes

 

How it works:

Keyboard loggers, viruses, spywares and what have you are common in Internet cafes.

 

What to do:

Do not do anything in there that can potentially expose your personal or financial data.

 

D. KEY SAFETY ISSUES

This is not a fear mongering exercise, as most visits are trouble free as long as you exercise some common sense.

However, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Information below has been compiled from:

                                                     

1. Violent crime, hazards, hotspots, terrorism, civil unrest

Map of safe and unsafe regions in Vietnam

Map of safe and unsafe regions in Vietnam. Source: smartraveller.gov.au

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Violent crime: rare, but the rate of petty crime and scams is high.
  • Hazards: unexploded mines in former battlefields of central Vietnam and along Laos border.
  • Hotspots: see above.
  • Terrorism: little history of this, but safety should not be taken for granted.
  • Civil unrest: stable. There may be small scale protests but large scale demonstrations are rare.

 

What to do:

Stay alert, avoid secluded areas, don’t stray too far off the main path and don’t look like an easy victim (e.g. looking like a tourist / flaunting valuables).

 

2. Medical care

Franco-Vietnamese Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City

Franco-Vietnamese Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Source: christinas.vn

 

How it works:

Medical care in Vietnam does not match up to international standards. If anything serious happens, you might be evacuated to Thailand or Singapore.

Diseases to vaccinate against / watch out for include:

  • Insect borne diseases: zika, dengue, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya.
  • Food and water borne diseases: travellers’ diarrhoea, typhoid, hepatitis, cholera.
  • Animal borne diseases: avian influenza, rabies.
  • Human borne diseases: Hand, foot and mouth disease, tuberculosis, HIV, conjunctivitis.
  • Others: air pollution, methanol poisoning from unlabelled rice wine, psychotic episodes from use of synthetic marijuana.

 

What to do:

If you can’t afford travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads – our review), you can’t afford to travel, as:

  • Emergency health services can cost a bomb.
  • Insurance providers can make complex logistical arrangements to get you the best medical treatment fast.

Vaccinations to consider:

  • All travellers: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, flu shot.
  • Most travellers: Hepatitis A, typhoid
  • Some travellers: Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis (if visiting rural areas), rabies (outdoor activities, activities involving animals), malaria

Prevent insect bites:

  • Protective clothing.
  • Insect repellents.
  • Insecticide treated bed / cot nets.
  • Plug-in insecticides.
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass.

Food safety:

  • Practise safe hygiene such as washing hands with soap.
  • Only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled.
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, ice cubes, uncooked and undercooked food.

Activities:

  • Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds).

 

3. Natural disasters

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Earthquakes: major earthquakes can also trigger tsunamis.
  • Rainy season: June to September in north and south Vietnam, October to December in central Vietnam:
    • May see flooding and landslides, especially around Hanoi, along the Red River and Mekong River Delta regions.
    • Typhoons may also affect central and north Vietnam.

 

What to do:

Effective preparation and prevention involves staying at the “right” place, travelling at the “right” time and getting travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) that covers natural disasters.

Check the latest media reportsweather forecasts and sources such as:

Reacting to one:

  • Earthquakes: drop (to hands and knees), cover (head and neck with arms), hold on (to sturdy furniture); expect aftershocks.
  • Typhoons: stay indoors away from windows, do not use electrical appliances / equipment, do not head out and touch debris (more injuries / deaths happen after than during).

 

4. Transport safety

 

How it works:

Traffic here is chaotic and potentially dangerous, some factors:

  • Poor road conditions.
  • Overloaded buses and trucks that drive at high speeds.
  • Traffic rules ignored and not enforced.
  • Motorbike fatalities is one of the leading causes of death and injury for foreigners.
  • Flooding and landslides can cause roads to be inaccessible.

Other transport concerns:

  • The bus system is extensive within cities but can be overcrowded and recklessly driven.
  • Motorcycle taxis are also unsafe.
  • There have also been a number of coach and boat accidents.

 

What to do:

Make sure your travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) covers travel accidents.

Driving: check latest media reports, weather forecast, stay alert, wear seatbelts, keep doors locked and windows up.

Other transportation:

  • Using official taxis or taxi booking apps such as Grab.
  • For long distance bus trips, consider travelling via train but beware of theft.
  • For coach and boat trips, only use reputable operators.

 

E. GETTING HELP

1. Emergency numbers to call

Image source: citypassguide.com

 

  • Police: 113
  • Fire: 114
  • Ambulance: 115

Join the community!

Get protected!

108 Comments

  1. FRANK WHEBY

    I didn’t see ISP scammers. Immediately after passing Vietnam Immigration at the HCMC airport, there is a desk offering ISP services. I bought 2 packages – one for me and one for my partner – at 290,000 VND each, for 3G unlimited service for 30 days. After only 5 days, service ended. We went to the Better Store in Dalat, where they informed us that they offer no such plan that we bought. We actually bought a 90,000 VND plan, and the salesgirl stuck the extra 200,000 (400,000 VND total) in her pocket.

    Buy from source only — never again from agent.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Frank,

      Sorry to hear that 🙁 But that was a great point to add (and also a good lesson), many thanks for that and I shall it to the list.

      David

      Reply
    • joegoodbye

      móst òf thếse are not skams just vietnam people trying to earn a living òf dumb arsed arrogant tourists with to much money…u don’t want to pay don’t come

      Reply
      • John

        Most tourists only come once to Vietnam never to return, same as Burma, the smart ones do their research and never come to Vietnam, stay n Thailand, it is paradise

        Reply
        • Petit

          I agree. I spend 35 years in Thailand and never had a problem. After two days in Vietnam I have been scammed twice.

          Reply
      • Dfg hjk

        You are a dick of the first order.

        Reply
      • Aon

        You are an idiot. That’s the definition of a scam. Not all tourist are rich A-holes. I work hard for my number and respect poor and humble people. Scamming me makes me not want to return to a country and had earned my distrust. I was scammed by a bicycle taxi in Vietnam. Same way described. He approaches me, i ask how much, he says tip when you want. He rides me 5 mins away (I only took bicycle taxi to tip him and be nice, I was already walking). When we arrived he took out menus and said $20 usd, I said no I was going to tip you $5. We argued for a bit, I have him $8. Now I will never take another random taxi. Also overcharged by Spa, I paid $20’and tipped $10. Found out the service was only $5. Now I will never go back to a Spa. Matter of fact, I will never come back to Vietnam. Thailand was less of a tip off, and that’s not saying much. Also, I was born in Jamaica which is also a poor country. I am not a rich A-hole sir, maybe you are.

        Reply
        • Aon

          Excuse typos. I meant that I work hard for my money.

          Reply
        • NguyenThiHuyen

          I had literally the same experience first time going to the United States of America with an American taxi driver, he told me a ride was $ 40,- we talked a bit, I told him how I went to Jamaica before and loved it there, he said that he had a Jamaican wife but never been, we finally arrived and suddenly he charged me $ 90,- if there’s one thing I know about taxi-drivers it’s that they will scam you no matter where you are in the world, in Viet-Nam there seem to be a lot more scammers but I’ve had similar experiences in China, the Philippines, the Netherlands, and other places. My advice: ¡Don’t take a taxi if there’s public transport available! For tourists in Hanoi you would pay VND 1.500.000,- in a taxi, while it’s only VND 7.000,- in a bus.

          Reply
          • Baek

            Of course those kind of scams happen everywhere, but we are not here talking about scams of US, Philippines and China. Also, scams which happened in those country don’t mean that you can justify the scam in VN. Frankly speaking, what I hate most is not the scam itself, it’s Vietnamese people whom I ve met only trying to making excuses rather than acknowledging their fault whenever there occurs a problem and I’m sick of it. Although I ve been to VN numerous times because of my work but still do not understand why so many people there are acting like that.

      • Dnjbebn

        Come to my country and let me rip you off and see how you feel then!

        Reply
      • lordValdivia

        Poverty is no excuse for dishonesty. More to the point, accepting this culture of scamming further damages society. If your government is corrupt, wouldn’t you think it’s because everyone is accepting of bending and outright breaking the rules?

        Reply
      • Chip

        Wow, go eat a d***. F*****.

        Reply
    • shobhit

      Same thing happened with me. I wish i could have read this article before.
      And after 1 month of stay in Vietnam i always use grab taxi to avoid any taxi scam. 🙂

      Reply
    • Ben

      Hi all. I have lived and worked from the top to the bottom of Vietnam for 16 years.

      I did get 1 bad taxi from the airport in HCMC, my error for being in a hurry. Still, I dropped my wallet in a “bad”street outside my hotel and a young boy chased me to return it.

      Good and bad lives all over the world.

      Reply
  2. Graham

    How about the double prices for every single thing you buy? Locals pay a fraction of the price demanded of foreigners.
    I won’t return to Vietnam as I’m sick of feeling fleeced.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Definitely, a good point to raise. For travellers, watch out for this in other countries as well! I dare say it happens almost everywhere (street vendors).

      Reply
  3. Nora

    I just bought a SIM card from one of the vendors around Ben Thanh. Priced at VND 150,000. I gave her 200,000 and she returned me my change. Just as I turned around to walk away and before putting the change in my purse, I saw its a VND 10,000.I double checked with my husband if I’m wrong. (I don’t have small notes on me because I just changed money before this). So I went up to her and asked her how much the price was again, coz I rcvd 10,000 change instd of 50,000. She yelled at me and asked me to check again.I took out all my VND, No 50,000. She demanded I check my whole purse, so I emptied my purse in front of her. Showed her ALL my other currencies and then she still got angry and asked me to return the 10,000 and she gave me 50,000 angrily. Lesson leant..always check change BEFORE leaving or in my case, turning around.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Nora, thanks for sharing your experience! This is quite a common scam, not just in Vietnam but in other places such as Mexico, so do be careful.

      Reply
    • Adam

      No Nora..you trusted the person will return the exact change to u. But, unfortunately they are damn dishonest crap of jerks

      Reply
  4. roger

    DOnt forget the massage scams in hanoi. MOST places in Hanoi will not show you their menu. They will quote $25 but after the massage present a bill of $120 for ancillary products such as water, juice face massage and lady tip which you didnt use. This happens in 95% of massage places in hanoi. HCMC is better for massages. Karaoke bars also scam you. You could be killed if you dont pay up. Hookers also scam you. they show you a beautiful girl and either a transgender or an ugly girl shows up. Happened to a few people i met. vietnam is full of shit. stay away

    Reply
    • Admin

      Thank you! Good spot on that, be careful especially when no upfront price is shown, be it massage or anything.

      Reply
  5. allan hansen

    I like vietnam

    Reply
    • Dale the realist

      Give me a good reason as to why. Obviously your the only lucky one out of all us who didn’t get scammed

      Reply
      • Dave the realist

        The people, on the whole are amazingly friendly and not out to scam you (with a warning on ‘tourist areas’ – they are where you’re most likely to be scammed).
        The scenery is amazing, if it’s not something you’re used to.
        The food is amazing, see above.
        The culture is interesting and hugely diverse.
        You good, Dale, now you’ve had some attention?

        Reply
      • Alf

        Of course people in vietnam are gonna try to rip you off, it is an incredibly poor country! But if you’re falling for this shit then you kinda deserve it.

        Reply
  6. Alba Clarà

    Taxi in bus station are a big scam! Arrived to the bus station after 24h ride in a sleeping bus and be surrounded by people offering taxi service…SCAM is coming! Innocent us we asked for a taximeter but it was totally manipulated. From the bus station to the old quarter ( around 10km) he was asking for 700.000 dong,around 32$!Then you have to start thinking a plan to get your luggage and go out of the taxi and pay there. The situation was odd. We were blocked inside the taxi asking for money. Fortunately we didn’t had these among of money so we offer to go to the ATM in front out hostel but the taxi driver decided to go to and ATM few streets far away from the hostel reception.Next step was to get our bags. We told the taxi driver we had the credit card there (even though was not true), so no bags,no money.We had to insist a bit and to pretend to accept the fake price. Ones on the streets we withdrew money and with our bags and just few streets from our hostel we had more possibilities to decided a fare price.Even in the taxi door was written something like 11.000/km!!!! So thanks to Google maps we calculated the km. The taxi driver was not friendly anymore but he was offering 50% discount hahaha unbelievable! We paid the among we consider (120.000) and left the place. That was a bad start in Vietnam.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Thanks for sharing Alba! Hope the rest of the trip went well 🙂

      Reply
  7. Marta

    Very disappointing country Vietnam. It is a tourist trap. Already too developed and always paying far more than locals. Would never return and not recommend it at all!

    Reply
    • Admin

      Agree Marta, out of the places which I’ve visited, I find that it ranks one of the highest with people out to make a quick buck from u.. Regardless, still a beautiful place with nice sights to visit

      Reply
      • LONG Nguyen Duc

        So sad when I knew it. We know that our gov should do more to improve our tourism

        Reply
    • Nguyễn Ngọc Thắng

      To my shame, some bad scrams in Vietnam, you know vietnam is a developing country and everything has its two sides !!! please overlook it and look on bright sight of Vietnam !!! there are also many lovely and friendly ones <3 and many place of interest there :)))

      Reply
      • AimDeLu

        Thank you! I am planning a trip to Vietnam right now and came across this post and can’t believe this post is all about negative scams and the negative comments. I’ve heard great things about the country and am looking forward to my visit. I plan to have my common sense with me and hope that saves me from any possible scammers

        Reply
        • Fiona Sunderland

          Just returned from Vietnam and mostly had a lovely time, but my husband was pickpocketed at Ben Thanh markets. He lost about $250 cash but he also had credit cards in his wallet (silly man) and $5000 was racked up within an hour at the mall a few blocks down the road even though he cancelled cards within an hour. Warning to guys… don’t put your wallet in your side cargo short’s pocket….he was easy target 🙁

          Reply
        • Linh Chuu

          AimDeLu please don’t lose all your interest after this post. I don’t know if your trip is already finished or not but Vietnam’s still a beautiful place for tourism. I’m Vietnamese and if you want a local to help avoid those scams, I’d like to help.

          Reply
          • Nyle

            Hello linh lou im planning to go there again. Can you help?
            My email add: Nilocioco0621@gmail.com

        • Mark Tan

          And also beware of their massage scam…usually you will be approach on the street in ho chi minh city by some pimp or a pretty girl by offering you a massage from a very cheap price…once if you agree they will bring you to a secluded place usually a karaoke room and ask you take a rest in the room serve you with fruits Coca-Cola and present you a big amount bill and ask you to pay…if you don’t pay they will rob you…

          Reply
    • Keith

      I love Vietnam and the people are lovely. You just have to be slightly street-smart and you’ll be fine.

      Reply
  8. Koja78

    Also the scam with the coconut vendor. You can carry his stick for a picture.. and then he wants to give you a coconut to drink…

    Obviously well mannered as you are you want to pay for it but the price is outrageous

    Reply
    • Admin

      Yes, thanks for pointing out Koja! This is very similar to the fruit ladies of Hanoi who invite you to take a photo with their ware and proceed to charge you for either the photo and/or an overpriced fruit.

      Reply
  9. Layne Zeiler

    What annoyed me most about Vietnam were the armies of beggars. They will wait for you outside of restaurants and even your hotel, and when you exit a taxi or bus, they’ll be there. I think there is almost no way a newcomer to Vietnam can avoid being scammed at least three or four times in the first two days–I fell for half the scams listed on this site within one week. One more scam–if you’re a single male and an attractive female approaches you anywhere–run! This could have a number of very unfortunate endings.

    Reply
    • Admin

      My exact sentiments.

      Reply
    • Tickle

      Common sense, brah

      Reply
    • Joe

      I have been in Vietnam for months and never been scammed.

      Reply
  10. Anthony

    Wow just got stung by the shoe scam yesterday, beware! Guy pulled out a toothbrush started cleaning glueing etc, next thing we there were three of them and another guy offering lighters/scooter rides/ anything else we needed..security stood across the road laughing, not the nicest feeling after shelling out 20 usd and they were still asking for more! Lesson thoroughly learned!

    Reply
    • Karlos

      You are an idiot. Khong is all you need to know! Been to Vietnam 7 times since 2000 and been ripped off a few bucks here and there. Just say NO (khong)

      Reply
      • Bonnie

        Thank you – i was just about to google how to say ‘no’

        Reply
  11. Kel Young

    I would say that Vietnam is one of the easiest places to tour and live. All you have to do is apply the same vigilance you would where you come from. Lots of Viets are dishonest but the dishonesty usually costs you not much.

    Reply
    • Red

      “Lots of Viets are dishonest but the dishonesty usually costs you not much.”

      Thank you for confirming the rampant dishonesty of Vietnamese. Honesty, no matter how costly in terms of monetary value is still dishonesty. Your standard for honesty is revealed.

      Reply
    • SAG

      I disagree. If you apply the same vigilance where you come from, you WILL be ripped off! The reason the scams work is because you are applying your own logic and skills from home, where now you are possibly on the opposite side of the planet and you are not home anymore. I was scammed within my first hour while visiting Asia and leaned my lesson the hard way, but quickly.
      Always be vigilant and when someone approaches you and speaks English well, or well enough, it is usually a sign to be very aware… usually. This is not always the case because there are many students of English who use the parks to chat up foreigners just to speak English.

      As for your comment about dishonesty… does $700 USD sound like “not much” to you?
      That’s how much I lost my first hour in China which was all my cash for the trip, and my debit card was disabled by the bank!

      Be ware, do your research before leaving, and realize you are not in Kansas anymore. The game is played differently in Asia and you must be prepared.

      Reply
  12. Tom

    Money snatching from your wallet. When leaving the Funky Monkey bar in Hoi An I mistakenly agreed to get a ride back to my home stay. An amount was agreed. When I arrived at the homestay, another two motorbikes appeared and I was surrounded by 3 people. I opened my wallet to get the correct money, when suddenly one of the people snatched some money. I protested and a note was dropped on the ground which I recovered. I then distanced myself to get the correct money. They spoke good English and I heard them say something to themselves like “you get enough”. Then they rode away. I looked at my wallet and found that all the larger notes were gone. I normally take more care then this, but got complaisant. I normally don’t keep large amounts on display. They ended up with around 600,000dong for an agreed amount of 35,000dong. I realise I made several mistakes and it has been a tough lesson. Wanted to make others aware and will report to police. I know they will not be able to do anything, because lack of evidence. But maybe these people are operating without a license.

    Reply
  13. Chelsea

    I just got my bag snatched by a man on a motorbike a week ago. It was a small sling bag slung across my body. Happened right outside a 5-star hotel (I was walking past it) with security and CCTVs. No one came forward to help. The hotel staff were heartless (‘Oh you’re not a guest here? Sorry we can’t help’). I had about 1k cash, my passport, iPod and my iPhone in my bag. When I reported it to the police with the help of my Airbnb host, the police demanded for 500,000 dong to process the report. I had no choice as I needed to get a temporary passport to return to my country. Horrible experience.

    Reply
  14. Andre

    I am Indonesian, I had travel for bussiness to Saigon, Vietnam in 2011, and stayed for 3D1N. At the first night I am trying to explore the street nearby my hotels, there are so many scumbag offer me a hooker for $50. They’re pretty but I don’t into it, fuck this city. So scary nightlife neighborhood, so I spent my 2 nights staying at the hotel, their WIFI 2 mbps btw.

    Last day, when I am about to leave the City, I go to Com Bent Tan market just to buy some souvenirs, I only buy shirts for 60,000 Dong. Everything normal to me, until I leave the market. I need to go to the airport, there is motorcycle offer me a ride for 100,000 Dong. Feel expensive, and I think it is not save.

    Then, I stop a Taxi, A white Vinasun Taxi with red stripe like above picture. He offer a normal taxi-meter charges, to the Airports. He talk english as well. I show him a maps in my tablet, he is follow the right route, the fast one. The meter runs normal, around 10,000 dong for a kilometer.

    He stop at airport gate, dont want to enter the aiport. I see with my own eyes, the meter jumps from 250,000 Dong into 2.750.000 Dong!!. Then force me to pay!. Fuck, he lock the door with kids lock, I cannot opened from inside. There is no body in the pedestrian walk. He keep force me for the money, I only had $50 for him, and he dont accept rupiah. Fuck VIETNAM.

    Reply
  15. jim tan

    I was approached by a trishaw rider this morning at hcmc opera house. He told me the charge is 15,000 dong per trip or per hour. I douvle confirmed with him it is 15,000 dong per hour and he said yes. I think its ok. So asked him to take me around the town. It took around 2.5 hours and at the end of the trip, he stop by the middle of the road, and show me a rate table 15,000,000 dong per hour and total 45,000,000 dong! I sure denied to pay and make him very angry. Finally he ask me to pay him 15,000,000 dong but i insisted i shall pay him 45,000 dong only as per our agreed rate. As he did not agreed with my rate,Finally i paid him a reasonable half day tour rate at 25usd

    Reply
    • Nghi

      I think you should deny any stranger approachs and give you any offer.
      It was so ridiculious to ask you pay 45,000,000 VND. It’s about 2000$. A year of not bad Vietnamese salary.
      He soon will have his karma!

      Reply
    • Chris

      You were smart. Exactly the same happened to us. We were at shock to know at the end of the ride it was 15,000,000 instead of 15,000. My hubby took out the money and he kind of snatched the notes himself and quickly vanished. The worst part was we rented two cyclos!!!

      Reply
  16. Gan

    Thanks for your advise. I should have read it earlier because I was scammed by the trishaw guy yesterday too. This is how he did it. Before we are in the bike, we agreed with 50,000 dong, he was really kind throughout the journey and I decided to pay him some tips by giving him 100,000 dong. Suddenly, he took out another piece of catalog with price and asked for 1,500,000 dong by saying (15 hundred dong). I was stunned and refused to pay to them and luckily there was a local at the temple trying to help me, after a while they nearly started to fight.
    We insisted that we will only willing 200,000 dong otherwise we want to call a police by pointing at a security guard over the road. They then took the money and back off. I would like to place a complaint at the government tourism website but there was no this kind of service.

    Reply
    • Juan dela Cruz

      Same thing happened to us.
      It was our first day in Vietnam and went to walked then they from nowhere they showed up saying Ben tham market is closed.
      They said that the fee is for about 15 hundred per site and no limit on how long you want to stay on 1 site.
      After our tour we went for a happy hour and asked us to write in their book. Saying all good things without what will happen next.
      We were shocked when they asked for 1.5 million VND each, and we end up paying them 3 million VND.
      We learned our lesson and should have not trusted anyone who approached us nicely.
      It was just really frustrating.
      Just sharing for other travellers like us.

      Reply
  17. John Bouffioux, Kamloops BC Canada

    I am planning a trip to Hanoi, Siagon, and Siem Reap departing from Vancouver Canada to Hanoi where I will start my journey. Departure is scheduled for 26 January arriving Hanoi on 27 January. Not having travelled in this part of the world I am getting quite anxious with the stories and scams I have read. Not averse to a nice looking girl I am wondering if I should just practice celibacy while there??

    Does anyone have any experience with this ??? Also I am concerned about the hotel and restraunt scams ??

    Reply
    • Dolina

      A fool and his money are easily parted just stay sensible

      Reply
      • Simone Dawson

        It’s not just as simple as that, they have good high class scams often working with one another and sometimes you don’t know until it’s too late. And sometimes you’re tired, fed up and stressed from being on the road. It’s exhausting having to be on guard 24 hours a day just because of scams. It seems service and loyalty to most don’t matter. However I did come across some where that did matter and their business and reputation was and is booming.

        Reply
  18. Sara

    Hi, im planning a ten days trip to vietnam sometime in june, ive been reading articles lately, n got a bit scared reading about scams.. How safe would it be for women traveling without any man?also when i went to srilanka i was a bit put off by everyone ripping u off, expensive stuff to tourists, would it be that bad or even worst in vietnam? Ive also been reading for women to dress conservstively but no one mentioned “why”? And another thing why its written in most of the articles dont be extra nice to vietnamese,im totally confused… Even if i book through booking.com they would still charge me more there?

    Reply
    • Matt

      Why? Rapists. Simple. Take care here.

      Reply
    • Matt

      I’m on vietnam for some days already and I have a girlfriend here. I can’t understand very well their language but I noticed that she was protecting me from people here. People comes to me even when I’m with her. So guys, careful.

      Reply
    • Rebecca

      Hey Sara! I’m a 23-year-old who just got back from a month-long trip in Vietnam. I went alone and it was the best trip of my life. There wasn’t one second where I felt unsafe. I never encountered any issues with scamming. I didn’t dress “conservatively” – mainly wore tank tops and shorts, and it was totally okay. Most backpackers dressed the same as I did. For the most part, Vietnamese are AMAZING PEOPLE. I think people get turned off by the people who are trying to sell to tourists, but there is so much more to the country. I would go back in a heartbeat. 🙂

      Reply
    • Adam

      Hii Sara, i just back from vietnam, my advance just be careful when u be there and don’t simply trust from the stranger, don’t wears accessories or make them know u have the money(means don’t make them see your wallet) keep save your cash. For transport better upload grap application or u can use the taxi from the airport counter. For passport, copy n cross your passport copy to hotel use, never let then keep your original passport as are reeson for hotel use.

      Reply
  19. Chan

    I got scammed twice in the last 2 days.
    1. First I go to buy a sim card and the guy offers to give me a sim with 30k balance for 80k. I knew that 50k is the price for a blank sim so said ok. Now this was a proper shop, not someone on the street who also sell sim cards so I trusted all is well. When I get back to my hotel and check the balance, its 0. I decided not to pursue the matter as it was just 30k dong (less than 2$).
    2. This happened just an hour back. Took a taxi from Old quarter to Lang Ha. I usually prefer Uber as u know the price u’ll be paying upfront. However the 3 cabs I booked, all of them cancelled. So got into this metered taxi near the lake. I noticed the meter was running super fast. It usually costs 50-60K from Lang Ha to Old quarter and this one reached 70K halfway. The taxi driver also looked shady and since I was alone, didnt want to take any chances getting off in the middle. I just wanted to get back to my hotel. Finally I arrive and the bill is 150K, thought wth, let me just pay and be done with it, lesson learnt. But the story doesnt end here. I give him a 500K bill and ask for change, he says he doesnt have any and asks me to give smaller bills. I somehow had 150K on me so took them out of my wallet and gave it to him. The guy hands me my 500K bill back. Only when I get back to the hotel and check, there’s no 500K bill. He had swapped it with a 20K bill, which is of similar color. There were dim lights in the taxi and I never thought something like this could happen. Extremely bad experience. It sucks that I am here not for tourism but for work and might be staying for more than a year. Very disappointed. Hate this place already.

    Reply
    • Yan

      totally agree with you. we experienced the same yesterday, on my birthday. the taxi’s meter jump in diferent intervals, at first the meter was tare to 10k and then it jumps on 3k then 20k then 5k then 40k even when it is stationary or moving just so slowly. For a 1.7km ride, our bill reached 270k vnd. We are quite surprised since the morning that we used the grab app it only cost 30k vnd and considering that the distance during that booking in grab is around 4km. Also, the taxi driver won’t open the taxi’s light inside and so we opt to use my friend’s cp. When I finally demanded him to open the light, he told us that what we gave him is only 30k vnd. Then we gave him 300k vnd and still demanded that its not enough. He also dropped us not in front of the hotel rather on the entrance of the street. When we finally reached our hotel room and made some accounting of our expenses for the day, that’s when we realized that the taxi driver did some scam to us. Lesson learned, they trick you since the 100k and 10k looks similar both in color and design.

      Reply
  20. tony beirne

    Just got badly ripped off by bus company from haiphong to hanoi. The conductor who dragged me off the bus at least 20 miles from long bien bus station in hanoi saying i had to get a taxi. Nobody else got off and they must all have been going to hanoi as that is what the bus sign said, that is what my ticket said and that was the bus i was led to by the agents in the bust station at haiphong. Dropped off in the middle of nowhere except taxis who were expecting this bus to drop westerners off here. they kept chasing me as they viewd it as their to be paid for the trip to Hanoi. Eventually had to get another taxi that cost 250,00 dong (3 times the bus fare i had already paid)

    Reply
    • Simone Dawson

      I wouldn’t trust this…

      Reply
  21. M

    My brother was put into contact with a relative of a lady my niece knows from work. They want him to go visit her to see if there any chemistry. But even before he goes they say he has to relinquish all identity documents to them for safe keeping. WTF
    My niece seem to trust this lady 100% but who the fuck makes such request. I just wanted to know if anyone has been scammed or worse knows of someone who never returned.

    Reply
    • jo

      Why your brother was put in contact with someone.
      There is many beautiful girls everywhere. Find someone in your school, church.
      They want you to bring her to US so she can get her citizen ship. Scam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  22. Simone Dawson

    Anotherscam,we caught a bus from one of the bus stations (sorry I can’t remember which one!) Quoted 100k each to halong bay. Got on the bus and it was a small mini bus very posh, tan leather brown seats, air-conditioning tvs in the back of seats we thought great. Half way through the journey the bus driver stops the bus and passes a phone to my boyfriend, he is then offered a halong bay tour which we politely said no and put the phone down as this man kept going on and wouldn’t take no foresponsibility an answer. About 30 minutes prior to arriving to the ferry port near halong city, the bus stops a man jumps on board and says this bus doesn’t take you to halong come with me. We stupidly got off with another family (the only non vietnamese people on there, we were singled out) and again this man told us come to his office to sort a tour to halong city. We were angry and said no and he said fine you pay for taxi rest of way. Left us stuck next to a busy highway with absolutely nothing around. We managed to get a taxi and not knowing how far we were asked how much it would cost to get to the port, he quoted 9000k! So we thought we better negotiate, negotiated a price 5k and he took us literally 20 minutes to the pier. Also, 50s and 10s are the same colour be careful as they mix the change up often or claim you gave them two 10s instead of two 50s. We stayed away best as possible from touristy parts and tours as that’s where it was definitely worse. We travelled the road a lot and arranged the majority of buses and trains ourselves directly at the bus or train station which saved us a lot.

    Reply
  23. Simone Dawson

    I must also add that I met some very beautiful, inspiring and kind vietnamese and all should not be tarred with the same brush. We were only scammed the once or twice and it wasn’t massive money, I know that’s not the point but no need for it to ruin a holiday. Just kept your wits about you, I felt safe mostly. I even got a sleeper train hard berth 6 cabins with 5 other vietnamese men and all was fine, I think most only write of their bad experiences more should write of their good experiences. I gave one woman 500k thought it was a 20k same colour she gave it me back. It’s a beautiful country and despite the few spoiling it you will enjoy it, foreigners do pay more for stuff but that’s got to be expected and when I say more I mean it might be 10k more… 40p more or something. Just do your research before going and you’ll be fine.

    Reply
  24. zoe

    il be heading over to south east Asia soon and i cant wait! but after having all my filming equipment (I’m a filmmaker by trade) stolen in – what i perceived to be – an elaborate hotel scam in Amsterdam a couple of years ago, its always good to do your research and have good insurance while your away. I cant wait to explore Vietnam, and yes of course not every single vietnamese person will try to get something from you, but it only takes one person to scam you. Hopefully this person doesn’t change your perception of what i believe to be a lovely culture, and a country filled with very lovely friendly people!

    Reply
    • Steve

      I have been in Vietnam for two weeks and have run into no scams. If you Use your head and watch your wallet you have nothing to fear. I was told by my guide to watch bags over the arm facing the street. motor bikes will come by and snatch them. do not hold on to it they will drag you until you let go. The markets are full of knock offs but prices are dirt cheap. I got a “Rolex” for 30.00, just for fun. You bargain, start at 50% of what they ask and don’t act to interested. when you walk away they will follow and the price drops quickly. Every person I have met is very nice. I have been to Vietnam several times and have only had great experiences. You will love this country, happy photo taking.

      Reply
  25. Laura

    I usually only have just enough cash for some food and maybe a souvenir or massage that way if they hassle me too much i show them that is all i have. Usually works. And i hide my credit cards in the hotel room. Never had any issues and have traveled through Sri Lanka,Bali, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, USA, Europe. I also hide passport in hotel room, never carry it on me. I know when i first started traveling they would always say carry it with you, but too easily it can be lost or stolen. I have heard of things being taken from hotel rooms, but lock it in your suitcase or some weird place or the safe. Lucky i have never had this issue of anything being taken from my room . And read about scams before you go is a must! Bangkok was my first Asian country i had visited, did a little research and bang, we didn’t get ripped off, I knew what time the market opened, and that i dint want to go to a jewelry store. Of course there will be little things that happen, but don’t let that put you off. We had an old taxi driver that was so lost (probably wasn’t really) but he was old and cute and had no teeth so i still tipped him ,because even though we drove around for a long time it still was so cheap it wasn’t worth complaining about.

    Reply
  26. Florence

    Hi just wondering if anyone has stayed at Riverside Hoi an? Are there any scams to be awhere of or any reputable restaurants, Taylor’s etc that any one could recommend. Also how much should I pay for a taxi for 4 people from Da Nang airport to riverside Hoi An? Travelling on a family holiday and want to be safe. Thanks Florence

    Reply
  27. Tim

    I did not see where you included the warning not to drink hard alcohol here in Vietnam. There is a lot adulterated stuff available. Many have been made seriously ill and died because of it. Do hope you will warn them. Good information you provide. Living here I see it all the time. But mush of it all you need to do is walk away. The cyclo driver the motorbike taxi, give them 20,000 vnd and walk away. A shave, 20,000 dong and walk away. That or like you advice get the price in advance thennegotiate to 1/3 of that, if that.

    Reply
  28. Kevin OConnor

    We did a tour of the city and tunnels, on the way back we stopped at a tourist shop selling coffee and dried fruit. This was not part of the program. No prices marked anywhere for the coffee, you had to ask.

    I was told a packet of coffee was 220 000 dong. This scam is practised in Bali as well, where different prices are quoted depending on your race/language/nationality.

    From many visits to coffee retailers in HCM city I knew the real price should be less than 100 000 dong and took great delight in explaining this scam to the tour group, in front of the shop owner.

    This annoyed the sales staff and one of them grabbed a dish of sample biscuits I was enjoying away from me.

    I managed to eat a load of dried fruit and biscuit samples without buying anything, no one in our group bought any coffee.

    I got a few dirty looks as we were leaving. 😉

    Reply
  29. No More Vietnam Trips

    There are scams at the airport as well. The fake taxi drivers will pull people from the airport and ask you to ride for a good price. Then he will push you to his friend which has a bigger car. Once you get on the car, he will ask you for money to pay for parking and it is for a big car. Big cars cost more so when you pass him some money, he will make some noise and snatch your money. Count them in front of you and then say not enough for big cars so he will push you back to the first guy that approached you. Then you realize you lost some money on the way to the hotel. I lost about 3 million dong last few months and now my friend’s friend lost 1.5 million dong. Just to let you guys know about this scam. Karma will get him some day scamming tourists like that.

    Reply
  30. Perpetual Tourist

    OK to survive in Vietnam and NOT to get scammed, one should develop a certain mindset of total preparedness, for anything, anytime. Always “attack first”, for protection. Be as straightforward as possible. Always think as far as you can. Be vocal, always.

    BE ASSERTIVE.

    If you dislike anything, just a single bit (there is A LOT to dislike while on your culture shock during the first 1-3 months) – stand up and go; ask a driver to stop their car, pay them and leave; it is always, always cheaper to pay JUST with the money, whatever the price is.

    When (not if) they overcharge – OVERPAY THEM. Pay even more than they have asked for. But remember them, and AVOID. There are merchants out there who are honest, who are noble. It is a freaking QUEST to find them.

    Whenever your phone rings, save the number. Mark it with a certain group like “ZZZ_” prefix in front of their name. Then, whenever you’ll make a call to an unknown earlier number, you will know the danger by its name.

    Add any and every suspicious contact, lying agent(s), harassing Grab Taxi driver, not truthful or otherwise anyone you wouldn’t deal with – to this prefix group.

    Just out of a habit, “Good morning/afternoon/evening, sir/madam”. Politeness is always the king, even in a land of scams. You are a foreign gentleman, so why not be the gentleman in every way. Even if they attempt to scam you, show them the freaking class.

    Find those few or very few with whom you may want to deal with. They will be grateful and you will be appreciated.

    GOOGLE MAPS.

    If there is a shop or whatever you are looking for in a Google Map, most likely than not this place does not exist on that location. After 5-7 attempts I just gave up on Google Maps search. You are welcome to test it.

    AGREEMENTS.

    Whichever agreements you have made over the phone and/or in person with a very, very, very rare exceptions will NOT work out the way you expected. So, better yet – make zero/none agreements with anyone just about anything.

    GRAB TAXI.

    As an active Grab Taxi user (and the only reason why I am here), I can tell you this. >85% of drivers accept your ride while they are chilling out in a cafe with their “friends” or during whatever other activities.

    That means you will have to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait…

    My record waiting was 11 minutes before a car even started to move after they accepted the ride. I understood that by actually walking by a car as you see on the map and looking for the drivers.

    Now when a car does not move after 3 minutes of waiting, I am cancelling.

    If a driver wants to chat instead of doing their job, I am cancelling.

    If a driver moves into a different direction, I am cancelling, as it means there will be a lot more surprises down the road.

    Earlier, each and every driver CALLED every time they have accepted an order. So I was ordering Grab Taxi on the Airplane mode with wi-fi enabled. After a few months, even without Airplane mode nobody called (they don’t speak English, mind you).

    If there are no other cars, I go out and take a street taxi. It is so much faster.

    STREET TAXIS.

    When you see a cab, just walk to it, open the back right door and sit down. Then just show your target drop-off Google Map location to the driver. That’s it.

    If/When the driver does anything other than “OK sir/madam” (like getting out of the car for whatever reason, or starting “where are you from” bs) – just calmly and immediately walk away. Do not talk to anybody. IGNORE.

    If they continue, just pay and ask to stop the car. Then walk away and find another Taxi. It is that easy. And just IGNORE the driver when they get out. Cross the road, walk different direction, you are being harassed.

    It is NOT professional for a driver to “chat” with their passengers. This alone would save you A LOT of trouble, and maybe even more than just that. And not in just Vietnam.

    RENTING.

    Avoid, avoid, avoid long term (more than 1 month) lease/rent agreements/contracts of any kind. AVOID. All these agreements are useless. Toilet paper is of more use than any “agreements” here, unless your counter-agent is a company with a name, 5+ years history, with Google reviews, referable. As a foreigner, you will not be able to prove anything anywhere, if anything happens. What agreements are you talking about? That is not bs, that is hs.

    The rents you find on internet are all fake, beware. The pictures are edited or from another property (rented out and/or higher price and/or with a window facing a wall).

    When you call “an agent”, they will tell you that this exact apt. is not available at the moment, and they will offer you another one, which is “similar”. The price they exhibit is for long term only (1 year), and they have “made a mistake” in their listing.

    The “agent’s” name will be different than the one you know already for the same phone number (remember and AVOID). Whatever you do, you will be wrong, because “in Vietnam, they do different”. And I am talking about CVR here.

    TERMS.

    When you have found something yourself “off the street” and agreed with anything and everything (so you think) with a family member – be prepared that you will need to do the same, again, later with the other family member (husband / wife / son / whoever) later, BEFORE you deposit cash. If that other family member disliked you and/or for any other reason(s) be psychologically prepared for the terms to be changed, one way or another.

    After you have found a place you like, check and test everything in advance, beforehand. EVERYTHING. Toilet, shower water stream, sink water, water heater/boiler, A/C, kitchen exhaust, washing machine, standing fan, microwave, kettle, rice cooker, EVERYTHING. It should work, right now, right there. If it doesn’t, go away until it works. All the “promises” are bs. They will do NOTHING after you pay the money.

    Deposit. Unless you are dealing with a reputable 5+ y.old company with staff members, multiple properties and Google reviews, be prepared to walk away without the deposit. Do not leave the property until you get you deposit. Harass the owner by waking up at 5-6am and DEMAND the deposit. Let them know that you will call the police.

    WALKING.

    People (males) here scream like an animal “you!!!”, “…YOOUU!!!!!” when you pass by, in a rudest manner imaginable, as one would expect from someone in Bronx NY (no offense) or Northern London (no offense) as an irritative, irksome invitation for a street fist fight.

    And they do it while comfortly sitting in a chair, on the ladders, or standing still or whatever, while drilling you with their eyes and/or loudly spitting.

    What can a gentleman do here? IGNORE. Go on as if nothing happens. Think about wherever that great place you were going to. Like a beach.

    If you are with a lady… Well, IGNORE. Whatever happens full IGNORE. This is their land, and we are just foreigners here, legal aliens.

    CHILDREN.

    They say/scream “hello” in the same manner as above. When you do the only right thing, which is – IGNORE, they may then scream to you the same way “*UUUCK YOU”. We know already what to do here, right? IGNORE.

    LOCAL WOMEN.

    As a matter of habit, unless one wants even more adrenaline here, AVOID single women approaching and/or making a show right in front of you. They are fishing for your attention, and – of course – money. Do not be fooled, your money (and freedom) is all they want.

    FOREIGN WOMEN.

    They are looking to increase their already high two-digit notch count. You are welcome.

    GROUPS OF PEOPLE.

    It is safe to just cross the road.

    CROSSING THE ROAD.

    There are no road rules in Vietnam. Zero. So, the safest place to cross a rod is NOT on a zebra crosswalk(s). It is anywhere, when there are no cars/bikes/whatever objects in sight.

    Mind you, they may be driving where you may not expect it. The double lines in the middle of the road do not mean these cannot be crossed. Actually, these will be crossed by vehicles of all size. Beware big size vehicles such as buses.

    If there is an underway, it is your only friend to make a 100% safe crossing.

    Otherwise, it takes MONTHS of practicing and steel nerves.

    BIKES.

    It is best NOT to drive bikes/motorcycles/bicycles.

    Otherwise (and in any case) you should have a bullet proof insurance with international coverage and helicopter delivery such as BUPA GLOBAL.

    CARS.

    Better grab a taxi, unless you wouldn’t mind to take all the stress and scratches here, there and over there.

    CAFES / BARS / RESTAURANTS.

    When a husband of a local place you came to eat walks out to see who is here and to show that he is the boss AND you were busy doing something else other than greet and knee him, and did not greet him or for whatever other reasons this person might be otherwise pissed off on something about your presence, this “boss” will go quietly to their kitchen and start screaming out loud on their native language to their wife and/or other family members. Non stop.

    The only right thing here is to pay your bill and leave.

    That leads to one very important habit.

    PREPAYMENT.

    I always, always, always pay in advance for whatever I have ordered.

    That allows me to achieve the following:

    (1) Bullet-proof protection from over payment – if they attempt to overcharge me, I can understand that in advance, avoid paying and rightfully walk away;

    (2) Freedom to leave at anytime at my will; in cases such as described above it is very helpful; actually in such cases I do not even wait for change. Screw the change. Just walk away. It is cheaper. That’s right.

    BEACH: HIDE YOUR WATCH.

    After swimming at night/late evening, just hide your waterproof watch under your swimsuit. People here would not be stopped by your mean looks and dark nighttime, especially if they are in groups of over 2-3. Show them that you are fully prepared for whatever they want, but DO NOT ENGAGE. Jump around, show your aggression, but DO NOT FIGHT. Just walk away after they understand that they’ll not get
    anything from you.

    The above is after living half a year in the “most developed”, “most advanced”, “most friendly” location – “Da Nang”.

    They call it “Vietnamese Singapore”. Aha.

    Reply
    • Dan

      Thanks for the informative advice. I appreciate all the info.

      Reply
    • Cadillac

      Thanks for all the useful tips! But what a way to take the fun out of an amazing country. You should revise your comments on women, but also grow a set.

      Reply
    • Abelius

      Oh gods… this is in Da Nang???

      I thought you were referring to Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi! 😛

      Well, I better steel myself then. I’m going there tomorrow to stay for 16 days and evaluate if it’s a good place to live.

      Reply
  31. Adam son of God

    Dear fellow travelers, Never ever travel to Vietnam especially Ho Chi Minh city. If you haven’t been there, and are planning a memorable trip there, i suggest u cancel it off , because trust me u will regret it and is a nightmare. The people they are scammers, dishonest people. They earn a living by cheating and scamming other human beings. shame on you Vietnamese !!!. You people will stay forever poor in your country because u have choosen to live your life and earn a living by becoming a Con artist, Scammers, Cheater, and most of all – low class citizen with no morale value , integrity, and honesty.

    Reply
  32. martin lee

    Thank you for the article. Now I have to think twice to visit Vietnam, as I planned to go around December.

    Reply
  33. Curt

    The scammers definitely sour a trip to this beautiful country. I was scammed heavily in Hanoi by a friendly local who just wanted to chat. Ended up sharing a meal with him and the bill came to be 8 million dong, splitting it still cost me 4 million dong. As I was in a remote location, I figured it was just safer to pay the tab. But please, do yourself a favor and ignore anyone that comes up to you in a friendly way to chat. I encountered another scam in Hoi An where a man tells you he teaches blind kids with the red cross and is selling toothpicks and taking donations. Please again, don’t talk to them if possible. Just say no thanks and walk away, and keep walking. This time I was ready so I just looked at him and handed him 5k dong from my wallet and said no scams for me, but here’s some money for you, since you feel the need to scam me. He was pissed, said f America! And scowled at me. Again please just be on high alert at all times when you visit this place. Read reviews on trip advisor and book trips through reputable places. It’s a beautiful place, but I don’t recommend it due to always having to be vigilant, it’s tiring when you’re supposed to be on vacation.

    Reply
  34. White Foreigner

    APEC 2017

    One might think it would be “safe” in DaNang during the APEC 2017 forum held in DaNang? Think again.

    Was attempted with the shoes scam right next to the central, iconic NOVOTEL Hotel, while waiting for some cocktails in the souvenir shop just 30 steps from the NOVOTEL’s main entrance.

    There were armed people with assault rifles AK-74, police, roads closed, VIP corteges with APEC forum participamts leaving the NOVOTEL and mobody gave a damn.

    If I were to fight this scammer, I will become the “bad guy” immediately, and possibly catch a bullet from one of these AK-74.

    ATTRACTIVE WOMEN

    Attractive women give their phone number to you after a few minutes of chat? You think they are genuinely interested in further contact? Think again. This is some kind of an extortion – they will not pick up when you call them; but called back next day at 7am (sick). I did mot pick up either, but wheb called back later the same day, was just told by her “NOOOOOO”, laughed at and talked to her boyfriend.

    NOISE POLLUTION

    Construction works with jigsaws, hammers and whatnot from 7:20 am till well over 22:00 everyday, including Sundays.

    Motorbike riders with constantly looped ads on tape with a loudspeaker – are there nonstop, day and night, well over 23:00.

    Windows are lacking any kind of noise isolation. You can hear what is happening in the neighbours’ rooms.

    NO PRIVACY

    There is zero privacy in Vietnam, none.

    When you rent an apartment, you cannot change locks without having ro give the key to the owner.

    The same applies to renting a house.

    When you bring in a girlfriend or anybody to your apartment, make sure you have informed the owner in advance and provided a copy of your girlfriend’s passport/ID.

    Awesome, right?

    PHARMACY

    The supplements, which I have purchased in one of the most popular pharmacy stores, were looking like these were made in Australia and imported to Vietnam. There is also “import stamp” and translation of the ingredients in Vietnamese. Looks legit, right? WRONG.

    After taking these supplements (fish oil, zinc, magnesium) I could not sleep the whole night.

    Next morning I have googled these “Australian” producers and found out an unprofessional website with news dated back to 2014 with multiple mistakes in English everywhere throughout screaming “beware, low quality”.

    And guess what? This “Australian” company only sold their products in Vietnam.

    Scam and deception all the way.

    MEDICINE

    After getting severely poisoned with food (vomitting with blood), have found the only private “hospital” in DaNang whos personnel spoke English. Around 19:00, mind you.

    I was told that the “consultation” _must be paid immediately_ (about USD 90), because they have made an effort to wait for me; the “doctor” just listened to me and offered an intravenus injection (that was the “consultation”);

    I have asked the total price which was around USD 300.

    I was barely walking feeling severely weakend, nonetheless had to go out looking for an ATM and crossing the road myself as I have not planned an extra USD 300 expense (in addition to the already paid USD 90 for consultation) and do not have a habit of carrying massive amounts of cash (USD 300 is about VND 6,000,000 which is a massive amount of paper).

    The ATM have not accepted my foreign embossed debit card which was absolutely fine in my previous travels to MY, SG, HK, TH.

    I have returned to know “excuse me, sir, I have made a mistake, the total is wrong; it did not include the time for using the bed during the procedure; the correct total amount is USD 485”.

    This is how business is done in Vietnam.

    “FIVE STAR” HOTELS

    The only place to soothe your pains and relax your tired body in a warm jacuzzi, and finally be alone in a steam room. Sounds great, right? Think again, this is Vietnam.

    In the Pullman Danang (“5 star”) after having a wonderful lunch in their restaurant (thanks to their white foreigner Chef, thanks man, you make wonders there), I was sold 1 day SPA and fitness for an “introductory” fee of VND 350,000 (earlier last week they had 1 month membership option, which was cancelled the day I appeared with the required cash, and only 3 months option available – don’t ask why, as I have no idea).

    I have passed the “friendly” (at least they were smiling) personnel of 3 persons wishing to finally get that estranged, forgotten feeling of getting rested.

    After undressing and going to the steam room it did not take 5 minutes before someone (a male employee) came in DIRECTLY TO THE STEAM ROOM (damnit) and telling me that they will be testing fire alarm in 5 minutes, “but it is ok if tou want to stay” (amazing, right?).

    OK, I decided to plunge into jacuzzi before I leave, but it was freezing cold.

    So I have dressed and went out telling them that this is inacceptable and they could inform me about the alarm situation in advance. I have asked for the money back, but was refused. So I have just walked away.

    Minus Pullman.

    BUT FURAMA RESORT IS BETTER, RIGHT?

    They have hosted the APEC 2017 important guests, so they must know how to deliver hospitality, right? Right?

    Before buying 1 month membership in their fitness, attempted a 1 day pass. I was told that it is less than 1 hour to the closing time and offered to come tomorrow, but I have insisted as they said iver the phone there is no time limit when a guest may come as long as he finishes before 23:00 (when they are closing).

    The price is precisely VND 231,000 and I have waited for a while to receive the change.

    While waiting, have asked for a bottle of water, which took them a long phone call.

    No bathrobe, bath shoes and towel were provided. OK I just wanted to relax ASAP and grab a fresh rolled towel from the heap.

    Finally undressing (again), taking shiwer and getting into the steam room…

    Knock knock – I hear. OK, that might be my water. NO, IT IS THE BILL FOR WATER. YOUR WATER IS AT THE RECEPTION, SIR.

    WTH?

    OK, the hell with them.

    Went to the reception, giving her VND 100,000 but she does not take, pointing with her finger to the money I keep in my hand (the change that they gave earlier). The 500 ml bottle of water was about VND 58,000.

    OK I just moved to the exit, without saying a word.

    Minus Furama.

    Want to get scammed, decepted, overcharged, humiliated? Welcome to Vietnam.

    There is no way on Earth I would ever think to go again to Vietnam.

    Got “lucrative” offer to travel to Vietnam?

    Do not be fooled. Do not trade our technology secrets and your time to them.

    THIS IS A TRAP.

    Vietnam is pure hell.

    You were warned.

    Reply
  35. Hoabinhian

    I read and read about the world tourist traps and terror attacks before taking my 2 teen kids to Viet Nam twice this year, 2017, for a find-your-root adventure and extremely affordable, quality dental implants and services. Long story short, my kids love the trips and will come back in a heart beat, especially the son – my daughter just doesn’t like the heat wave in Ha Noi and the tours walking, due to a weak heart and sore back. Somehow we missed the tourist traps except the airport $10 dollars SIM card ripoff, and a young photographer who took my $7 but didn’t email the photos as promised. I would definitely threaten calling the police if a taxi or a hospital tried to rip me off, but none of that happened, plus we had travel medical insurance anyway.

    Read on for the long story but be informed that I’m not making a blanket statement one way or another.

    We traveled all over the country by land and air for cheap, including Phu Quoc island, but also treated ourselves with 5-star restaurants and hotels in the last travel week to impress lady daughter.

    With few exceptions we only took Grab/UBER taxi and motorbikes taxi. My daughter and her cousin even hailed cabs by themselves against my wish without any problems, and they don’t speak Vietnamese either. Interestingly my kids actually prefer hole-in-the-wall food over the upscale restaurants. Yes, my daughter got food poison twice, and both times after eating at nice restaurants – funny, they said. Thanks to travel tips she took an antibiotic tablet that stopped the diarrhea dead in its track every time. We ventured away from tourist districts, met the poorest street vendors who told us to safely keep phones in pockets, and had the best street/restaurant food and mom-and-pop hotel services ever. How did a dad with 2 teen kids have such a positive experience traveling in Viet Nam for the very first time? Probably diligence with some luck – from the airport, or anywhere, we ONLY took taxi in the official lanes, or ordered Grab/UBER, and ignored tricycle ride offers. We only booked tours from the hotels or on sites. On Phu Quoc island we did hire a 5 hour taxi tour for cheap, and didn’t get scammed either. We met Caucasian backpackers who traveled and stayed at places we wouldn’t dare going. We made wonderful friends while traveling there in Viet Nam. My siblings and their kids have been travelling Viet Nam for years without any issues. So what goes? Certain tourist profiles do unfortunately attract traps, anywhere you travel, more or less. No place is perfectly safe for traveling, Viet Nam included, where the gap between the rich and the poor is unimaginable. I don’t know if tourist traps are improved and/or invented in VN, but our family bravely traveled there for cheap, ate great food, and met good hearted people. Traffic is hopelessly insane in Sài Gòn and Hà Nội, but NO worry about mass shooting or terrorist attacks either. Again, it’s just my personal VN travel experience, and yours may be different.

    Reply
  36. Laura

    We stayed at a hostel in Da Lat called Da Lat Friendly Fun Hostel as it had good reviews and was cheap. We arranged a monthly rate with her as we decided to stay in Da Lat for one month for 265 USD for two of us. The owner took photos of our passports. One week after we checked out, I received a message from her on Facebook, she had found me on it. She stated that she had video footage of my boyfriend stealing all her money from her room. This was total lies. She said she will go to immigration and police with the cctv and fingerprints and make sure we have problems leaving the country if we don’t pay her by 2 days. She sent a bank account that wasn’t even in her name. She said she has my passport details so she will post them online publicly. I told her to go to the police as we have nothing to hide and there cannot possibly be cctv of what she is accusing. She then changed her tune and said if I don’t pay her then she will message all my friends. She did in fact message a lot of my friends asking for mine and my boyfriend’s address to forward on belongings that we left behind. I blocked her on facebook but could not believe a reputable hostel would use our passport details that she scanned at check in to tey and extort us. Obviously we haven’t and aren’t going to wire her money. She is still messaging my friends with different stories trying to get more personal information from them. No one is responding to her as it’s an obvious scam. Not a scam that I have heard of in Vietnam, but just be careful who you allow to scan your passport at check in. Definitely do not let any Vietnamese person take hold of your passport. She thought we were rich westerners as we paid her cash for 350 USD for a 5 week stay and waters. She was so nice to us during our stay and never said a bad word and smiled a lot. She is so deceiving, I’ve lost my faith in the Vietnamese. Da Lat was the last place we expected to be blackmailed. We are two backpackers on a 6 week trip in Vietnam and decided to stay in Da Lat as we could not be bothered with all the hassling on the streets of Hanoi and HCMC. Never going back to the country. They have such a hate for westerners. Just be aware with allowing places to take your personal information.

    Reply
    • Laura

      The owner’s name is Lan Tuong, she appears to be a sweet timid lady so I was so shocked to get these messages from her. She also messaged me and not my boyfriend as she must have seen me as an easier target who would more likely pay up for her not to message my friends.

      Reply
  37. ORANJE BOY

    Vietnam = HELL

    Seriously, Food Stalls and Store around the touristy area in Hanoi are all scam! No exception!!
    Besides the ridiculous prices, the food lacks of hygiene. I got sick from eating that!! Oh and KFC in Hanoi is disgusting! Don’t even try!

    Always be aware of College STUDENTS, they are all “sophisticated” scammers. How? They said, they attracted to you because they want to “improve their english” BUT that is bullshit because they attracted to you because they know you have money, so they will asked you for “a date” to fancy restaurant (and mind you, fancy restaurant does not mean GOOD food, in fact it is SHITTY)
    Never think that you will SCORE! (NO SEX FOR YOU) Vietnamese college girl are ONLY interested to you because they know you can provide them what their BF or parents can’t!

    RULE #1: Ignore the students, they are all just free treat at fancy places.

    RULE #2: Avoid Beer Street in Hanoi. Instead go drinking at non tourists places, it could be just 15 minutes walking from busy spots, but you got HELLA cheaper drink.

    RULE #3: IGNORE over friendly person, most vietnamese DO NOT speak english, If you have encountered with good english friendly locals, be fucking aware!

    RULE #4: MY SECRET RULE, be FRIEND with YOUNGER but not OLDER Hotel Staffs. Offer to drink beer together, He/She will help you avoid scams.

    RULE #6: Shopping malls = Jokes. It catered to the New Rich locals. Prices are super high. The only good thing from a shopping mall in Vietnam is if you need to cool down after Extreme heat and humid climate.

    RULE #7: You need to go buy important stuff from convenience store (BEERS, Shampoo, Body Lotions, Towels, etc) in Hanoi? Use the “MOMS and POPS” type of store, the goods have price tagged.

    RULE #8: Bargaining is a big big no in Vietnam, always remember this. IF a vendor seller wiling to bargain, then the price is already marked up tenfolds.

    RULE #9: Dont exchange money, instead go to the Bank and draw from ATM.

    Reply
  38. Random lady

    Just one scam is enough to deter one family to Vietnam. Was in hcmc and my dad met this local who insisted to polish and repair his shoes no matter how many times my dad said no. In the end, the local not only polished the shoes but also added the additional soles to both. And guess how much the local wanted for all these. FREAKING ONE MILLION DONG! What is this! Polishing and repairing of soles only costs about 200k dong in my country. And guess what the other locals around were doing? Laughing and smirking while we haggled with the local. On top of all this, this happened in front of the hotel that we were staying. And the bellboys and the staff were not helping and even walked away! Until my mum went in to the reception and made a big fuss, then the staff decided to step in and help. Getting scammed is not the worst. Is that the locals aren’t even helping but seeing the foreigners got scammed and laughing at it. Never gonna come to Vietnam if I have a choice.

    Reply
  39. Arturo di Lucca

    I am in Vietnam for the third time and planning to come back for the fourth time. I remember my first scam in Hanoi 6 years ago, having just arrived by plane from Luang Prabang. I got a Sim at airport and reserved my hotel in old quarter, asked over the phone what a taxi would cost. I was told $16. I went to official taxi rank and got taxi to hotel. After 20 minutes the driver calls someone, 10 minutes later he stops at a hotel which had the name of the hotel I reserved. Some helpful guy opened my taxi door and handed out straight away a business card with the hotel name. I have never had that happen and I immediately felt something was not right. It also not looked like an old french quarter around me. I told driver I was going to call the hotel again to make sure. He then apologized and said the was Atlantic Hotel 2 instead of 1. He apologized with me not even making the call. As he drove again I was very stern with him and said one more cock up and I would not pay and call the police to report him.

    When I arrived at hotel I made sure the hotel staff had a few words with him. I don’t know if that did anything, but I felt good about busting his scam.

    This were the days before Uber and Grab, most taxis I took I booked through hotel and they were all reputable and metered. I decided to go to Cat Ba island and took taxi to bus station which all went OK. After my return from Cat Ba I decided to go to same hotel again. This time I took taxi from bus station. I said next to driver when I noticed the meter being extremely fast. I said to driver your meter is wrong and he said no and I asked him to stop in a stern way. He did and I gave him half what was on the meter. He did not even protest. I felt good having busted another scam.

    My next scam bust was when I noticed kids coming to me asking where I was from, then they showed me some euro coins and asking if I can change this for Vietnam Dong. I gave them Dong and I got euros, nothing fishy here and the rate was even in my favour. Two days later I am at a restaurant and kid ask me where I was from, I said Spain and he showed me his coin collection which was missing the 1 euro and 2 euro coin. It immediately clicked that was the way kids collect their coins to sell them on later for Vietnamese Dong.

    That was it, the rest of my first trip in Nam was great I had a wonderful 3 weeks.

    My 2nd trip to Nam was with my kids and wife and I have not been scammed at all. I use Grab all the time travel around, never have had too much money on me. When it come to haggling I have an idea or do some research to how much I want to pay. I know I will get the price that Vietnamese pay, and sometimes I accept that and sometimes I let a Vietnamese person that I know buy small things for me, to get the right price.

    You have to be street smart and know what things should cost. In other countries of South East Asia you need to apply similar rules. I must say credit to Vietnamese they are more crafty in getting $$$ then others. It is up to you to be smarter and be prepared. I never fall for the bait tactic, which is they give you something small to taste or they start polishing your shoe or give something to my children. I always say no in a stern way. My children 7 and 10 get valuable lessons in life.

    Lessons learned in Vietnam can also be applied to more craftier schemes used in Western countries where scams are more white collar and way more costly and harder to detect.

    I have found the people very friendly with my children, helpful and not wanting anything. I am coming back here for another period this year.

    Enjoy Nam and arm yourself to bust some scams.

    Reply
  40. Phil

    My story seems tame after reading some of the others. Walking toward the cultural area from the Old Quarter, I was offered a motorcycle tour of the city by a lovely young lady. I was in the process of separation, so welcomed the opportunity for feminine company. We agreed on $10/hour for the touring and a drop off location at the Temple of Literature. She was an adept cyclist who knew the city and showed me around. We chatted pleasantly, and she seemed as charmed by my company as I was with hers. She asked personal question about my status, hopes, etc., and she said she knew plenty of women who would love to meet me if I came back to Vietnam. All sounded legit. While crossing the bridge she told me that she liked me and wanted to “make a memory,” or something like that. Instead of paying her for the hours, I could pay for a dress, which would be for her a lasting memory. I agreed and paid 7 hours worth of touring for the garment. An hour later (3 total) she dropped me off, explaining that she had to meet a friend and leave town for the Tet holiday. She asked for email/phone, which I gave her with exponentially increasing suspicion. If I ever hear from her I might rescind this complaint. Hey, I had three pleasant hours with a lovely lady for $70. From my position in no-man’s land (separating), it was probably worth it. Still, I felt cheated for the second of three times during my short stay.

    Reply
  41. R.Sivadas

    KY TAM ANH INVESTMENT JOINT STOCK COMPANY ( Star Gems)

    Address: Km40 + 800, QL18A, Cong Hoa Ward, Chi Linh Town, Hai Duong Province

    i recently visited this shop , was advised by my tour company rep that this was a big and genuine shop and had bought two gems – a blue star sapphire ( $950) and a yellow sapphire ( us 4 1400) . on getting back home i got it checked with a certified gemologist and to my horror found i had been cheated . the blue sapphire was fake ( artificial lindt value $15 ) and the yellow sapphire was heat treated to enhance colour ( value $ 150) . hence my advice to all prospects to avoid this shop. I was completely cheated and I have both the gemologist report as also the admission of the store manager Mr. Ngoc Tu in a whatsapp chat ( he claimed it was a mistake and tried to buy my silence with a refund of $500)

    Reply
  42. Roz

    I found this page after I got caught by the gem scam in Bangkok and was determined to be prepared for the next leg of my trip in Hanoi. While I was better informed I can confidently say that Hanoi is nowhere near as bad as Bangkok. People are not persistent in hassling You, if you ignore they don’t ask again or follow you. Most of the above such as the fruit ladies and glue shoe fixers I never came across. But was definitely great and useful advice in addition to the survival guide provided by my hotel who were amazing throughout the 4 day stay- Oriental Suites Hotel on Hang Dao, if you’re interested. O’Spa inside this hotel was incredible, best massage ever and no hidden pricing. I loved Hanoi, enjoy your stay!

    Reply
  43. samuelkalolo@ymail.com

    I honestly wonder how some people come back from other countries at all – I research before my wife, son and I go on holiday.
    We’ve been to alot of asian countries for holidays and shopping
    and it seems like everyone goes with their eyes closed and minds empty, regardless of it being a holiday – you be aware and stay aware

    Reply
  44. Scott

    As a Expat-Kiwi/Vietnamese living back in Saigon. Its sad but true. Trust absolutely no-one, as everyone here is out to scam. Small proportion will do it for survival and then 99% of the rest will do it scrupulously just to RIP you off. Moral of the story is DONT TRUST ANYONE!

    Reply
    • Admin

      Thanks Tran! Hope this helps more fellow travellers!

      Reply
  45. Ricky

    Prostitution is a complete scam over here.I got ripped of $100.I picked up a prostitute from Bui Vien street.I paid that pimp $100.Then she took me inside a overpriced cab where she sat infront seat and sat in back seat.Meanwhile that whore was talking to the driver in Vietnamese language.When we arrived at the apartment,she quickly jumped out of taxi and sat on a bike and ran away.
    So the moral of the story never trust a Vietnamese girl who you suspect that is a whore and most probably 70% of them are.These ding girls got no moral.
    Fancy and extravaganza.And always try to be with friends.Its a complete rip off place.
    Don’t try to convert currencies in the head and do the math.Everything is overpriced.

    Reply
  46. Nathan Smith

    DRINKS SPIKED WITH DRUGS

    Just returned from HCMC and felt it was right to share my experience. We were a group of guys, mid 30’s having a great day playing golf followed by dinner. After a few drinks in ‘Chill roof top bar’ we moved on to Lush nightclub, must have been around 10 or 11pm.

    I was in good shape, enjoying myself but then in the blink of an eye I found myself out of the club, falling on the floor and what can only be described as a hallucinogenic 2 hour window. My eyes rolled around and my hands became distant and wavey, this was not alcohol induced but a spiking incident.

    I knew I was in trouble and after 2 hours of various motor bikes, a lot of scared running I found my way back to the hotel. The rest of the group came back to find me at 1am but at that point I did not want to leave my room again.

    Woke up and my pockets were empty. Credit cards, money and phone gone but bar that no other real issues (bit of fraud on my cards). I had no hangover and actually felt fine the next day.

    I think HCMC is a fun place to go out but the drug spiking really needs to be addressed. I feel like it could have been a lot worse based on other stories I have read and heard, however at the same time pretty annoyed my night was ruined.

    Will I revisit? Probably not.

    Reply
  47. Renato

    I got scam at HCMC airport. He overpriced the taxi 6 times more… 920k. I knew the price would be around 150k but I didn’t know how the taximeter works. I got the surprise when it ended the run. But it helped me to know this website and perhaps has a worse scam. Thank you guys!

    Reply
  48. Travis

    I am Vietnamese-American and visiting and I expected to be scammed and I was not surprised. I got scammed. The Vietnamese are professional liars! It must run in the genes. I guess mine is recessive. Yes they are a very poor country but its a never ending cycle. They scam tourists in who bring in the money so no repeat business like any organization in the free market. Next time I will just save the trouble and visit Thailand where the people are very genuine and friendly. Sorry Vietnam, you guys are on your own!

    Reply
  49. Donna

    I am a travel agent. And tried to do tricity or bangkok-cambodia-ho chi minh as experimental tour.
    I am always careful, assertive and vigilant when it comes to scamming. I never thought that i will be experiencing it Vietnam as known as THE SOUL OF SMILING country. Most people living in Ho chi minh city practices this chronic scamming. Vietmese have a huge different from Thai and Cambodias when it comes to attitude and dealing with tourist. Thai and Cambodians are honest in telling you to be very careful in dealing some nationals because they might take advantage of you.

    But when i got to ho chi minh, my first impression of vietnamese was streamly bad. They are rude and raises their voice when ask questions.

    First is taxi scamming. BEWARE OF TAXI SCAM. A man approaches us and told us that the hotel is 7mins away from the Giant Ibis drop off. Since i dont have a dong, he drop me in a pawnshop to change my 50usd in to 950k dong which i already lost 100k dong. After that we rode again in his taxi this time I’ve noticed that the meter was from 10k dong jumped to 541k dong in 7mins. I was not yet fully aware of the conversion that time. He quickly drop us off infront of the hotel and ask me to pay 541k dong. Ha! Then we went inside the hotel and ask the concierge them place is just near the drop off station. Uhg! Only to find out i got scam already. BE SURE YOUR COMPANION is vigilant also. Because mine… it’s was too late when they told me that he drop us in the same area. Without knowing it is just a few blocks away.

    Second, BEWARE OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE. It is unlike the other countries i visited, you’ll got the exact amount I exchanged for. But in here… i was wondering 10usd and 20usd have the same exchange rate. When i ask for an explanation the teller of the small foreign exchange station sarcastically told me “why ask, i know because i do it?”. I wanted to insist my point but i was reminded that i’m not in my own country. My experience in here was very devastating.

    Lastly, a rude waitress… whom we gently and courteously asked if the menu is spicy or not… then she raise her voice at us saying “so you are asking if it is spicy or not!!!” Whoaa…

    *My advice… if you still want to visit Vietnam, better you’ve arrange a 3D2N or 4D3N tour packages in a legit travel agency. You will feel safe.
    *Better go to Benh Market or department store in buying goods. *Better go to Post office of bank to exchange your money.
    *Be safe when doing tri city tour esp in Ho chi mihn city.

    I am a travel agent… I can assist you well in your tour. Because i have experienced it already.😀

    Reply
  50. H

    Hanoi Airport Scam + My Stupidity: Someone will approach you with Grab Taxi or Uber App open on their phone – and point to you. After driving a few km he told me to cancel the booking – it didn’t make sense for a while but finally I checked the app again and notice my driver was still at the airport waiting for me. Of Course, my mistake for not checking the registration of the car. He was aggressive, and gave me a sour taste in my mouth having just returned after two years. I have since had this attempted a couple of times at the airport.

    Reply

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