An overview of the most common scams in North Vietnam. This article from Vietnam Travel Guide will help you to have a hassle free trip in Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa.
All in all, Vietnam is a very safe country to travel to. Compared to most major tourist cities in the West – Paris, London, New York, Rome – the streets in Vietnam’s urban centers are much less threatened. However, at some of the popular tourist spots in Vietnam, there are a number of travel scams and safety hazards that all travelers should be aware of. In this Vietnam Travel Guide – the first in a two-part series – we describe some of the scams that are common in Northern Vietnam – especially in Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Sapa. This guide to avoiding popular travel scams will help you get the most out of this wonderful country and avoid any negative experiences.
HOW TO AVOID SCAM IN THE NORTH OF VIETNAM – HANOI, HA LONG BAY AND SAPA
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is one of the busiest and most attractive cities in Southeast Asia. However, as tourist numbers steadily increase, so do tourist scams.
Airport taxi scam: Many tourists walked out of Noi Bai airport, Hanoi in a lost mood after a long flight. Scam taxis take advantage of this by picking up passengers at the arrival gate of the airport and immediately saying that the hotel they booked is closed. They will then offer to take you to another, better, cheaper hotel. Sure enough, this turned out to be a much more expensive and shoddy hotel. Confused and tired, visitors give in to the demands and check in. Of course, taxi drivers get reduced room rates. The solution is to pre-arrange an airport pick-up service through your hotel when you make your reservation, or upon arrival at the airport, look out for the official airport taxi drivers (who wear bright yellow jackets). ). Also, make sure you flag a trusted taxi company like Mai Linh, ABC or Taxi Group. Note: We have covered other common taxi scams in Ho Chi Minh and southern provinces in another post.
Fruit Seller Scam : Famous in recent years, this scam involves local fruit vendors, who toil along the streets of Hanoi carrying on their backs bamboo poles laden with tropical fruit. The fruit vendors suggest tourists ‘go’ while carrying the bamboo pole, seeing it as a nice photo opportunity. When tourists return the pole to the fruit seller, they demand ‘service’ money or insist that you have to buy their expensive fruit in return. Don’t pick up that pole! This popular scam can also be found in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hotel currency rate: Some budget hotels in Hanoi are famous for defrauding guests by converting room rates from USD to VND, massively inflated the exchange rate. They may also say that the price quoted is per person, not per room. Double check when you book and keep any email confirmations you receive as proof. Hotels may also charge guests for any pre-existing damage to the room. If anything breaks when you arrive, notify the front desk immediately so they can’t hold you responsible.
Hoan Kiem Hospitality: Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake is a favorite activity of tourists as well as locals. Young men and women will approach you to practice English and ‘make friends’. While this is often a genuine attempt to establish a friendly relationship – I have good friends who do exactly this – it can sometimes lead to invitations to expensive meals. or day outings where you’ll be billed. Use your ‘traveler radar’ to judge if the contact is genuine.
Famous for the mysterious limestone mountains rising from the sea, Ha Long Bay is a captivating sight. However, these days, it can get quite crowded with boat tours. Before visiting you should note a few things.
Cruises & Cruises: A day excursion (and often a night too) around Ha Long Bay is one of the most popular tours in Vietnam. Tourists often book package tours from Hanoi. They vary widely in price and quality. Travelers who book rooms at cheaper places are often disappointed: bad food, bad accommodation, sloppy service. More importantly, your main concern should be safety. Vietnam has a poor maritime safety record and in recent years there have been many incidents in Ha Long Bay, including the sinking of a cruise ship and a fire on board, resulting in the death of visitors. Our advice is to spend more on your tour and double check your credentials before you book. This not only ensures better quality, but also means better safety standards. A package tour to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi should be around $100-150, anything less and you risk disappointment. Another point to note is that boat tours are often canceled due to bad weather, especially during the monsoon months from July to September. Good tour companies will refund you, but many cheaper companies do not. Make sure you understand your tour’s policy clearly.
On the train Theft: Not surprisingly, there are reports of belongings and valuables being stolen on some of the cheaper cruise ships. Be careful not to leave your valuables unattended. At night, cruise ships should have lockers available for passengers so you can sleep easily knowing that your possessions are safe.
Floating restaurant: There are hundreds of floating restaurants in Ha Long Bay that offer fresh, affordable seafood. However, these restaurants represent the most potential market in Vietnam; With water on all sides, where would you run to if your landlord decided to overcharge you? Determine in advance (before you make the trip there) the cost of meals and whether drinks and round-trip train fares are included in the price. Restaurants in Ben Beo, off Cat Ba Island, are said to be tastier and less touristy than elsewhere. A boat going and going will be about 150,000 VND, but don’t pay the fee before the journey back to the mainland is complete, or you may find yourself stranded at sea.
Unfortunately, a mountain town surrounded by towering peaks and deep valleys, Sapa’s natural beauty is marred by the constant hassle of buying cheap things and booking tours. tourism, as well as quirky tourist scams.
Hotel booking bogus: Such is the tourism boom of Sapa that, in recent years, hotels have struggled to accommodate hundreds (even thousands) of domestic and foreign tourists on any given night, especially on the weekends. weekends and holidays. Even if you have booked your room months in advance, you may still see ‘no availability’ when you arrive. Check the reputation of your chosen hotel before booking, and if you have already booked, reconfirm your reservation prior to arrival. One of the best things about staying in Sapa is having breathtaking mountain views from your hotel balcony. When you book, check back and forth to make sure you’ll have a clear mountain view, and as always, keep the confirmation email from the hotel. Many visitors come to Sapa only to find that their mountain view is nothing more than an air conditioner and bare brick wall.
Pick up at the station: Rides to Sapa from Lai Cao train station are not accepted from anyone except your booked hotel or travel agent. If you can’t arrange transportation, take a taxi ($25) or one of the reliable minibuses that wait outside the station (VND50,000).
Lend a hand? A quiet walk around Sapa town or the surrounding countryside is now almost impossible. At every turn, tourists are met with shouts of ‘You bought something?’ or ‘I take you for a nice walk’. The troubles are constant and out of control. Many tourists come to Sapa specifically to visit the ethnic minorities living in the nearby mountains. It can be difficult, but you should ignore the approaches from friendly minority girls telling you their life stories and offering you a free walk to their village. Inevitably, these ‘free’ guides will demand, beg, and even demand money when you reach their village. Don’t pay for a service you didn’t ask for or to get girls to leave you alone, as this just sets a precedent – these young ladies’ time should be better spent studying, but for now , wandering the streets of Sapa is simply more lucrative for tourists. All this leaves visitors in a dilemma: what is real and what is fake? Is hospitality just a ruse to scam? Contact Sapa O’Chau (www.sapaochau.org) for more information about the situation and tours with genuine local guides.
We hope you found this blog post and our Vietnam Travel Tips useful.