In this, the second in our two-part series on how to avoid common tourist scams in Vietnam, we focus on popular tourist attractions in the south of the country. Saigon, Nha Trang and Hoi An all have scams and safety hazards that travelers should be aware of. Read part 1 of this series if you are traveling to North Vietnam and are concerned about safety.
HOW TO AVOID SCAMS IN THE SOUTH VIETNAM – SAI GON, NHA TRANG AND HOI AN
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is Vietnam’s largest, busiest and most exciting city. In any such city, there will always be scams and dangers to watch out for.
Airport Taxi & Cyclo scam: Read our blog post about these notorious scams in Vietnam.
**** If you don’t want to deal with taxis altogether, or if you are arriving in Ho Chi Minh City very late and/or you have young children, we strongly recommend booking Grab taxi (download the app) for the best airport transfers in Hochiminh City ****
Hit-and-Run ‘Cowboys’: Robbery (including backpacks, handbags, neck-worn cameras and loosely held ‘smart’ technology) is quite common in tourist hotspots, such as Ben Thanh Market, Pham Ngu Lao (‘backpacker’ district), and Le Loi street. Be especially careful when crossing the streets around Ben Thanh Market and when walking on the sidewalk near the road in Pham Ngu Lao near the park. Always carry a backpack or bag in front of you, and don’t use smartphones and tablets in crowded public areas. Another thing to watch out for, especially in Pham Ngu Lao, are the adorable ‘street kids’ roaming the backpacker area befriending tourists and selling them gum. along with other things. These kids are supposed to go to school and the money they get from you will only go back to the control of the adults (usually not their parents).
Vietnam’s favorite beach party city, most scams in Nha Trang revolve around nightlife and the beach.
Carbonated beverage container: Shared drink ‘buckets’ are great fun for a budget-conscious group, but bartenders sometimes mix up these cocktails with their own ‘pills’, which can lead to more things than not. just a bad hangover. There have been cases of foreigners being robbed after drinking spiked bucket cocktails. Stay away from the bucket or at least make sure you’re leaning on the bar staff when they pour the wine.
‘Crowded House pickpockets: Known as the party city, Nha Trang is packed with bars and nightclubs. Naturally, this is a pickpocket dream. Keep your wits about you: if someone turns against you on the dance floor it’s not necessarily a prelude to networking; When the dance is over, you can see that your wallet and smartphone are no longer in your pocket. The same goes for busy bars, where customers jostle each other. Keep the amount of cash you bring to a minimum (admittedly, this can be difficult if you’re planning a great night out). You should invest in a cheap ‘dumb phone’ for a night out; a standard Nokia is only $20 in Vietnam. Or, quite simply, don’t get too tired; it’s much easier to stay awake when you haven’t had 5 mojitos, 6 beers and 3 glasses Jägermeister.
Beach Thieves: The long and beautiful Nha Trang beach is fertile ground for opportunistic robbers: a handbag or phone is left unattended for a few minutes while a surfer can be gone in seconds. As with nights out on the town, bring only what you need to the beach. Also, bag snatchers while driving can yank the bag off your back before you realize what’s going on, especially on coastal roads and backpacker streets. Always carry a bag or camera on the front when in these areas.
Local visitors: Young Vietnamese men are known to have taken photos and videos of young foreign women wearing bikinis on the beaches of Nha Trang city. Taken from the beachside park, these people are not very refined. There’s not much you can do but ignore it, and it’s probably best not to sunbathe topless, which is illegal anyway.
Long Son Pagoda: Don’t be fooled into taking a fake tour around this Buddhist complex by tag-printed kids claiming to be guides working for the monks. After they’ve shown you around, they’ll either insist on ‘donating’ the monks or you buy expensive postcards from them. Firmly say ‘no’ and if they continue, make it clear that you won’t give them any money.
Thankfully, Hoi An is one of the safest tourist destinations in Vietnam. However, there are a few minor scams and inconveniences to watch out for.
Tailors: Probably the What visitors can do in Hoi An is get tailor-made clothes from one of the hundreds of skilled tailors here. Prices vary from high end to low end, but overall you’ll get what you deserve: if you’re looking for cheap, chances are the garment doesn’t fit, the materials are substandard, and the stitching won’t work. unsprung as soon as you get back to your home country. Do your research and shop around before deciding where to go. (See previous XO blog for more details)
Manicure scam: A common scam, run by very powerful women lurking in the old town, is to offer manicures and other beauty treatments for a dollar or two, just to claim Ask more after the job is done. Simple solution; not beautified on the streets of Hoi An.
Theft & Trouble: Hoi An may be a small place but it is extremely popular with domestic and foreign tourists. The narrow old streets can get very crowded during peak months and holidays. Pickpocketing and pickpocketing can be a problem in crowded places, especially around the Japanese Bridge and riverside during the full moon lantern festival. Don’t carry too much cash or valuables, such as personal belongings, on you and keep bags and backpacks in front of you. The general trouble of buying things and booking tours is quite persistent, but aggressive tactics are rare in Hoi An.
Don’t let this list of scams scare you off: Vietnam is an extremely safe place to travel and the people here are incredibly hospitable, friendly, and honest. Keep an open mind and if or when a scam occurs, try to stay calm and weigh the relative costs of money or inconvenience. Remember that tourist scams mostly happen in tourist areas; the best way to avoid scams altogether is to get out of the rut
We hope you found this Vietnam blog post and our Vietnam Travel Tips useful.