It pays to know what to avoid when in Vietnam for your safety – especially if this your first time!
Travelling to a foreign country, there are several do’s and don’ts that every traveller must at least know about. Oftentimes it saves you from any harm or helps you steer clear of any unwanted conflicts or scenarios during a trip!
Avoid political issues (Vietnam War or Government Affairs)
In any country around the world, it is best to stay away from any political issues. Vietnam does not acknowledge the concept of freedom of speech and anyone is not allowed to discuss the Vietnam War and comment on the corruption around the city.
These discussions can provoke a negative response from any crowd in the country which can then land you in an unpleasant situation. You are allowed to blog about sensitive issues associated with the country, but you have to be very careful when addressing government authorities.
Like other notable countries such as South Korea, you are not permitted to take a snap of any military installations in the country, this is considered a punishable offence. So avoid photographing such places.
Avoid showing off your belongings
Unless you are welcoming any form of robbery or even small time pickpockets, then by all mean show off. Otherwise, keep your valuables like iPods, mobile phones, cameras as well as your bags carefully.
Travelers are often the target of petty crimes happening all over the country. So always be mindful of people around and make sure to keep your valuables.
Petty thefts are a common problem in tourist attractions, so you would want to keep an eye on your luggage especially when on the streets.
Power tip: Never store your money in one pocket. Keep separate sums in different bags so that you can have a backup when one is lost.
Moreover, it’s also safer to leave important documents such as passports and ID cards in the hotel if you plan to be outside all day.
Avoid confusing “15” and “50”
A usual scenario on the streets of Vietnam is a confused tourist. A good example is when you purchase a cup of coconut water or hit a shoe, make sure it’s “15,000”, not “50,000.” So, use your finger to make sure you get it right.
You would think 35 thousand is a very small amount, but according to surveys, it is one of the main reasons why tourists cease to return to Vietnam. Anyone does not fancy getting deceived!
Avoid getting on a random taxi or motorbike
One major thing to avoid when in Vietnam is getting on a random taxi or motorbike. Motorbike taxis — xe ôm in Vietnamese — are notorious cheats.
The most common scam they pull is when they agree on a price for a trip and then ask for a lot more when you arrive at your destination. They’ll tell you that you must’ve misheard them, and when you argue, you’ll end up in an unwanted awkward scenario.
Motorbike drivers know most foreigners would rather pay a couple dollars than make a huge scene in an unfamiliar area with no friends around.
On the other hand, taxi drivers can overcharge you by going a long way or turning off the meter. It is highly recommended to use cab booking apps such as Grab to know the fare beforehand and avoid travel scams.
Should you find yourself out of the mercy of the Grab app for an unforeseen reason, the two best taxi companies in Vietnam to look for are Vinasun (white) and Mai Linh (green).
Majority of the drivers in these companies are honest and trustworthy. Unfortunately, there are other companies that use similar names and matching brand colors. They’ll trick you by pointing to their meter, since everyone knows to only get in taxis that have one.
But you’ll quickly notice that the meter counts faster than normal. And when you pay, the drivers will often try the money switch scam. Make sure you get in a Vinasun or Mai Linh, or use an app like Grab.
Avoid undercooked food
Prior to even heading to Vietnam, it is always best to have a check on any particular allergies that you may have. However, should you think you have a sensitive stomach, it is best to try to avoid eating any suspicious street finds. To be safe, stick to bread and sweets, plus anything that’s steaming hot. If you want to be extra cautious, skip garnishes or sauces, but you’ll be missing the fun.
A good indication of a safe and clean food place is when you see plenty of customers or if the place is jam-packed. Vietnam generally offers a variety of mouthwatering dishes, however, before even diving into a food coma, it is best to be cautious.