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Vietnam's Tourist Reputation

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about Vietnam
1. Posted by rastacourage (Budding Member 23 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

I've been doing a lot of research lately on safety and solo female traveling around SE Asia. I'd really like to travel along the coast of Vietnam on my own. I have read in the past that Vietnam can be one of the safest places in SE Asia, and even the world, but recently I've seen that the country is getting a bad reputation for scamming tourists. Especially since I will be traveling alone, does anyone have some firsthand experience to attest to this? Recommendations on places to go/avoid? I'm sure that just like any place, Vietnam is what you make of it and that there's crime and wonderful people everywhere. Thanks guys!

2. Posted by balhannahrise (Respected Member 49 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

I nearly had my shoulder bag nearly snatched by 2 men on a motorbike, it was only the locals who looked behind me that made me look too. They were very close to me. Thank goodness I spotted them as it would have been a very nasty accident as I had my bag securely attached to me. Once discovered, they took off in the opposite direction. My tourist guide told me it was safe to walk around on my own here, this was in Mai Chau.

Be really aware, a woman on her own is different to a man on his own. There are lots of scams to be aware of, one is adding an extra zero to your taxi fare, so get an idea how much it should cost from your hotel.
They tried to rip myself off and friend right from when we had just arrived at the airport. In all my travels, Vietnam is the worst country I have ever been to for scams, and worse still, is they are teaching their children to scam the European tourists who they think are real wealthy.

3. Posted by king_golo (Full Member 50 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

In contrast to balhannahrise I experienced Vietnam as a very safe country. I've had a few bad experiences, but as I lived there for 6 months and re-visited for another 3 weeks, this amounts to pretty much nothing.

One scam that you might encounter is that the women with their picturesque baskets on a stick pose for your photograph and afterwards demand money from you. Simply don't take a photo if accosted like this, or take it from further away. Another scam is the selling of fruit for horrendous prices (about 10-20x as much as the locals pay) - but again you can avoid it by either not buying fruit or haggling. In general, haggling is a useful skill to develop in SE Asia. The only really bad experience I had was in a hotel on Cat Ba Island where the staff entered our room when we were away and started rummaging in our bags for money. We caught them in the act, so nothing was stolen, but this was definitely a not-so-good experience.

Concerning the point that you are travelling as a solo female, I can only relate to you what I've heard from other females, none of which had any problems whatsoever. Vietnam is not a country in which men accost sole female travellers or in which females count as prey for sex-hungry male hunters. It's simply not part of the Vietnamese culture. My students in Vietnam (I taught German there, but also arranged dancing classes) were so shy that they preferred to dance with partners of their own sex instead of checking out those of the other sex. People hugging or kissing in public were at that time still something extraordinary, and I remember one scene where all (!) of the female and some of the male staff of the language centre hid behind a bush in order to secretly (and with lots of giggling) watch a student couple kiss in public.

If you want to be on the safe side, avoid dark places at night, areas around bars that turn into brothels at night and generally run-down places with only very few tourists. I found that discovering non-touristy villages was one of the best pastimes I could have chosen, and that people were most often curious about the foreigner coming there, but never hostile.

Hope this helps.

4. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3864 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

I didn't have any issues with personal safety but some cyclo drivers tried to scam us, the one time when we didn't agree a price beforehand. There were 4 of us travelling on 2 cyclos and the price should have only been a few dollars but at the end of the journey the drivers demanded around $60 for what was a very short journey. Two more of their friends appeared and they all became quite aggressive and were shouting at us; it was quite unpleasant. In the end we paid less than $60 but still several times more than what the journey should have cost. So definitely agree a price beforehand; also beware of drivers saying the cost of a journey is $15 and then at the end of the journey claiming that you mis-heard and that they said $50 (or $17/$70 etc).

Vietnam is fantastic though so as long as you're on your guard for scams you'll be fine.

5. Posted by Dan Buksh (Budding Member 6 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Vietnam is not as bad as people present it to be to be honest. Personally speaking if you often read or hear about it does not mean that you are gonna experience the same. -snip-.

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

6. Posted by Muffintherabbit (Budding Member 32 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

I don't think Vietnam is as bad as people say but, the taxi drivers there are right robbing, scamming, overpricing, shouty morons.

They're the worse. The local traders, store owners, street food etc had a tendency to say a stupid price straight away but would haggle and knock it down to something reasonable.

As for crime, I didn't encounter any personally but a couple of people in the same hotel had their bag snatched by guys on a bike. I'd personally avoid carrying a bag and have some sort of bunbag carried under your shirt to avoid that because bag snatching seems to be a thing and can be quite dangerous.

7. Posted by king_golo (Full Member 50 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

Concerning the rip-offs with taxis or motorbike taxis or cyclos: ALWAYS agree on a price beforehand! If you prefer the safety of an air-conditioned taxi, take one where there is a meter switched on, but still ask for the price beforehand.
It might also be useful to learn the words for the numbers so that you can tell them in Vietnamese what price you want to pay.
Still, scams can be avoided rather easily, so don't make them spoil your plans.

8. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2012 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

Vietnam has some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet, but scammers are here too, and hit on people in certain areas: HCMC, Nha Trang, long distance buses and several taxi firms nationwide. Be wary of anyone who approaches you on the street without you asking first.

My advice is to travel slowly in this country and don't crowd your itinerary. Some wonderful places include Dalat, Quy Nhon/Bai Xep, Hoi An, Sapa and the wonderful city of Hanoi. Do extensive research prior to travel and talk to the locals.