Hi Am about to head off to Vietnam Hoi An and Hanoi all on my lonesome. Have just been reading that Hanoi is not much fun??? Please can anyone advise if this is really true? A bit concerned about the whole prospect...first time I've gone on my own and everyone seems intent on telling me horror stories. Give me some clues as I want to leave with a positive but realistic expectation. Are pickpockets really that bad that it is necessary to sew money etc on inside of clothes????
Pick up a copy of the latest Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Vietnam. They usually stay pretty current with security and safety conditions.
Take normal safety precautions, don't flash big bills when buying something. Have enough "small money" to cover most of your purchases. I like to stay in hotels that have security boxes for my valuables and only keep enough money to last a day or two on me.
Make sure you have a photo copy of your information page from your passport placed in a couple of locations in your luggage. That photo copy may help you get a replacement passport from your embassy if your passport becomes "lost" some how.
You can store some important personal data on the internet simply by typing anything you want to recall in an e-mail to your self and then save that e-mail. If you have an e-mail that lots of people know your password - change it - or set up another e-mail account, Yahoo and Hotmail are free. I like to save my flight intineraries and reference numbers on the internet for easy recall.
Don't take anything of great value with you on your travels. If you would shed big tears over losing a particular "family" heirloom or personal item - leave it home! Unless you need a laptop for business - leave it at home and pay the small fee to rent a computer at an internet shop.
If you are worried about pickpockets a lot you can sew some velcro on your pockets for some added security. If you do resort to a money belt I prefer the position at my back, under my shirt, between my waistline belt and t-shirt. I see so many people with money belts or valuables showing under their shirts like a huge tumor - that may give a thief a reason to steal from you.
And the obvious, avoid places that are too dark late at night, don't get falling down drunk and become an easy victim. Don't throw your money away paying too much for stuff. When you bargain on the market always compare prices, you can start your offer around 25%, you can always raise your offer but when you foolishly offer too much it is hard to get a lower price. You can tell the vendor you will return. Don't think you are offending a vendor if your offer is low, most of the vendors think tourists are just "mobile" ATM's anyway!
You should be okay. Do read up on Vietnam before you leave home. Lonely Planet travel forum is another good message board you can use too.
Hi there Annnie,
Personally I LOVED Hanoi - it's beautiful, hectic, full of character and atmosphere, and has plenty to keep you occupied for a few days at least. Definitely go to the Temple of Literature for the tranquility of the place, and to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum if only to see how the Vietnamese (at least from the North) revere his memory.
The people of Hanoi are super friendly and you really shouldn't worry about pickpockets (or other petty crime) more in Hanoi than you would in any city. Obviously take the usual precautions - do carry TCs, dont carry to much cash on you at a time, try to use a safe in your guesthouse if you can - but there's cetainly no reason to be nervous.
There are countless guestouses in the old city and i'd definitely recommend you locate yourself there. Stay somewhere that's busy with travellers and you'll be fine - we bought the the old edition of the Lonely Planet on our way to Hanoi from Sapa and planned to use it's large list of guesthouses, but in the end we were snapped up by a hotel tout on his bike and his friend's guesthouse turned out to be very modern, clean and friendly. If I could remember the name I'd definitely recommend it - it's in the northern part of the old city and has the word 'traveller' in it, if that's anyhelp !!
If you've got any more questions or concerns i'll be happy to help...
The people of Hanoi are super friendly and you really shouldn't worry about pickpockets (or other petty crime) more in Hanoi than you would in any city.
I'd dispute that, and for the whole of Vietnam. You need to be VERY careful, although not paranoid. I had 3 attempted pickpockets in Hanoi (2 within about 15mins, although that was at night), whilst two of the girls also had bag snatching attempts. In Nha Trang further south, there were 3 seperate incidents (and i've heard of a couple more, who were less fortunate) of girls with small handbags ending up on the floor as a passenger on a passing motorbike tried to grab their bags. Basically, be aware anytime that more than one person is coming and talking to you/selling something, as one will probably be trying to distract you whilst the other brushes your pockets to relieve there contents.
I actually liked Hanoi much more than allot of the rest of the country, but do take care. If you have a shoulder type bag, al;ways wear it across your body, not over one arm,. Assume that EVERYBODY is out to conn you the entire time, so haggle and bargain for everything. Always do it politely and with a smile. Walking away and laughing is the quickest way to get the price slashed. If in doubt, there are at least another 50 or so places selling the same thing (whatever it is), so just walk away.
Thats not to sound alarmist though, just be careful.
Well it's right you should be careful with money and documents when walking around. However, it's not really a terrible thing to worry, it may make you nervous and not enjoy trip.
Should bring enough money and copy documents, put original ones at hotel, traveller cheque is good way to keep your money safe. Using money belt under your t shirt. If you carry camera, hang it around your neck, if put it inside shoulder bag make sure to wear it across your body.
I myself think those are popular thing you care of whenever you travel to foreign countries alone ( i did that too).