Vietnam is a truly unique country for touring and visiting, mainly because of its rich history. The country is blessed with a wide variety of attractions, natural features and architecture – all which look attractive. Like other countries however, Vietnam is equally filled with unpleasant elements ranging from petty crime, hostility from locals upon visitors, and day to day situations that may be unappealing when you visit. Numerous people ranging from journalists, expatriates and travelers have all had a few bad experiences in this country – but these can be avoided if you’re smart or ready beforehand.
- Limit the number of times you have to travel to the country with children. Research has shown that whilst the country is a perfect tour destination, it’s not child friendly at most levels. The biggest concern here is the heavy traffic – owing to the narrow highways which make movement and navigation with children quite unsafe. In addition, Vietnam has fairly poor hygiene infrastructure, apart from five star premises which might be very expensive - hence not the best for children, who are more delicate than adults.
- Try being conservative with your dressing, because Vietnamese people are traditionally very conservative in their mode of dressing. Ensure that you’re not dressed semi naked or half nude because the Vietnamese people like to cover up. As such, ensure that you’re not dressing in a flashy manner lest you attract negative attention.
- Limit the number of flashy and attention grabbing gadgets like your iPads and iPhones when on transit or during walks. These attract a lot of attention from the petty thieves plying Vietnamese streets. Flashy gadgets will make you a clear target for muggers and thieves who feed the thriving black markets in the capital and other major cities. Instead, opt for less attractive handsets and less flashy cameras to ensure your safety on Vietnamese streets.
- Tourist markets can be a great place to buy conical hats and other legendary Vietnamese artifacts, but limit the number of times you buy there. Most travelers report being fleeced and overcharged at these venues by locals who want to make a killing off travelers. However, after identifying a price range for what you’d like to buy, consider going to other open markets where pricing might be fair. Alternatively, use drivers or befriend locals who can help you avoid being fleeced by greedy vendors. Moreover, avoid fixed price products as these are specially overpriced, sometimes, three of four times more than the real prices.
- Be careful where you lodge for the night and what you carry to whatever hotel you sleep. As a general rule, never carry a lot of money in cash. Instead, opt for small bills. If you’re booking a home to live in during your visit of Vietnam, be careful about curfews (these mainly happen when you have to bypass the property owners to get to where you live) and dingy places with dirt.
- If you will stay in Vietnam for a number of days, it’s recommended that you avoid using motor cycles as a mode of transport as much as possible. Whilst these are more efficient in the heavy traffic, they expose you to a lot of risk on the road and can be boarded by criminals. Instead, use taxis to move around the city, or hire a car to drive yourself if you feel confident enough. Although these might be a bit more expensive (2-3 times more than motorcycles), the formers’ hazards are not worth the trouble.
- Limit the amount of cash you carry on yourself as much as possible. In fact, carry just enough cash on yourself when you are moving around. It’s also recommended for you pay bigger bills with your travelers’ check as much as possible. Also use cards like Visa, MasterCard or debit cards to avoid risking a lot when you’re moving around in Vietnam.
Overall, unlike countries with established tourist police departments, Vietnam is not among those plastic paradises created on earth. It has real situations and you must know how to deal with the not-so-good situations with creativity. While some people shun it entirely, you can stay safe by following the tips mentioned in this post.