Safety & Security Info

4Safety & Security when you are traveling

Vietnam is generally a safe country, however petty street crime is on the rise as tourist numbers increase. In Ho Chi Minh City we recommend that as little jewellery as possible is worn and that when on the street your spending money is kept close to your body in a secure place. We further recommended that you take taxis rather than cyclos at night. Taxis are metered and inexpensive. Carry a hotel card so that you can show your taxi driver where you want to go. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes at all times and carry photocopies of your passport, credit card numbers, and airline tickets, and keep a record of your encashed travellers cheques. These papers should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals
Official Country personnel and tourists are sometimes not authorized to travel to the Central Highland areas without prior consent from the Government of Vietnam. These travel limitations may hinder the ability of the Government to provide assistance to private all tourist in those areas.
all tourist have been detained after traveling in areas close to the Vietnamese borders with China, Cambodia and Laos. These areas are not always marked, and there are no warnings about prohibited travel. Travelers should avoid such areas unless written permission is obtained in advance from local authorities.
Large gatherings, such as those forming at the scene of traffic accidents, can become violent, and should be avoided.

Beggar Fatigue
Just as you’re about to dig into the scrumptious Vietnamese meal you’ve ordered, you feel a tug on your shirt sleeve. This latest ‘annoyance’ is a bony, eight-year-old boy holding his three-year-old sister in his arms. The little girl has a distended stomach and her hungry eyes are fixed on your full plate. This is the face of poverty. How do you deal with these situations? If you’re like most of us, not very well. Taking the matter into your own hands by giving out money or gifts to people on the streets can cause more damage than good. The more people are given hand-outs, the more reliant and attracted to life on the streets they become. When money is tight. people recognise that life on the streets is no longer so fruitful. This will hopefully discourage parents and ‘pimps’ forcing children and beggars onto the streets. One way to contribute and help improve the situation is to invest just a few hours to find out about local organisations that work with disadvantaged people; these groups are far more likely to make sure contributions are used in the most effective way possible to help those who need it. However, if you want to do something on the spot, at least avoid giving money or anything that can be sold. The elderly and the young are easily controlled and are ideal begging tools. If you are going to give something directly to a beggar, it’s better to give food than money; take them to a market or stall and buy them a nutritious meal or some fruit to be  sure they are the only beneficiaries.

Karaoke clubs and massage parlours are ubiquitous throughout Vietnam. Sometimes this may mean an ‘orchestra without instruments’, or a healthy massage to ease a stiff body. However, more often than not, both of these terms are euphemisms for some sort of prostitution. There may be some singing or a bit of shoulder tweaking going on, but ultimately it is just a polite introduction to something naughtier. Legitimate karaoke and legitimate massage do exist in the bigger cities, but as a general rule of thumb, if the place looks small and sleazy, it most probably is.

Con artists and thieves are always seeking new tricks to separate naive tourists from their money and are becoming more savvy in their ways. We can’t warn you about every trick you might encounter, so maintain a healthy scepticism and be prepared to argue when unnecessary demands are made for your money. Beware of a motorbike-rental scam that some travellers have encountered in HCMC. Rent a motorbike and the owner supplies an excellent lock, insisting you use it. What he doesn’t tell you is that he has another key and that somebody will follow you and ‘steal’ the bike at the first opportunity.You then have to pay for a new bike, as per the signed contract. More common is when your motorbike won’t start after you parked it in a “safe’ area with a guard. But yes, the guard knows somebody who can repair your bike. The mechanic shows up and quickly reinstalls the parts they removed earlier and the bike works again. That will be US$10, please. Beware of massage boys who, after a price has been agreed upon, try to extort money from you afterwards by threatening to set the police on you (these threats are generally empty ones). The most common scam most visitors encounter is the oldest in the book. The hotel of choice is ‘closed’ or ‘full’, but the helpful taxi driver will take you somewhere else. This has been perfected in Hanoi, where there are often several hotels with the same name in the same area. Book by telephone or email in advance and stop the scammers in their tracks. Despite an array of scams, however, it is important to keep in mind the Vietnamese are not always out to get you. One concerning trend we’re noticing in Vietnam, relative to neighbouring countries such as Cambodia and Laos, is a general lack of trust in the locals on the part of foreigners. Try to differentiate between who is good and bad and do not close yourself off to every person you encounter.

The Vietnamese are convinced that their cities are full of criminals. Street crime is commonplace in HCMC and Nha Trang, and on the rise in Hanoi, so it doesn’t hurt to keep the antennae up wherever you are. HCMC is the place to really keep your wits about you. Don’t have anything dangling from your body that you are not ready to part with, including bags and jewellery, which might tempt a robber. Keep an eye out for drive-by thieves on motorbikes – they specialise in snatching handbags and cameras from tourists on foot and taking cyclos in the city. Pickpocketing, which often involves kids, women with babies and newspaper vendors, is also a serious problem, especially in the tourist areas of HCMC. Many of the street kids, adorable as they may be, are very skilled at liberating people from their wallets. Avoid putting things down while you’re eating, or at least take the precaution of fastening these items to your seat with a strap or chain. Remember, any luggage that you leave unattended for even a moment may grow legs and vanish. There are also ‘taxi girls’ (sometimes trans-vestites) who approach Western men, give them a big hug, often more, and ask if they’d like ‘a good time”. Then they suddenly change their mind and depart, along with a mobile phone and wallet. We have also had reports of people being drugged and robbed on long-distance buses. It usually starts with a friendly passenger offering a free Coke, which turns out to be a chloral-hydrate cocktail. You wake up hours later to find your valuables and new-found ‘friend’ gone. Despite all this, don’t be overly paranoid. Although crime certainly exists and you need ro be aware of it, theft in Vietnam does not seem to be any worse than what you’d expect anywhere else. Don’t assume that everyone’s a thief- most Vietnamese arc poor, but honest
CRIME: Cities in Vietnam have the crime problems typical of many other large cities throughout the world. Pick-pocketing and other petty crimes occur regularly. Although violent crimes such as armed robbery are still relatively rare in Vietnam, perpetrators have grown increasingly bold, and We has received recent reports of knives and razors being used in attempted robberies in Ho Chi Minh City. Thieves congregate around hotels frequented by foreign tourists and business people, and assaults have been reported in outlying areas. The evolving nature of incidents warrants caution on the part of the tourist traveler. Travelers are advised not to resist theft attempts, and to report them both to police and to Your. Embassy in Hanoi or Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City
Motorcyclists are known to snatch bags, cameras and other valuables from pedestrians or passengers riding in “cyclos” (pedicabs) or riding on the back of rented motorcycles. Serious injuries have resulted when thieves snatched purses or bags that were strapped across their victims’ bodies, resulting in the victim being dragged along the ground by the thief’s motorcycle.
Passengers riding in cyclos (pedicabs) may be especially prone to thefts of personal possessions by snatch-and-grab thieves, because they ride in a semi-reclining position that readily exposes their belongings and does not allow good visibility or movement. As some cyclo drivers have reportedly kidnapped passengers and extorted money, it may be risky to hire cyclos not associated with reputable hotels or restaurants.
Travelers are strongly advised to keep passports and other important valuables in hotel safes or other secure locations. Travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of their passport with them when going out. The loss or theft abroad of traveller’s passport should be reported immediately to the local police and Your Embassy or the Your. Consulate General. Travellers must obtain a police report from the local police office in order to apply for a replacement passport and a Vietnamese exit visa.
Travelers should take precaution in choosing ground transportation upon arrival at the airports in Hanoi and HCMC. Some travelers have reported being robbed by drivers who had greeted them upon arrival with a placard showing the traveler’s name. If one is expecting to be picked up, ensure that the driver truly knows who they are picking up and where they are taking them. It is best to stick with only airport taxis or vehicles provided by hotels. Several times in the past year in Hanoi, people have been extorted by taxi drivers who took them from the airport to flophouses masquerading as hotels. Travelers should be familiar with the hotel they have chosen.
There have been occasional reports of incidents in which an unknown substance was used to taint drinks, leaving the victim susceptible to further criminal acts. Travelers are advised to avoid leaving drinks or food unattended and to avoid going to unfamiliar venues alone. Travelers should also avoid purchasing liquor from street vendors, as the quality of the contents cannot be assured