How Safe Is It to Travel in Vietnam?

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How Safe Is It to Travel in Vietnam?

by Holxo Travel Specialist

VIETNAM
TRAVEL TIPS

An enchanting country, Vietnam is recognized around the globe for its stunning natural landscapes, captivating culture and exceptional cuisine. Since the 1990s, Vietnam has grown to become a major tourist destination; however, a certain sense of unknown continues to linger in the minds of travellers. Which is why we’re here to share some Vietnam travel tips for your safety.

Is travelling through Vietnam safe?

The big questions running through the minds of tourists are - is Vietnam safe to travel to? Like other relevant topics, this is a subjective question and the answer depends on a variety of personal experiences and opinions.

Largely, Vietnam is a safe country to travel to for all kinds of travellers - backpackers, solo travellers, friends, couples or families.

It starts with the Vietnamese people who are friendly and very welcoming, especially towards travellers. Vietnamese people are also attentive to your problems, especially when you are their guest.

It goes without saying that petty crimes such as pickpocketing and scams exist in touristy areas of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. When you are travelling around Vietnam, exercise a little caution and care to avoid encountering such instances.    

Here is some information in order to help you plan for your Vietnam vacation packages while also staying safe.

1. Vietnam weather and typhoon season 

Vietnam is a country with tropical monsoon weather and is divided into three climatic zones - north and north-central, central and the south. Overall for all three regions, typhoons occur during the months of September, October, and November. Typically, there are an average of four to six typhoons every year. Typhoons can be mortally dangerous and its best to avoid travelling during this season.

2. Traffic and road safety

Vietnam is infamous for the hundreds of thousands of motorbikes that make their way through the towns and cities daily. It’s a place known for hectic traffic which can be a cause of concern. Two activities to pay extra attention to while travelling around Vietnam are crossing the road and riding a motorbike. 

Crossing the road for first-timers can be an overwhelming task. In big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, there’s an endless flow of cars and motorbikes which sometimes don’t stop at a red light. With such a heavy movement, crossing can be a daunting task. As an Indian, you have an added advantage over visitors from other countries as you come with sufficient experience of traffic in our cities! The situation is similar to crossing a busy road back home.   

Driving a motorbike is another intimidating task. With barely any rules in place, it’s bewildering for outsiders. To make it easier, just follow the rules, drive slowly, stick to your side of the road and wear your helmet. Don’t forget to honk occasionally. Also, ensure you carry your international driving license to avoid unnecessary hassles with the police.

bikes in vietnam

3. Petty crimes and violent crimes

Petty crimes are often seen in Vietnam tourist spots like Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Ho Chi Minh’s District 1. Most often they are snatching of the purse, camera, phone, etc. and typically committed against those who are alone.

The most typical form involves a blissfully unaware tourist and two individuals on a motorbike. When a tourist holds out a phone or camera, the bike will slowly pull alongside the tourist and in a flash, the passenger on the bike will grab your possessions and the driver will zoom away. Generally, the loss is just a few hundreds of dollars but at times, this can result in something serious.

You can stay safe by:

  • Keeping your belongings close to your body
  • Keep an eye on your surroundings before you click a photo or take out your wallet
  • Don’t walk alone, always move around in groups

Another situation where you need to be careful is when you use public transportation like trains or buses. Not only can your things get stolen but also bags can be ripped open. To avoid such instances, keep your valuables in front of you and hold on to them tightly.

One other concern travellers should be aware of is the taxi scam, especially first-timers who are unfamiliar with the way of the land. The taxi drivers have quite a few tricks up their sleeve like driving in circles, changing the meter to make it run faster or running fake taxis. In big cities, you can avoid such scams by:   

  • Using reliable taxi brands while travelling through Vietnam
  • Relying on Google Maps for the best possible route from point A to point B
  • Extensively using trusted services like Grab or Uber. Grab is the most popular one here.

If you are worried about violent crimes, they’re rare even against foreigners.

4. Are the food and water safe?

The food in Vietnam is known for its flavours and taste. In general, the food is safe. However, with street food vendors, there are a few risks. The vegetables and herbs may not be cleaned thoroughly which can cause an upset tummy. For oily dishes, the oil can be used multiple times. Grilled street food is open to dust and smoke from bikes and cars. Following a few tips can help you avoid such circumstances.

  • Know your stomach. You need to know what you can and can’t eat and what you are allergic to.
  • Not all street food vendors are bad, play it by ear. If there are crowds, then it’s probably doing well and so they use fresh ingredients. Make your decision based on the situation and what you see.
  • Carry medications just in case.
  • To stay completely safe, eat only at well-established restaurants.

street food in vietnam

Similarly, you cannot drink tap water in Vietnam. Stick to bottled water.

A few other quick tips to keep in mind are:

  • Carry copies of your travel documents or important documents.
  • Keep an eye on the weather especially during the rainy season. Carry umbrellas, a raincoat, and proper shoes.
  • On the other hand, summer at Vietnam tourist spots can get really hot. So always carry sunscreen and a water bottle to stay hydrated.
  • Clothing: Wear appropriate clothing, depending on where you are going. In bigger cities, the dress code is slightly relaxed as opposed to smaller cities/towns. Moreover, while visiting temples, prayer rooms, etc. you need to wear clothing which covers your hands and legs. You cannot wear short skirts, shorts, strappy clothes, etc. If you must, you can wear a shawl to cover your arms.
  • Currency: The official currency is the Vietnamese Dong. You only have big notes which start from VND 10,000 going all the way up to VND 500,000 bills. At first understanding and getting a hang of the number of zeros can be challenging, hence always count your money and change. The best place to exchange your currency is at the airport and banks. Alternatively, you can withdraw money from the ATM but the fees and charges vary.
  • Travel Insurance: After planning the perfect vacation, it’s no fun when you fall sick, have your stuff stolen or lose your bags. Of course, there’s no sure shot way to prevent such incidences; however, travel insurance is an excellent way to safeguard your trip. Travel insurance covers a variety of situations like medical, protection against cancellation of the trip, monetary compensation, travel delay, unforeseen losses, etc. Keep in mind that the details depend entirely on the plan that you choose.   

Final thoughts on the safety of Vietnam

Travelling around Vietnam is extremely safe. There are a few faults, but if you overlook them, you will be opening yourself to a wonderful destination welcoming you with open arms.

One of the biggest threats you’ll face is the traffic and the roads; other than that, you’re in good hands. Plus, instead of renting bikes, you can ride around in a taxi or the train which are good options and take you to the top Vietnam tourist spots. The other major worry could be petty theft, but if you are careful and travel sensibly, this is not something that should keep you up at night.

With amazing diversity, vibrant culture and hearty people, it’s hard not to fall in love with Vietnam.

No matter what, keep these safety tips in mind while travelling through Vietnam and you’ll be good to go.

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