10+ illegal things in Vietnam – Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Did you know that you may be caught if you sleep in a hotel with a Vietnamese girl who is not your wife? Did you know that you may face charges for riding an adult and an above 14-year-old child on your motorbike? A gun can be kept in the U.S. and some countries but not in Vietnam. What is legal in your country that is illegal in Vietnam? The following illegal things may surprise you because they are a little weird. Any tourist or expat should not miss the list of Top 10+ illegal things in Vietnam, which help to avoid problems, inconveniences, even being subject to penalties when being in Vietnam – a beautiful and peaceful country.

TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS, VIDEOS, DRAW at some places are not allowed

Tourists are free to take photos, videos and draw at popular tourist attractions and public places such as parks, monuments, museums, walking streets, theaters, markets, etc.

Certainly, you should follow the rules at the places where there are no photo signs (some rooms in museums, some supermarkets, shopping centers, events, conferences, theaters). The staff will warn you if you break the rules. Sometimes, there are no photo signs at museums but you are allowed to take photos if you pay camera fees.

In some places, capturing photos and videos or drawing maps, diagrams, plots are permitted or need to ask for permission because it may violate the privacy of others or reveal state secrets. The person who breaks the laws faces charges from VND 1,000,000 to 10,000,000 for the action. All of the documents, exhibits and facilities such as cameras, smartphones, video cameras, memory cards, computers, drawings, prints are confiscated. The photos, drawings and videos will be deleted from websites and Youtube channels. You will break the laws if you take photos, videos or draw in the following areas:

  • Institutions, factories, construction sites, farms, plantations without permission.
  • Military bases, defense bases, military exercises, and other military activities.
  • Railway stations, airports, ports, water infrastructures, bridges for trains and vehicles, tunnels.
  • Institutes of science and technology, energy plantations, water supply systems, power stations, telegraph offices, post offices, power transformers, radio stations, television stations.
  • Vietnam’s border areas, coasts, islands, territorial waters except for famous landscapes, tourist attractions, historic sites, resorts in the areas.
  • Vietnam’s territory from above (airplanes, helicopters, hydroplanes).

Certainly, you can take some nice photos of your groups or yourself with your smartphone, camera or video camera at stations and airports.

Taking photos or videos in this room is not allowed - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Taking photos or videos in this room is not allowed.

Taking photos is permitted at bus stations in Vietnam - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Taking photos is permitted at bus stations in Vietnam.

FLYING DRONES needs a permit

Flying drones are not allowed to fly around and above:

  • Institutions, factories, construction sites, farms, plantations without permission.
  • Military bases, defense bases, military exercises, and other military activities.
  • Railway stations, airfields or airports, ports, water infrastructures, bridges for trains and vehicles, tunnels.
  • Vietnam’s border areas, coasts, islands, territorial waters except for famous landscapes, tourist attractions, historic sites, resorts in the areas.
  • Institutes of science and technology, energy plantations, water supply systems, power stations, telegraph offices, post offices, power transformers, radio stations, television stations.
  • Crowds, skyscrapers.
  • Tombs, palaces, squares, government offices.

If you break the laws, you face VND 1,000,000 charge, devices and other exhibits are confiscated. Vietnamese army forces and policemen can shoot drones in forbidden zones or drones flying without flight licenses.

Read more about The ultimate guide to flying drone in Vietnam – Drone laws & rules to learn more about the Application form for request of flight authorization, flight license and services.

 

Warmest Greetings To All from Tracy Do! Talented and experienced Tracy’s team offers VIETNAM TOURS and Vietnam travel services, especially Ho Chi Minh City Day Trips including HO CHI MINH MOTORBIKE TOUR, HO CHI MINH FOOD TOUR, MEKONG DELTA TOUR, CU CHI TUNNELS TOUR, HO CHI MINH TRANSFER SERVICE and SHORE EXCURSION. Let us have a chance to show you Vietnam to the fullest. If you have any questions about Vietnam including Vietnam tours, do not hesitate to contact me.

 

LARGE CROWD in which you can get caught up in the moment

Vietnamese people and foreigners can be caught up if they join crowds causing social anxiety disorder. Anyone faces a charge from VND 500,000 to 1,000,000 if he is in a group or crowd which causes social disorder. So that you should stay away from:

  • The crowd in which some of them drink too much or fight each other. Drinking in Vietnam is fun, enjoying some bottles or canes of beers and a few glasses of wines alone or with your partners at local restaurants and bars is one of the great things to do in the country. Avoid getting drunk and involving in any argue or fight.
  • The crowd cheering on Vietnam national football team, some of them may get overheated and do extreme actions such as firing flares. They usually gather and watch football matches in walking streets (Nguyen Hue, Bui Vien, Ta Hien), squares (Cach Mang Thang Tam), coffee shops, etc.
  • The crowd flying sky lanterns without permission.

In Vietnam, protests are illegal because they are against the government and disrupt public order. Anyone in the crowd of protestors will be arrested without any reason. Sometimes, people of the crowd are not protestors but participants and supporters of a contest, events or festivals. If you do not know exactly about the purpose of a crowd gathering in a place and bringing banners, never join them or stand in the crowd. Ask someone around you to learn more about the crowd.

get caught in crowd - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Do not join or stand in/near a crowd which you do not know about it.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVEN LICENSES may not be valid in Vietnam

More and more foreigners including tourists and workers plan to ride motorcycles in Vietnam. Most of them wonder if they can drive in Vietnam with their domestic or international driving license. The answer can be yes or no. You are allowed to drive in Vietnam if you have an IAA driver’s license or IDP driver’s license and being citizen of one of the countries which signed Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. You must have a visa that is valid for a period of fewer than 3 months in Vietnam. You should carry both IAA (IDP) driving license and domestic driving license issued by your country, passport and visa when driving in Vietnam.

You are not allowed to drive in Vietnam although you have an international driving license in the following cases:

  • Your visa is valid for a period of more than 3 months.
  • You have an IDP driver’s license but you are from a country that did not sign Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.

Read more about The ultimate guide to driving license in Vietnam

MOTORBIKE can not drive more than two people or bulky items

A motorbike in Vietnam is allowed to carry a maximum of two adults and one child from 0 to 14 years of age. Three adults are not prohibited if one of them is sick and they are on the way to a hospital or they escort someone breaking laws. Driver is subject to a fine which is from VND 100,000 to 200,000 if he drives 2 people on the back of the motorbike. Driver is subject to a fine which is from VND 300,000 to 400,000 and your motorbike driven license is lost in 1 – 3 months if he drives from 3 people on the back of the motorbike. For more information, the same rule is applied for bicycle, motorized bicycle, cyclo. The fine is from VND 60,000 to 80,000. Read more about 10+ Must things to know before riding motorcycle in Vietnam.

10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Three people on one motorbike is prohibited in Vietnam. These three girls just pose for photos on a motorbike tour of Scooter Saigon Tour.

DRINKING AGE is 18

Selling alcoholic beverages to people under 18 is against Vietnamese laws. Lawbreakers face charges from VND 500,000 to 1,000,000. So that you should bring a photocopy of your passport with you when you go out for buying alcoholic beverages at supermarkets, convenience stores or drinking at bars and restaurants. If you look younger than 18, they may ask you to show the document which proves that you are 18+.

Prove you are above 18 by showing your passport.

DO NOT DRIVE AFTER DRINKING

The new law on preventing and combating the harmful effects of liquor and beer took effect on 1st January 2020. Drunk drivers face tougher fines and suspensions. Bicyclists, motorcyclists and motor car drivers having more than zero alcohol content in their breath or blood are subject to fines from VND 80,000 to 40,000,000. Bicyclists and automobile car drivers also lose their driven licenses for up to 2 years if they break the laws. Do not drive bicycle, motorbike or car after drinking. Read more about Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences.

Joining a Saigon food tour by night

Joining a Saigon food tour by night, guests can drink some beers at local restaurants, the guides will drive them back to their hotels safely.

SPEAKING AGAINST Vietnam, government and Communist Party may bring problems

All speakings and acts against Vietnam, the government and the Communist Party are not allowed. Speaking against the government and the Vietnamese Communist Party is speaking against the nation. Violators are caught up, charged and even prisoned. There are many laws restrict human rights including freedom of association, freedom of speech. As mentioned above, protests against the government are also prohibited. Some foreigners are surprised about the laws. However, the highlight of the law is that Vietnam is very peaceful, crime and violence are reduced.

You should avoid speaking anything against the government of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Communist Party when you are in the country. It is better to stay away from any talk about sensitive topics. It is not good for you to talk about politics when you are in Vietnam. Discuss on Nguyen Cao Ky Ngo Dinh Diem, Nguyen Van Thieu and many others who ruled South Vietnam, Uncle Ho – President Ho Chi Minh, President Ton Duc Thang, ex-general Vo Nguyen Giap and current leaders of Vietnam or abuse of the country’s symbols is not recommended.

Never speak against Vietnamese governments, Communist party - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Never speak against Vietnamese governments, Communist party when your are in the country.

SOCIAL MEDIA where you can not post all things

You may be allowed to post anything in your country but you should be careful when posting something about Vietnam on your websites and social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo, Youtube, etc.

The Network Security Code consisting of laws about the acts of national security protection, order guarantee and social safety on the Internet, responsibilities of related organs took effect in Vietnam on 1st January 2019. The Vietnamese government aims to restrict people from hurting other people and national security. Be careful when you post the following topics on social media in the S-shaped country:

  • Racism, sexism, history, religion, politics, social order.
  • Information and news which you are not sure about the accuracy.
  • Entice other people to violate laws.

For example, if the posts are against the government, party and leaders, you may be punished in some ways. Unless you are not caught or fined, you may be in trouble for your videos, photos, statuses, comments which may draw a furious public response.

Daniel Hauer – an American teacher has been living in Vietnam for over five years in Hanoi, is married to Le Thi Hau – a Vietnamese woman with a child, earn his living by teaching English. He commented on Facebook that he was getting a genital piercing with a part in the shape of late General Vo Nguyen Giap, a national hero in the Vietnam war against the French colonial and the U.S. He must apologize to the general’s family and Vietnamese people in a meeting with the Ministry of Information and Communication. State media quoted ministry official Le Quang Tu Do said that Hauer could be fined up to VND 50,000,000. Many English learning centers cut contracts with Hauer just because Vietnamese parents do not like to let their children be taught by Hauer.

 - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

STAYING WITH A VIETNAMESE in a hotel room is not allowed

If you can not prove that the Vietnamese partner is a member of your family, he/she is not allowed to stay in the same hotel room with you. Some hotels may allow two of you to stay in one room, others ask you to book another room for your partner.

STAYING WITH A VIETNAMESE in a hotel room is not allowed - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Never share your hotel room with a Vietnamese citizen although you are friends and some receptionists let you do that.

Ho Chi Minh Food Tour - Saigon Food Tour by motorbike

Tracy’s team and you will zip through Ho Chi Minh City, enjoy the nightlife like locals, trolling into street food areas to taste distinct Vietnamese foods.

PROSTITUTION is illegal in Vietnam

Prostitution is legal in some states of America, Thailand, Newzealand and other countries. Although you can see many sexy girls seducing and would like to get paid after sex, it is illegal to pay for sex in Vietnam. In case you accept her offer, she takes you to a hotel where she is protected by gangsters. Problems may happen, you can get caught by the police or attacked by gangsters. Just stay away form beautiful girls wearing sexy clothes and trying to canvass for customers.

A fine of between VND 500,000 and 5,000,000 are charged for the acts of buying sex with one or more people at the same time. A fine of between VND 5,000,000 and 10,000,000 are charged for the act of coercing or enticing other people to buy. The person who deliberately spread HIV by buying sex is considered criminal and punished in Vietnam.

PROSTITUTION - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Do not sleep with sex workers in Vietnam because prostitution is prohibited.

PORNOGRAPHY should be left at home

According to Vietnam’s Criminal Code, spreading and disseminating unhealthy cultural products is illegal in Vietnam. Unhealthy cultural products include newspapers, magazines, movies, photos containing violating and sexual content. All of the acts of purchasing, storing, transporting, spreading these products are subject to penalties.

Some foreigners carry pornographic materials in your luggage. They may have problems with the immigration staff at airports or the Vietnamese police on their trips. You should also do not buy unhealthy cultural products when you are in Vietnam for reading, watching and carrying them with you.

No Playboy and similar products in your luggage - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

No playboy and similar products in your luggage.

GAMBLING is illegal for foreigners in Vietnam

If you ask a Vietnamese person whether it is illegal to gamble in their country, they may answer no. In fact, Vietnamese people are allowed to gamble on a three-year trial under Decree No. No. 03/2017/ND-CP. Foreigners can gamble without violating Vietnamese laws if they have foreign passports and are 18 years old or above.

The acts that break the rules at casinos in Vietnam include:

  • You will be warned for non-compliance if you cause disorder, threaten the security and safety of the casinos.
  • Use the results of prize-winning games to bet with other players at the casinos.
  • If you do not comply with the game rules, internal rules, fulfill tax obligations, regulations of relevant internal management, you will be fined from VND 20,000,000 to 30,000,000.
  • A fine ranging between VND 90,000,000 and 100,000,000 is charged and forced to return illegal profits for the acts of fraud when gambling.

ANTIQUES do not belong to you although you discover them

Antiques can be suddenly found by you in Vietnam. Did you think that it is illegal to bring the antique out of Vietnam? The answer is no. If a person finds an item buried underground, the right thing to do is reporting the item to the Vietnamese government (District’s or Commune’s People Committee or millitary base which is nearest to your place) who will guide you to do the next steps. The item will be returned to its owner. In case the owner isn’t found, the item’s ownership is defined as follows:

If the item is listed in Law on Cultural Heritage, it belongs to the Vietnamese government, the person who found the item get paid for it.  Antiques are listed in Law on Cultural Heritage so that keeping them after finding is illegal.

In case the item (gold, money, jewelry and others) is not listed in the Law on Cultural Heritage and its value is equal to or less than ten times minimum wages, the finder owns the item. In contrast, the finder gets paid ten times minimum wages and 50% of the item’s cost, the government takes 50% of the item’s cost.

 - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Found some nice old coins, plates, jars, or swords buried underground? Just report the items to the Vietnamese government.

GUNS, EXPLOSIVES and similar things can not be kept by anyone

Swiss, Finland, Serbia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and others allow citizens to own guns. In Vietnam, carrying guns and other potentially injurious items such as knives, guns, explosives, flammable materials is illegal.

Carrying guns - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Carrying guns is illegal in Vietnam. At Cu Chi Tunnels, tourists have chances to fire guns, supervised by the staff.

DRUGS are forbidden to buy, sell, store and produce

Drugs are not allowed in Vietnam and a large number of countries in the world because they harm the health, national security and social order. According to the Criminal Code 2015, leaves, roots, stems, branches, flowers, marijuana fruit or coca leaves, dried poppy fruit and fresh opium fruit, heroine, cocaine, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, MDMA, opium resin, marijuana resin or cocaine resin other narcotic substances in solid and liquid form are considered drugs in Vietnam.

The acts of producing, storing, transporting, buying, selling, distributing, importing, exporting drugs are considered criminals and subject to punishment. A Vietnamese criminal can ask you to keep a bag for him, the bag may contain drugs so that never agree to help him.

Mekong Delta Tour

On Mekong Delta Tours, Tracy’s team will show you a peaceful and beautiful region with a rich culture and indigenous people. Cruising rivers and channels by boats and sampans is one of the must-do activities in Mekong Delta. Lush orchards, rice paddy fields, quiet villages and many others will make your trip unforgettable.

FUNKY BALL & SHISHA are not prohibited but not recommended

There is no law that stipulating funky balls and shisha tobacco in Vietnam. However, it is not recommended to use these stimulants. Funky balls may create a sense of euphoria and shishas cause potential health effects. It is dangerous to enjoy funky balls and shishas at complicated bars, restaurants, cafes, karaoke which are places for criminals to gather in Vietnam.

Funky ball and shisha are served to customers at a bar in Vietnam.

Funky ball and shisha are served to customers at a bar in Vietnam.

BUYING OLD ITEMS such as jewelry, used parts of vehicles, electronic devices

Old jewelry pieces, used parts of vehicles, electronic components and parts are cheap and sold popularly in Vietnam. If you buy one of them, you may store a stolen item in your hotel room or home in Vietnam and be subject to penalties.

BUYING used ITEMS - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

A street specializes in used electronic parts in Vietnam.

GETTING MARRIED with person aged less than 18 & HAVING SEX with person aged less than 16 is illegal

Most of the foreigners know how old their future brides/grooms are and Vietnamese people also know the law on marriage. So that the majority of future brides and grooms know if they are allowed to get married.

However, a few foreign men may do not know the exact age of his new girlfriend or a girl he has just met and accidentally makes love with. Nowadays, lots of Vietnamese girls look mature, some of them look older than their age and hide about their age. A person is imprisoned for 1-5 years for having sex with people aged 13 to 16. If the victim tells the police that she was raped, the criminal will be imprisoned for 7-15 years. Do not sleep with any Vietnamese person without knowing her/his age. As mentioned above, a foreigner and a Vietnamese person can not share one hotel room. Some hotels break the laws and let them stay together. You are not allowed to make love with a person aged under 16 at any place including house and apartment.

Marriageable age is 18, having sex with a Vietnamese citizen aged under 16 is illegal - 10+ illegal things in Vietnam - Rules and laws for tourists and expats

Marriageable age is 18, having sex with a Vietnamese citizen aged under 16 is illegal.

GOLD, DOLLARS & ALCOHOLS to declare at customs

Passengers must declare at customs if they carry more than 300 grams of gold, or more than $5,000 US dollars, or VND 15,000,000. For more information, passengers are requested to declare at custom in case they carry the following things:

  • Unaccompanied luggage.
  • Goods temporarily dispatched or admitted.
  • Dutiable goods:
    • Over 1.5 liters of liquor with alcohol content higher than 20%, over 2 liters of liquor with  alcohol content lower than 20%, over 3 liters of alcoholic drinks and beers.
    • Over 20 cigars, over 200 cigarettes, over 250 grams of raw tobacco.
    • Other items that cost over VND 10,000,000.
  • Cash in Vietnamese or foreign currencies, gold, gemstones, precious metal, negotiable instrument:
    • Over $5,000 US dollars or equivalents.
    • Over VND 15,000,000.
    • Gemstones (ruby, sapphire, diamond, emerald), precious metals (silver, platinum, alloy with silver or platinum), drafts, cheques with a total value from VND 300,000,000.
    • Passengers with border laissez-passer, border identity cards wear gold jewelry or art gold with a total weight of 300 grams or more.
    • Foreigners are allowed to settle in Vietnam bring raw gold, gold bars, gold jewelry or art gold with a total weight of 300 grams or more.
    • Vietnamese citizens are allowed to settle abroad bring raw gold, gold bars, gold jewelry or art gold with a total weight of 300 grams or more.
  • Incoming passengers who bring foreign currencies with value of $5,000 dollars or less require customs authentication.

Carrying too much alcohol in your luggage requires customs declarations.

 Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

Tracy’s team will take you to the legendary Cu Chi Tunnels and show you the best parts of this Vietcong base.

Leave a Reply