More and more travelers visit Vietnam and have told that this is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. They have enjoyed their trips thanks to the beautiful landscapes, worth-visiting attractions, friendly people and safety. However, you may have heard and read that it is not safe in this country, the traffic is crazy, there is a large number of deaths caused by traffic accidents, pickpockets and snatch thieves are everywhere, cheap street foods are not safe to eat. In fact, no country is completely safe on earth. The ultimate guide to staying safe in Vietnam will give you the necessary information about safety in Vietnam and help you to plan your trip to this wonderful country as well as possible. The guide includes lots of less-known things and great tips so that read until the end.
Read more about Vietnam Crime and Safety – Everything you need to know
How is the crime rate in Vietnam?
In recent years, Vietnam’s crime rate is moderate. According to the Ministry of Public Security, the number of committed crimes in Vietnam from 15 August to 14 September 2019 is as below:
Total number of committed crimes in Vietnam: 3,903.
Rate of solved crimes: 8,154.
Number of people arrested: 5,726.
Number of gangs destroyed: 95.
Number of crimes by type: murder: 2%, rape: 1%, robbery: 42%, snatch theft: 5%, illegal gambling: 11%, others: 20%.
The above data was provided by the Ministry of Public Security on the official website http://bocongan.gov.vn/thong-tin-thong-ke/so-lieu-ve-tinh-hinh-vi-pham-phap-luat-thang-012019-d100-t24801.html.
Violent crime (e.g. homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping) involving foreigners remains relatively rare.
Are street foods safe?
Why shouldn’t you miss Vietnamese street foods? They are cheap and help to maximize your budget. Trying street foods is one of the top things to do in Vietnam, the best way to learn more about the rich culture of the S-shaped country where the majority of locals eat street foods.
Street foods are safe if you eat at the right places. The first rule is to not eat a street food stalls which you are not recommended by any friend ore read about on review websites, blogs and articles. For example, long-standing food stalls which last dozens of years, food stalls recommended by famous food bloggers and on trusted travel magazines, your guides, receptionists or Vietnamese friends. Banh mi is perhaps the safest street food in Vietnam because it does not involve any vessel.
It is the safest way to avoid food poisoning in Vietnam. However, you can decide to not to eat at a street food stall if:
- They do not wear disposal gloves to serve the foods with fingers.
- Food stalls are located near drains, garbage piles, wet markets.
- Food stalls with dining areas in streets or alleys in which vehicles drive and may crash you.
- Workers wash dishes without washing liquid or in one change of water.
- Flies land on foods.
- Foods are not protected from dirt and dust using plastic sheets or glass food cabinets or containers.
Read more about the ultimate guide to food safety in Vietnam
Is tap water safe to drink in Vietnam?
No, it is not safe to drink tap water, brush your teeth with tap water or use it to cook. It can make us have diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, giardia, dysentery, hepatitis A, etc. Drink only bottled water. You should brush your teeth with bottled water if you stay in Vietnam for a short time. If you stay in the country for more than one month, you should get acquainted with tap water.
Is ice cube safe?
In Vietnam, ice cubes are made from purified water so that they are safe to drink. However, some ice cubes served at low cost drink stalls and cafe are made from unpurified water, contaminated ice can be affected by shigella, E. coli, salmonella, etc. Order hot drinks, bottled and canned drinks, cold drinks instead of iced drinks at drinking places where you are still worried about the drink safety.
Vietnamese coffee and rice wine are strong, should I drink them?
It is right that Vietnamese coffee at some cafes, restaurants, drink stalls is strong and can make you drunk. The coffee brewed with Phin filter is a must-try in Vietnam. You should drink Vietnamese coffee little by little, stop drinking if it is too strong for you.
Vietnamese rice wine and other Vietnamese traditional wines are not stronger than imported wines. So that you can drink them if you are good at drinking vodkas, whiskey and other strong wines.
Is it safe to go out in Vietnam at night?
In Vietnam, it is not safe to go out at night when the streets, roads and public places are deserted. In rural and remote areas, there is nearly nobody going out after 20:00. I would like to
In major metropolitan areas, there are still a few people in suburban districts at 21:00. A large number of supermarkets, night markets, shopping centers, stores, restaurants and cafes close from 21:00 to 22:00. It is still crowded in non-sleeping areas such as Bui Vien Street in Ho Chi Minh City, Ta Hien Street in Hanoi, at bars and clubs.
There is a high risk of being outside when there are not many people around you and only street lights are lightened. In fact, it is completely dark at night in some areas due to a shortage of street lighting facilities. More snatch thefts, racing, accidents, fighting likely occur late at night.
In fact, most night tours in cities end before 22:00. Ensure that your tour guides return you to the hotel before 22:00. If you must go out at night, take a trusted taxi instead of an unmarked taxi, motor scooter taxi to avoid express kidnapping and asking for money. Avoid drinking too much, go with at least a partner and stay away from any argument and fight when enjoying your night out. Never withdrawing money at ATMs or count your money on streets at night.
Should I talk to a stranger in Vietnam?
Certainly, most of the Vietnamese people are kind, generous and friendly. However, there is a small number of Vietnamese people approaching you with the intention to steal valuable things from you.
It is polite to respond when a stranger asks you for help, offers to help you, make friend with you. The first rule is to always beware of strangers in Vietnam and watch your belongings. Try to stay in a place where there are many people, ever let them touch your body or your things, do not follow them somewhere.
How about riding a motorbike in Vietnam?
If you have experience with riding motorbikes in a country where road conditions are not good in rural countries, there are dangerous interprovincial roads, traffic jams happen almost every day, traffic is crazy in big cities, you should be confident to ride a motorbike in Vietnam. Although you are an expert on riding motorbike in developing countries where road conditions are relatively good, you should join a group or follow a guide on your motorbike trip in Vietnam. You should ride a motorbike or motor scooter carefully in crowded cities. Booking a city tour by two-wheels to explore hidden gems in alleys is a good idea if you can not ride a motor scooter to see cities of Vietnam.
How to get familiar with crossing a street in Vietnam?
Have you been in countries where vehicles yield for pedestrians so that you crossed streets easily? It is true that pedestrians in Vietnam do not have the right of way. Some foreigners have told that they have difficulties crossing streets without a crosswalk and at crosswalks in the country. Drivers of buses, cars and trucks likely do not yield and do not stop for you. Motor scooter drivers do not stop but swerve around you “skillfully”. Remember to walk straight, steadily, do not zigzag, stop suddenly and change your speed. Finding a crosswalk having traffic signals is a wise thing to do in Vietnam. You can cross the street easily when the light turns green.
Is it safe to catch and hop on/off a bus in Vietnam?
Public bus drivers may not stop at bus stations where there is no passenger waiting for it and no passenger hopping off. Start waving a bus from a distance of 5 meters. The buses stop and doors are closed very quickly, you may be injured or fall. The elderly, slow people and weak people should not get around cities and provinces by public bus.
How about hailing an unmarked taxi in case you can not find a good taxi?
It is really dangerous to sit in an unmarked taxi, especially at night. You can go by public bus or book a ride on Grab app which provides the same services as Uber. Express kidnapping may occur and you may be threatened and lose money. Drivers may use incorrect taximeters or take longer routes.
Is it safe to sit in the front seat of a taxi?
It is not safe to sit in the front seat of a cab. From a safety perspective, you should sit in the back seat of a taxi. You are less visible to the driver and other people on the streets. It is the best way for female passengers to avoid being molested by the driver.
Should I hail a cyclo on the street?
Never deal with a cyclo driver on the street on your trip to Vietnam. Similar to unmarked taxis, cyclos may take you to a corner in the city and ask for money and valuable things. Booking a cyclo ride or tour with a trusted tour operator or cyclo company.
Is it safe for a solo female traveler?
Sexual assault of foreigners by Vietnamese citizens is not common so that it is relatively safe for solo female travelers to visit Vietnam. However, they should be more careful than solo male travelers. For example, a female foreigner should not go out late at night and explore sparse and less-known places by herself.
What to do if you get sick? Is it safe to take the medication myself?
If you have a cough, runny nose, sore throat, cold, headache, stomachache, you can take the medication you packed in your luggage. You can come to trusted drugstores, ask them to sell some medication to you. If symptoms are not eased and you do not feel better, come to a clinic or hospital.
Public hospitals do not meet Western standards, they are not very clean and quiet, the staff speak limited English. However, large government-owned in big cities can handle most of the serious health problems because there are many good doctors and nurses. Hospitals of districts and medical centers are good at urgent aids. The health-care cost is not too high there.
If you need better health-care services, there are lots of private clinics and international hospitals where the staff speak English and have experience with taking care of foreigners. They charge much higher bills but it is worth paying money there.
Who to call in an emergency situation in Vietnam?
Call the police by dialing 113, call 114 for fire and rescue team, call 115 if you need an ambulance, call 112 for urgent research and rescue when natural and marine disasters occur.
If you call 115, they will take you to public hospitals and the ambulances are not as good as in developing countries. Call directly private international hospitals if you would like to get better services.
Try to find a Vietnamese person to help you to call emergency numbers before calling yourself. Line operators may not understand English.
How to avoid being targeted by thieves in Vietnam?
Do not go out at night or be in deserted areas. Never count your money on the streets and in a crowd, do not withdraw money at an ATM on the street. Try to look like a local by wearing a simple backpack (or bag), clothing items and accessories.
Is it safe to wear jewelry in Vietnam?
Do not wear real or fake jewelry items that look expensive or easily snatched. They may try to snatch or steal necklaces, bracelets, rings from people who walk on the streets or sit on two-wheel vehicles, cyclos. Victims may fall and get injured.
Is it safe to use your camera and smartphone on tours?
Cell phones and cameras should be kept in bags if you do not use them. Never text or answer a phone while you are on the street. You can stop and use your phone in a building where there are security cameras and snatch thieves can not escape easily. Cell phone finger ring and camera security straps are useful accessories. Protect your devices with passwords so that thieves can not access your phone, then steal your bank information.
Is it safe to withdraw money at ATMs in Vietnam?
There have been cameras recording PIN code keypad entries and skimming devices attached to ATMs. Vietnam’s commercial banks have not installed and tested anti-skimming devices on ATMs. The majority of ATMs in Vietnam use simple technologies that are vulnerable to theft of cash using fake credit and ATM cards. So that you should cancel the transaction if one or more people approach you when you are withdrawing money at ATMs. Refuse any help from a person who is not a bank worker. Choose ATMs in lobbies of bank branch offices instead of ATMs on the streets. ATMs in booths are safer than “open” ATMs.
Is it safe to go out when it rains?
You can wear a raincoat or use an umbrella when it rains slightly. Taking a taxi instead of walking, sitting on cyclos or motor scooters when it rains heavily. In some major cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, the streets may be flooded and no taxi driver can drive around. You should find a place to stay until the rain stops and the water has been eliminated. If you are lucky enough, you will spend your time wandering shopping centers, markets or museums.
Never pack an umbrella or thick raincoat, your tour operators will arrange them for you in the rainy season. Many hotels provide umbrellas to their guests. You can pack a cheap and lightweight convenient raincoat or buy it easily at a convenience store in Vietnam. A thin and lightweight waterproof jacket should be packed in your luggage.
How to survive the strong sun?
Strong sun harms your health, may make you sick and ruin your trip to Vietnam. If you must be outside under the strong sun from 11:00 to 14:30, you should use a hat, cap, umbrella, coat, long shirts and pants to protect your self from the strong sun. Carry a bottle of water and drink water frequently, eat soup-like foods. Remember that sudden and extreme change from hot to cold can be harmful to your health. Keep it in mind if you leave an air-conditioned building for the street at noon.
How to avoid getting sick from air pollution?
In some major metropolitan areas, the air quality is poor. Disposal medical masks can be bought in your country or in Vietnam at good prices. Traffic jams result in pollution from 16:00 to 19:30 in crowded cities.
Can I take photos of all places in Vietnam?
You are not allowed to take photos, videos and draw at the following places:
- Military bases, defense bases, military exercises, and other military activities.
- Railway stations, 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.
- Institutions, factories, construction sites, farms, plantations without permission.
- Many other places.
Are drugs legal in Vietnam?
The use and transport of drugs is illegal in Vietnam. A stranger may ask you to keep a bag containing drugs for him and you may get caught after that.
How to do if I see stray animals on streets?
Stay away from stray animals in Vietnam because they may spread rabies and other diseases to you. If you are bitten by a dog or cat, go to the nearest medical center or hospital.
Is it safe to swim in the sea in Vietnam?
A certain number of tourists drowned after being swept away in Vietnam because they disregarded severe weather warnings from the Vietnamese government and resorts. It is recommended not to swim out too far from the beach if there is no lifeguard in the area.
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Summary of guide to staying safe in Vietnam
It is not easy to stay safe in Vietnam but most of the travelers who have been in the country relatively are safe. Pay attention to the foods and drinks you digest, be careful while being on the streets, protect yourself from air pollution, keep your money safe. Stay away from stray animals, do not swim far away from the beach, set up emergency contacts in Vietnam on your phone.