VietnamTravel Tips & Info8 Common Scams and Annoyances in Vietnam

8 Common Scams and Annoyances in Vietnam

Scams and unfortunate events happen all over the world. When you travel, as long as you exercise caution and common sense, you will be able to enjoy your trip without feeling paranoid all of the time. Below are some of the common scams and annoyances in Vietnam and how to avoid them.

1. Pickpockets and Snatch Theft

Your alertness should be from when you touch down at the airport, a crowded place where pickpockets are waiting for the right opportunity to make a few bucks. If you lose an item, you could be able to replace it, but losing your passport would create many problems and delay your travel plans. So, it is crucial always to be mindful of your personal belongings.

Don’t use purses or easy-to-snatch bags if you walk around the city. You should consider using a backpack or keeping your valuables away from plain sight.

Tourists often walk around with their expensive DSLR cameras, busy snapping photos, making them an easy target. Use your camera straps and secure them around your wrist or neck.

Check out these camera backpacks for your trip

2. Rickshaw/Cyclo Scam

scams annoyances in vietnam rick shaw

Wherever you walk around, you will likely encounter a cyclo driver approaching you and offering a ride. This cyclo driver will offer to take you anywhere, and you can negotiate the price. Once you agree on a price, hop on, and go to your desired destination. What happens next is two most common scenarios:

1. The cyclo driver takes you far away from the place you want to go to an unknown location and asks you to pay an exorbitant price, or he will not take you back.

2. The cyclo driver takes you around the city to different attractions and offers to wait while you sightsee. When you come out to meet him, you find that you need to pay for his “waiting time” and this fee is at least 500,000 VND/hour (about USD 25). When you refuse to pay, he takes out his “service fees” booklet stating “500,000 VND/hour for waiting time”. You will then be hounded to pay before he leaves you alone.

If you wish to sightsee in the city on a rickshaw, you should book a tour through a reputable tour company and save yourself from haggling.

3. The Coconut Scam

scams annoyances in vietnam hawker

These street hawkers are always seen carrying coconuts around on foot and targeting tourists by offering them a chance for a photoshoot while balancing the coconut baskets on their shoulders. If you get tempted by a photo opportunity, you take the bait. While your friend is busily taking snaps of pictures of you and you are too busy trying to balance the baskets on your shoulder, the hawker takes a knife, pops open the coconut(s), and charges you 150,000 VND ($ 7) for one. The more time he has to chop the coconuts before you stop him, the more you will be guilty of paying. He can usually cut 4 coconuts before you realize you are “forced” to buy them because he has already opened them.

4. Taxi Scam

Refer to our blog on “Tips on how to avoid taxi scam

5. Motorbike Scam

scams annoyances in vietnam motorbikes

For a solo traveler, this might be the cheaper option to get to places compared to a taxi. You always agree on a minimum price before hopping on a motorbike, such as 50,000 VND. Once you have arrived, you are shocked to learn that the original price agreed upon was 500,000 VND and that you were the one who heard it wrong.

Don’t trust and hop on any motorbike taxi on the streets. Vietnam now has GrabBike and other technology motorbike taxi services, and you can easily download the apps and order a motorcycle taxi.

6. Restaurants that Do not Display Prices

scams annoyances in vietnam restaurants

Always ask for prices first and never assume anything; chances are you will be scammed.

If you want to buy something from a street vendor, ask for the price first, or better yet, go with a local.

7. Paying Exorbitantly When Buying through Agents

Be cautious when purchasing train tickets. There are no clear indications on the cards which show which class you book in the cabins. You might be paying for a sleeping bunker but get a sitting seat. And once you realize this, as the train is about to depart, it is too late to go back to the agency and ask for a refund.

Only book tickets via a trusted platform:

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Additionally, try to read authentic reviews and hunt for discount codes before booking a hotel room. Though hotel services in Vietnam are pretty cheap for the quality they can provide, hasty booking without looking the hotel’s name up might cause you to pay more than you should. We recommend booking on Agoda for reliable reviews and attractive promotions.

8. Shopping Scam

scams annoyances in vietnam street vendors

Beware of fakes and always inspect your goods during and after purchase as they might swap the items. Once you walk out of the door, the purchase is done.

See How to Bargain at Vietnamese Markets

Finally, try not to feel that everyone is trying to scam you. The purpose of your trip is to travel, learn, have fun and enjoy. Becoming too cynical might ruin your trip. Safe travels!

If there are other scams, please let us know in the comments so we can update our travelers.

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