Scams in Vietnam

Ensuring Safe Travels: A Guide to Avoiding Scams in Vietnam 2024

Last updated:Mar 11, 2024
When you embark on your journey to explore Vietnam - a wondrous country of this Southeast Asian gem, it's essential to navigate with caution. While Vietnam offers an array of incredible experiences, it's crucial to be aware of potential scams that travelers may encounter. In this guide, we'll delve into the enchanting allure of Vietnam while equipping you with valuable insights to safeguard against common scams in Vietnam. Join us on this exploration, where the beauty of the country meets the wisdom to traverse it securely.

1. Types of Vietnamese scams and how to avoid

1.1 Transport

a. Cyclo Scams

Cyclo Scams in VietnamCyclo Scams in Vietnam (illustration)
The three-wheeled cyclos in Vietnam are akin to the tuk-tuks in Thailand or Cambodia. They can be found everywhere, especially in tourist spots, approaching you by suggesting a trip for which you can negotiate the fare or even be offered for free.
If you agree to their service, they might take you to a distant and desolate place, and then demand a significantly high payment for the return trip. Additionally, when organizing a city tour to various attractions, the drivers may ask for an extra fee known as a "waiting fee." This fee can range from 500,000 VND per hour, equivalent to 25 USD. Hence, it's crucial to be aware of these unwarranted charges.
How to avoid  Cyclo Scams?
Not every Cyclo driver engages in scams, so negotiate a clear fare before deciding. Ensure the driver stops at a location you're familiar with by checking the map. Alternatively, you can also book this service through reputable companies if you wish to undertake a cyclo tour in Vietnam. This adds an extra layer of assurance to your experience.

b. Taxi Scams

Reputable taxi brands in VietnamReputable taxi brands in Vietnam
Taxi scams are quite prevalent in Southeast Asia. One common tactic employed by taxi drivers is the use of a counterfeit meter. This meter is designed to increase the fare much more rapidly than usual.
In the present day, taxi meters typically calculate fares based on distance rather than time. Exploiting the lack of familiarity with the local geography, taxi scams in Vietnam often involve intentionally taking longer routes to inflate the fare, especially when targeting tourists who may not be well-acquainted with the area.
How to avoid Taxi Scams?
  • Choosing reputable taxi brands in Vietnam such as Mai Linh (green taxis) and Vinasun (white taxis) is advisable. However, some scammers intentionally replicate the color schemes of legitimate taxi companies, leading tourists to confusion. Therefore, pay attention to the brand names on the taxis.
  • If you suspect that you have fallen victim to taxi scams by drivers, refrain from immediate payment. Stay calm, take a photo of the driver's identification along with the meter, and threaten to report the incident to the driver's taxi company.

c. Motorbike rental scams

Renting motorbikes in VietnamRenting motorbikes in Vietnam
There are several common scams involving motorbike rentals. In one, the owner may surreptitiously follow you, reclaim the bike, and then demand compensation. Another scam involves the owner claiming mechanical issues with the bike and insisting on a repair fee. Beware of fake Honda motorbikes, as they are prevalent in some areas.
How to avoid Motorbike rental scams?
  • Selecting a reputable rental service.
  • Secure your motorbike by using your lock and key when renting, as a precaution against theft.
  • Before renting, thoroughly inspect the motorbike to promptly identify any existing problems.
Note: When operating a motorbike in Vietnam, it is mandatory to possess a valid driver's license. Failure to do so may result in traffic police issuing fines and impounding the motorbike for a month.

d. Motorbike Taxi Scams

Ride-hailing applications in VietnamRide-hailing applications in Vietnam
Motorbike taxis are quite popular in Vietnam, especially for solo travelers with minimal luggage, due to their reasonable pricing and compatibility with Vietnam's traffic, especially during peak hours when exploring the city.
Typically, you and the driver will agree on a fixed fare before the ride begins. However, in some cases, drivers intentionally add a “0” to the amount you need to pay, increasing the price tenfold. They may then insist that you made a mistake and claim that you initially agreed to that higher fare.
Please be aware that these individuals lack any formal training or certification. Consequently, not only is your wallet in jeopardy but your safety is also compromised.
How to Avoid Motorbike Taxi Scams in Vietnam?
  • Avoid street hailing and choose ride-hailing apps in Vietnam: these platforms provide upfront fares, real-time tracking, and driver ratings for peace of mind. So, skip the haggling and hop aboard a safer, hassle-free ride.

1.2 Accommodation & Restaurant

a. Fake hotel scams in Vietnam

Currently, with the prevalence of popular hotel booking platforms, some fraudulent hotels upload stunning images at meager room rates. Moreover, they create fake accounts with fabricated reviews to build trust among foreign travelers.
However, upon arrival, they will inform you that those rooms are fully booked and to reserve higher-tier rooms, you must pay a significantly higher amount.
How to avoid?
  • Choose reputable hotels.
  • Before making any deposits, verify the location of the hotel beyond its name.

b. Missing Price

Some restaurants often do not disclose specific prices for dishes, which will cause tourists to be overcharged and have to pay very high fees.
How to avoid?
  • Ask about prices before ordering;
  • Choose restaurants that publish prices on the menu.

1.3 Other types of scams in Vietnam

a. Money Exchange Scams

These deceptive practices target unsuspecting travelers, taking advantage of their lack of familiarity with the local currency, leading to financial losses through unfair transactions. In Vietnam, these scams pose a significant concern, especially with the prevalence of street-side exchange kiosks and bustling tourist-centric markets, where rapid and confusing transactions can easily lead to deception.
How to Avoid Money Exchange Scams in Vietnam?
  • Choose good exchange points: Before your journey, investigate the locations of trustworthy currency exchange services near your lodgings and major tourist attractions.
  • Understanding the currency: Utilize online resources or visit your local bank to obtain a small amount of Vietnamese currency and familiarize yourself with it before your trip.
  • Recovering money after exchanging: Request the exchanger to count the money in your presence, and double-check it yourself. If you feel uneasy doing this publicly, inquire about a private space or step aside to count without any pressure.

b. Pickpockets and snatch theft

Pickpockets in VietnamPickpockets in Vietnam (illustration)
Petty crime is highly prevalent in Vietnam, particularly in major cities.  Many friends have been to Vietnam and become victims of robbers. Often, these perpetrators operate by motorbike, identifying opportune moments when someone is standing too close to the street with their valuables. They quickly drove by and stole the items.
How to avoid Pickpockets and snatch theft in Vietnam?
  • It's essential to stay alert to your surroundings and the location of your valuables from the moment you arrive at the busy airport.
  • If you're capturing the beauty of the country with your camera, always use a strap and securely wrap it around your hand.
  • Using a backpack instead of a crossbody bag to avoid being robbed while you're on the road.

c. Shoe-shining scams

Typically, when you are going about your own business, someone suddenly approaches you with a keen interest in your shoes. Regardless of your responses, they persist. Some shoe shiners even go to the extent of pulling off people's shoes to commence their shining service, confident that the individuals won't walk away barefoot.
Upon completing the shine, they demand a price that is approximately 10 times higher than what you would reasonably expect.
How to avoid shoe-shining scams in Vietnam?
  • Simply don’t stop when someone approaches you: keep walking to minimize the risk of being targeted by such scams. While it might seem impolite, stopping provides them with the opportunity to grab your shoe.

d. Fake businesses

In Vietnam, it's common to encounter multiple entirely unrelated businesses operating under the same name, often adopting names of well-known companies that attract travelers. However, these businesses have no actual affiliation with the larger, reputable companies they mimic.
The reason behind adopting identical or similar names is to capitalize on the recognition these names hold, hoping that travelers will choose their services over others. Unfortunately, the issue lies in the likelihood that the services offered by these imitating businesses may fall significantly short of the quality you would expect.
How to avoid Fake businesses in Vietnam?
  • Conduct thorough online research to determine the exact location of the authentic company: by being well-informed and cautious, you can minimize the risk of engaging with misleading or unauthorized entities operating under similar names.

2. Essential tips to ensure a secure and enjoyable trip in Vietnam

In addition to identifying and avoiding scams in Vietnam, you should also apply some important tips for a safe and enjoyable trip to Vietnam
  • While using Google Maps on your phone, refrain from checking at street corners. Ensure safety by stepping back and standing near a building to reduce the risk of theft.
  • Choose a backpack or crossbody purse over a handbag while exploring the town for added convenience and security.
  • When riding a motorbike, ensure the security of your purse and valuables by utilizing the seat trunk for storage.
  • While dining on a sidewalk or roadside, avoid leaving your phone on the table to prevent easy theft.

3. Emergency numbers to call

  • Police: 113
  • Ambulance: 115
  • Fire and rescue: 115
By mastering the information in this article, KissTours hopes you can protect yourself and have a safe, fulfilling trip in Vietnam. I hope these tips help you have a safe and enjoyable trip to Vietnam!

To help you have a more fulfilling and safe trip to Vietnam, here are some tips that you might find useful!

And...
If you want to immerse yourself in the cultural identity and make friends with locals when you come to Vietnam, consider taking a guided tour and street food experience with a local guide.
You can take the Saigon By Night and Street Food Tour of Kiss Tour. These tours allow you to explore the vibrant and lively city of Ho Chi Minh City on motorbikes after the sun sets. Alternatively, the Saigon City Tour is also a great option if you want to explore the city during the day.
With your friendly and knowledgeable guides, they will take you to the most iconic places and provide insights into Vietnamese food and culture. This feels like you're hanging out with friends and you just need to enjoy the trip!
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