Security advice for visiting Vietnam

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Vietnam is generally one of the safest countries you are likely to visit, the government takes a very strong view on ensuring the safety of foreigners visiting Vietnam. However Vietnam still has a very low per capita income and like everywhere people will take risks, and generally most crime will occur without your knowledge (i.e. pick pocketing, hotel room theft) so commonsense prevails. The most noticeable day light robbery that occurs right in front of your eyes, will just be down to your lack of bargaining skills. Here’s some advice on avoiding the quiet crime and keeping safe.

Vietnam people

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  • Prepare before your journey and consider appropriate travel insurance
  • Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Most mid range and top end hotels have in-room safes, otherwise ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility (ask for a receipt of you are extra concerned).
  • Leave your valuables behind before a night out on the town, or going to the beach.
  • Never carry more money than you need when walking around the streets and do not wear large amounts of jewellery. There are two reasons doing this:
    (1) It is considered impolite to flaunt wealth in public;
    (2) It is more likely that you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatcher.
  • Don’t be paranoid about your security, just be aware of your surroundings.

Travel advice while visiting Vietnam

  • Take a hotel business card from the reception desk before venturing out from your hotel. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi much easier.
  • Carry a roll of toilet paper in your daypack on long excursions from your hotel. You never know when you might need it!
  • If invited into a home, always remove your shoes at the front door when entering.
  • Ask for permission when taking a photograph of someone, particularly in minority areas. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes. DO NOT offer money or push the issue. Never take video cameras into an ethnic minority village. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.
Ha Giang

  • Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.
  • Drink plenty of bottled water, particularly during the summer months. If you are not used to travelling in a tropical climate such as Vietnam you may not notice the dehydration (darker urine is a sign of dehydration). If you drink tea, coffee & alcohol you should increase you water intake accordingly as these will dehydrate you more.
  • Avoid giving the following items to local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages
  • Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone’s house.
  • Never lose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanor and you will be reciprocated with the same.
  • It’s in your best interests not to drink the tap water, especially after flooding!
  • Avoid cyclo ride after dark.
  • When crossing the road, especially in Ho Chi Minh city, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly!