Better Safe Than Sorry; Tourist Scams in Vietnam
One should be always cautious when visiting a new country. Because in the midst of inspiring architecture, tranquil sceneries and delicious cuisines lay tourist scams in Vietnam. These tourist scams could easily ruin your whole trip. The idea behind all these scams is to draw monetary benefits, while some may just be petty nuisance others could prove risky.
Here is a list of commonly known scams in Vietnam that every traveller should know before beginning the trip- because better safe than sorry!
Scam Taxi Drivers and Cyclos in Vietnam
Many tourists find local buses to be a tedious commute. Largely due to the language barrier. This is why taxis and cyclos (bicycle taxi) play a major role in getting around any city in Vietnam. The official taxis are – Mai Linh and Vinasun- they are green in colour with their respective names written on them. Always take either of these taxis, some of the drivers understand English. If not they all carry smartphones to translate, this eases the communication barrier. Both these taxis charge by meter and you can pay them in Vietnamese dong or by your credit card. For airports make sure you use only Airport taxis.
If you end up in a non-meter taxi, always ask for the fare before getting in. And pay only after taking all your luggage out, there have been cases where the taxi drivers have swarmed off with the luggage itself.
There are many other taxis that claim to go by meter. They may look fine for the first couple of miles but the price will shoot up in no time. Cyclos should be avoided in all circumstances unless it is from a reputed tour company or a reputed hotel. They do not have any fixed price. Always fix a price, because if you don’t you may end up paying $100 for a drive worth $10 or less!
Street vendors Scammers
The streets of Vietnam are filled with vendors selling everything from tropical fruits to cigarettes. In most cases, cigarettes, chewing gums, electronics, books etc would be a cheap replica. What is worst is a number of vendors pose as handicapped. Or make their children sell these products. They try to converse with a foreigner in order to gain sympathy thereby extracting a couple of dollars.
There is another case where the vendor will come to you and hand over one of the products they are selling which you will take to examine. Before you know they are asking you to pay for it even though you never plan to buy it. The best way to avoid this is to politely deny the offer and say ‘Cam On’ (Thank you in Vietnamese) and walk away if they haggle too much.
Bus and Train Bookings
When in Vietnam always check prices with a number of operators when booking a bus\train or any tour. Also, book with only the reputed operators (check with hotel staff for better information for respective cities). While booking a bus ticket, always check what all facilities are they providing. Journeys in Vietnam are generally very long and without stoppages, an in-house toilet can be a great relief in such cases. Some buses offer WiFi at an extra 50,000 VND. You can avoid paying that if you can do without internet during the journey.
Remember to always buy tickets for a trusted bus company Hoang Long, Mai Linh and Phuong Trang are some of them.
Reading a train ticket may not come easy in a foreign land. Another major problem is that the class is not specified on the ticket and you may find out a little too late that you paid for an upper-class ticket but were given a lower class instead. Booking from a reputed place is a wise choice.
Fake travel companies
This tops the tourist scams in Vietnam. Buying fake merchandise may not cause much harm but booking a tour with a fake operator could be dangerous and ruin your holiday. Some of the most trusted operators’ are- Handspan, Sinh tourist (formerly sinh café) Kangaroo café and Oxalis.
You may find a number of operators claiming to be one of the above but with a little bit of research and care you can find out the right operator. Sinh tourist changed their name from Sinh café because other operators started operating under their name. These fake operators will offer you cheaper tours but remember the services provided will not be up to the mark.
Pickpockets in Vietnam
‘Be careful with your belongings’ you would hear your hotel staff warning you every time you step out. Well, believe me, they know it best. Always be cautious about your money, carry them in a money pouch safely tucked inside while travelling anywhere in the world. Do not be oblivious about your wallet\purse since someone on a motorbike can easily snatch it. Another place to be extra careful is the various markets as they can get cramped and crowded.
Like the title said, better safe than sorry! Hope my learnings help you be careful on your trip & you stray away from tourist scams in Vietnam. For further reading check out my vegan food guide to Vietnam.