Travelers will be glad to know that Vietnam is a safe country to country to visit during any time of the year. Like any place, there are risks that are easily minimized with common sense and basic travel tips.
Walk along the beaches, hike through the lush mountains, and visit cultural sites with relative ease because violent crime is uncommon. If you respect the culture and its rules, you should have no issues while traveling here.
Crossing the Street
Saigon street. Photo: Sam Sherratt
While you may not think that crossing the street is a safety issue, it certainly could be if you don’t stay aware. Cars and motorbikes don’t generally stop for pedestrians, although they will slow and let the pedestrian pass by, as traffic flows around the street-crosser like fish. Keep a steady pace as you cross the street, and only stop briefly based on the incoming traffic’s flow.
They generally expect people to keep on moving, so this is the best practice. It may resemble a game of Frogger but always moving forward, sometimes slowing and briefly stopping. Cars and motorbikes expect people to cross this way. Watch others before you go and see how they do. Some hold up their hands to make themselves more seen.
If you get a little nervous trying to cross the busy road, wait to find a group to cross with. Make sure you are paying attention as you go and your phone is put away. The Vietnamese are kind and helpful, and most will be glad to help you to the other side.
Choosing a Taxi
Be careful when selecting a taxi because there are many shady drivers that are eager to take advantage of you. Stay with reputable companies such as VinaSun or Mai Linh and confirm the fixed rate before accepting a ride. There are also ride-hailing apps, where you can choose between cars and motorbikes.
Check out the app Grab taxi, which is like Uber, to easily find a ride. Others include GoJek and Be.
Petty theft is uncommon, though more likely to happen in large cities. However, visitors should be on guard no matter where they are. Make sure that you keep your belongings close and leave valuables at home or in a secure lockbox at your hotel. Doors should be locked at all times, and keep items of worth out of sight of prying eyes.
Pickpocketing does occur from time to time, like anywhere, so keep your items tightly on your body. Typically, thieves on motorbikes are known to grab bags, cameras, phones, and jewelry as they speed by.
Also be careful on the busy walking streets and promenades, especially after hours. These bustling areas of nightlife can be popular hunting grounds for thieves, so try to keep space between yourself and others. A trick is to stuff a bandana in your pocket above your wallet/phone to make it harder to take anything without your notice.
Violent crime is extremely rare.
Street food at the night market. Photo: Michelle Lee
There is little need to worry about food safety in Vietnam. The majority of restaurants have fresh and quality food. Look for venues where locals are eating, as they know the best places to grab a bite. Ask your accommodations for suggestions. Street food is generally very safe as well and one of the best ways to sample a wide array of perfected recipes.
The fruit and veggies are also a great choice and safe for you to eat. If you have an opportunity, rinse any produce you bring back to your accommodation. Water is not usually safe to drink from the tap unless you boil it. Only drink bottled water when out and about, most restaurants will serve iced green tea, the same way western restaurants might serve water.
While extremely unlikely, natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons do happen from time to time (usually occurring May to January). Flooding also occurs almost every year along the Mekong River delta due to extensive rains. During heavy rains be careful driving, as some roads do collect a lot of water in places.
While sexual assault does happen, by using basic common sense and awareness, women are more than fine traveling here. Just like in many parts of the United States and around the world, women should not walk alone at night, especially in isolated and dark areas. Additionally, try to avoid overnight trains and buses, as it puts women in vulnerable situations in the dark.
Travel tips for Safety
- While the Vietnamese are very kind and helpful, be leery of overly helpful and assertive strangers. They may be looking for ways to profit from you.
- Do not do drugs of any kind in Vietnam. Drugs are illegal and carry serious consequences.
- Most pickpocketing occurs when people are not paying attention. Be attentive at tourist sites or while taking photos, as thieves are skilled at taking items without the victim even being aware.
- Make copies of your travel documents so that if they should get taken, you will have copies to help you. Passports are taken and photographed/scanned by hotels/vacation rentals by law.
- Never count your money in public. Never.
- Consider a money belt to conceal your cash or another way to carry your valuables inside your clothing.
- You can always tone down your dress/jewelry to look less well off (and a target).
- Keep an eye on your drinks and never leave them unattended.
With a little common sense, cultural respect, and law awareness, visitors in Vietnam should feel safe and relaxed while enjoying their vacation around the country.
Keyword: Is Vietnam a safe place to travel?