10 Harsh but True Things about Vietnam that you WISH you had known
Vietnam is a common destination for travelers thanks to its beauty and attractiveness. Though it’s known as a friendly country, there are bad things about Vietnam which can interfere with your trip. Some foreigners do not want to return to Vietnam because they have had a bad experience.
The 10 bad things about Vietnam that I listed below may sound negative, but don’t let them stop you from visiting, or coming back to my country. Read this article to avoid bad situations and plan your trip to Vietnam!
It happens especially with tour companies or with famous restaurants and stores.
In Ha Noi, Vietnam, you can find more than 100 similar The Sinh Tourist, but actually, there’s only one real. Those fake tour companies just try to gather as many tourists as possible, then send them on another tour to get some commission.
In these fake tours, you cannot experience the best service that the real one brings. Interestingly, those fake tours are usually cheaper than the real ones.
Tips to avoid fake travel tours in Vietnam
Make sure that you’re using the correct tour company’s website to look for tours. There are several fake websites which claim them real, so you need to check them carefully.
Visit the correct address of the tour company. In one street there can be more than 10 shops with the same name, so you should make sure that you’re going to the correct one.
Some people are shocked when some places in Vietnam return candies instead of money. They feel cheated and scammed. It’s very common recently, even with locals. If the amount is too large, you should ask again if there’s a mistake.
2. Airport – stolen checked luggage
So… You just arrived in this lovely country, and you figure out that your checked luggage was opened and something was stolen?
You will feel really mad at that time. I know. Don’t be so surprised and shocked because it’s quite common in Vietnamese airports.
I, as a local, still suffered from this similar situation. After the trip from Japan to Vietnam, one of my bags was clearly opened at that time. Fortunately, nothing valuable was stolen because I just put clothes and some candies in my checked luggage.
This situation was once very popular, and I could read about it everywhere in the newspaper. The airport officers are trying to prevent it, but still, we should take care of ourselves first, right?
Tips to avoid stolen luggage in Vietnam
Having your things stolen in checked luggage will definitely ruin your trip! So, what is my tip for you?
Never, ever put any valuable things in your checked bags. You may be confident that you have a lock, but they can still somehow open it (as in my case), and your things will be gone.
You can complain about it with the airport service, but they will pay back a very low rate per kilogram.
Per kilogram? Can you imagine that? I bet that everything in your luggage is much more valuable than that, so the compensation is basically nothing!
You can try wrapping your luggage to protect it, but if there’s something wrong with your luggage, you will need to open it again and again, and that takes time.
So, just put whatever valuables into your handbag, and you will have a good trip to Vietnam.
3. Crossing streets in Vietnam
And yes, be careful when you cross the street!
I’m sure it’s an interesting experience for a non-Vietnamese. There are not many road markers in Ho Chi Minh city, so it’s quite scary to cross the road.
Tips for crossing streets in Vietnam
Don’t afraid to face lots of motorcycles, buses, cars, etc when you cross the street.
First, you should wait a bit and continue, and wait and continue, and keep doing that while watching all the vehicles. You need to keep your eyes on vehicles on both sides because some people violate the rules and go in a different direction.
Be confident and you can do it!
You should buy travel insurance in advance before visiting Vietnam.
4. Traffic accidents
According to the Traffic police department, in 2016, there were more than 21 000 traffic accidents and almost 9000 people died.
So, there are around 24.5 people die per day because of traffic accidents in Vietnam. This number doesn’t include injured people.
I do not want to scare you with those numbers, but I must admit that traffic accidents happen regularly in Vietnam.
I also had some traffic accidents every year when I was in Vietnam, and it took me at least one week to heal. Fortunately, they were not that bad, so I can still sit here and write some advice :)
Traffic accidents can happen anyway. You can get hit when you cross the street, or when you are riding a bike, or in a car, even in your house. I hope some of my tips can help you have safe travels!
Tips to be safe on the road in Vietnam!
Using public transportation such as bus: I know that public transportation in Vietnam can terrify foreigners, but I feel much safer when I’m on the bus. It’s safer when you are in a bigger vehicle. Think positively, you are protected by a big box. So maybe accidents can happen with some motorbikes, you can be still safe.
Using taxi: I also feel it’s safe when using a taxi. However, I’m not that rich to use taxis all the time, so I use the bus instead.
Walking: It may be dangerous. I know someone who was killed when walking on the street :o. However, in Vietnam, there are cases that people are killed when they are in their home, just because a truck hit and crashed into their home… so I still consider walking is a safe way :)
Buy Travel Insurance in advance when planning your trip to Vietnam!
5. Taxi scams
Almost the same with the overpayments, taxi scams are common in Vietnam and they happen to everyone. The taxi driver will try to drive you around and around to charge more money.
Some foreigners will just pay for it without knowing that they are being scammed. In the other cases, the taxi drivers fix their measurement, so the total cost is double or more than the real price.
Tip to avoid Taxi scams in Vietnam
Check Google map/ or Maps.me to calculate the distance of your final destination. Then, you can multiply the distance by the money per kilometer.
Ask the taxi driver how much you need to pay before starting the trip.
Choose taxi companies which have a good reputation such as Mai Linh or Vinasun. You can also order Grab as well (Uber is unavailable in Vietnam). However, Grab is only available in specific cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh or Da Nang.
Uber is my life-saver in Ho Chi Minh!
Robbery happens everywhere in Vietnam, and the most popular cases are robbing your phones/ bags.
Imagine that you are riding your bike/ motorcycle or walking on the street with your phone/ bag, and in 1 second, it’s gone. You only see 2 guys on a motorbike going really fast, and you don’t see their faces.
What you can do then is to say goodbye to your things :(
I once saw a foreigner who had her phone robbed. She cried a lot, but nothing can be done in that case… Some foreigners had their bags robbed with all the necessary documents, so they had a hard time getting all the documents again.
It sounds scary, but you have ways to prevent this!
Tips to avoid being robbed in Vietnam
Phone: Don’t listen to your phone when you are on the street. If you need to listen to a phone call, you should choose a corner and listen to it. Be careful when using your phone on the street as well.
Bag: I suggest to use a cross-body bag. The robbers have skills to take other bags really fast. Be careful, and leave your necessary things in your accommodation if you don’t need to bring them outside.
Travel insurance: You should purchase travel insurance
Pickpocketing can happen anywhere, anytime. My father got pickpocketed twice when we went to a festival together. It happens a lot in crowded places.
Tips to avoid pickpocket in Vietnam
Take care of your own things. I always put money in my first pocket, not in the back. Therefore, I can check it from time to time to make sure it is still there.
8. Hygiene food safety
Vietnamese food is amazing! There are so many types of food for you to choose from, but food safety is a big problem in Vietnam.
Street food is really delicious, but most of the time it is not clean and healthy. The sellers may not prepare them carefully, or because of the climate, the food may have some problems.
I didn’t really realize how unsafe it was until I came back to Vietnam for vacation after living in Japan 1 year. I had a stomach ache and felt bad after eating. How to avoid that?
Tips to stay healthy in Vietnam
To be honest, it’s really hard to avoid this situation :( Hygiene food safety has become one of the most concerns in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese government is trying to improve it.
For me, I usually go to some favorite restaurants, so I know where to avoid, and where to go. However, as a foreigner, you can also read reviews about the restaurants. You can choose to eat in a restaurant which looks clean and has many visitors. Don’t eat in one where there’s no one inside.
Anyway, just buy some medicine in case you have diarrhea or problem with your stomach.
9. Bad service – bad manners
Many people complain about the bad service in Vietnamese restaurants. It’s true. I think one part of the reasons is that it’s really crowded, but the employees cannot use those excuses to serve badly.
Also, not many Vietnamese can speak English, so it may be difficult to communicate.
Tips to get the best service in Vietnamese restaurants
You should learn body language or learn some basic Vietnamese to use to order food or service. The best way is to have Vietnamese friends, so they can show you good places to eat!
I suggest you try Couchsurfing, or even if you just walk around, maybe some Vietnamese will want to say hello and talk to you.
This situation is quite common for travelers, isn’t it? You visit a different country, you look different, and you are charged more than the locals.
I heard many cases that foreigners are overcharged, but to be honest, you’re not the only ones. Even Vietnamese people are still overcharged.
Recently, I heard from my friend that her Japanese friends paid 200 000 VND for a Bánh xèo, which is Vietnamese “sizzling cake”, and it’s an unacceptable price.
I feel sad that foreigners will have bad opinions about Vietnam due to these overpayments.
Again, this situation is very common in Vietnam, and it happens to both foreigners and locals. So, take some tips below to avoid this.
Tips to avoid Overpayments in Vietnam
If you want to be ripped off, you can enter a restaurant with no price sign. Don’t do that, especially if you are a visitor. Even some restaurants have a menu, they may charge you to sit… Sounds terrible, right?
You need to ask clearly about the price before you order anything. It’s the same with eating street food, remember to ask the price before buying it. If you feel that you are paying higher than locals, leave that place and go to another place. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from :)