Safety

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TRAVEL TIPS

Safety

Although it is widely accepted that Vietnam is safe for tourists, pickpocketing and bag snatching are becoming serious problems in Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, and Hanoi; even Hoi An is beginning to see more petty crime. You may want to remove any jewelry that stands out. The rest of Vietnam's cities are safer—the biggest hassles are being stared at and being overcharged for purchases. You should take standard precautions, however.

In the big cities do not walk with your bag or purse on your street-side shoulder or leave it at your feet in a cyclo or in the basket of a bicycle, as the snatch-and-ride stealing method (on a motorbike or bicycle) is common. Put your wallet in your front pocket or in a zipped-up bag or purse, and be extra alert when you enter busy markets or crowds. Also, watch out for children or elderly people who may be acting as decoys or pickpocketing you themselves. When sitting in a street café or in a cyclo, make sure you either hold your bag in your lap with your hands through the straps or put the straps around your neck; if you do put it at your feet, wrap its handles around your ankles so no one can grab it. If someone does steal your bag, don't pursue the thief—assailants often carry knives. As for cyclos, motorbike taxis, and Easy Riders, be sure to negotiate a price before you get on, don't go with a driver you don't feel comfortable with, and don't travel by cyclo or motorbike taxi after dark, especially in cities. You should also avoid parks at night in large cities. Don't wear a money belt or a waist pack, both of which peg you as a tourist. If you carry a purse, choose one with a zipper and a thick strap that you can drape across your body; adjust the length so that the purse sits in front of you at or above hip level. Store only enough money in the purse to cover casual spending. Distribute the rest of your cash and any valuables between a deep front pocket, an inside jacket or vest pocket, and a hidden money pouch. Do not reach for the money pouch in public.

You should avoid leaving passports, cameras, laptop computers, and other valuables in your hotel room, unless the room has a safe. If it doesn't, consider leaving your valuables in the hotel's safe or with the front desk. It is advised that you leave your passport in your hotel safe and carry only a photocopy with you while out exploring.In cheaper accommodations, it’s normal for the reception desk to hold your passport for the duration of your stay. If they do, demand that it is kept in the hotel safe and not, as is common, kept in an unlocked drawer with all the other guests' passports. Always check that the correct passport is returned to you when you check out.

Vietnam is a relatively safe place for women travelers. Female travelers seem to encounter more hassles—such as grabbing and heckling—in the less visited, rural areas. Walking alone or taking a solo cyclo or motorbike taxi ride at night is best avoided; if you're taking a taxi alone at night, sit in the back seat. Finally, don't venture too far down deserted beaches alone. As anywhere, use your common sense.

Dozens of Vietnamese are killed every year by unexploded war ordnances, but it is very unlikely you will visit any danger areas. If you are unsure, be sure to travel with an experienced guide.

Though both Vietnam and Cambodia are generally peaceful countries, it's important to check the Department of State website for guidance or travel alerts before making plans to travel.

Advisories

U.S. Department of State. travel.state.gov.

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