Hi everyone, I am Tony, a Vietnamese American who lives in the United States. I am writing this article to provide some tips for helping you, expats or travelers, know some tips when you travel to Vietnam. I have seen those non-Vietnamese people who are hassled, overcharged, ripped off and mistreated so I understand you feel disappointed about Viet Nam. There are many foreigners who complain about “nasty locals” in Vietnam (VN) blatantly rip you off while laughing about it. I am sad too because Vietnam is my mother country. If you decide to travel to Vietnam because of the stunning countryside views, then you need to know some tips.
WHAT THINGS MOST EXPATS GET RIPPED OFF
You will meet millions of street sellers who follow you everywhere you go. They will charge you double or even triple the normal price they charge for local people. The taxi drivers rig their meter to charge you longer kilometers. The store sellers make you buy something with higher prices. The rent at hotels or motels for expats are always higher than Vietnamese people. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Japanese, European, Hispanic, Black or Caucasian, you will be charged double or tripled unless you know the price.
Transport is the most important thing that most taxi drivers usually rip you off. You need to know a good reputable taxi company to go from this place to another. When you arrive to your place, you should know about the exchange rate, which is the way that most Taxi drivers can take advantage by ripping you off. You should pay attention to the running meter to make sure the taxi driver charge you the right money.
WHICH TAXI YOU SHOULD CHOOSE
Unlike other countries, getting into a wrong taxi may result in kidnapping or raping, however, getting into a wrong taxi in Vietnam may hit your wallet very hard. I mean, the taxi driver may overcharge you and make you pay more.
You should also pay attention when you go to a tour, from Tuy Hoa, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Ha Noi, Saigon and so on, by asking the price before doing anything, taking a picture with ladies in the cone hats carrying fruits, and so on.
When you rent a bike to drive around the city, you will be charged higher. Also, making sure that the bike you rent is in good condition. Some rental shops changed a little bit in your bike and it will break down after you drive about 1 km. If it gets broken down, then you go to a mechanic shop, you should ask the price before let him fix it. Mechanics in Vietnam are good but most of them try to replace parts one after another until your bike works, then charge you big money.
Eating in a local restaurant is another issue that many expats have. Again, look at the menu to learn the price before you order anything. Some local restaurants don’t have a menu, you ask the waiters or owners before you order.
Sex is another issue that many foreigner men get ripped off in Vietnam. If you are a man tourist walking in VN, then you will face to many Vietnamese prostitutes who try to offer you sex. This is hard to know the price because every girl is different. I think the price is between $5 to $20. There are many sex related services everywhere you go in this country, including in restaurants, Coffee shops, clubs, bars and so on. Remember, prostitution is illegal in Vietnam.
There are single Western men who come to Vietnam to meet their girlfriends after they get acquainted with these Vietnamese girls at online dating site. Most of them won’t get scammed because their girlfriends show them every tip to avoid this issue. If you are one of those, then you’d better walk out with her to avoid getting ripped off.
VIETNAMESE NEW LUNAR YEAR
Most of places charge you double or triple. This is normal. Try to negotiate the price as best as you can anywhere you go, including renting a bike, a hotel, buying food and drinks, etc.
TRY TO KNOW THE PRICE
So, you always ask for the price before you buy something. Pay attention to the customer in front of you pay to know the price. You always negotiate the price before you buy. I know it’s hard to do so because you really don’t know what the price should be. Many expats make mistakes for being happy because they can negotiate the price from 50,000 Vietnam Dong to 30,000 Vietnam Dong, but the actual price is just 10,000 Vietnam Dong.
TRY TO SAY NO
I understand how you feel when seeing many street kids carrying lottery, food and drinks to sell for people, even on daytime during weekdays. They should be in school at this time if they live in Japan, Australia, Canada or America as well as other developed countries. You feel sorry for them. You help them by buying some things and you pay higher prices. When you buy a bread from this kid, there will be another kid asks you to buy a drink and so on. My advice is to say “no thanks”.
In summary, there are some tips you MUST remember when traveling to Vietnam:
- Female expats should not dress that show off their bare breasts to avoid stares from locals.
- When you visit pagodas or temples, please dress well just like you go to the Church in your country.
- If you want to drink clean water, then bring your own.
- Wear your bag in front to avoid bad people snatch it and run away.
- Keep your money, credit cards and any valuable things in a safe place.
- Select the best tour agency, read their reviews before booking a tour.
- Don’t wear expensive jewellery, watches, rings, etc.
- Make sure your bag is not easy to grab when you are on a motorbike taxi (Xe Om).
- If you’re coupled, then don’t show too much physical affection in public like kissing on lips, hugging, etc.
- Always BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS.
Generally speaking, tourism in Vietnam is still in infancy stage where 95% of tourists don’t want to return (while in Thailand, up to 60% of tourists want to return). Those poor people think that expats have a lot of money to travel to Vietnam. So, they see it as an opportunity to make a little extra money. I am Vietnamese. I apologize to any foreigner who was ripped off or scammed in Vietnam. If you are about to travel to Viet Nam, then please read these tips to avoid being ripped off in this country.