Vietnam is seen as a relatively stable and peaceful destination for foreigners. As long as expats moving to Vietnam are aware of the main safety issues and act accordingly, they should have a trouble-free experience. Safety concerns that do exist in Vietnam are mainly a result of underdeveloped infrastructure and the poverty prevalent among the local population.
Petty theft in Vietnam
Petty crime is a problem in urban areas of Vietnam. Unfortunately, tourists and Western expats are often a target for pickpockets in Vietnamese cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Expats should avoid walking alone in secluded areas. It is also best not to wear expensive-looking jewellery or watches and keep valuables such as cameras and mobile phones out of sight.
Scams in Vietnam
Tourists and Western expats who have just arrived in Vietnam often fall prey to scams perpetrated by unscrupulous locals.
Common scams in Vietnam include:
Being solicited to offer donations to false charities
Taxi drivers trying to overcharge passengers and becoming abusive when the passenger refuses to pay the inflated price. It is best that expats insist that taxi drivers use their meter to avoid any confrontations at the end of the journey.
Being accosted by a stranger recommending a restaurant or shop and then being overcharged at the end of the visit
Safety on transport in Vietnam
Vietnam is notorious for road traffic accidents, especially in bustling urban areas. Expats should avoid driving until they become familiar with driving conditions and road etiquette in the country.
Motorbikes are one of Vietnam’s main modes of transportation. While riding a motorbike is the fastest and most efficient way to navigate city streets, it is also dangerous, and motorbike accidents, many of which end in serious injury or death, occur on a daily basis in Vietnam's cities. Although it is illegal to be on a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, many locals ignore this rule. Therefore, expats should do their best to ensure their own safety by wearing a helmet and staying alert while on a motorbike.
►Learn about Vietnamese cultural norms in Culture Shock in Vietnam
"Generally, I think HCMC is a very safe city. I feel safer here than anywhere I have lived in Australia. The biggest safety concern is petty theft. You can take precautions to prevent yourself from being targeted." Read more of Simone's expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Vietnam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vietnam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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