Help with safety and security concerns in Vietnam?

Anya's picture
By Anya - Posted on
20 February 2013
Hi there,

I am a single girl moving to Vietnam to volunteer for 6 months. I've heard lots of scary stories about people being scammed ? Are these true ?

Also, I've been told not to drive as the roads in Vietnam are crazy. How will I get around ?

I'm very nervous about the move so please let me know about your experiences. 

Smith's picture
Last seen: 4 years 45 weeks ago
Joined: 21/11/2012

Hey Anya,

Don't stress too much about the move to Vietnam.

I spend a month travelling around the country and while I experienced some culture shock I didn't have too much trouble.

I didn't caught to many scams, but I did hear from other travellers about con-artists who pretend to be friendly and take you to a restaurant where you end being ripped off simply for being a Westerner. However, nothing I didn't experience anything similar. 

I guess when it comes to safety, you just need to keep your guard up seeing that you are in a unfamiliar place. 

Yes! Do not attempt to drive in Vietnam the roads are mental. There don't seem to be any road rules. I found that public transport was a convienient way to get around, especially in Ho Chi Minh City. Motorcycle taxis are also a fun and fast to get around.

I hope this helps and enjoy your time in Vietnam. Its an awesome country.
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Shantalie's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

London, England

Hi Anya,

There are often reports about unsuspecting tourists being scamed by those solicting people to donate to fake charities or motorcycle taxi operators trying to make an extra buck or two. But don't let that put you off travelling and working in Vietnam. .

As long as you are aware of the scams and safety issues in Vietnam you are in position to take the necessary precautions to stay out harms way. The Safety in Vietnam page discusses the main safety issues for expats living in Vietnam. So take a look a that before you leave.

As Smith has said, don't drive in Vietnam. Driving really won't enhance your expat life in Vietnam or make things easier in fact it'll probably just increase your stress levels.

Once you arrive in Vietnam you'll see how chaotic the roads are. Instead of driving, utilise the many public transport options available to us. Buses and trains are relativley efficient and afford. Once you get used to them, you'll have no problem manouevring your way around the city. Motorcycle taxis are also a speedy way to get around Vietnamese cities. 

Take a look at the Transport and Driving in Vietnam page for a comprehensive overview of the transport options available. 

Best of luck and enjoy Vietnam :)
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Anya's picture
Last seen: 6 years 34 weeks ago
Joined: 30/09/2011

Thanks guys! 

I feel a lot more reassured now about making the move to Vietnam. I will take a look at the pages.

A couple more questions - how safe is to ride a motorbike yourself? Do you need to carry your own helmet or do the taxis provide you with one?

Has anyone on the forum had any experience with Vietnamese hospitals? Should I arrange health insurance before I leave or are there enough providers in Vietnam?

Thanks again,

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Anya's picture
Last seen: 6 years 34 weeks ago
Joined: 30/09/2011

Thanks for your advice. How much to cabs usually cost in Vietnam ?
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allison_ellisuk's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 weeks ago
Joined: 19/03/2013

I lived in Hanoi Vietnam with my family including 3 young children. I had my final child in the International French hospital plus an emergency gall bladder operation (don't ask) and the care for both was excellent. There are good international health clinics - SOS International for example - if worse comes to worse you are close to Bangkok and Singapore where you can get world class help if you need it.

Cabs are cheap - we used them a lot, although we also owned a car. We employed a driver through the week but did happily drive at weekends ourselves. However, it was a few years ago and I hear traffic has got worse. My husband drove his own motorcyle (with helmet of course) with no problems. One thing is that speeds are slow in the city and so things do happen but you shouldn't worry too much. Helmet wearing for both expats and Vietnamese is common place now and that is certainly essential.

Overall you will have a fantastic time in Vietnam, it's a safe, beautiful and inexpensive country and of course the people are wonderful.

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Anonymous's picture

I am a Vietnamese, working for an over sea company. I am having a lot of foreigners who can help you to be familiar with the live here. Ofcourse if you need a local friend to support you then I am one of the contact point(+84903482028). Btw, what is your plan to stay here?

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