How To Avoid Travel Scams In Vietnam
Like anywhere on this planet, scams are VERY common when you go traveling to other countries. At Vietnam Motorbike Tour Asia here we lists some of the most common travel scams when you are on lifetime holiday in this amazing part of the world. To be honest, travel scams are more popular in a developing country like Vietnam. The following were either collected on Internet or sent by our customers to help avoid travel scams in Vietnam. Take a look of below details before coming for motorbike riding in Vietnam.
Taxi Drivers – Travel scams in Vietnam
This is usually the first scam you have in any country as you may meet them for very first time from airport to hotel. Most of drivers are honest with their metre (if they wear uniform and come from a trusted companies like Hanoi Tourist Taxi, Mai Linh Taxi, Hanoi Taxi Group, Airport Taxi …etc.). However, some are very dishonest and dodgy. This is also very true with some motorbike taxi (xe om) drivers. The color and too many zero of Vietnamese money here is also very confusing. One way to avoid this travel scam is know the exchange rates before you come and distance that you are going to travel. A small taxi usually costs around 50 cents/km. More Vietnam travel tips are provided below
One option is to only use the large and honest taxi companies. Mai Linh is always recommended, but Taxi Group and ABC are also solid – though Taxi Group is pricier.
Another is to get your hotel/the bar or restaurant you’re at to call you a taxi. Most will be happy and willing to help you with this. There’s no guarantee it will be one of the recommended companies, but as long as you’re at a reputable place it shouldn’t be a problem. Ask them how much it should cost too, just to get an idea.
Agreeing a fixed price is only advisable if you know how much you should be paying. Prepare a pen and paper and put your agreement down and in VND, not USD. Their first bid is likely to be high, especially late at night ( some drivers not turn on the light for customers to check out money size, VND cashes looks similar colors. Make sure you have enough change on you. It’s a common trick for drivers to claim they don’t have any change. If they do this, pay less rather than more (if you have it) – no change, their problem, not yours. Hope you know how to avoid travel scams in Vietnam from these drivers.
Street Vendors – Travel scams in Vietnam
This is one of the most common scams once you are in Hanoi or big cities in Vietnam. Foreign travelers were ripped off, if not cheated, by vendors of pineapples and bananas on the street. Vendors who usually carry a pole with two baskets at the pole’s ends often put the pole on tourists’ shoulders and a hat on their heads without asking, and then invite them to pose for photos. Soon after the travelers take the photos, usually thinking that the Vietnamese people are just acting friendly, the vendors take the props back, give the tourists a couple of pineapple pieces in a plastic bag, and ask them to pay like 100,000 VND to 500,000 VND and even worse 1 million Dong for four pieces of pineapple.
In some recent reports, if you open your wallet, they might pick up your money just before you could realize which notes are taken. This scam is popular in Hanoi despite of the fact that local authorities have banned street vendors on 62 streets since 2008. The only way to avoid travel scams from these vendors is say “NO – Không Cảm Ơn ” and walk away.
Local Mechanics & Repair Shops – Travel scams in Vietnam
When your motorbikes break down, you need to find repair shops. Luckily, they are as popular as food and accommodation. In fact, most offer good services and do a good job. On the other hand, some try to find a way to cheat you.
They may disable some connections, disconnect dynamo or control module or in some cases even use false spark plugs to make your trouble look very serious. Then they will change Chinese parts and charge you money like genuine parts and keep your parts. In case you book motorcycle tours in Vietnam with us, please call Vietnam Motorbike Tour Asia Hanoi Team before they do anything so we could speak to them. Keep an eye on what they are doing and bring all parts that they said “broken” with you back. You may get advice from hotels for a reliable motorcycle repair shop to have your bike checked, chain oiled or tensioned. These services are very cheap and sometimes free (like just oiling the chain).
Motorbike Brands – Travel scams in Vietnam
Honda is the most favoured/ reliable brand in Vietnam that we love most. This brand accounts for at least 70% of motorbikes in the country. Many used motorbike dealer shops have Chinese or Taiwanese copy cats and advertise as Hondas. In reality, imported or real Honda bikes are expensive due to import tax and quality. If they just cheat you with the name then guess what they are going to do next?
Things like Honda Win 110cc, Honda Bonus 125cc, Honda Minsk 125cc etc. are all fake. Google it out or search on the manufacturer’s websites for more details before you buy or hire one. For example, Honda Win only comes with 100cc and has only kick-start, discontinued in early 2000’s. Bonus is a Taiwanese SYM product and Minsk is a Belorussian bike. A good way to know if it’s a real Honda or check bike registration paper, Honda should be the brand. You really get what you pay for, fakes or low quality bikes cost you a lot more than the cost of purchase or renting and you may have your whole Vietnam motorcycle trip interrupted or cancelled. For more quality bike details, check out here!.
Hotel Charges – Travel scams in Vietnam
Hotels in Vietnam have been known to double rates upon checkout by claiming that the price quoted was per person rather than per night. ( Mostly breakfast issue, double check whether room with break for 1 or 2 if including in the hotel price ). If your room has a refrigerator, confirm what drinks are present when you check in to avoid being charged for something a previous guest enjoyed. Telephone calls from hotels are also very expensive while mobile sim cards in Vietnam is very cheap. Therefore, bring your phone (unlocked version please) and buy a sim for around 5 USD and you should have around 6 USD credit in it.
When a hotel becomes popular, others actually spring up with the exact (or nearly) same name in hopes of stealing business. Confirm the address of your hotel rather than just giving the taxi driver a name.
Luckily, you now can book online with the right hotels. In addition, ask them to include pick-up transfers avoid travel scams with drivers. ( It costs 30 USD/ way/ 4 seater car or 50 USD/ way for a van ). If you book our Vietnam motorbike tours, we will including Hotel room from first and last nite together with airport pick up.
Prostitution – Travel scams in Vietnam
Karaoke bar, one of the most popular entertainment forms in Vietnam, also hides some threats to careless people. This travel scam is usually applied to men, especially single ones. Unlike Thailand, prostitution in Vietnam is still illegal (even many people raised their voice and said this should be recognised thing but put under strict control of the authorities); thus far many male tourists are in need of a “call girl”, but they cannot find one openly.
However, prostitution is real existence in Vietnam like anywhere else. Taking advantages of this, some karaoke restaurants hire motorcycle-taxi drivers, cyclo-drivers or even taxi drivers to lead male tourists to restaurants with an attractive invitation: “To go to chat with some beautiful girls, if you want, you can go and have fun with them; if you do not want, you just pay for your drinks and leave”. Inexperienced tourists often fall for this and follow the drivers to those restaurants. Hookers will appear, seducing tourists to go overnight with them. If tourists agree, they will ask for some money to book a room, and then disappear.
After that, the restaurant gives them bills, and it is usually three to ten times more for some drinks and fruits, along with made-up fees, like foods, beers, safety fees for the police. Tourists are unable to deny paying because bodyguards – or more like mafia gang – are ready to threaten them, and can not call the police since prostitution is illegal. The only thing they can do is to leave their money and go. Call girls usually go on-line to find customers as Internet is very popular in Vietnam.
Drugs – Travel scams in Vietnam
Don’t ever think about it. Drug possession can actually carry the death penalty in Vietnam. Individuals on the street try to sell marijuana to travelers, then phone a friendly police officer to come shake the buyers down for a large bribe. You will get big trouble anyway. Avoid Vietnam travel scams with drugs saves you in the long run.
As generously shared by another reader, massage places in Hanoi are a big scam. They advertise a low price for their services, but when the bill comes, you will find that you are charged for a ton of ancillary products, such as water!
Sometimes, you might be asked to pay more because you have a larger or heavier bag by bus or train staff. It is pure nonsense, there is no such rule.
Pickpockets and Snatch Theft
As with places with crowds, pickpockets and snatch theft are common and one must always be alert and careful.
This is more common in Ho Chi Minh City, where the bag snatchers even have a name for themselves, which is the Saigon Cowboys. Watch out for child pickpockets as well!
Sometimes, pickpockets work with street touts. A street tout talks to and distracts you, while the pickpocket swipes your valuables. Be wary in such situations and check your bag if you feel someone brush against you.
Do note that other cities such as Hanoi and Nha Trang face situations too.
Hanoi Shoe Repair
This is a less common scam, though watch out if you are wearing worn out shoes!
For this scam, some guy approaches you out of nowhere and applies glue to your shoes. Next, he would take out a thread and tell you that your shoes are about to fall apart, which he can repair for $1.
If you didn’t realise, that glue is actually a solvent that dissolves stitches! Should you say yes, he would then proceed. However, the trouble does not end when the job is completed, as he will be demanding $10 or more!
Restaurants that Do Not Display Prices
Avoid, but if you must try, do ask about the prices before ordering. If all you get are vague replies, that’s the sign to leave.
Be careful of those that list prices in USD as well – they might demand payment in Vietnamese Dong and use some unreasonably expensive exchange rate