Vietnam: How safe is it?

Vietnam: How safe is it?

Vietnam is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia. It welcomed over 3.6 million foreign tourists in 2022. People come here to enjoy the incredible nature, witness the pristine waters of Halong Bay, or explore the impressive caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Vietnam's cities, including megacities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, also attract many visitors. However, for those visiting the country for the first time, the question of safety often arises. Let's discuss this in our article.


Most common crimes in Vietnam

According to Numbeo, an international online statistical database, Vietnam has a crime index of 40.94 among its residents, which is considered moderate. Like any country, Vietnam experiences some criminal activities, but most of them involve petty theft and fraud. These incidents are mostly random and tend to be concentrated in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the two most densely populated cities in Vietnam.

Violent crime is relatively rare and almost never affects tourists. The intentional homicide rate is about 2 cases per 100,000 people, which is significantly lower than the world average.

Tourists most often encounter theft in various forms. Some thieves are pickpockets, others snatch bags from the back of mopeds, and some prefer to trick their victims rather than attack them directly. Fraud often occurs in crowded places, including:

  • Bus and train stations;
  • Markets;
  • Popular tourist destinations

During peak seasons, such as the Vietnamese New Year (Tet), theft incidents tend to increase because thieves know there are more people, and many are carrying money for gifts and entertainment.

Motorcycles and mopeds are the primary means of transportation for many Vietnamese, and criminals may use them for more cunning purposes, such as stealing from pedestrians. Always keep your bags close to you, on the side of the road. However, if someone tries to snatch your bag while you're riding a motorbike, it's safer not to resist to avoid being hit by the vehicle.

In addition to outright theft, many criminals make money by scamming tourists. One of the most common scams is overcharging for goods, such as street food, where vendors inflate prices for foreigners or intentionally give incorrect change.

Taxi drivers may also be involved in scams. Deceptive practices include tampering with meters, overcharging, and confusing passengers with currency issues. Only use official taxi services such as Mai Linh and Vinasun. Be cautious if a driver tells you that your hotel or destination is no longer in business and suggests an alternative location. This is a common ploy to steer tourists to hotels and bars that pay them commissions.

Vietnam: How safe is it?

Potential health concerns

Traveler's diarrhea is a common problem when visiting new countries, especially in Asia. It is often caused by extremely spicy foods and an unfamiliar diet. In Vietnam, we recommend drinking bottled water and avoiding ice in your drinks. To avoid food poisoning, choose restaurants with a high volume of customers that serve freshly prepared food. In general, street food in Vietnam is delicious and relatively safe, but it's wise to choose places carefully

There is an increased risk of malaria in rural mountainous areas. If you plan to travel to remote areas of Vietnam, make sure you have access to anti-malarial medication. Although there is no vaccine for dengue fever, effective prevention includes the use of insect repellent at dawn and dusk. Dengue fever is an increasing problem in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Mekong Delta, including Ho Chi Minh City.

We strongly recommend that you bring a medical kit containing the following items:

  • Insect repellent containing DEET (diethyltoluamide);
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and fever;
  • Anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone, to relieve irritation from insect bites;
  • High SPF sunscreen;
  • Antihistamine such as Zyrtec or Benadryl for allergy symptoms;
  • A topical antibiotic, such as Neosporin, for wound care and infection prevention;
  • Anti-diarrheal medication such as Imodium for diarrhea relief.

Please note that some medications may be difficult to find in Vietnam, so make sure you have an adequate supply of all necessary items before you travel.

Natural disasters and climate

Fortunately, the country is not prone to severe natural disasters. However, like most Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam experiences a rainy season from June to November. During this time, Vietnam can experience monsoons, typhoons, and flooding, especially in the Mekong River Delta.

Cool weather is rare in the country, and it is almost always hot and humid. It's important not to underestimate the harmful effects of sunlight. Sunburn can occur very quickly, so it is advisable to apply sunscreen regularly throughout the day. Be especially careful on beaches where there is no shade from vegetation.

It is also important to take precautions to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion, which can cause headaches and irritability. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Heat stroke, a complication of prolonged sun exposure, may require hospitalization in severe cases. If you experience weakness, dizziness, nausea, and a rise in body temperature, seek medical attention immediately.

Additional tips before traveling to Vietnam

Even if your trip to Vietnam is only for a few days, it is advisable to have travel insurance. This will help ensure your protection in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Here are some other recommendations to keep in mind:

  • Exercise extreme caution when traveling in rural areas of northern and central Vietnam and near the border with Laos. Stick to planned routes, avoid walking alone at night, and stay away from deserted areas.
  • Be careful when traveling. If you decide to rent a motorbike, always wear a helmet. Vietnam ranks third in Asia for traffic fatalities.
  • Get a local SIM card. It's a great way to navigate the city and stay connected. You can use it with online maps to track your route.
  • Be wary of organized tours. This is often a route to scams. Research the proposed itineraries in advance and do not trust offers that are too tempting. If the tour does not live up to its promises, it may be difficult to get a refund.
  • Do not take risks by using or consuming illegal substances. The penalties for doing so are severe. Vendors often work with the police to catch offenders.
  • When leaving your hotel or guesthouse, make sure your valuables are in a safe or securely locked in a bag.
  • Consume alcohol only in the company of people you trust and keep an eye on your drinks. There have been cases of drugs being spiked into drinks in tourist areas.
  • Dress modestly to avoid attracting undue attention. Be open and friendly, enjoy your trip, but be vigilant!

Vietnam has emergency numbers that can be used in case of need:

  • For the police, dial 113;
  • For the fire brigade, dial 114;
  • For ambulance, dial 115;
  • For emergency rescue services, dial 112.

Vietnam: How safe is it?

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