Common Scams in Vietnam // Things to be Aware of

Vietnamese Scams | 10 You Should Know About

We are delighted to bring you another guest post from our friends over at Urban Sesame. Today they talk about some of the most common Vietnamese scams that you need to watch out for.

If you plan on coming to Vietnam soon (if not, you really should), then it’d be a very good idea to be aware of these common scams in Vietnam.

Let’s hand over to Urban Sesame to tell you more.


Lex the Lion

Congratulations on making the brave decision to venture into the wild and wonderful world of Vietnam.

It’s an amazing country with a rich culture and a legendary food scene.

Nevertheless, as with any new places, it can also be rife with scams, dangers, and petty annoyances that can bring you down if you’re not clued in.

Here are some bits of general safety advice and other things to be aware of while travelling here.

Enjoy!

Vietnamese Scams | Fake Businesses

Vietnamese Scams | Fake Transport

Vietnamese Scams | The Scenic Route

Vietnamese Scams | Cyclo Tours

Vietnamese Scams | Photoshoots

Vietnamese Scams | 20’s and 500’s

Vietnamese Scams | Scratched Bikes

Vietnamese Scams | Beggars

Vietnamese Scams | Nightlife

Vietnamese Scams | Motorbike Snatch

Vietnamese Scams | FAQ’s

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Vietnamese Scams | Fake Businesses

This might sound funny, but only because it is.

I have a British friend who runs a fish and chip shop in Saigon. Pretty famous and with a loyal clientele.

He was of course very surprised to have people congratulate him on opening another store.

He hadn’t though.

It was a completely different operation with eerily similar branding, and a name that was just a few letters off the original.

In Phong Nha, there are 2 places called “The Pub with Cold Beer”. You’ll have to go there just to try both the authentic one, and the knockoff.

Moral of the story | Cross check between Google maps, as well as Facebook.

Vietnamese Scams | Fake Transport

Another friend of mine was caught out by this one.

He was staying at a hostel in Dalat, and they offered to organise a bus ticket for him to Nha Trang (a 6 hour journey).

He accepted, paid, and went on with his day.

When the time came to leave, he got in what looked like a big, comfortable sleeper bus. 10 minutes down the road, it became clear that this was not in fact a bus at all, but a van with some benches in the back.

They drove for 6 hours, making many stops to pick up other passengers along the way, before finally arriving in Nha Trang.

Moral of the story | Stick with the services of well reviewed agents, or at least record conversations where the ticket agent is clear about what you’re paying for. Getting a refund might be more of a pain in the ass though.

Learn some Vietnamese slang with our friend Quyen

Vietnamese Scams | The Scenic Route

Other than fake buses between cities, fake taxis within the city are also a thing.

Even still, if you only stick with proper taxi operators (Vinasun and Mailin), you might still be taken down a more windy route to your destination.

Try to have your wits about you when you’re in any new city, and always have Google Maps up and running when taking a taxi.

Moral of the story | Just use apps like Grab or Gojek. Rates are fixed, and the drivers are vetted. They’ll even ask you for reviews!

Vietnam Apps // The Ones You Need To Download For Life in Vietnam Thumbnail

Vietnam Apps // The Ones You Need To Download For Life in Vietnam

Coming to Vietnam anytime soon? Great choice! Today you will discover the most important Vietnam Apps you need to download with our comprehensive guide.

Vietnamese Scams | Cyclo Tours

These are tuk tuks, but not the Thai version.

Instead they are old school man-powered vehicles, which (theoretically) can hold up to two passengers.

They’re only really seen in Hanoi, and in the touristy parts of Saigon. They’re a bit of a tourist trap.

If you want to try one just for the experience, go ahead. It’s fun. But be sure to haggle hard, as the starting prices are always way too high.

There are also potential scams here where the driver won’t let you off the cyclo until you pay a much higher price than what was agreed.

“Oh, my English no good. You not hear right.”

Moral of the story | Take a recording of the conversation and agree to a specific price. Repeat the price multiple times.

Vietnamese Scams | Photoshoots

You’ve probably seen this on your friends’ Instagram.

Someone standing there, wearing a non la (those conical hats), carrying two baskets of fruit on a stick, in front of a picturesque lake with mountains in the background. One foot up, big smile.

But there’s a catch.

They aren’t free.

You’ll have to pay for the right to use those props for your photoshoot.

Moral of the story | choose a nice, kind looking old lady. If you’re going to pay anyway, give the money to someone who needs it the most. 

Basic Vietnamese Phrases for Travellers // Get Ready for Your Trip to Vietnam Thumbnail

Basic Vietnamese Phrases for Travellers // Get Ready for Your Trip to Vietnam

Today we take a dive into some of the most basic Vietnamese phrases which are ideal for tourists coming to Vietnam or complete beginners of the language.

Vietnamese Scams | 20’s and 500’s

Lex the Lion
Lex says “Be careful with your money, don’t part with those 500k’s easily!”

Long story short, they’re both blue.

1 US Dollar is approximately 23,000 VND.

The VND comes has several denominations including the 20K which is blue, and the 500K which is also blue.

Don’t ask why, especially if you’re from somewhere that has everything in green.

Moral of the story | always check the notes that you’re giving, and the notes that you’re receiving. As an extra precaution, only keep your 500s in a separate pocket so that you don’t get confused.

Vietnamese Scams | Scratched Bikes

Driving around Vietnam is probably one of the best reasons to visit, or even live here long term.

In order to do that though, you’ll need a bike.

You can either buy one (and resell once you get to your destination), or you can rent.

When renting though, make sure to study the bike carefully and note down any scratches, or bumps that are already there.

You don’t want to be charged extra when you return it, for something you don’t do.

Moral of the story | Take photos of the bike, especially where there’s already visible damage. Make sure the company renting out the bike is aware of this.

Vietnamese Scams | Beggars

I know I just mentioned old ladies a few points up, but that’s probably the only time I will ever use the logic of “they need it more than you do”.

Beggars are a completely different story.

There’s a high risk that they’re managed by syndicates, especially if they’re kids.

Any money you give to them will probably just be collected by their watcher. Try giving them food, and they’ll most probably reject the offer. It’s an unfortunate reality.

Moral of the story | during your trip, get involved with a local charity. These grass roots organisations know exactly where and whom to provide help. At most it’s 2 or 3 hours of your travel time spent packing food and giving it to those who need it the most. Go on, do it! 

Vietnamese Scams | Nightlife

Have fun, but be aware.

In general, Vietnam is a very safe country. I’ve never felt in danger here, even when walking around alone at night.

But that’s not to say there aren’t a few dangers.

Some of the more common ones are fake alcohol (which could leave you blind, or dead), drugged drinks, and people who are just a bit too friendly and smooth.

Moral of the story | Try to go with a group, and don’t get too inebriated. I know that’s not fun to hear, but trust me, you’ll have more fun remembering things, rather than trying to remember what the hell happened. Yes, it’s fun meeting cute, attractive and interesting strangers, but please just keep your wits about you. 

Vietnamese Scams | Motorbike Snatch

This is unfortunately a very common thing, which happens to locals and tourists alike.

I’ve had two friends have their bags/phones snatched while driving, and I myself have been a victim of this.

It’s usually done by someone on a motorbike, who will drive up next to you, and quickly grab whatever they can.

Oftentimes they can work in tandem, one riding shotgun.

They’re quick, so it’s over before you know it.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do.

Moral of the story | Don’t stand around the sidewalk while using your phone, and try to avoid using purses that are easily snatched. If you must use a purse, wear it diagonally, with the straps going over your shoulder and across your chest.

Learn how to count in Vietnamese with Tammy

This is just a small list of Vietnamese scams that exist today.

For the most part, it’s a very safe country to travel to. Just be aware of your surroundings, and use common sense, and you’ll be fine. 

This is probably one of the only places where it’s still possible to feel safe at night, while walking home, drunk and alone at 4am. Just don’t push your luck. 

If you have any questions about cute and interesting strangers, or if there’s anything I can help you with, please let me know.

You can get more tips at Urban Sesame. I’d be happy to address specific questions you might have.

Likewise feel free to drop a comment below.

Have a great day! 🙂


Scams in Vietnam // FAQ’s

Is Vietnam a safe country?

In general, Vietnam is a very safe country. I’ve never felt in danger here, even when walking around alone at night.

In fact, this is probably one of the only places where it’s still possible to feel safe at night, while walking home, drunk and alone at 4am. Just don’t push your luck.

Are there any Vietnamese scams around money I nede to be aware of?

Watch out for the 20,000 and 500,000 notes in Vietnamese.

Long story short, they’re both blue.

1 US Dollar is approximately 23,000 VND.

The VND comes has several denominations including the 20K which is blue, and the 500K which is also blue.

Don’t ask why, especially if you’re from somewhere that has everything in green.

Moral of the story | always check the notes that you’re giving, and the notes that you’re receiving. As an extra precaution, only keep your 500s in a separate pocket so that you don’t get confused.

Can I get a tuktuk in Vietnam?

Kind of, whilst they are not quite Tuktuk’s, a cyclo is the nearest experience.

They are old school man-powered vehicles, which (theoretically) can hold up to two passengers.

They’re only really seen in Hanoi, and in the touristy parts of Saigon. They’re a bit of a tourist trap.

If you want to try one just for the experience, go ahead. It’s fun. But be sure to haggle hard, as the starting prices are always way too high.

There are also potential scams here where the driver won’t let you off the cyclo until you pay a much higher price than what was agreed.

“Oh, my English no good. You not hear right.”

Moral of the story | Take a recording of the conversation and agree to a specific price. Repeat the price multiple times.

Do fake companies exist in Vietnam

This might sound funny, but yes they do!

I have a British friend who runs a fish and chip shop in Saigon. Pretty famous and with a loyal clientele.

He was of course very surprised to have people congratulate him on opening another store.

He hadn’t though.

It was a completely different operation with eerily similar branding, and a name that was just a few letters off the original.

In Phong Nha, there are 2 places called “The Pub with Cold Beer”. You’ll have to go there just to try both the authentic one, and the knockoff.

Moral of the story | Cross check between Google maps, as well as Facebook.

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