Scams in VietnamCommon Scams to Avoid When Traveling in VietnamVisiting any new country for the first time comes with a learning curve. Not knowing the language,currency, or local customs makes you far more susceptible to unscrupulous individuals who are eagerto take advantage.Like the rest of Southeast Asia, Vietnam has its share of scams that target travelers. Generally thesescams are old, proven ways to sucker newcomers to the country out of a few extra dollars here andthere. While most are more a nuisance than dangerous, some scams in Vietnam are far more cheekyand can literally ruin your entire trip if you fall victim.Dont be a sucker! Here are some common scams in Vietnam to avoid:Motorbike Rental Scams in VietnamPretty much applicable to all of Vietnam, be prepared to decline dozens of offers for a motorbike everytime you leave your hotel. Particularly in Nha Trang and Mui Ne, a horde of shady individuals on thestreet will offer up their personal motorbikes for rent.Renting from individuals on the street makes you vulnerable to a multitude of old scams. Some havebeen known to follow you then actually steal the motorbike with a spare key. Others rent motorbikeswith mechanical problems then claim that you must make the repairs upon return.If you intend to rent a motorbike in Vietnam, do so through your accommodation. Although lots oftourists do drive motorbikes, be aware that you are required to possess a Vietnamese driving permit.If stopped by the police and you fail to show a permit, they can impound the motorbike for over a month- you are responsible to pay the rental costs while it is in impound - and charge you a steep fine!Confusing Currency in VietnamAlthough the official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong, many prices for food, hotels, andtransportation are quoted in U.S. dollars. Always confirm what currency a price is in. For instance, if avendor tells you that something is "five" it can mean 5,000 dong - around 25 cents - or $5.If a price is quoted in dollars and you choose to pay in Vietnamese dong, always double check theexchange rate used to make the conversion. Carrying a small calculator is a big help, particularlywhen the other party speaks little English.Cyclo and Taxi Drivers in VietnamAlways confirm before getting inside any taxi that the driver will use the meter. If getting a ride fromone of Vietnams famous "cyclos" or bicycle-taxis, agree on a clear price before getting inside; you have
lost all your bargaining power once the journey starts. Confirm whether the price is total or per personand assume that any price you are given is one-way. Prices for rides can usually be negotiated - readmore about negotiating prices in Southeast Asia.Do not rely on information about a particular hotel or restaurant being "closed" - this is usually thedrivers attempt to take you to a friends restaurant instead.A more-dangerous scam in Hanoi consists of drivers pretending to be taxis, then driving theirpassengers outside of the city unless they agree to fork over money and valuables. Exercise cautionby only using official taxis, easily identifiable in Vietnam.There have been reports of airport taxi drivers operating on the coupon system who demand moremoney once at your destination. The driver will hold your luggage hostage in the trunk until you paythe difference. Keep your bags on the seat with you!Hotel Scams in VietnamHotels in Vietnam have been known to double rates upon checkout by claiming that the price quotedwas per person rather than per night. If your room has a refrigerator, confirm what drinks are presentwhen you check in to avoid being charged for something a previous guest enjoyed.When arriving to a new town, your best bet is to walk briskly past all the hotel offers from touts thatwait on the buses. These guys are middlemen and their commission is added to your room rate.When a hotel becomes popular, others actually spring up with the exact same name in hopes ofstealing business. Confirm the address of your hotel rather than just giving the taxi driver a name.Ticket Booking Scams in VietnamBe wary of anyone that approaches you around the entrance of bus and train stations - most are there totarget tourists. Con-artists will tell you that the train or bus is delayed or offer to book a ticket foryou.Train tickets in Vietnam do not have the class printed on them. Travel agents may charge you for asoft-sleeper class berth then give you a ticket that is only good for a less-comfortable class to pocketthe difference. Read more about train travel in Vietnam.Changing Prices in VietnamMany prices for food, toiletries, and other items in small shops are usually made up at thewhim of theshopkeeper. Never assume that a price is the same as you paid yesterday!
Pirated Goods in VietnamKeep in mind that many of the goods sold by street vendors in Vietnam are actually cheap reproductions.DVDs, books, electronics, and even name-brand cigarettes are convincing-enough fakes but usually ofa lower quality.Drugs in VietnamDont even think about it: Drug possession can actually carry the death penalty in Vietnam. Individualson the street try to sell marijuana to travelers, then phone a friendly police officer to come shake thebuyers down for a large bribe. Read more about drugs in Southeast Asia.