Scams to Avoid While Visiting Vietnam

Guest Post by Louise Rose, catch more of her Vietnam adventures at  go Vietnam.

Motorbikes, Vietnam

All first-time visitors to any country must first learn the ropes which regards to the day-to-day happenings in that country. Staying in any country without understanding the local customs, language or currency rates makes any visitor prone to unscrupulous people who may seek to take advantage of their naivety. As in the case with any other countries, Vietnam has a myriad of scams targeting visitors. These scams are age-old, tested techniques that always render visitors helpless against these individuals. Some of these tricks are simply irritating while others are dangerous enough to wreck your visit. The following are common scams to avoid while visiting Vietnam.

1. Taxi scams

In Vietnam, fake and illegal taxi drivers often have a variety of tricks, particularly when they ferry visitors. The simplest and the oldest trick on the book is to tamper with the taxi meter. These modified meters spin faster than the normal meters. This allows the drivers to make some easy money. Another trick is to take “shortcuts” during the trip which are in fact longer routes. The taxi drivers simply circle around to increase the fare you will pay when you get to your destination. In order to avoid scams, you should get a taxi of trustworthy brands, such as “Vinasun” or “Mai Linh”.

Mai Linh

Mai Linh

If you use the popular Vietnamese Cyclos, commonly known as bicycle taxis, it is advisable to agree on the amount you will pay before getting into the taxi. If you get into a taxi without agreeing on the price, you no longer have the power to bargain. It is also important to ask beforehand if the quoted price is for one person or if it is inclusive for everyone. Remember that taxi fares can always be negotiated.

  1. Xe om scams
    Taking a xe om (motorcycle taxi) trip is a very adventurous prospect in Vietnam. Because of the fact that there is no mandatory certification for motorcycle drivers, any motorcycle owner can do the job. With such a crowd, many dishonest drivers exist. The most common scam is to convince you to take the trip first and pay later. Though you may be convinced that it will be cheaper than taking a taxi, the net charges are exorbitant; even double the taxi fares. These riders also circle around to raise the fares. They may even stop in dark alleys and threaten passengers. It is advisable to stay away from these deceitful cyclists, especially at night. Dishonest motorcycle owners also like to deceive tourists with offers for motorcycle rentals. These people can actually steal the motorbike from you and ask you to pay for the ‘stolen’ motorbike.

    3. Street vendors

Even though they may look friendly at the beginning, they can be a source of great irritation for foreigners. Some street vendors may ask visitors to take photos with their merchandise after they force them to either buy their goods or tip them. Most food vendors and restaurants do not usually list their prices on the menus. Therefore, visitors may end up with different bills for the same items. Another trick is to price the meals in a currency like the US dollar and then price in another currency with a higher rate. Most tourists end up paying because they do not want any trouble. The official Vietnamese currency is the Vietnamese Dong. Most restaurants and food vendors can quote in the local currency or in the dollar. Ten can mean ten US dollars or ten thousand dong. If you opt to pay using the local currency for a price quoted in dollars, be sure to check the exchange rate.

Street Vendor in Hoi An

Street Vendor in Hoi An

When you travel, you often get carried away by the excitement of being in a new place. This may make you lose your anticipation when visiting new countries. Most people around the world are friendly and will welcome travelers to their countries with open arms. Some others, unfortunately, see backpackers are targets. To make the most of your visit in the safest condition and the most enjoyable way, why don’t you hop on Not only will you enjoy delicious street-food but it also helps you avoid unfortunate scams, as the local guide will help you choosing your souvenirs and dishes at the best price.


One more that really gets to Andy and I is the shoe shine scam! These guys will shout and point at your feet while you are walking down the road long enough for you to stop to look at what they are pointing at. Before you know it they have taken off your shoe and charging you for “Fixing it”. one of our friends who was just in Hanoi agreed to get her shoes polished, before she knew it the guy had glued on a new base and demanded 150,000 dong when the original price was meant to be 20,000!


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