Scams are easily found in Viet Nam! Some scams may just steal you a few dollars, whereas other scams can ruin your entire trip if you fall being a victim. Justgola strongly recommend you learn these common scams in Vietnam before traveling.
This is a real story from tourist
“Stepping out of our hotel to grab a taxi to a restaurant which is latter found out to be only 2.5 km away. We quickly saw a bunch of taxies lining up in front of the hotel, we waved my hand to signal one of them to come pick us. Then in no more than a minute, a white cab named Thang Long with the taxi sign on top. The driver quickly opened the door and we hopped in. When we arrived the restaurant we wanted, It shocked us when seeing 15 km showed up on the meter with the price of 350,000 VND. But we are sure, we took a 10 minute drive in busy streets in Ha Noi . Then It came up to 15 km. What the hell is happening? We spoke a lot about why so much money with the driver and pointed to the meter , But he seemed to know nothing and pretended not to understand what we said and kept pointing at the money and forced us to pay enough. We didn't say a single word, we paid and walked away.. If you are not careful, you may pick the wrong one among many taxi brand names out there. They can put a taxi sign on top, a fake meter inside and go cheat you”
Photo by Rico Nguyen
Tips: To stay safe from this scam, you need to remember some good and prestige brand taxi all over Viet Nam as followed
- Mai Linh (green taxi) is the most popular and prestige brand name of taxi that you should take.
- VINASUN taxi is another nationwide brand name. You can ask the hotel receptionist to call one of those two taxi for you. Also, you need to map out the routes you want to go to make sure you will not be cheated. The fares are labeled clearly inside the taxi with 12,000 VND for the first km, the next 30 km for 17,500 VND and 15,000 VND for more than 30 km. Note that the price may change after years.
Viet Nam is home to another type of cheap taxi service which is called "taxi" or motorcycle taxi. If you want to take a xe ôm, you need to know the distance on a tourist map and always remember to negotiate the price ahead with the driver.
2. No Small Money Change Returned.
We picked a taxi from the airport to the hotel with my family in Ho Chi Minh last month. When we arrived our hotel, it cost 120,000 VND. After dropping out all our luggage, we gave the driver 150,000 VND - A 100,000 note and a 50,000 note. The driver took the money, said "thank you" and went back to his cab. I was expecting the change back. He left and in a moment we thought he got back to his taxi to take the change in there. But after he jumped in, slammed the door and left stolidly. We were freaking shocked of being robbed of 30,000 VND. One day later we had a chance to ask a receptionist about that and she answered " this is not a rip-off or cheating, but this is a principal for drivers to think it's a small amount of money for tips and he is supposed to keep the change". I was like "Oh, !!!"
Photo by http://media.tinmoi.vn/
Tips: When you pay transportation fares in Viet Nam and you don't want to leave a tip for driver, don't pay more than the negotiated fare or the money showed on the meter clock. Try to pay exactly the amount money needed. Don't forget to prepare some small money in Viet Nam.
3. Drivers Going Long Way Around
“We were in Nha Trang, Viet Nam two months ago. One evening we and our friends got a taxi from the hotel to go to the Russian town. We hopped in and said "Russian town", the driver automatically understood. It took us more than 15 minutes to finally get there. We happily paid him 215,000 VND and didn't forget to say thanks. Next morning, we walked to the beach for swimming. After 10 minutes of walking, one of my friends say " Look! Isn't it the Russian town that we came last night?" All of us looked at each other and understood that we were scammed. It is just a few blocks away in the day light. But the taxi took more than 15 minutes to get there. Oh, my Goodness!”
Tips: It is good to locate the destination show the drivers where to go. It's to inform the drivers that you can estimate the distance and time to get there. Drivers can't swindled you anymore.
4. Extra Luggage Fees
“We took a coach bus from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang three months ago. We were carrying a big backpack of 30 kg. When we came to the bus station, the assistant guy was arranging luggage into the under cabin of the bus. When it came to our luggage, It gave him a hard time to carry and fit it in the cabin. We saw he was not happy about that. Then he came up to us and asked for extra fee of 50,000VND for oversize luggage. After a few seconds figuring out what he tried to say, we understood and paid him 50,000 VND. After 3 nights in Nha Trang, we took another coach bus to Da Nang. Same bus size, same luggage size, but we didn't have to pay any extra fees for heavy luggage. Later in Da Nang we met some friends and told them about the story, they said there is no fee for big luggage on bus or train."
Photo by Nicole Hanusek
Tips: The fact is no any extra fees for bus or train in Viet Nam. The staff just try to defraud of your money by dishonest words. When you are asked for such kind of thing, you just go ahead and say "no". They will know immediately that you know the rule; they will stay away from you.
5. Overcharged on Food and Drinks
“Da Nang Food is cheap and delicious. All of restaurants or vendors will offer you free iced tea in this city. After Da Nang, we flew to Ha Noi and stay there for 5 days, and what we experienced is totally different from Da Nang about the life style and prices. Everything is more expensive here.
One time, we had bowls of Phở at a restaurant near by the Old Quarter. We asked for an iced tea glass as we usually did in most of where we ate in Da Nang. And it cost us 20,000 VND for that iced tea glass which is free in some places in Viet Nam. While the bowl of Pho cost 40,000 VND. It's nonsense! Later that day in the evening, we went to a bar in Ha Noi and ordered some local beer. We just wanted to relax with the music and enjoy some local beer. Available on the table is some roasted peanuts, we ate it while waiting for my beer and thought it's free because they don't put it in the menu. The damage for that roasted peanut was 40,000 VND while my 5 beer was only 100,000 VND. What on Earth! “
Photo by Magalie L'Abbé
Tips: Check carefully the menu before eating. Only eat things that are noted on the menu with apparent prices. If something is not included in the menu, don't hestitate to ask. Asking before eating is the best tip for keeping you safe from rip-offs or overcharged.
In a Karaoke, fruits and snacks are more expensive than anything else, strange local people are even the victim of this kind of scam.
6. Added Hotel Fees
"Prior to our visit to Hue, Viet Nam, we had booked a hotel room in Agoda.com and paid by visa card. Then two days later, we checked in, we found out air-con was there but no remote control, the fridge without power connection. We ran down stairs and asked the receptionist, he said " if you want to use all of these things, you have to pay for an extra fee". We were so angry and pissed off. We wanted to check out and found another hotel. But we already paid for three nights and we didn't want to lose my money, so we stayed with anger. It was Sao Mai hotel. Really get stuck between a rock and a hard place."
Tip: Don't pay until you get. You can make reservation online but click on pay later. Ask clearly about the fees and services before your check-in or take your time and do some careful searches on tourist site comments to have the best ideas of the hotel options.
7. Fake Beggars
"We had a visit to Vinh Ha Long, Quang Ninh, Viet Nam. The story we are going to tell you is a real scam we experienced in this touristy city. We were sitting at a street vendor shop and having some beer at night and suddenly a woman carrying a sleeping baby in her one arm appeared. The other arm is disabled. She was in a very poor condition, torn and dirty clothes, walking on bare feet and begging for money. That image was so pitiful that we have never seen before and we took out some 100,000 VND and put in her hand. She looked at us for a while and said " Thank you". We were cheerful inside to just do something nice. After the beer, we walked home. On the way back to hotel we saw a woman sitting at a corner eating Pho. We quickly recognized that was the crippled beggar we just helped but her two arms are normal grabbing food. We couldn't believe in our eyes and took a closer look. It was exactly her. We kept walking home realizing we were scammed and our compassion was a waste".
Photo by http://gxvinhhuong.net/
Tips: This scam is regularly seen in big cities in Viet Nam where begging is a job of some many poor and disabled people. Don't spend money on an old and dirty woman carrying a sleeping baby in hands walking and begging or little kids who are the victims of parents to be beggars on the streets. After geting out of your sites, they transform themselves into normal people and do other jobs.
It's hardly to distinguish between the real beggars who are in need of help and other fake beggars who just want take advantage on others sympathy. You can help the old or the kids by food insted of money.
8. Product Swap
Last time we visited Da Nang, Viet Nam and we were suggested to visit the marble village on the way to Hoi An - an ancient style town. It is a village with a lot of workshops and shops where they produce and sell souvenirs and products made from marble which are very beautiful and handy. We stopped at one of those shops to take a look and see how they make those products by own eyes. After a careful look, we decided to buy a little beautiful marble elephant statue and three marble balls. It cost me only 250,000 VND for all. After paying, the shop owner offered me a wrap-up. We were happy to hear that. The lady quickly brought our stuffs inside and was back with a nice pack in carton paper. When we got home and unpacked our souvenir, first it looked normal but we took a closer look we felt it was not what we chose from the shop. We shook it and it sounded rattling inside. Now we were sure this is a fake one. It is a plastic elephant stuffed with debris inside. We realized we were cheated".
Photo by http://dieukhacdanonnuoc.vn/
Tips: This is a common scam. After the deal, the seller will quickly wrap the product up for free. This is when the scam take place. Behind the counter, they quickly change your stuff by another worse quality product. You need to keep eyes on the sellers while they wrap your things up.
9. Take photo street vendors
We were walking with some friends around the Sword Lake (Hanoi) and a lady with a straw cone hat carrying two baskets of fruits coming over and touted us some fruits. We refused at first but she kept following for a while and she lifted up the pole holding two baskets on her shoulder and pointed at it and said "picture, picture?". We was curious by this strange stuff. We wanted to try some unique photos with those two baskets and the cone hats. While we were having fun with it, the lady stepped aside and watched us. After finish photo show, we gave it back to her and said " thanks". But she quickly grabbed one of my friends' arms and said " money". We were all surprised for a few seconds, we decided to pay her a 50,000 VND note. She refused and showed her one finger which means 100,000 VND. Oh my Goodness, We finally ended up paying 100,000 VND for this picture show".
Photo by http://blog.palomacruise.com/
Another kind of street tout is a lady with a straw hat, carrying two baskets of fruits tied to a stick across her shoulder. She is willing to offer you a picture with her fruit baskets which are very appealing to tourists for the first time seeing this. Most tourists think it's supposed to be free but it's not. Remember "Everything has its own price". In this case, that statement is completely true.
The suggestion to those offers is to politely say "No thanks" and keep walking or you can ask them whether it's free to take pictures.
10. Hand-made Things
"Last year we visited Hoi An, Viet Nam and had a pair of shoes made. Those fashion shops over display very nice leather shoes and bags and clothes that are handmade. Most tourists are being attracted by how beautiful those things look. And the most interesting thing about this is that they are all made by hand. And we are one of them. We had a pair of shoes made for 600,000 VND. We thought that was a very good deal. After we travelled to Ha Noi and we wore that shoes for couple times, then the whole sole came off while we were on a walk in Trang Tien Plaza. That was an awkward moment".
You may be amazed by some handmade stuff in Viet Nam for its unique outlook and good looking quality. If you once pass by handmade shops you will be attracted by beautiful handmade stuff and immediately give your wallets to the sellers without hesitation. Once you agree, you are being stuck in two scams at a time. Quality is not as good as it looks and price is not as reasonable as it really is.
Photo by http://www.hoianguru.com/
- Try to figure out whether what you are going to buy is in good condition.
- Do a research on fares in several shops nearby before you get one at good price.
Scams are usually seen in many countries, especially touristy ones and Viet Nam is not an exception. Besides some negative points, Viet Nam has a number of great things to offer. This is one of the must-visit place for all Southeast Asia trip.
To have a great trip without being tricked, you should be informative of what are waiting for you. Also, learning from other experiences is another option for a safe and sound travel.
Do you want to visit Viet Nam? These are some suggested intineraries for you:
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO VIET NAM with Justgola now