Vietnam is generally a friendly and safe place to travel. With a good amount of common sense and cultural awareness, there’s no reason for your trip not to be smooth and trouble free. Tourists usually complain about over-aggressive street vendors, tour operators with a bad attitude, and dangerous driving. However, with a cool head and sensible planning, you can avoid these problems.
- Greetings are no different to western countries, there are no special cultural formalities that as a foreigner you would be expected to know or practice. Showing your friendly words of greetings are enough to win the sympathy of the locals.
- Vietnamese dress conservatively. Despite the heat, it’s best not to show off too much skin. Dress well when visiting pagodas. No shorts or dress/shirt without sleeves. Shoes are fine, and rarely you will have to remove them. If unsure, just follow what the locals do.
- Prepare a fair amount of cash in Vietnam Dong, sales transactions in Vietnam are often small and are always in cash. Some restaurants and major hotels still accept cards and dollars.
- Keep your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place.
- Travel with recommended tour agencies. Even if you plan to buy tickets when in the country, research your journey a little first on the Internet. This way you avoid unreliable tour agencies and badly run hotels.
- Drink plenty of bottled water, especially when walking around sightseeing, the weather in Vietnam is hot especially during summer.
- Wear a lot of jewelry or take a bag with you. Violent crime is unusual in Vietnam, but petty crime is more apparent. If you have a bag, or a digital camera around your neck, you are a potential target.
- When taking a ride by motorbike taxi (xe om) make sure your bag is not on display or easy to grab. Bag snatches, although still rare, are probably the most likely crime a tourist would encounter.
- Wear singlets, shorts, skirts or dresses, or revealing clothes to temples or pagodas.
- Physical displays of affection between lovers in public are frowned upon. That’s why you may come across couples holding hands but not hugging or kissing.
- Losing your temper in Vietnam means a loss of face. Keep a cool head and remain polite, you’ll have a greater chance of getting what you want.
- Remember, this is Vietnam, a developing country, and things don’t quite work as you are maybe used to. Don’t be paranoid about your safety; just be aware of your surroundings.
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