6 Tourist Scams in Vietnam to Avoid

During my time in South East asia I became exposed to many frauds and what I later found out were common scams in Vietnam. Landscape-wise, it is a stunning country; however, I wish I knew the scams in Vietnam before visiting as it may have changed my perspective. I hope this new wisdom will help those visiting avoid similar situations of common scams.

Scams in Vietnam I faced

While many travellers may have experienced lots of different scams in Vietnam, here are some of the main ones I came across:

1) Fake taxi

In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), I encountered a fake taxi which turned out to be a common scam. The fake taxi was painted the same as a Vietnamese taxi. It even had a meter! It was only upon arrival I’d discovered the meter had rapidly surged to a ludicrous amount.

Immediately I questioned the driver, who pretended not to understand English. When he clearly did, as he communicated with me before the start of the journey. At the time, I wanted to end the situation swiftly. I was paying the full value, which was the equivalent to $30 for a 2-mile journey. Later I realised, other friends of mine have also experienced similar scams.

Top Tip: Make sure to check the driver has a license before proceeding with travel…

2) Menu Prices- Charging Extra For Tourists

I sat in a restaurant in Hue (I can’t recall the name) and noted the menu had different prices. They dictated the prices according to your nationality.

Westerners were handed an English menu and Vietnamese were given their menu. We noted this, as our guide had a different list to us, tourists. When he descended to the toilet, we peered at this further and discovered the cost for the same meal was significantly lower! Another common scam.

Similarly, in Nha Trang, I was supplied with a Russian menu as opposed to an English one. A friend was provided with the English, and we analysed prices. Again, there were fluctuations.

Top Tip: Always choose your own restaurant, don’t depend on a guides recommendations and look up the menu prices on Google Business first.

3) Tour Guides

For this scam, I can’t generalise and say it happens with all tour guides. Nevertheless, the one I experienced seemed to overcharge a substantial amount for excursions. Consequently, every restaurant he took the group too, he got kickbacks (such as free meals) for taking the group. When other restaurants were proposed by the group, he refused.

One day, an option was given to sit on a water buffalo and visit rice fields charging approximately close to $40. Choosing not to go, the guide became agitated.

Later that day, we explored marble mountains in Hội An and talked to our taxi driver about the remainder of the groups’ activity for the day. Coincidentally, the driver had indicated he had a friend who charged $10 to sit on his water buffalo.

The tour guide was maximising his profits alongside his salary he was reaping from a notable tour operator (I shall not disclose the name).

Top Tip: Vietnam is well signposted, a lot of people speak English and easy to travel, try opt for no tour guide.

4) Attractions Not Being Open

Again, I only came across this once, yet it also appears common across other travellers. During my period in Hue, I visited a derelict waterpark. An investor’s forgotten dream, no money was left to invest.

Upon arrival, there was a man on a motorbike in front of five flimsy metal barriers insisting that we pay for our bus to enter (as there was a film crew operating). Technically, due it being abandoned, we were not in any debt to him.

Saving the awkward situation and to allow our minibus through he charged us the equivalent of $8. As we were eager, we chose to pay the price.

Top Tip: Check Google Business and do some extra research about the attractions in advance.

5) Overcharging

I purchased water in Hanoi and overpaid, awaiting change. The girl in the shop had none and advised me she would get some. Ten minutes later, she did not re-emerge. Other shopkeepers were enquiring why I was still there; I was short-changed. They refused to accept and declared the cost of the water was the same price as the money I gave.

Top Tip: Know precisely how much you have been quoted the first time and have the correct change. 

6) Charging Money For A Photo

This occurs all over Vietnam; however, I discovered for myself in Hanoi. There are street vendors (mainly women wearing straw hats) selling fruit in baskets at each end of a bamboo rod on their shoulders.

They approach you offering to give you their hat and hold their fruit for a free photo. Then, after they demand money.

Top Tip: If you encounter this, say no.

Now you know six common scams in Vietnam. Which hopefully you will be able to avoid scams in Vietnam if you visit.

Other related questions to scams in Vietnam

What should I avoid in Vietnam?

When you’re in Vietnam, you should consider the environment around you carefully. In particular, don’t drink tap water, stick to licensed taxis, don’t take photos without permission, and try to be observant.

How can I avoid being scammed in Vietnam?

The best way to avoid being scammed is by reading blogs like this to update yourself with all the top tips to watch out for. When in Vietnam, keep your bag near to you at all times and stay alert when it comes to strangers.

How do I report a scammer in Vietnam?

If you feel you have been scammed in Vietnam or think someone is being scammed, you will want to report it to the police or use cross-border fraud at www.econsumer.gov.

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