Vietnam News

Foreigners share how to avoid tourist traps in Vietnam

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After falling prey to tourist scammers while visiting Vietnam, many foreign tourists have shared their travel experiences on social media and warned friends how to avoid being cheated.

Four years ago, Indian tourist Sanja Singh was ripped off by a local vendor while walking with his friend near the Reunification Palace in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

The vendor approached Singh and his friend and asked them if they wanted to drink coconut water. When Sanja asked how much a coconut costs, the man answered, “For free.”

When Sanja asked the vendor again, he still replied “For free.”

A while later, Singh and his friend insisted paying for coconut water, the vendor charged them a total of VND300,000 ($12.87), nearly 10 times against the normal price.

Sanja did not understand the exchange rate and he accepted paying such a high amount of money with a big smile, still being moved from the original offer.

After checking the exchange rate, Singh was shocked and could not understand why the vendor did it.

This was not the only time Singh had been scammed in Vietnam.

During a recent trip, Singh wanted to take photos standing beside a coconut drink push cart and he then approached a local vendor who quickly agreed with his proposal.

He thought the vendor was nice until he was asked to pay VND250,000. When he refused, the vendor chased Singh and harassed him. Finally, he paid just to stop the hassle.

Soon, he decided to share his story on social media, advising his friends “not to talk to strangers while traveling in Vietnam.”

“There are nice people and then there are also people who really want to take advantage of you. As a foreigner in this country, you are really not familiar with exchange rates so if someone asks you to pay for money in thousands of dongs, you should check exchange rates to avoid being cheated,” he said.

Australian Geoff Holland who used to live in Vietnam for three years also shared his experiences, warning people about the “tourist traps” one can encounter while in the country.

Holland said was often a victim of taxi scams as a driver would charge him double the meter fare.

He advised people to the install Grab app after arriving in Vietnam.

“Without Grab, people should only choose taxi services from Vinasun and Mai Linh, the most prestigious brands in Vietnam,” he said. “If tourists choose to take a taxi, please remember to ask how much it will cost before getting in the car.”

After one year of solo backpacking in Vietnam, an American man called Huff said the most important thing was to memorize the exchange rate between USD and VND.

“You should remember $10 is equivalent to around VND230,000 and $20 equivalent to around VND500,000, the largest denomination in Vietnamese currency system,” Huff said.

“If you eat a bowl of Hue-style beef noodle soup (bun bo Hue), and the vendor asked you to pay $10, say no because $10 is too expensive.”

Miquel Angel, founder of the MQL sustainable travel solutions company, said tourist scams have become a deep-rooted problem in Vietnam for years.

“Foreigners were scammed while in Vietnam and then they told their stories to their friends and relatives and that’s why many have not returned,” he said.

Although the tourism industry has launched hotlines to receive feedback and complaints from foreign tourists, most say the hotlines do not work properly.

Vietnam opened its border on March 15 last year, becoming one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen to tourism.

However, it is lagging far behind its neighbors in post reopening tourism recovery as the country only received 3.7 million foreign tourists in 2022, around 70% off its target.

Industry insiders blame weak law enforcement and meager fines for the pervasive fraud perpetrated on visitors, including tricking foreigners into buying things at unreasonable prices.

In Vietnam, those deceiving tourists can face fines of up to VND10 million.

By Xanh Le – – June 19, 2023

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