Is it Safe to go Backpacking in Vietnam?

Vietnam is a relatively safe country for backpackers, including solo women travelers. In fact, given the country’s recent history many tourists, particularly Americans are pleasantly surprised at the warm reception that foreign travelers receive from the Vietnamese. That said, petty crime is on the rise though it’s still relatively small–scale and shouldn’t be a problem if you use some common sense and take the necessary precautions.

Nonetheless before traveling to Vietnam to embark on your Backpacking Adventure, Check your home country’s government websites for any travel warnings to Vietnam or surrounding areas where you may be going to.

Generally, the hassles you’ll encounter will be the milder sort more inline with with pushy vendors and over enthusiastic touts and beggars. Vietnam is a country of entrepreneurs and many of them choose travel agencies as their main business. As you walk the streets of the popular cities you will see literally hundreds of small travel agencies, hostels and hotels, offering everything from a $4 massage to round-the-world flight tickets. The options are confusing. Which ones should you trust? So here are tips for you to be safe on your vacation

Packing

It is very important for you to pack lightly and try and put a smaller backpack in the big one. The smaller backpack will be for the main site seeing in the daytime and the larger backpack will be for when you are traveling from place to place, but it will stay in the hotel or hostel when you get there. You should be packing light because you are going to be carrying the bag for a lot of the time. If it is too heavy then it will hurt your back and you won’t want to carry it at all. And this can also help save you from any form of theft when you pack light you will be able to monitor your backpack more closely.

Keeping your cash and other valuables safe

Spread your cash money into several places (e.g. your daypack, backpack, wallet and money belt) so that you do not lose all at the same time. Hide some emergency cash under the sole of your shoe, in your sock or elsewhere. Do not keep valuables easily accessible in your day pack and then hang it on your back. This is an obvious one but keep your valuable and flashy jewellery back home in your own country. There is no need to bring along and wear your gold chain or those really nice diamond earings on your backpacking trip to Vietnam. They will only serve you as a target to the thieves.

Bag snatchers use razors and box cutters to cut your bag and steal your valuables without you noticing. You will not feel anything at all when they strike, so it is better to play it safe.

Beggars, Hassles and Scams

With the huge number of disabled people, due to the war and unemployment in Vietnam, there are surprisingly few beggars around. Most people are actually trying hard to earn a living somehow, and many day-tours include a visit to a factory that employs disabled workers to produce handmade crafts and local products. At many tourist spots in Vietnam, you may well be swamped by a gaggle of children or teenagers selling cold drinks, fruit and chewing gum. Although they can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, as often as not they’re just out to practice their English and be entertained for a while. They may even turn out to be excellent guides, in which case it’s only fair that you buy something from them in return.

A common trick among taxi drivers is they will tell new arrivals in a town that the hostel they are looking for is closed or has moved or changed its name. If you go with this trick, they will head for a hotel that pays them commission. This may work out fine (new hotels/hostels often use this method to become known), but more often than not it’s a substandard hotel and you will in any case pay more since the room rate will include the driver’s commission. To avoid being ripped off, always insist on being taken to the exact address of your chosen hotel. So it would be a good idea to have this address written down before arriving in the town.

You can use small locks for your backpack

Use small locks like combinations locks so you won’t have problem keeping the keys for picklocks which may seem a bit too stressful, the main problems with combination locks is that they can get worn out rather quickly and suddenly they will stop working, especially when you are in a hurry maybe when you want to pay for a certain goods and you also want to catch up with bus. Once the locks start giving you troubles throw them away and get new ones. If you find yourself with the combination lock not responding, dial it to your set combination and try changing the first digit one step up and one step down.

Lastly, do not give money to beggars. If you want to help people, give your money to charity instead. If you still want to give money to people on the street do not flash your wad of cash in your wallet. Instead keep some small change in your pocket to hand over one note at a time.

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