Vietnam Travel Safety

Safety and Scams: Welcome to the Guide.  Here you will find answers to all your questions, curiosities and confusions.  So let’s take your Vietnam travel safety seriously for a minute and look at the dangers that might be lurking and some of the scams you may encounter.

Hoi An is safe.  It is one of the safest places we have lived in.  However, you still need to be cautious (like with everywhere) especially late at night and even more so if you have been drinking. Also, common sense rules. For instance, if you’re a female and think riding alone at night along the rice fields will be okay, maybe re-think. More than likely nothing will happen to you but there are those odd occasions where they do. So just be careful, always cautious and all will be well. 

However, we cannot say that about motor bike riding! The roads are dangerous. When we see tourists acting recklessly it is very disturbing. We have seen many accidents; some have left people with horrific injuries and far too many have been fatal.

Trung Bac, Hoi An Old Town Restaurant, wall photo of Old Town

Motorbike Riding

First things first; Vietnam has one of the highest death rates in the world through motorbike accidents.  Even if you drive a motorbike back home the rules here are not the same. For one, the Vietnamese hardly ever check to see if traffic is in their way so ‘bang’: collisions are frequent. Read our Rules of the Road. It’s humorous but true. Another issue: are you insured? Mostly you are not properly covered even if your insurance company assures you that you are.  Check here for more information.   

motorbike accident, hoi an, vietnam, safety, roads, accidents, insurance

Avoid this Petrol Station

It’s on Hai Ba Trung (just before the rice paddies heading towards An Bang). These guys are notoriously crooked and will charge you double and triple what it costs to fill up your tank. Do not argue with them – they can be nasty, whether you are male or female these men will take you on. Most garages in Hoi An are very honest. However, check the pump meter is on zero before the attendant fills up the tank. (It costs no more than 100,000vnd to fill up a standard bike tank).

Scams hoi an, petrol scams hoi an, dangers hoi an, filling your tank in vietnam

After Dark & Xe Oms

Hoi An late at night is not as safe as it once was. Drinking too much can make you disorientated and there are those who will take advantage of this. Increasingly stories are emerging of skirmishes with drug addicts and Xe Om drivers outside late night venues or Xe Om drivers trying to force people to use their services. These Xe Om drivers can be very aggressive. You need to be vigilant and avoid traveling anywhere late at night on your own, if possible.

night, street, lantern festival, full moon

Taxis From The Old Town Late At Night

Due to the increase in tourism, taxi drivers are becoming particularly choosy about who they take home (particularly in the evening).  If your hotel is a short distance away you may find them refusing to take you.  If you have the time take a photo of their registration number and send it to Hoi An Now or the Quang Nam Tourism Board (you also may find the taxi driver suddenly changes his mind). If they don’t change their mind, go to the nearest hotel or restaurant and phone one from there.

Mai Linh Taxi, Hoi An
pharmacies and chemists in hoi an, vietnam

Chemists Who Overcharge

Oh Lordy, Lordy – whenever I walk towards a chemist I can almost hear them chanting: ‘and another sucker comes my way…’  While some chemists know no bounds in their overpricing, many are honest and very decent people – you just have to know who they are.  See Chemists for those we recommend.

Write Down the Price!

The Vietnamese are wonderful people however with tourism a nastier side to some people can emerge. One prevalent scam is to verbally agree on a price and then when it comes for you to pay, the tailor or cyclo driver will argue that you didn’t understand and the price was far higher. This happens particularly with the cyclo drivers in Hue and can happen with smaller tailors in Hoi An. Before you use their service, write down the price so no confusion can arise.   

cyclos and a good way of getting around in hoi an, vietnam

The Water Buffalo Guy

If you go along Hai Ba Trung to the beach you will no doubt see ‘the Water Buffalo Guy’ lying on the back of his buffalo. Taking photos of him or friends riding on his buffalo has now become a bit of a tourist attraction. Just be wary. He likes a drink. It can send him a little bit off the rails. The prices for photographs can sometimes become ridiculously exorbitant and if you try to barter he can become belligerent.  

water buffaloes hoi an, tours, do, things to do in hoi an, riding water buffalos hoi an, rice fields, bicycle tours hoi an

Parking Attendants

Overnight Hoi An had parking attendants charging you to park your motorbike on the curb. Most of these people are legally allowed to do this but some have just seen the chance for a quick buck. You will know which one you are dealing with because the price to park your motorbike should not exceed 10,000vnd. If it does, the person is overcharging you. Politely go elsewhere and if possible, take a photo and send it to Hoi An Now or the Quang Nam Tourism Board.

Thai Phien Street street Hoi An bikes and stalls
Thit Cay, dog Restaurant sign, Hoi An

Dog Meat Restaurant 'Thit Cay'

Some people like to try dog meat. That is fine. However, know the dogs are often a family pet stolen from a backyard. They are tortured horrifically before being killed: legs are broken, some skinned alive and … worse.  Apparently the brutality makes the meat tender. Many more Vietnamese lose their pets to dog thieves than expats and are just as sickened by these barbaric practices.

Write me a Trip Advisor Review/ You don't have to tip but...

Never feel that you have to tip. We have heard stories that some spas in Hoi An are coercing customers into tipping : “You don’t have to tip but it would be nice if you did.” This is the last thing you want after a relaxing massage. Tip only when you think it is worth it. Tipping is not a Vietnamese custom. We have introduced it. As for doing their best to get a Trip Advisor review out of you … again, ignore it. Write a review if you want to but never be coerced into it.

massage and spas; foot massage; five senses spa; reflexology

Hoi An Now does not list the following organisations due to the massive amount of negative feedback: Tran Quang Dung Medical Practice, 503 Hai Ba Trung; Tuan Boy Hairdressing Salon, 148 Nguyen Truong To

Hoi An is a small community so scams are nowhere near as rife as you may find in the larger cities. While we do reiterate that Vietnam is a terrific country and really safe, as everyone would know there is a small part of the community who will take advantage. Here are some more things to be mindful of by

    Wow. Excellent information, and accurate. I lived in Hoi An for 3 years and vouch for the information.
    Every tourist should read this article.
    Great job.


    Thank you for such great feedback Dan. It is really appreciated.


    Thank you for this helpful information. I was surprised to read that you have had many negative reports about Dr. Tran Quang Dung Medical Clinic, 503 Hai Ba Trung. As an Intrepid Travel tour leader, I have known Dr. Dung for over 20 years, and have called on him many times to treat foreign tourists for a range of medical conditions, and even on a few occasions for myself. I cannot recall anything but favorable comments about Dr. Dung from all the many people he treated. Some years ago, he was very upset because someone had just allegedly written critical comments about him on Trip Advisor, which he said were wrong and malicious, although I don’t know the details.


    Hi Bruce, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It’s good to hear positive feedback on Dr Dung. We had him on our site for some time even though we received many complaints about his ‘overcharging foreigners’ and his ‘arrogant manner’. We kept him listed for two reasons, there are few doctors who speak good English in Hoi An and some people were positive about him. We even kept him on after I’d been to see him and found him to be exactly as others had described. In an attempt to be balanced we mentioned that whilst he had received negative complaints he had also received good reviews from expats that lived in Hoi An. Unfortunately though, the complaints kept coming, they outweighed the positive so we removed him. Be assured we are simply reflecting the view of many complainants. Again, thank you.


    Another great and useful read..thank you!


    With regards to Dr. Dung, I have had to visit him three times in the past, on each occasion he was professional, friendly, even funny on one occasion, and treated my medical problems as well as any previous doctor I have seen, and I didn’t feel I had been overcharged for his service or the medication he gave me (albeit probably higher than I’d pay at a pharmacy, which you’d expect). Of course, as with anywhere in the world, a serious medical problem should always be treated at a hospital. Just my personal experience.
    When visiting a pharmacy always ask for a receipt, they are duty-bound to charge you the same price as, say, a local. The advice was given to me by a local business person some years ago.
    Just to add, I love HoiAn and its people.


    Keith, thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sure it will help our readers.


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