Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Vietnam-tourist-rip_offsVietnam used to be a torn country, one that’s experienced many wars, but lately it has been gearing up for a wonderful future of tourism. In Vietnam, tourists will be overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of nature, the cultural treasures and the charm of the locals. Because despite all the grief, the Vietnamese will show their enchanting smile everywhere you go. Tourists are welcomed by breathtakingly beautiful rice fields, exotic white beaches, river deltas and impressive mountains. Testimonies of the rich history abound, such as the Cham Towers from the Champa kingdom and the former imperial capital of Hue with its mystical temples and tombs of past emperors, while the picturesque Hoi An exudes a French colonial atmosphere. More recent history is found in the Cu Chi tunnels, dug by the Vietcong as a defense against the Americans.

tourist-scams-VietnamHo Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, is a bustling metropolis, located in the core of the Mekong Delta with over 9 million inhabitants, which makes it the largest city in Vietnam. Like the capital Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City is busy and hectic, with a constant buzz on the streets, which carry more traffic than they can handle. This cozy hectic does give the city a pleasant and typical Asian atmosphere. This, combined with the many beautiful colonial buildings, makes this city a very popular tourist attraction for tourists.

Ho Chi Minh City tourist scams

However, as in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

  • At the airport, find the tourism desk of the respectable taxi companies and book the ride to your hotel with them, it saves you from being scammed by drivers not running the meter or taking advantage of your unfamiliarity with the local taxi rates.
  • Even in Saigon, tourists have been reported to have been the victim of the infamous filippino blackjack scam. So if a stranger starts a conversation in one of the parks and claims one of their relatives is about to visit your home country, and you are invited to their place for lunch, kindly dismiss them and walk away.
  • Only book a Mekong river boat tour with the official agency, or make sure you are clear about the price of the tour beforehand. Write down the agreed price and be clear this is the total price, not per person.
  • The same goes for the famous Saigon cyclo, or bike taxi. Only book them via your  hotel desk or a travel agent, never on the streets, as you may find yourself paying more than a regular taxi would have cost.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Dong, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

Keep in mind: local Vietnamese (or most Asian) people are generally very timid towards foreigners and will never spontaneously approach them or start a conversation. Even if they speak English very well, they’ll wait for you to make the first contact. Any local who is daring enough to approach tourists spontaneously will have an agenda of his/her own, even if they seem friendly and helpful at first. It’s that simple!

Vietnam-tourist-scamsBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Saigon is unsafe. On the contrary, most of the people are incredibly friendly, sincere and honest, especially away from the tourist hotspots.

  • Blackjack scam


    The blackjack scam is run by a Filippino gang at major cities all over South-East Asia. Victims have been reported in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam, and the Modus Operandi is exactly the same in each of these countries. This scam is notorious for targeting male solo travelers, who are approached by beautiful young girls […]

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  • Mekong river boat tour scam


    The Mekong River Delta is known as Vietnam’s “Rice Basket” and its stunningly beautiful valley is guaranteed to take your breath away. Many tourists are planning to book guided boat trips to the Mekong Delta, but you should beware of unofficial guides and always make sure you agree on the final price and other terms […]

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  • Cyclo or bike taxi scam


    Cyclo scams are just as common as taxi scams and could even be more dangerous in certain occasions. Anywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, but especially in District 1, you can find cyclos or bike taxis offering their services on just about every street corner, and some of them are able to sweet-talk unsuspecting tourists […]

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  • Airport taxi scam


    Taxi scams are a phenomenon that happens all over the world, and also in Vietnam. Even the cyclos or bike-taxis in Ho Chi Minh City are not all trustworthy. One of the prime spots for taxi scams is Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat airport. Saigon Air Taxi has a monopoly at the airport, but this […]

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  1. Richard Hermans says

    My friend was scammed by this woman, her names is Ngugyen Anh Thu, 24-years-old. She comes from a village called Gia Kiem. She said that she works as a tutor in an English school for students who are preparing to study abroad.
    She lives in a flat with other two women( she said they are her sisters, but they don’t look like each other) not far from the international airport of Ho Chi Minh City.
    She persuades my friend, a college student to spend a lot of money on her.
    She tried to manipulate my friend to get influence on his parents.

    • My husband and I were scamed recently in Ho Chih Minh / Saigon. We took a Vinasun taxi from Banth Thah market area. 2 min into the ride, the taxi driver made a call but it was in vietnamese and we did not think much about it as it was common for people to make calls. 5 min after the call, we heard a cranking sound of the engine and he he started swininging to the side curb and the engine seemed to have died and stopped. He said his taxi was spoilt and asked us to take the one infront. We went to the front cab and when we were inside, the 1st cab driver came knocking on the 2nd car window to ask for payment. So I took out my wallet and imediately the 2nd taxi driver snatched my wallet and offered to help me take the right notes out. It was all so quick we did not have time to respond. It appeared like he took out only 2000dong and quickly returned my wallet. We paid the 1st taxi driver and the second taxi was about to move and he started kocking at his meter. And he said his meter was spoilt and asked us to take the other cab in front. A we were walking off to get the 3rd cab, I turned around and could not see the 1st ad 2nd cab anymore. I felt something was not right because the 1st cab was supposed to have broken down. That night when I was buying some souvenirs I discovered that 5 notes of 500,000 dong was missing. Then we realised we were scamed. The 1st taxi driver was licensed so he collaborated with another person to scam us. The 2nd taxi driver was super quick to grab the big notes from the back of the pile of notes in my wallet while taking out the precise amounts to repay the 1st driver. I am writing this warn any travellers. I would say best to have a separate wallet that has enough cash for taxi rides and sit behind the taxi driver so you can observe his actions.

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