Vietnam Travel

19th April 2024

16 Things to Avoid in Vietnam: Travel Smarter (2023)

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the ultimate guide to ensure a remarkable journey by highlighting the things to avoid in Vietnam.

From our past experience of leading group trips here, we’ve gathered valuable insights to help you navigate this enchanting country with ease and respect.

Vietnam, a land of breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, beckons travelers from all corners of the globe. However, it’s crucial to be mindful of local customs and sensitivities.

In our last visit to this place, we learned that understanding the do’s and don’ts can make a world of difference in creating a harmonious and unforgettable experience.

So, join us on this virtual journey as we explore the gems of Vietnam while guiding you through the things to avoid. Let’s dive in and embark on an adventure like no other!

Things to Avoid in Vietnam

1. Offending Local Customs and Traditions

Offending Local Customs and Traditions

When exploring Vietnam, embrace its customs and traditions with respect and admiration. Dress modestly, especially when visiting temples or pagodas, to honor local norms. Remember to remove your shoes before entering homes or sacred sites, as a sign of reverence.

The Vietnamese hold great respect for their elders and authority figures, so adopting a polite demeanor and refraining from disrespectful behavior is essential.

2. Disrespecting Ho Chi Minh

Disrespecting Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh, the revered founding father of modern Vietnam, holds a special place in the hearts of the Vietnamese people. Show utmost respect towards Ho Chi Minh and avoid making negative comments or gestures about him.

Steer clear of defacing or damaging statues, images, or memorials associated with Ho Chi Minh, as it is considered deeply offensive to the locals.

3. Public Displays of Affection

Public Displays of Affection

Vietnamese culture values modesty, particularly in public spaces. Public displays of affection beyond holding hands are considered inappropriate.

To avoid any discomfort or unintended offense, it is advisable to keep affectionate moments private and display a more reserved approach while in public areas.

4. Drinking Tap Water

Drinking Tap Water

While Vietnam has made significant strides in improving its infrastructure, it is recommended to exercise caution when it comes to tap water.

To avoid waterborne illnesses, stick to bottled water from reputable sources or use properly filtered water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Stay hydrated and savor the culinary delights of Vietnam worry-free.

5. Eating Street Food without Caution

Eating Street Food without Caution

Vietnam’s street food scene is renowned for its tantalizing flavors and vibrant atmosphere. However, exercise caution to ensure a delightful culinary experience. Choose food stalls with high customer turnover to ensure freshness and hygiene.

Opt for freshly cooked dishes and avoid raw or undercooked food that may pose health risks. By embracing street food cautiously, you’ll embark on a gastronomic adventure like no other.

6. Petty Theft

Petty Theft

Like in any popular tourist destination, petty theft can occur, especially in crowded areas. Stay vigilant by keeping your belongings secure and out of sight. Utilize a money belt or hidden pouch to safeguard valuables.

Exercise caution in busy markets and public transportation where pickpockets may operate. By remaining alert, you can fully enjoy your trip without any unfortunate incidents.

7. Scams and Overcharging

Scams and Overcharging

Tourist areas in Vietnam are sometimes prone to scams and overcharging. Protect yourself by researching prices beforehand to ensure fair transactions. Utilize licensed taxis or reputable transportation services to avoid inflated fares.

Be cautious when using money exchange services, as some may employ deceptive practices. With a discerning eye, you can navigate through potential scams and enjoy a hassle-free experience.

8. Motorbike Rental Scams

Motorbike Rental Scams

Motorbike rentals are a popular mode of transportation in Vietnam but beware of rental scams targeting tourists. Ensure you rent from reliable, licensed establishments to avoid being overcharged or handed unreliable vehicles.

Seek recommendations from fellow travelers or reliable sources to make informed choices. By selecting reputable rental services, you can cruise through Vietnam’s scenic landscapes with confidence.

9. Riding a Motorbike without a License

Riding a Motorbike without a License

In Vietnam, having a valid motorbike license is a legal requirement. It is crucial to respect local laws and regulations for your safety and the well-being of others.

Avoid riding a motorbike without a license to avoid potential fines, legal complications, and accidents. If you don’t possess a license, explore alternative transportation options, such as hiring a licensed driver or utilizing public transportation networks.

10. Crossing the Road Recklessly

Crossing the Road Recklessly

Navigating Vietnam’s bustling cities can be an adventure in itself, especially when it comes to crossing the road. Exercise caution and follow the locals’ lead when navigating the traffic.

Observe their behavior and timing, and cross slowly and steadily. Seek assistance from locals if needed. With a patient and observant approach, you can conquer Vietnam’s busy streets with confidence.

11. Disrespecting Buddhism

Disrespecting Buddhism

Buddhism holds a significant place in Vietnamese culture and spirituality. When visiting temples and religious sites, maintain a respectful attitude. Keep noise levels to a minimum, dress appropriately, and follow any specific guidelines or instructions.

Avoid any behavior that may be seen as disrespectful, as it could offend the local community and disrupt the tranquil atmosphere of these sacred places.

12. Insulting the Monarchy

Insulting the Monarchy

Vietnam’s monarchy, although not in power anymore, remains an integral part of the nation’s cultural heritage. Show reverence by refraining from making disrespectful remarks or engaging in any actions that may be deemed offensive.

Embrace the history and cultural significance of the monarchy with respect and sensitivity.

13. Illegal Drugs

Illegal Drugs

Engaging in illegal drug activities is strictly prohibited in Vietnam and carries severe penalties. Avoid involvement with illegal drugs, including possession, consumption, or distribution.

By adhering to the laws and regulations, you can ensure a safe and trouble-free journey through Vietnam.

14. Engaging in Political Discussions

Engaging in Political Discussions

Vietnam has a complex political landscape, and discussions on political matters can be sensitive. It is advisable to avoid engaging in political debates or expressing strong opinions publicly.

Focus on enjoying the cultural, historical, and natural wonders that Vietnam has to offer, fostering a harmonious and enriching travel experience.

15. Pointing with Your Finger or Feet

Pointing with Your Finger or Feet

In Vietnamese culture, pointing with fingers or feet is considered impolite. Instead, use an open hand or nod in the intended direction when communicating or indicating something.

By being mindful of local customs, you can ensure effective communication and demonstrate cultural respect.

16. Disrespecting the National Flag or Symbols

Disrespecting the National Flag or Symbols

Vietnam’s national flag and symbols hold deep significance to its people. Treat them with utmost respect and avoid any actions or gestures that may be deemed disrespectful.

By showing reverence towards the national flag and symbols, you honor the nation’s pride and cultural identity.

Conclusion – Things to Avoid in Vietnam

As we conclude this comprehensive travel guide, let’s recap the critical things to avoid in Vietnam for a harmonious and respectful journey. By embracing the local customs and traditions, respecting Ho Chi Minh, being mindful of public displays of affection, and avoiding tap water, street food risks, and petty theft, you’ll ensure a smooth exploration of this captivating country.

Remember to stay vigilant against scams, follow motorbike rental regulations, and crossroads with caution. Show reverence towards Buddhism, the monarchy, and national symbols while refraining from illegal drugs and political discussions.

With these insights, you’re ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure, steering clear of the pitfalls and immersing yourself in the wonders that Vietnam has to offer.

FAQs – Things to Avoid in Vietnam

Are there specific customs or traditions I should be aware of when visiting Vietnam?

Absolutely! Vietnam has a rich cultural heritage, and respecting local customs is essential. Dress modestly, remove your shoes before entering homes or temples, and show deference to elders and authority figures. By embracing these customs, you’ll experience a deeper connection with the local culture and make a positive impression on the Vietnamese people.

Is it important to show respect towards Ho Chi Minh during my visit to Vietnam?

Yes, Ho Chi Minh holds great significance in Vietnam’s history and is highly respected by the Vietnamese people. It’s crucial to show reverence and avoid any disrespectful comments or gestures about him. Treat statues, images, and memorials associated with Ho Chi Minh with utmost respect, as they hold deep meaning for the locals.

Can I display public affection in Vietnam?

While Vietnam is a beautiful country for romance, it’s important to be mindful of cultural norms. Public displays of affection beyond holding hands are generally considered inappropriate. To avoid any unintentional offense or discomfort, it’s best to keep affectionate moments private and maintain a more reserved approach in public spaces.

Is tap water safe to drink in Vietnam?

It’s generally recommended to avoid drinking tap water in Vietnam to prevent waterborne illnesses. Stick to bottled water from reputable sources or use properly filtered water for drinking and brushing teeth. This precaution will ensure you stay hydrated and enjoy your culinary adventures without any health concerns.

Can I enjoy street food in Vietnam without worries?

Absolutely! Vietnam is renowned for its vibrant street food scene. However, exercise caution to ensure a delightful experience. Choose food stalls with high customer turnover for freshness and hygiene. Opt for freshly cooked dishes and avoid raw or undercooked food. By embracing street food cautiously, you’ll embark on a gastronomic adventure while safeguarding your health.

How can I protect myself against petty theft in Vietnam?

Like in any tourist destination, it’s important to stay vigilant against petty theft. Keep your belongings secure and out of sight, use a money belt or hidden pouch, and be cautious in crowded areas such as markets and public transportation. By staying alert and taking preventive measures, you can fully enjoy your trip without any unfortunate incidents.

Are there any common scams or overcharging tactics I should be aware of?

Unfortunately, tourist areas can be prone to scams and overcharging. Protect yourself by researching prices beforehand to ensure fair transactions. Utilize licensed taxis or reputable transportation services to avoid inflated fares. Exercise caution with money exchange services. By being informed and discerning, you can navigate through potential scams and enjoy a hassle-free experience.
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