Saigon’s Travel Tips

“Is Ho Chi Minh City safe?” is not a strange question for visitors searching before they come to Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a tough question because it depends on what you think is safe. In my perspective, Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam, in general, is one of the safe places in the world. However, Saigon is just like any fast and busy city, there’s always going to be a risk of carrying belongings with you. One of the main safety concerns in Ho Chi Minh City are pick pockets, bag snatchers and general sacmmers in the tourist area but violent crime against foreigners is rare.

To get safe while travelling aroud HCMC, tourists shouldn’t miss some of the following precautions and tips.

Do not wear valuable jewelry when going out

This sincere advice helps you avoid becoming the target of jewelry-snatchers along streets or of Ho Chi Minh City, not to mention the victim of unexpected incidents caused by this snatching. Therefore, it is by no means a good idea to wear precious jewelry, like necklaces, earrings, and watches when you go for a walk in the streets, no matter how much you love that.

Don’t flash your valuables around

Don’t flash your cash, wallet or expensive camera around. Many people here are poor, 99% are honest, but some of your stuff is probably worth at least a couple of months wages to a local. Display some sensibility and don’t dangle the temptation.

Keep your valuables in a money belt under your clothes

If you don’t have a safe in your hotel room or need to take everything with you, keep your passport, extra credit cards and the majority of your cash in a money belt under your clothes rather than in a wallet in your back pocket, your handbag or your backpack.  Keep the majority of your “ready” cash and cards in a neck wallet under your shirt. Don’t under any circumstances leave a bag unattended in a public place.

Put your valuables in safe places

Don’t leave your valuable things scattered around a hotel room, even if it’s 5-star. Put them in the room safe, deposit box at reception or lock them in your luggage. Remove the temptation and you eliminate the majority of the risk.

Keep your valuables in the deposit box at the hotel reception

Lock your valuable things in your luggage

Do not answer your cell phone or take photos outside

As mentioned above, while you are strolling along streets of the Ho Chi Minh metropolis, snatchers may be around you anytime. That is the reason why being cautious of answering your phone or taking photos outside is indeed right for “better safe than sorry”.

Be cautious of crowds

Normally, where crowds gather is the ideal environment for pickpockets to work. Be aware of wandering hands in crowded places such as markets and public transport. Put your camera away and keep your hands in your pockets or on your bags, depending on where you have valuable thing stowed away.

Always keep your bags in front of you

It is a good way to protect your belongings by carrying your bag, your strap in front of you or let it cross your chest instead of carrying at only one side. In addition, you should remember to keep your handbag, camera case and backpack zipped up and DO NOT let it dangle in your blind spot or behind you.

Be careful when traveling by untrusted vehicles

A few cyclo and taxi drivers could rip you off and charge you at a very high price for your distance. They might choose a longer path or go around to maximize the price on the meter.

In this case, you should be careful when you get into the vehicle. Only choose reliable taxi brands such as Vinasun, Mailinh or Grab (like Uber) or book a cyclo through a travel agent. If possible, let’s take some pictures of the taxi’s plate or the meter and confirm to the driver about the shortest path to your destination (I highly suggest you to use Google Map and Grab). Last but not least, make sure you have arrived at the right destination before paying and getting off the car.

Please note, these are the same precautions people use whether in Saigon, New York, London, Rome or any other city.

If something does go wrong and unfortunately you are the victim of a crime, you should report it to the police as soon as possible.. The more quickly the alert occurs, the higher the chance of the return of your snatched items is.

There are police stations all over Ho Chi Minh City but there are few of them speak English well so you should take a trusted local with you to help with language difficulties (Reward them for their trouble appropriately).

For backpackers and budget tourists, there is a police station right in Bui Vien, across from Bobby Brewers.

There is one at 24-26 Pasteur Street in District 1 right near the Fideco Tower.

They are open 07:30-11:30 and 13:00-17:00 Phone number: +84 (0)8 38297373

Some more information about Annoying but not Dangerous.

There are lots of street vendors selling everything from maps and fans through to razor blades and sunglasses. Many people find this annoying, but it’s one of the unique experiences of Asia. Sit in one place and you can be offered everything you might ever want in the way of trinkets and personal hygiene items and more. If you want to buy something, bargain hard but be polite. If you don’t, be firm but stay polite. Yes, it can get annoying after the fifteenth one, but these guys are only trying to make a living. If it bothers you, find a second story or seat inside the bar or restaurant. They rarely come inside without an invitation.

There are also a fair few beggars in the city, not just the tourist areas. Many of them are heartbreaking. I leave it up to you if you can spare the equivalent of a few cents that will make at least a little difference to their lives. Most people usually do if there is only one individual, they are obviously in need, and we can do it without being noticed by everyone around. Otherwise, we steel ourselves and try not to feel like crap.

All things considered, the question “Is Ho Chi Minh City safe?” I think you need to answer by yourself. However, you’ll be missing out on a fantastic experience if you let yourself be scared off by the bad experiences of an unlucky few. The vast majority of people here in Ho Chi Minh City are honest, hardworking and incredibly happy when you have come to visit their city.

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