Prepare yourself to be approached by vendors and scammers
You hardly see any beggars on streets in Vietnam (of course, it isn’t 100%). However, as many tourist attractions, there will be people who see visitors like you as a good deal to scam and approach to sell things most of the time. Common scams here include pick pocket, shoes cleaner, money changer, dodgy street retailers. Small tips here are: Watch your belongings, go straightforward and politely ignore them when being approached. Don’t worry about missing something worth your experience here, Vietnam has tons of little pretty things to offer. If they are over-approach, find the nearest officials, they are almost everywhere.
Bargain, bargain and bargain please, but do not over-argue
As being used to fixed price in many developing countries, do not apply it here, to be honest. The problem of bubbling the price for tourists in many big cities in Vietnam has been decreased recently, yet still a raising one. Please do a small research about the price of goods you want to buy in Vietnam to know the basis and do bargain if you don’t buy anything from legit stores. Generally, Vietnamese people are the most warm-hearted people you could have ever met in your life, however there are many merchandisers assuming you as a money basket, so try to mark down the price. You could learn some Vietnamese words to apply here. Your cuteness of speaking Vietnamese will be recognized by them.
Don’t mess with Vietnam Dong
Yes, this is hilarious but hurtful sometimes for any tourists who have ever been to Vietnam. The currency of the country is probably the most daunting and confusing experience ever. You thought you were rich with a note 500,000 VND? You mistook the note 200,000 VND with 50,000 VND because of their similar colors? Do not freak out. Here is the trick that most of Vietnamese use: Forget about “000” (three Zero number) because in daily life, they shorten them with letter “K”. And please do write down or spell the number because sometimes the listener might mis-heard your words from 15 to 50. Do say “One – Five” instead of “Fifteen” and “Five – Zero” instead of “Fifty”.
If you don’t want to try driving a motorbike, do not try
Well said, those charming curvy paths in up-north mountainous area of Vietnam can seduce any adventurers. Getting out to the countryside on your own two wheels is an unforgettable experience and one of the highlights of Vietnam. But if you are on a long journey and you haven’t got to know driving skill that much, please save that experience next time instead of jumping on an old bike and risk your life en route. Driving in Vietnam is exciting yet dangerous. Ask the local about “Ninja Lead” (a slang of office woman riding Lead riskily who can stop anytime and who turn on the left light but turn right way instead). If you are eager to do it, ask for a driver and be a sitter behind their back. This way can fulfill your Vietnam bucket list without risking it all.
Make sure your food is well boiled
Just one word about Vietnamese cuisine: “WOW” – Their methods of seasoning, the balance in every dishes, the bustling feeling when you add their authentic sauces into the food, the way Vietnamese make a simple dish become your unforgettable one in life.
But they are still not included cleanness. They are healthy – YES – very healthy because this country doesn’t offer you a fast food culture. Don’t try yourself to eat like a local way sometimes as your stomach might be in trouble. The locals get used to it. So small tip here is when you want to try a new dish, please make sure the main ingredients are clean and boiled. Ask the seller to re-boil if you are unsure, they will do it with a smile on their face, don’t worry.
Keep valuable things with you
Don’t leave them at your hotels/hostels. Do not expose them so often if you don’t need that much. And last but not least, don’t keep them in a bag with thin straps. You can be a prey of thieves without notice.
Dress neatly and bring along a water bottle when being out
Nowadays, despite being more open-minded, Vietnamese normally dress conservatively. in spite of the heat, it’s best not to show off too much skin. If you do, especially girls, you’ll only draw stares from the locals. Dress well when visiting pagodas. No shorts or tatty beer t-shirts. Shoes are fine, and rarely will you have to remove them. And the weather here is just like a kitten, so bring along a light jacket with you when traveling to the north of Vietnam as you might never now a monsoon suddenly blows and freezes your body. If you are unsure, just follow what the locals do. Drink plenty of bottled water, especially when walking around sightseeing. No need to carry huge bottles around with you, a vendor is never far away and no doubt they will find you before you find them. Again, the weather here is nice but unpredictable.
Talk to other travelers
You can get updated Vietnam safety travel tips from travelers on the road. They will be more than happy to share their experiences and give valuable tips. I found the best advice I got was from travelers at the hostels I stayed at, not in the bars.
Above all, please stay in your mind that this is Vietnam, a developing country, and things don’t quite work as you are may get used to. Don’t be paranoid about your safety, be aware of your surroundings and proactive about your own safety. Just go with the flow and enjoy your journey with a focus.