Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Travel Advice
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not issue travel warnings for specific countries, but issues travel advice for every country. The information below is excerpted from its summary assessments of Vietnam
Current as of: 12 December 2022
Last Reviewed: 30 September 2022
Latest Advice: Exercise a high degree of caution in Vietnam due to the ongoing impact of public health measures.
Petty crime, street crime and harassment happen, especially in larger cities.
Bag slashing is common in tourist areas, at markets, on crowded trains and buses, and at supermarkets. It increases in the lead up to Vietnamese and Western holiday periods.
Thieves on motorcycles commit snatch-and-grab crimes against pedestrians. This happens often and sometimes results in injury.
Thieves steal valuables, such as jewellery, handbags, phones and cameras.
To protect your belongings:
- take care crossing the street or walking along footpaths
- be aware of motorcycles approaching from behind as you walk on the footpath
- hold bags and backpacks in front of you or in ways that make them harder to snatch
- carry only what you need and leave other valuables in a secure location
- be prepared to surrender your valuables rather than risk being injured in a struggle
Aggravated theft, sexual assault and assault happen. Hot spots include:
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Da Nang
- Nha Trang
- Sapa, especially on the train to and from Lao Cai
- Cat Ba Island, near Ha Long Bay
Reports of groping and other sexual assault are rising.
Drink spiking occurs. Foreigners have been robbed and sexually assaulted after having spiked food and drinks. This happens at late-night establishments in major cities.
To protect yourself from drink spiking:
- only drink alcohol at reputable places
- pay attention when your alcoholic drinks are being mixed
- stay with people you trust in bars and at nightclubs
If you think your drink or a friend's drink has been spiked, get urgent medical attention.
If you're a victim of a violent crime, especially sexual assault, get medical attention. There is a risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases in Vietnam.
Travellers have been robbed after withdrawing money from ATMs.
Break-ins to hotels and private homes are reported. This happens even while guests are in their rooms.
To protect yourself from robbery:
- only use ATMs in banks and shopping centres
- make sure your hotel room is locked at all times, including when you're in it
- pay close attention to your personal belongings, especially in crowded areas
- be alert on overnight trains and buses and on quiet stretches of road
Report thefts straight away to the local police and hotel management.
Personal or commercial arguments sometimes lead to threats of physical violence or death.
If you're threatened with violence, report it to local police.
To avoid commercial disputes, have a clear agreement on what the expected level of service is.
Many travellers have become victims of credit and debit card, taxi and gambling scams.
Credit and debit card skimming is where card data is taken for use in fraudulent transactions. This happens throughout Vietnam.
Some Australians have lost 1000s of dollars after accepting invitations to private homes from friendly locals. Beware of rigged card games and other confidence tricks organised by criminals.
Gambling may break local laws, which also apply to travellers. See Laws.
To avoid credit and debit card scams:
- keep your credit card in sight at all times
- don't share or show your PIN to others, especially when using ATMs
- check your transaction statements
At airports, use airport taxis, prearranged hotel transfer services or taxis from clearly marked taxi ranks with staff.
Check that any person holding a placard with your name on it knows where you are going.
Be careful of people who are overly friendly and invite you to their home.
If you're a victim of a gambling scam, report it to local police.
Civil unrest and political tension
Although rare, protests sometimes happen.
Don't take photos of demonstrations, the military or the police. Authorities may not tolerate this.
Some localised violent clashes between protesters and police have resulted in casualties.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Tours and adventure activities
Transport and tour operators' safety and maintenance standards may not meet your expectations. This can include adventure activities, such as mountain climbing and boat trips.
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
- check if your travel insurance policy covers it
- ask about and insist on minimum safety requirements
- always use available safety gear, such as life jackets or seatbelts
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Climate and natural disasters
Vietnam experiences natural disasters and severe weather, including:
- flash floods
Severe weather events can disrupt air, sea, road and rail transport, electricity and communications.
If there's a natural disaster:
- always carry your passport in a waterproof bag
- keep in regular touch with family and friends
- check the media and other local sources for information
- follow the advice of local authorities
Flooding and typhoons
Floods, flash floods, typhoons and severe weather are common during the rainy season, from June to November.
Flooding can lead to landslides including in built up and residential areas of towns and villages.
Typhoons mostly affect the coastal areas of the north and central regions. Though less common, typhoons also happen in the south.
Monitor the media, and weather and flood level reports during the rainy season.
The Mekong River Commission gives information on flood levels for the Mekong River region.
If there's a flood, typhoon or severe weather:
- don't enter the affected areas without getting advice from local authorities
- check with tour operators before travelling to affected areas
- if in doubt about the safety of any location, change your travel plans.
Large, frequent earthquakes in the region make destructive tsunamis more likely.
Be alert to warnings. A tsunami can arrive within minutes of a nearby tremor or earthquake.
To receive tsunami alerts, register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.
Move immediately to high ground if advised by local authorities or if you:
- feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up
- feel a weak, rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
- see a sudden rise or fall in sea level
- hear loud and unusual noises from the sea
Do not wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media.
If there's a tsunami or if a tsunami warning is current, check the US Tsunami Warning System.
The above information has been excerpted from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller website was last updated by World Trade Press on Monday December 12th, 2022. Addtional information is available at http://www.smartraveller.gov.au