Vietnam is a country that tourism is blossoming and the established backpacker trail of Southeast Asia is now drawing more affluent visitors and solo travelers. One of the most attractive features of Vietnam as a destination is that although it is a relatively inexpensive country to explore, it is also one of the safest destinations in Southeast Asia.
However, there are certain factors to consider when looking at your safety if you are a woman traveling in Vietnam, and taking a few precautions can certainly help to ensure your safety.
Women and Clothing
When it comes to the attitudes of the Vietnamese towards women traveling solo, one aspect worth considering is that Vietnam is still quite a conservative country.
Many women have reported that Vietnamese men will ask them curiously about why they are traveling solo, and why they aren’t married. For this reason, some women choose to wear a dummy wedding ring as a decoy to avoid such questions being asked.
Clothing can also affect the way that men act towards women in Vietnam. The best option is to follow the style of the local women and to cover up when you are heading into the town or city center.
Some women who do go out wearing skimpy tops and skirts have reported some examples of being propositioned, although there are very few serious crimes that do take place in the country.
Avoiding Theft and Petty Crime
One of the most common issues that people find in Vietnam is that petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft of items such as cameras, laptops and rucksacks can happen. Good common sense can help to reduce the chances of this happening, and trying to avoid making yourself a target is very wise advice.
Keep any valuables hidden in a bag which you keep close to yourself at all times, and particularly avoid carrying a camera or sunglasses on a strap around your neck in populated areas.
One method of theft is from the back of a motorbike, so makes sure you keep a hand on any bags, as these can easily be grabbed from a moving bike.
Political Sensitivities and Photography
Although Vietnam is a country that has opened up significantly over recent years, like many countries, there is still a security presence around many military and transport hubs.
Try to avoid taking photographs in areas where police or military individuals are present and be aware that, in some cases, they may ask you to delete photos or even ask you to hand over your memory card. Be respectful and use your best judgment when taking photos.
Scams and Begging
There are many ways in which some unscrupulous retailers, taxi drivers and other service providers can try to catch out visitors to the country, and using unofficial inflated exchange rates is a common trick.
Also, try and research the tour company you are going to use if you are planning a trip around some of the major sights, as some people have reported having tours that are very different to the advertised itinerary. Begging is quite common, mainly in tourist areas, but most beggars will leave you alone if you say no.
Behavior and Cultural Considerations
Many of the people in Vietnam live modest lives, so try to be considerate and avoid displaying excessive wealth or expensive clothing and jewelry in areas where it is not common.
Like anywhere else, displaying wealth will not only attract petty criminals, but may also trigger some feelings of resentment from local people. One important thing to avoid is drugs and, while they may be available, the punishments can be severe.
Looking After Money and Documentation
Losing cash and your passport and visa can be an issue for travelers so, when possible, make sure that you use the safe in the hotel and carry a photocopy of your documents.
One good tip is to use a money belt that can be worn inside clothing, while using an inside pocket that cannot be reached without opening a jacket can also be a smart move.
Also, try not to keep everything in one place as losing your money; wallet and documentation in one go is something we all want to avoid while traveling.