Vietnam Country Guide

Stay Safe



The first discovery for many tourists who just arrive in Vietnam is that they need to learn how to cross a road all over again. You may see a tourist standing on the road for five minutes without knowing how to cross it. Traffic in Vietnam is a nightmare. Back home, you may never witness the moment of crash, seeing injured victims lying on the road or hearing the "bang" sound. Stay in Vietnam for more than a month and you will have fair chance of experiencing all these.
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Motorcycle traffic in Ho Chi Minh City by Andre Lettau

Roads are almost always packed with cars, buses, taxis, bicycles and choke-full with motorbikes in the cities. Some intersections in the main cities (especially Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) have traffic lights patrolled by police, since most are either non-functional or ignored. To cross the road, don't try to avoid the cars, let them avoid you! Step a little forward, a little more, and you will see motorcycle drivers slowing down a bit, or go another way. Make your pace and path predictable to other drivers and don't change your speed or direction suddenly. Then move forward until you hit your destination.

The simplest way, if available, is to follow a local, stand next to them in the opposite side of the traffic (if you get hit, he will get it first) and he will give you the best chance of crossing a road. If you are injured, don't expect the local people are willing to help for even calling an ambulance because it is not free. Make sure you tell local clearly that you will pay the ambulance fee. Hospitals will also not accept your admission unless you prove that you can pay the bill.

Noi Bai Bac Ninh Highway by Pho Nhay

Highways are also risky with an average of 30 deaths a day and some locals will not even venture on them if not in a big vehicle (car or bus). Taking a bicycle or motorcycle on the busier highways is an adventure for risk takers, definitely not for a family with children. Though riding a bicycle or motorbike is a great way to see and experience a cross section of Vietnam, think twice wih regards to your safety.

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