Hanoi, Vietnam

Stay Safe

Many visitors to Hanoi have concerns about safety issues and the city being unfriendly to foreigners. These are probably due from bad press and unpleasant experiences from past visitors. Another probable reason is the perception that the people who were once colonised and experienced wars with foreign nations, resent foreigners visiting their country. Though Hanoi may not be the safest and most friendly city in Southeast Asia, it is definitely safe and welcoming city to visit, though common sense and simple precautions should prevail.
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Pickpockets in Hanoi are well organised and operate in groups. Hotel staff have been known to try to pick padlocks on travellers bags, thieves on motorbikes snatch bags from cafe tables and fake mechanics throw nails at tourists on motorbikes to cause flat tires. Keep all eyes on your belongings, especially in crowded areas like the Dong Xuan night market, or just don't go at all if it's not worth the risk. If you carry a backpack or rucksack, do not carry it on your back especially in crowded areas with high tourist traffic e.g. the Hoan Kiem Lake area. Pick pockets will open your bag behind you and help themselves to your belongings. Carry it in front of you instead.

Police in Hanoi by BluesyPete

Hanoi's Traffic
Like everywhere else in Vietnam, traffic in Hanoi is dominated by an incredible number of motorbikes. Vehicles here seem to be making a mad desperate dash, while blowing their horns incessantly. In other words, pedestrian traffic can be overwhelming for visitors, especially in the narrow streets around the Old Quarter. Like the rest of Vietnam's cities, there seems to be no such thing as one-directional traffic in Hanoi. The key word here is slowly - don't rush, be patient and pay attention when crossing the streets and you should be fine. Definitely, the streets of Hanoi has no place for the faint hearted. Don't stop suddenly when you see one coming a little fast or rush your steps when you are crossing. Just even your pace and walk slowly. The motorbikes will find their way to avoid you themselves.

Motorcycle traffic in Hanoi by Dragfyre

Be careful of hustling hawkers from their two-tier pricing system - one for locals and one for foreigners. Hawkers may charge foreigners three times. Therefore, always ask the price first and give the hawkers exact change. Mobile hawkers (carrying food hung on poles across their shoulders) have been known to pocket significant change and stuff more food than you had intended to buy and than quickly take off, leaving the bewildered tourist with food he cannot finish.

Taxi drivers from less reputable taxi companies have be known to rig their meters to run faster and therefore running up the taxi fare higher and many times at astronomical amounts. Some taxi drivers have been known to take foreign passengers on a detour to make more money on the taxi fare - hard to notice if you are not familiar with the Hanoi's streets. To avoid the chance of a scam, use a reputable and reliable taxi company such as Hanoi Taxi and Mai Linh Taxi.

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