Safety and security
It is not advisable to publicly express strong political views or to take part in political demonstrations in Vietnam. Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational and stay away from military sites – taking photos of, or near, military or security installations, and some public buildings, may be prohibited.
Although the threat from terrorism in Vietnam is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.
Petty Crime is common in Vietnam, particularly in urban areas, you should take sensible precautions at all times and especially during the summer peak travel period;
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport and original birth certificate (as well as travel insurance documents and other important documents) with family or friends at home;
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together, leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place;
- Be aware that bag snatching occurs frequently and there is a significant increase in theft in the lead up to local festivals;
- Avoid placing bags in the front basket of bicycles;
- Bag snatchers on motorbikes are also a problem;
- When travelling by air, bus or train, stay vigilant against petty theft, particularly in busy rail and bus stations and in crowded airports.
Lost or Stolen Passports
If your passport is lost or stolen, report this to the Police immediately and obtain a Police Report. Irish Citizens should be aware that if this occurs, it will delay your travel plans considerably, and cost you money. Along with the time taken to arrange a new travel document, you will subsequently need to get a replacement visa and an exit visa from immigration and this can take at least three working days and may delay your onward travel plans considerably. Please be aware that the nearest Irish Embassy is in Hanoi.
You should use licensed taxis after dark to minimise the risk of assault by cyclo or motorbike drivers.
Always use licensed taxis or pre-arranged hotel pick-ups when transferring from airports. Don’t accept offers of free transfers to hotels as these may be bogus.
Reporting a crime
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Vietnam, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Hanoi if you need help
If you’re planning to drive in Vietnam, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles (this includes public transport) and inadequate lighting. Be aware that in the event of an accident, third parties involved are likely to have little or no insurance.
If you want to drive:
- You will need to get a Vietnamese driving licence to drive a car or motorcycle from the Hanoi Department of Public Works and Transportation (telephone: 00 84 4 3843 5325) or the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Public Works and Transportation (telephone: 00 84 8 3829 0451 or 0452).
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, particularly a motorbike, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Pedestrians should take particular care when crossing roads in major cities. Driving can be erratic and sometimes dangerous. Taxis are common but the standard of driving may be poor.
Motorbikes and scooters
Accidents involving motorbikes or scooters, often causing serious injury or death, are common. If you decide to rent or purchase a motorbike or scooter please take the same precautions as you would at home. These include wearing a helmet, observing speed limits and obeying the rules of the road.
Unexploded mines and ordnance are still a risk on former battlefields, particularly in central Vietnam and along the border with Laos. Don’t stray from main routes in rural areas and check with your tour operator before travelling to affected regions.
Be aware of spiked drinks, particularly late at night in bars, and don’t leave food or drink unattended or accept food or drink from strangers.
Homemade alcohol may be contaminated with bacteria or with toxic chemicals from pesticides and should be avoided.
A number of energy drinks that are banned in Europe due to their high levels of stimulants are available in Vietnam. Many but not all carry health warnings. Consuming more than two of these drinks per day, on their own or with alcohol, can pose a serious health risk, particularly to people with pre-existing cardiac or other conditions.
Outdoor adventure sports
Before you take part in any outdoor or water-based sports or activities, such as kayaking, rock climbing, hang-gliding, etc., check that your travel insurance will cover you in the event of death or injury to yourself or a third party.
You should also be aware that the health and safety requirements in Vietnam aren’t as stringent as in Ireland and are often neither observed nor enforced. This means the risk of a serious or fatal accident while taking part in these activities is much higher.
Wed, 20 Jul 2016 16:45:43 BST