Vietnam is an amazing, exotic country, and can seem totally foreign to Americans. Traveling to Vietnam can envoke many questions and concerns for travelers.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Most visits by Vietnam tours are trouble-free, but always remember to stay alert whenever traveling to a foreign country. Petty crime is not confined to the backpacker districts but also occurs in the main tourist shopping areas. Do not walk in secluded locations alone, or with people you do not know. There is low reporting of sexual assaults but tourists should travel with friends and take the normal precautions. Violent attacks against tourists have been reported in urban areas, as well as popular tourist areas, including Cat Ba and Nha Trang in the early morning or late at night. Some reports involve tourists being attacked while on a xe om (motorcycle taxi) or during disputes about being overcharged. Use larger metered taxis to minimize the risk of robbery or overcharging. Be on your guard against pickpockets and avoid carrying handbags or wearing expensive looking jewelry or watches. Use hotel safety deposit boxes to store valuables, money or passports and carry a photocopy of the data page of your passport.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs can be severe and Vietnam maintains the death penalty. In Vietnamese law, anyone found in possession of even a small amount of drugs can face the death sentence. Illegal drugs are increasingly available in major cities. Be aware that drugs are likely to have been tampered with/spiked. Drugs are much stronger and of a higher potency in Asia than in Europe and British tourists have suffered fatal overdoses in the past from very small amounts. Crimes such as sex offences or fraud can result in being stopped from leaving Vietnam for an unlimited period without being charged, very long prison terms, or a death sentence. The Embassy/Consulate cannot get you out of prison. When checking into a hotel, you will have to surrender your passport so that the hotel can register your presence with the local police. Once registered make sure your passports is returned to you and keep it in a safe place. Passports should not be used as a deposit for renting hotel rooms, hiring services such as motorbikes or in place of a fine in the event of any possible traffic offence. It is advisable to carry with you a photocopy of the data page from your passport, which can be used as proof of identity. If you are staying in private accommodation, you will still be expected to register. Ask your host to assist you with this as soon as you begin some Vietnam tour. You may be charged an administrative fine for staying without registration. The level of fine is at the discretion of the Head of the Police in the area you stay.
Contact your GP around eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. There is a sufficient standard of health care in the cities for treating minor injuries; more complicated treatment may require evacuation to a third country. Health care in rural areas is extremely basic. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Complete the next of kin details in the back of your passport. Whilst most clinics and hospitals provide adequate health care; food and comforts are usually provided by friends or family. If you are taking prescription medication into Vietnam tour, take it in your hand luggage and carrying a copy of your prescription. In the unlikely event of missing luggage, be aware that some specific medications can be hard to obtain in Vietnam and many medications on sale are counterfeit.