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Most travelers in Vietnam feel relatively safe, and the level of crime is generally comparable to similar cities of the same size throughout the world. Pickpocketing, snatch-and-grab robbery, and petty theft are the most frequent types of crime reported in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) where foreigners frequent (major hotels, tourist sites, public parks).
Saigon is a relatively safe destination for travellers. Violent crime against foreigners is rare. There are some hazards worth nothing though and these problems seem to be getting worse as inflation, economic hardship and drug related crime, afflict the city.
As a traveller, you’re most likely to be scammed when travelling in a taxi, a cyclo or responding to inexplicable offers of hospitality from random people on the street or in bars. Use caution in all circumstances and don’t let your positive view of humankind relieve you of your commonsense.
2. Common scams and crimes in Saigon
Cyclo, xe om, intinmidation: at the completion of a tour, a cyclo, or se om driver will insist on a large payment and threaten you if you don’t comply. These problems seem to be most common when travellers don’t pre-agree a price.
Taxi intimidation: Saigon’ best taxi drivers are excellent by any standard. Unfortunately, the worst drivers are also worthy of note.
The other problem is that many of the most disreputable taxi companies copy the names and logos of the more reputable companies. Keep your wits about you and remember that the more modern a taxi looks, the more reliable it’s likely to be. Taxi issues definitely become a bigger problem the later it gets in the evening. Be careful rather than paranoid.
Random tour guides met on the street: A number of tourists have been persuaded by young men on the street posing as tour guides to take ‘unofficial’ tours at an agreed price. At the end of the tour, the guide threatens the tourists and demands far higher payment.
Poker scam: Filipino gangs in Saigon have been caught extorting money from unsuspecting travellers after inviting them to meet someone in need of help or simply inviting them for a drink and a game of cards.
Bag and phone snatching: tourist frequently fall victim to bad and phone snatchers on motorbikes when crossing the road. Be careful with your valuables.
Money changers on the street: these are as risky in Vietnam as everywhere else in the world.
Late night violence: as with all big cities the later you’re out in Saigon, the more likely you’ll witness or be a victim of crime. Pretty crime including lost cameras, bags and wallets are common in the late hours.