Hanoi is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. Not only does it have an old town charm that the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City lacks, but it’s also an excellent base for taking trips to Ha Long Bay and the Sapa rice fields.
But if you’re a first-timer to Vietnam, you’re understandably wondering—Is Hanoi safe?
Hanoi is a very safe city with a low crime rate. Many people consider the most dangerous part about Hanoi is getting in a scooter accident, whether you’re the driver, rider, or pedestrian walking across the street.
I’ll share a combination of statistics and personal anecdotes from my trip to help paint the picture of what you can expect with safety in Hanoi.
First Things First: A Disclaimer
I spent one month in Hanoi and had an excellent experience safety-wise.
But the information I share here, with the exception of statistics from linked sources, is my personal opinion based on my encounters.
Everyone has unique experiences that shape their perception of any given destination.
So, take what you want from this article and leave the rest. And above all, never let your guard down just because I or anyone else tells you that a destination is safe.
Trusting your gut and following basic safety practices are vital to improving your security in any destination.
Safety in Hanoi: What the U.S. Department of State Says
Writing about a destination’s safety from my perspective as a solo female traveler has become an unsuspecting niche during my travel blogging years.
So, I was shocked when I checked the U.S. Department of State (DOS) travel advisory for Vietnam and saw this one-liner:
“Exercise normal precautions in Vietnam.”
That’s literally all the DOS has to say about safety in Vietnam. It’s the first time I’ve encountered a country where the DOS doesn’t list a single area within a country where it recommends travelers take extra caution.
So, not only does the DOS label Hanoi as a Level 1 for safety, but they assign this level to Vietnam as a whole.
For reference, below is a chart showcasing the four safety levels the DOS assigns a country and destinations within a country.
|1||Exercise normal precautions|
|2||Exercise increased caution|
|4||Do not travel|
I don’t have anything else to say in this department, folks.
While it’s wise to keep an eye on the DOS’ travel advisory leading up to a visit to any country, the U.S. gives two thumbs up for Hanoi’s safety.
Safety in Hanoi: What the Statistics Say
So, is Hanoi safe from violent crime? According to Numbeo, it is.
Numbeo is a website that allows people to rate how safe they feel in cities around the globe. At the time of this writing, their findings show that Hanoi crime falls under the “Low” category, with a crime index of 38.02 and a safety index of 61.98.
To get more specific, Hanoi ranks as “Low” under categories such as:
- Worries about being mugged or robbed
- Worries about things being stolen from a vehicle
- Worries about being attacked
- Worries about being assaulted
- Worries about assault and armed robbery
Furthermore, Vietnam ranks as “Very Low” under the category of people having to worry about being victims of crime because of their skin color, gender, or religion.
That said, Hanoi currently ranks as “Moderate” for Numbeo’s category of crime increasing in the past three years.
Remember, the statistics here are based on personal opinions. I recommend making the DOS’ travel advisory your main point of contact when determining whether Hanoi is safe to visit.
Visiting Hanoi as a Solo Female Traveler
If you’re traveling alone, you’re understandably wondering—Is Hanoi safe for solo female travelers?
From my experience, Hanoi is very safe for solo female travelers. During my one month exploring Hanoi alone, I never felt unsafe traveling within the city, nor did I have issues with harassment from men of any kind.
On the contrary, the Vietnamese tend to be shy around strangers. So, it’s refreshingly against cultural norms for men to be forward with women on the street.
I also felt safe riding on the back of Grab scooters to get around Hanoi both day and night.
Or better put, I felt comfortable that the drivers wouldn’t harm me in any way as a woman on their scooter. Riding on a scooter in Hanoi comes with risk, as the motorbikes weave between traffic, and the helmets don’t seem fit to break a fall.
The only thing I’d caution you about is taking care of your belongings when exploring crowded areas in Hanoi. Petty crime can happen, as pickpockets often look for opportunities in tourist areas to snatch one’s belongings when they’re not paying attention.
But the bottom line is this: If you’re new to solo female travel, Hanoi is an excellent place to get a feel for exploring alone.
Safest Districts in Hanoi
Admittedly, titling this section as the “safest” districts in Hanoi is a bit misleading, given that no district in Hanoi is downright dangerous. Yes, there are some areas that are less developed than others, which might give the sense that they’re less safe than Hanoi’s upper-class modern districts.
But there aren’t any districts in Hanoi that I know of that are notoriously dangerous.
Instead, when you’re choosing where to stay in Hanoi, these are the most central and popular districts for tourism:
- Hanoi Old Quarter
- West Lake
- French Quarter
I stayed in West Lake and enjoyed it. But if you’re short on time, I’d recommend staying in the Old Quarter or French Quarter, as you’ll be within walking distance of more tourist attractions.
Juggling Hanoi Scams
Numbeo lists Hanoi as “High” under the category of problems with corruption and bribery. Scams are a major reason for this.
Luckily, scams in Hanoi rarely affect a person’s physical safety. Instead, it’s more about certain locals trying to milk your international money as much as they can.
Personally, I didn’t experience a major issue with scams in Hanoi.
I’m sure some locals overcharged me at the market when I’d buy jackfruit and bananas. But the prices were so cheap to begin with that it didn’t scream scammy to me.
I think the area where tourists have the most potential for experiencing scams is when booking tours at agencies in Hanoi. It’s easy for agencies to promise lots of bells and whistles. But once they have your money and you’re on your tour, they have free reign to change the schedule or not offer what you were promised with little repercussions.
Knowing this, I opted to book my tours online.
I’m sure I paid a bit more by doing so. But knowing that I could read reviews and have the backing of a larger agency (GetYourGuide, in my case) if something went wrong made it worth it.
Taxi meters are another way to get ripped off as a tourist, as the drivers know most of us aren’t familiar with the local fares. For this reason, I always prefer using Grab to relying on a taxi meter.
Is Hanoi Safe at Night?
Hanoi is quite safe to walk around at night. I felt safe walking around Hanoi at night in the old quarter, where streetside food vendors were abundant and businesses stayed open well into the evening.
That said, like anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable walking down dark, deserted streets alone.
Luckily, Grab (the Vietnamese version of Uber) is a cheap way to get around the city. So, I used Grab whenever I wanted to move around Hanoi at night.
Is There a Drug Problem in Hanoi?
I didn’t notice drug users or dealers in Hanoi, though there’s certainly a market for them. Numbeo states that Hanoi has a moderate problem with people using or dealing drugs.
That said, since cannabis is legal in Thailand and loosely enforced in neighboring Cambodia and Laos, tourists interested in doing drugs often gravitate to these countries; Vietnam’s life imprisonment policy for possessing illegal drugs is undoubtedly a deterrent.
Transportation Safety in Hanoi
Now that we’ve covered crime, let’s explore another angle: Is Hanoi safe to get around via different modes of transportation?
The potential for car accidents aside, it mostly is.
Is it safe to take Grab in Hanoi?
The Grab drivers in Hanoi have an excellent reputation for providing a safe experience in terms of you not needing to worry about them robbing you. However, if you opt to ride on the back of a Grab scooter instead of hailing a car, the risk of injury in the event of an accident increases.
Your Grab driver will give you a helmet. However, most of the helmets in Vietnam are thin, and I found they didn’t cover my head well.
Is it safe to take a street taxi in Hanoi?
Taking a street taxi in Hanoi is very safe. Although Grab is the preferred way for many visitors and locals alike to get around, there’s a low chance of crime happening if you flag down taxi drivers off the street.
The taxi companies in Hanoi have an excellent reputation for not physically harming their passengers, though ripping off tourists with higher fares is an all-too-common practice.
Is it safe to drive in Hanoi?
In a one-year period from December 2020 to December 2021, Vietnam experienced 11,495 traffic accidents with nearly 5,800 deaths. Like anywhere, driving in Hanoi comes with the risk of getting into an accident. But the traffic is heavy in Hanoi, people don’t follow the rules, and scooters weave in and out between cars.
So, if you’re considering driving in Hanoi, you might end up white-knuckling it.
It’s also important to ensure you have the proper documents to drive in Hanoi, including an international driving permit. Since local police asking for bribes is common, there’s a higher chance you could get pulled over as a foreigner.
Is it safe to take a bus in Hanoi?
It’s very safe to take a bus in Hanoi. I took many buses during my stay, and Google Maps became my best friend for knowing what bus numbers I should take and what bus stops to get off at.
Air Quality in Hanoi
The air quality in Hanoi is very poor. Many locals wear masks to reduce the contaminants they breathe; if you’ll be spending any length of time in Hanoi, it’s wise to do so too.
I also recommend checking IQAir to know the current air quality state in Hanoi and the projected air quality for the coming days.
To give you a feel for the degree of poor air quality in Hanoi, IQAir currently lists Hanoi’s air quality as “Unhealthy,” and it’s projected to remain that way for the next two days before dropping to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.”
Flooding in Hanoi
The rainy season in Hanoi is from May to September. During that time of year, natural disasters like floods and mudslides can happen. July, August, and September are often the peak times for flooding.
So, you should take care to stay away from streams and rivers, as they can rise quickly. It’s also more common to have trouble hailing motorbike taxis, which was my experience when it rained in Hanoi.
Earthquake Safety in Hanoi
Is Hanoi safe from earthquakes?
Earthquakes aren’t a major safety concern in Hanoi. That said, Hanoi sits on the Red River-Chay River fault zone, where earthquakes in the 5.0 magnitude range have happened.
You can check Volcano Discovery to see if any earthquakes have happened in Hanoi recently, no matter how large or small.
Is the Water Safe to Drink in Hanoi?
The tap water isn’t safe to drink in Hanoi. However, bottled water is cheap and easy to access from street vendors, convenience stores, and supermarkets.
How To Stay Safe in Hanoi
Below are some basic safety precautions to take in Hanoi. As you’ll see, there’s nothing unique about them—it’s wise to practice these tips regardless of where you travel.
- Take a taxi at night
- Don’t walk around showcasing expensive electronics and other valuables
- Only take out money from ATMs inside a bank
- Never carry around all your credit cards and cash
- Use a money belt
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry
- Ask locals for advice
- Leave your passport at your accommodation
- Don’t leave an unopened drink unattended
- If you’re going to get inebriated, do so with a trustworthy sober companion
Finally, trust your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
So, Is Hanoi Safe for Tourists?
Hanoi is a beautiful city with a safety profile to match it. Although petty theft can happen, I have no hesitations recommending Hanoi for families, solo travelers, and any other travelers.
That said, it’s best to consult the DOS’ travel advisory before your trip to ensure they haven’t changed Hanoi’s safety ranking.
P.S.—Are you contemplating where to base yourself in Vietnam? If so, check out my comparison of Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City.