Vietnam has skyrocketed to the top of many Southeast Asia itineraries. Despite its challenging past, it’s a flourishing country, with poverty rates dropping nearly 10% from 2010 to 2020 and 99.4% of the population having access to electricity.
But you understandably might be wondering—is Vietnam safe?
Vietnam is a very safe country. Crime rates are low and violent crimes are uncommon.
I spent two months traveling around Vietnam as a solo female traveler and will share my experience with you.
First Things First: A Disclaimer
I had an extremely positive experience safety-wise during my two-month stay in Vietnam.
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 Vietnam: What the U.S. Department of State Says
If you’re asking yourself, “How safe is Vietnam for tourists?” it’s very safe, according to the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
The DOS labels Vietnam as a Level 1 for safety, meaning you should exercise normal precautions. Level 1 is the best safety rating possible.
Below is a chart showing the DOS’ other safety levels for reference.
|Exercise normal precautions
|Exercise increased caution
|Do not travel
What makes Vietnam unique compared to most other countries is that the DOS doesn’t list a single region where tourists need to practice increased caution.
If that’s not an indication of Vietnam’s safety, I don’t know what is.
Safety in Vietnam: What the Statistics Say
Although Vietnam is an extremely safe country to travel and live in, that doesn’t mean it’s crime-free. So, Numbeo is a useful resource for getting a feel for the type of crime that’s common in Vietnam—relatively speaking, of course.
Let’s start with the good news: Vietnam ranks from “Very Low” to “Moderate” for all of the crime categories Numbeo lists. If you’re from the U.S., it’s unlikely the nearest city to you ranks that well.
The lowest crime rate in Vietnam on Numbeo falls under the category of having to be worried about attacks because of your skin color, ethnicity, gender, or religion. So, you can feel free to be yourself in Vietnam with little worries about safety repercussions.
Vietnam also ranks as “Low” on Numbeo for the following categories:
- Worries about being attacked
- Worries about being assaulted
- Violent crimes (including assault and armed robbery)
That said, like anywhere, it’s wise to practice basic safety precautions.
Numbeo lists several crime-related scenarios that fall under the “Moderate” category, including worries about homes being broken into, robberies, and things stolen from cars.
Before moving on, it’s worth noting that Numbeo compiles its data using a combination of statistics it finds online and surveys that people have filled out on its website.
Visiting Vietnam as a Solo Female Traveler
I traveled to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hoi An, Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Sapa alone. There wasn’t a single moment when I felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
One of the most noticeable differences for me in Vietnam compared to many places I’ve traveled to is how respectful the men were.
The Vietnamese culture praises being introverted. I think that helped immensely; I didn’t experience a single catcall on the street, and no man ever looked at me or acted in a way that made me feel uncomfortable or threatened.
Needless to say, I have no hesitations recommending Vietnam for solo female travelers.
Is Vietnam American-Friendly?
Given the Vietnam War—or the American War, as they call it in Vietnam—it’s understandable for Americans to wonder whether they’ll be welcomed.
As an American, I felt very safe traveling throughout Vietnam.
All of the Vietnamese I encountered welcomed my American-ness with grace, often greeting my nationality with enthusiasm, telling me about their experience traveling to the U.S. or the relatives they have living there.
And after visiting the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh, it was evident that many, if not most, Vietnamese recognize that many Americans were against the war.
The U.S. now has strong relations with Vietnam, as Vietnam states at the museum. The DOS reaffirms this, saying the U.S. and Vietnam have a trusted partnership “with a friendship grounded in mutual respect.”
So, if you’re wondering “Is Vietnam safe for Americans to live and travel to?” it absolutely is.
Scams are prevalent in Vietnam. Numbeo even lists the category of corruption and bribery as “High.”
Luckily, most Vietnamese scams target a traveler’s wallet with no impact on their personal safety.
Some examples of common scams in Vietnam include:
- Taxis overcharging or taking a longer route
- Tour agencies lying about what you’ll see/what’s included
- Fruit basket scams
- Selling fake brands
The fruit basket scams happen when people balancing a stick with two fruit baskets on either end offer for you to take a picture of them. They expect money in return, which is fair.
However, the issue arises if you don’t negotiate the amount of money you’ll give them ahead of time. They’ll then harass you for more money, regardless of how generous your initial offering was.
The bottom line with scams is to be smart. If a deal sounds fishy, it probably is.
In my opinion, one’s attitude also plays a role. You can haggle with a vendor about the durian you want to buy. But at the end of the day, if they walk away with an extra 50,000 dong, does it really matter?
That’s only a couple of dollars for you, and you likely spent hundreds of dollars to fly to Asia.
Safety in Vietnam at Night
So, is it safe to walk at night in Vietnam?
Generally speaking, it’s very safe to walk at night in Vietnam.
While I’d never walk alone in a desolate area of Vietnam as a solo female traveler—or anywhere in the world, for that matter—I had no hesitations wandering around in well-lit and populated areas by myself in the evening.
As for Numbeo, they list Vietnam as “Moderate” under the category of safety walking alone during the night.
As long as you stay aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close in crowded areas to avoid pickpockets, you should be just fine.
Is Vietnam Safe for Families?
Vietnam is a very safe country for families, with the exception of crossing the road. Motorbikes abound in Vietnam, and drivers pay little attention to traffic laws.
Even sidewalks aren’t always safe in Vietnam, for scooters often drive onto them.
For this reason, if you’re traveling with young children, it’s important to hold their hand.
And when the inevitable time comes when you need to cross the road, do it the Vietnamese way if you don’t want to stand at the intersection all day—make eye contact with the scooter drivers and step out in front of traffic.
Is There a Drug Problem in Vietnam?
There isn’t as big of a drug problem in Vietnam as in other parts of the world, but illegal drugs are undeniably present. The only time when I felt a drug presence in Vietnam was on Bui Vien Street in Ho Chi Minh.
The reason that drugs aren’t as prevalent in Vietnam is likely because of the harsh penalties the Vietnamese government has in place. You could get the death penalty for having drugs in your possession, let alone for trafficking them.
Even something as small as being caught for petty theft can result in detention.
Unlike neighboring Thailand, cannabis is illegal in Vietnam. So, be sure to clear your bags of marijuana before traveling there if you bought some in Thailand.
Are Protests Common in Vietnam?
Protests aren’t overly common in Vietnam, but they can happen.
If you encounter a protest in Vietnam, leave the area immediately.
Transportation Safety in Vietnam
Is Vietnam safe for taking various forms of transportation? Yes, it mostly is. Read on for details.
Is it safe to take a Grab in Vietnam?
Taking a Grab (a rideshare service like Uber) in Vietnam is safe in the sense that it’s unlikely your Grab driver will physically harm you.
Grabs are also an excellent way to save Vietnamese dong, for you’ll know how much you owe in advance and can feel confident that it’s a fair price.
Generally speaking, the most dangerous part about taking a Grab is riding on the back of motorbikes. The Vietnamese drive crazy, to put it mildly.
The good news is that the Vietnamese law requires anyone riding motorbikes to use helmets.
Of course, motorbikes aren’t the only vehicle option on Grab. You can also request a car, which significantly improves safety.
Is it safe to take a street taxi in Vietnam?
Generally speaking, taking a street taxi in Vietnam is very safe, thanks to the country’s low crime.
You’ll encounter reputable taxi companies operating in all major cities in Vietnam.
That said, it’s common for taxi drivers to rip off tourists by overcharging them or taking a longer route.
Is it safe to drive in Vietnam?
Driving in Vietnam is safe if you know what you’re doing. Since many Vietnamese treat traffic rules like a suggestion, it can be difficult to manage driving in populated areas if you’re not used to it.
The main roads in Vietnam are quite well maintained. However, you should take care when driving in the mountains, for steep drop-offs are common.
If you choose to drive in Vietnam, you must have an international driver’s license. Otherwise, you’ll be hit with a fine if the police pull you over.
Is it safe to take a bus in Vietnam?
Taking the bus in Vietnam is pretty safe. I took short and long-distance buses without any issues.
However, you should take care of your valuables, for petty crimes like bag snatching can happen.
Is Vietnam Safe for Independent Touring?
Vietnam is an excellent country for independent touring. Harassments towards women, people of different skin colors and religions are uncommon.
Street vendors can get persistent with wanting you to buy their goods, which can feel a bit intimidating if you’re traveling alone.
However, they’re harmless, and a firm “No, thank you,” often does the trick.
Air Quality in Vietnam
The air quality in Vietnam is painfully poor in large cities.
Hanoi is notoriously polluted, and Vietnam ranked as the 30th country with the most air pollution in the world in 2022.
That said, if you’ll be a visitor to more countryside destinations such as Sapa, you can expect cleaner air.
For a detailed breakdown of the current air quality status in the destinations you’ll be visiting in Vietnam, check out IQAir.
Monsoon Safety in Vietnam
Vietnam has two monsoon (rainy) seasons—South/Southwesterly and Northeast.
The South/Southwesterly monsoon season lasts from May to September. In contrast, the Northeast rainy season starts in October and runs until April.
During this time, storms and floods are common.
On top of this, residents along the coast have to juggle typhoons, which can happen between April and November, although the highest chance of typhoons statistically is in August and September.
Dengue fever from mosquito bites is an issue that Vietnamese have to contend with, particular in southern Vietnam, which has a more tropical environment.
Vietnam reports approximately 80,00 – 100,000 dengue cases annually, though it’s believed many other cases go undetected. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to develop medicines or vaccines to prevent dengue.
However, if you get dengue during your trip, you’ll be able to buy medicine to help reduce the symptoms at pharmacies.
Earthquake Safety in Vietnam
Is Vietnam safe from earthquakes?
Yes, it mostly is.
Luckily for the Vietnamese, their country doesn’t sit on a significant fault line. So, while earthquakes can happen in Vietnam, they’re rarely dangerous or destructive.
Is the Food Safe in Vietnam?
The food isn’t the safest in Vietnam. Vietnamese street food often equates to emergency trips to the restroom for many travelers. But there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of this happening.
During my two-month stay, I didn’t have a single stomach issue.
Granted, I’m a vegetarian, and that undoubtedly helped.
But the key to eating food in Vietnam is to choose restaurants and street stalls that have many customers. That way, there’s a higher chance that food hasn’t been sitting around.
Watching street vendors cook food in front of you is also helpful.
And avoiding fruit and vegetables without peels can also reduce your chance of stomach problems.
Is the Tap Water Safe to Drink in Vietnam?
The tap water isn’t safe to drink in Vietnam. Luckily, bottled water is cheap and abundant.
How To Stay Safe in Vietnam
Below are some basic safety precautions to take in Vietnam. 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
- 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
- Don’t leave an opened 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.
The Bottom Line: Is Vietnam Safe to Travel to?
Get that passport and visa ready—Vietnam is very safe to travel to as long as you use some common sense. Sexual assaults and other violent crimes are rare, so petty crime is the main thing you’ll need to watch out for.
Vietnam is filled with beautiful temples and pagodas, delicious food, and helpful locals.
If you have questions about safety in Vietnam, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.
I’d also love to hear from you after your trip. How was your experience traveling around Vietnam? Did you feel safe?