Travel Smart: Top 5 scams to avoid in Vietnam

Use of hotel facilities

Some hotels may charge for use of facilities, from swimming pools to kettles. If not too inconvenient, the easiest way to deal with this is just to skip using them. To not get caught out by nonsense like this, make sure to double check terms and conditions and any fine print.

I think all the hotels in Vietnam we stayed in tried something like this. Even Ibis tried to charge us for two full breakfasts even though I was ill and wasn’t eating.

One hotel had full unopened bottles of shampoos and shower gels in the bathroom that we immediately realized they’d try to charge us for, so we bought our own. When it was time to check out, they had assumed we used them and charged us for them. Luckily there was no confrontation as we told them we didn’t use them and they can go check if they like but we aren’t paying for it. Price was ludicrous: something like USD20 for a bottle of Head and Shoulders.

Claims of damage

The hotel can claim damages for your room and present evidence from a contractor to repair that damage.

We were staying at what seemed to be a decent hotel and when we were checking out the front desk presented a damages bill for some furniture and how they’ll have to replace it.

How to avoid

When we checked in, we were a bit suspicious of the staff since they were friendly but they didn’t seem genuine so when were shown to the room we took photos of everything and were able to show that we weren’t the ones that caused the damage.

Two menus

Some restaurants can have two menus, one in the local language and one for the foreigners. Before you sit down make sure you’ll looking at the one that you’ll get at the table.

Menu with no price

If a restaurant has a menu with no prices, that’s an immediate red flag. Walk away.

Taxi: hotel / attraction closed

Once you tell the destination to the taxi driver he’ll insist that the destination you want is closed today and he’ll offer and alternative. Frequently that alternative is either an expensive shop that he get’s commission from or a competing hotel that pays him.

Common particularly in Hanoi.

How to avoid

Insist on your destination no matter what he says. Just say no problem. If he says anything further, ask him to stop and get out of the car as soon as possible.

Short changing

Not really a travel issue since you could be short changed in your local supermarket but something to take care of since as a tourist you’re more likely to be a target.

Also, be aware of the seller saying no change. If that happens immediately insist on your money back and get louder and louder especially if there are many people around.

Common in

We’ve encountered it in several places, including Thailand and Vietnam.

In Tunisia, it was particularly prevalent because at the time we visited they had a 30 dinar note, instead of a more common 20. So, A LOT, of vendors would try to make you assume that you gave them a 20 instead of a 30. A LOT. I think they’ve since removed the 30 not.

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