Thieves & Beggers, Ho Chi Minh City
TIP: Personally, I have nothing against cyclos even though I was harassed to death by them. But it just pays to be careful, especially if you are a solo female traveller or even a 100kg American male!Yup, I think after reading these 2 real life-accounts, you just just might be a tad bit more careful.
A new Aussie friend told me how she was nearly conned of USD20 when she took a joy ride on one of those quaint cyclos. The driver took her to a God-forsaken district and threatened not to cycle her back until she paid him! Well, the good news is that she outwitted him back and said.....
a) She wasn't American so she only had dong;
b) She didn't have that much dong with her with her in the first place!
Thumbs up to her. She paid him half the amount and got back safe and sound to tell me this tale. *
Recent Update: Never ever hop unto a cyclo for sight-seeing unless you are God-Dammed sure about the asking price! My husband's American colleague recently got harassed by an unusually aggressive cyclo when he did just that. Yeah, what was supposed to be a quaint, Vietnamese cyclo-sightseeing experience turned to something more reminiscent from "The Fugitive" after the cyclo demanded 1 million dong for half a day's efforts.
Why the fugitive?
Well, after my husband's colleague refused to pay 1 million dong ( He gave him a lower fee ) , he was chased around Vietnam until he took refuge in his hotel. Hotel security was called and the cyclo disappeared . But after that, the colleague had a serious case of paranoia each time he left the hotel. At the back of this mind, there was a cyclo lurking around with homicidal tendencies so he stuck to my poor hubby like a remora (sucker fish) after that *
Wanna avoid being mugged by children? click on b'packer's hcmc page to find out more
This is not really a big problem espcially if you keep your backpack locked but be careful of these innocent cuties, especially,if you're a Caucasian. Vietnamese children will usually target you and badger you to buy postcards, hats, little grasshoppers made from grass, etc. It's very difficult to refuse them because they are such sweethearts. But giving money to one will encourage the rest to swarm to you like bees to honey. Also, do take note that while you are paying attention to one cute child, another could be helping himself to your wallet when you're not watching!
Update: Well, even if you're not Caucasian, you'd better take note of this warning as well. My poor hubby recently got pickpocketed in HCMC, or shall I say backpack-pocketed? Some light-fingered fella unzipped his backpack and fished out his new cell phone. Amazingly, his wallet was left untouched. Well, not so surprising, if you consider that it looks like yesterday's lunchbag
Wanna avoid getting mugged by a cyclo rider? click on b'packer's hcmc page to find out more
I was wearing a gold chain around my neck along with my wedding band was the only jewellry I was wearing. While waiting to cross the road a young man on a motor bike motioned to me that I should remove my chain. I assumed he was giving me a warning as he didn't speak English we couldn't converse. I took his advice and took it off unti I got home. The Lonely Planet does warn against jewellry wearing as there are thieves on motor bikes who snatch your stuff while they drive off. We had none of these problems but took the precautions just in case.
When I was at Andong Market or even at Ben Thanh Market , there were children beggers asking for money.
Warning : the moment you give a kid saom 2000Vmd, more kids will arrive and you will have a handful.
Advise : Don't give a single Vmd although your heart may pity them.
I was on my own in Ho Chi Minh City and was obviously regarded as easy pickings. I encountered 'Chin' he called to me as I was exchanging my money from an 'ATM' He showed me his credentials and photographs of holiday makers who had written very good things about him in his little book.
I was relieved as he made me feel safe and offered to take me to the local markets on the back of his bike, he advised me to hold on to my camera as other passing bikes would snatch it out of my hand. I asked him to drop me off at Tourist Information as when I had enquired how much he was going to charge me he had said "give me what you think, no problem" I thought the best way to give him a fair amount would be to ask at 'information' the going rate. The man told me that he thought 20000 was the amount I should pay for the length of time I was planning to spend with 'Chin' on the back of his motor bike was fair.
It was when I told him I was hungry and he offered to take me to a restaurant things got a little shaky. First of all he sat down and polished off 3 beers! I thought, hang on a minute if I stay much longer I am going to be riding behind a piddled driver. The food was awful and the place was questionable. I have eaten in many local cafes and was expecting the price to reflect the building. But 'no' the bill came and cost me around 25 dollars! I was furious. Chin tried to tell me that I had been eating in Cambodia and things were always cheaper there, I retorted that my hotel room in Ho Chi Ming was only 30 dollars. The penny finally dropped that I was being taken for a ride.
Luckily he dropped me outside the market and then his true colours were revealed he showed me another price list and wanted 25 dollars for my trip. I told him that when I had been in the tourist information they had told me to give him 5 dollars 10 dollars at the most. In a short time his friends had surrounded us. I ended up paying him about 20 dollars and considered myself lucky.
You would have thought I would have learned by this error but 'no' the next day I was approached by a cycle rider. This time I arranged a price before I got into the carriage. But again at the end he took out his book and argued that I had spend more time than agreed. He pulled up down the road from my hotel, it seems they are afraid to take you to the hotel in case you run inside for backup. He got lots of dong off me, probably around another 20 dollars.
Be warned as I walked up the street I saw two people pass me being peddled to their doom, I shouted, I wouldn't go far if I were you they are going to demand a lot more money than you think, they just smiled and waved.
Do not use the motor bikes or cycles unless you have really, really agreed a price. I found if I got into a taxi I had to give him the money agreed beforehand or they ask for a lot more at the end of the journey.
I will probably get diddled again if I return as they are sooooo goood at it!
I was staying at a hotel at Distt centre 1 and morn at around 6.30 am when I went for a walk ,In broad daylight 2 guys on motorbike came and one of them tried to snatch the gold chain ,I was wearing. They were in speed and could not reach my chain. My T shirt was badly torn but my chain got saved.
I was lucky and I would say that Ho chi Min is a city where one has to be Very very careful with Money / wallet / purse / ornaments
I had more problems with this in Pham Ngu Lao probably because of the high number of tourists...but they are present everywhere in HCMC. Many of these kids are 10 & under and try to sell postcards or gum. Some will try to get you to play a version of a shell game. Anyway watch your pockets around them. I know they're cute, their English is usually quite good, but their stories are always the same and oftentimes in groups they can be quite quick with their fingers. Just be careful.
Last night I had just finished having dinner at Pho Quynh Restaurant right at the corner of Pham Ngu Lao St. and Do Quang Dao St. The table is right at the entrance of the restaurant and I was sitting there with Pham Ngu Lao St, on my back. I took my cigarette from my waist bag and put the bag on the chair in front of me. When I was about to light my cigarette, suddenly, a man on a motorbike came into the restaurant and grabbed my bag. He came from behind me and I didn't notice until he took my bag. The owner of the restaurant was sitting beside me, facing Do Quang Dao St., but failed to (or pretending to not) recognize the thief. How could a man with a motorbike came in to the restaurant without him noticed what was about to happen?
When I saw the man grabbed my bag, I ran after him and cried for help. He went fast along Do Quang Dao St. and managed to disappear after turning right at Buy Vien St.. People looked at me, but no one talked to me. A white man silently and carefully came out of bar and asked me what happened and told me where the police office is.
I was so confused as not even one local person tried to help or even approach me to just show curiosity. Maybe they were not so curious as this snatch-and-run thing happens everyday in tourists area of District 1. They seem to be affraid of getting involved in my case.
I went to the police office on Buy Vien St. to just being asked to come back in the morning. What a great officer they have!
I went back to the corner of Pham Ngu Lao St. and met a motorbike-taxi rider. He told me he recognized the thief. He was there when everything happened. He said, "That is a bad guy. He took cocaine and become a bad person." I thought he should've known all the sequential events.
I lost my passport, money, ATM cards, credit cards, IDs, and other valuable documents. Now, here I am staying at the hotel without any money! The consulate is closed and I need to wait until tomorrow to report the loss of my passport!
Oh... there is one worse case. A white lady was sleeping on Buy Vien St. for hours after loosing her bag, passport, and money and went to the police office without anybody there speak English. WHAT A GREAT CITY!!!
HO CHI MIN CITY (SAIGON)
When just visiting or travelling through the country of Vietnam BEWARE of bagsnatchers and pickpockets. This is a tourist "ripp off" Mecca..Seems as economies do it hard the tourist is the focus of "easy money". Always be aware of your surroundings here especially where there are lots of people...and that's everywhere. I have seen first hand at the ease at which some travellers holidays were ruined by being just a little careless. Drive by motorbike bag snatchers here a frequent. Most of the time that "ripp offs" occur is when the victim is concentrating on something else.They usually work in groups so be aware..The main places to be aware of are busy Markets, bus and train stations, busy restaurants and bars even crowded streets ...anywhere that there are crowds!!
Never put your bag down without some form of personal restraint.
Always carry your bag around your neck..not just over your shoulder.
Don't flash cash in public. try and have notes folded singly in your pocket having them in order of denominations, so that you can take out a small note or a larger note, one at a time.
Don't fall for the friendly hug scam..
Try and NOT keep all your money in one place...have a seperate "stash" on your body somewhere..maybe a body belt!!
I always carry enough in travellers cheques to get me home..I know a lot of people think that they are "old hat" BUT,...if you lose them you can get them replaced. Unlike cash and cards.. They are as good as cash to you!!...They don't expire , if you don't use them on this trip use them next time.. I still have TC's that I have had for five years..I always carry them with me and if I do use them I replace them. Like I did when I was recently robbed in Mongolia.
REMEMBER--THESE PEOPLE ARE GOOD AT WHAT THEY DO ---THEY DO IT FOR A LIVING
When walking in Ho Chi Minh city, I was approached by children begging for money on several occasions. It is a sad sight because they are so young and sometimes with torn clothing. I've come across beggars before, be it in Asia, Africa or Europe.
The kids here are quite daring, they would tug at my shirt and keep asking. As with any country, there is always the risk of getting pickpocket. So be careful!
Watch out for your valuables!!! Leave them at home if you value them. As for the ladies carrying monies. Use one of those cross-shoulder small backpack and walk with your hands over the zipper. Or better yet, I used one of those small fabric purse that you put jewelries in. They have a zipper and a snap flap on them. Pin it to the inside waistband of your pants/shorts. All the beggars have sixth sense, as soon as they hear a zipper, they are all over you. If you want to give them something, put a few dollars in your pocket before leaving your hotel.
Beware all tourists and everyone who thinking of living in Vietnam. I was planing to live in Ho Chi Minh City with my husband and my daughter as my husband has a job here and we were being apart for a year and the baby keep asking for daddy. I have been Ho Chi Minh City for only 3 months with the warning from my Vietnamese friends and my husband family who originally from Vietnam but immigrant to Australia long time ago. I put my baby to local school for 3 months for strengthen her Vietnamese as she is still too young and we have plan for her international school here by this year in August. Everything went ok and I always beware what I have been warned!! until yesterday at 11 AM, I rode the automatic motorbike just to wonder around for the spa from my husband building on Dinh Tien Hoang Street, I went only 3 KM away ahead the same road with my bag around my neck. I was about to do u-turn then I felt someone pulling my bag strap on my right side so I turned to see then I was shocked a bit when I saw the motorbike with 2 guys, the guy at the back used one hand holding my bag strap and the other hand holding cutter trying to cut but my bag is a leather and thick so it's very hard to cut when I turned then the cutter cut on my arm and he grab the bag very tight then speed up the motorbike with the pulling the bag as well. That action makes my motorbike fall down and of course I did fall down in the middle of the main road. My face slice to the road and my forehead knock on the road, my left hand had got bad injured and as same as my left foot. I got up immediately and go to stand in front of the house beside the road there. Can you believe that a lot of people around me but no one look at the bad guys, everyone looked at me and start gossiping as I looked like local as Asian looked but speaking English for help!!! Dam it!! I can't see any thing. It was so quick and I lost everything, my iphone, money, important documents (Lucky that my passport was not in the bag). I was hurt and frightened. I asked one girl to give me a ride to my husband building and help me with the police report. On the ways she said that it's happened very often especially that area in front of her house and herself get it twice!!! The policeman make the girl to write the report for him then he sign and get me to sign. Then I went to the hospital, staffs there said "this is bad but happened every day even the doctor here get spot after the ATM machine and get electric shock when she was riding the motorbike so she get bad injured hip broken need so long time for recovery" so my question is "oh, most of the case happened to the girl then, the reply is "no, both girls and guys, yesterday the american man get neck cut as they wanted his phone, money and watch". After finished I then went to my husband building waiting for him as I lost the apartment key as well. The staffs in the office came in and talked to me then they told me that nearly everyone experienced and told me the case. What the F_cking country I have planed to live?? straight into my head and deciding not to be here any more. So they say "you are in Vietnam you have to take care of yourself, do not hope for anyone help even the cops because everyone is afraid of danger to themselves so no one will help you, everyone knows it but no one put the nose in and no one speak out". I am deciding to go back to my country and deciding not to be here anymore. So if you are thinking of living here think twice, if you are thinking of visiting here beware and be careful take a very good care of yourselves and people coming with you. I am still on the medication, around 20 wounds I have on my body not allowed me to touch any water for 1 week and need to clean them twice a day until it's getting better which would take about 1 week I hope. Of course it's hurt like hell when cleaning. People saying "Bad Luck to me" but my question "is that bad luck or bad surrounding with bad people and bad system?" When my local friend hear my comment to the country she said "this kind of thing happened every where in any country at any time" YES, I agree but is it so often and danger like here in Vietnam??
The last time I went to Ho Chi Minh City, I had my wallet picked. Luckily it was not my "real" wallet. I keep my real one in my jacket pocket and the fake one in my pants' back pocket. The funny thing is, I didn;t even realize it until much later that it had been picked. I suggest people to take cautuion with their wallets.
I was discussing with 3 of my friends on the platform, while a bike came behind me with two guys on it. And one of them snatched my chain i was wearing. You hardly have anytime to react. May be if i had read these discussions before i would have been cautious enough to avoid wearing chains visible. Well, i would not name saigon as a dangerus place, it is certainly a beautiful place.
We were told to beware of pickpockets. I kept my valuables hanging around my neck, inside my shirt, where they were totally invisible.
Only once did I feel a hand in my pocket and that was when surrounded by kids.