Vietnam is generally a safe destination but petty crime is most prevalent in the main backpacker districts, tourist shopping areas and popular places like Nha Trang. Be sensible – don’t flash cash or valuables, don’t walk around the cities at night and avoid empty beaches after dark.
Carry photocopies of your visa and passport instead of the real documents.
Unexploded landmines still sadly exist in central Vietnam and along the Laos border – do not stray from paths and marked trails in these regions, and travel with extra care if in Vietnam with kids. Better: travel with a local guide.
Moto taxis are a bad idea. Driving standards – of the motorbikes and other vehicles – is poor, as is vehicle maintenance. Additionally, although it’s illegal to travel without a helmet, the helmet itself may be of poor quality or damaged; there are frequent, life-threatening accidents.
For this same reason, avoid travelling by night if possible – especially in overnight buses. The sleeper trains are an excellent, safe alternative – just be sure to keep your belongings close.
There are many illegal taxi in the cities; ask your restaurant or hotel to book you a cab, especially at night, or look out for the green My Lai taxis – these are licensed, and will not overcharge you or argue over fares.
Don’t just pick the cheapest or most convenient boat tour operator in Halong Bay – especially if opting for an overnight cruise. Read reviews of the tour online including the safety aspects – boats have been known to sink rapidly. Ensure you get a safety briefing upon departure.
Several of Vietnam’s more popular beaches now have lifeguards – but do be careful, particularly around Hoi An, as there can be dangerously strong currents.