May 30 2011
Ho Chi Minh City is quite safe for cities of comparable size. Very few violent acts have been reported against foreigners, but it can still be dangerous to walk around flaunting your wealth. Here are a few commonsense steps you can take to ensure your safety while in Saigon.
First, be cautious of wearing jewellery. Wearing necklaces, dangle earrings and expensive watches or other valuable jewellery is not the best idea while walking on Saigon streets or in markets. Vietnamese street operators are masters at snatching jewellery off unsuspecting tourists. Removing your jewellery can, also, save you money as stallholders who see expensive jewellery may charge higher prices.
Never stop for street children or crowds. Children selling postcards, flowers, books are a common pickpocket scam. While one child may push themselves in to you showing you their goods, another will be trying to pickpocket you. The children look less suspicious because they are, usually, well dressed. In crowds you may be bumped, especially from behind, to distract you while someone is taking your wallet from your bag.
Be sure to keep handbags in front of you. The safest way to carry your bag is to place the strap over one shoulder and under the opposite arm with the strap diagonally across your chest. Carrying your bag in this way will make it harder for motorbike snatch and grabs. Also, never keep anything valuable in your pockets, especially your back pocket. Anything in your pockets from cash to cell phones — even fancy pens — can be at risk.
If you do happen to be a victim of theft be sure to make an attempt to contact police immediately. Local police want to reduce crime on tourists and a quick alert could mean the return of your stolen items. Remember, always try to stay calm as shouting, getting aggressive, angry or crying could lose you respect with the locals that could be trying to help. If you do not have a phone, or if it was recently relieved from you, make your way to the nearest hotel or Western-friendly establishment because you are more likely to find someone who speaks English and can help contact the police on your behalf.
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