Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know

Is Ho Chi Minh Safe

Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon as most locals say) is the polar opposite of Hanoi–fast paced and busy, so it’s no wonder why other travelers I met while on my trip always ask me, “Is Ho Chi Minh City safe?” It’s not a simple yes or no kind of question. Safety can mean different things to different people. From my travel there, I’ve found that Ho Chi Minh City, and Vietnam overall, feels safe as long as you use some common sense.

In this post I’ll dive into everything you need to know to get around this this bustling city safely and confidently. Let’s get started!

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe Right Now?

is ho chi minh city safe

In my opinion, having explored over two dozen countries, including many developing countries, I’d say Ho Chi Minh City ranks among the safer places. If you ask locals though, they might tell you that it’s one of the more dangerous cities. It’s true that tourist spots here attract their fair share of pickpockets, bag snatchers, and scammers, but violent crimes against foreigners are rare.

Walking through the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City, I’ve learned to keep my valuables close and keep my eyes on full alert. Although not too paranoid that I don’t enjoy the place anymore, it’s about having some balance between caution and curiosity. So, is Ho Chi Minh City safe? My answer: with some street smart, absolutely.

Safest Places to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

In a city as safe as Ho Chi Minh, finding a secure place to stay shouldn’t be too difficult. While there aren’t district-wide danger zones, it’s wise to stay vigilant, especially in bustling areas like Bui Vien Street, where the nightlife can attract opportunists, especially in dimly lit corners. When I explored the city, people I met at my hostel warned me that crowded spots like Ben Thanh Market and around Independence Palace can also be hotspots for pickpockets, so these are places where I keep my valuables intact.

Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle, Ho Chi Minh offers some quiet spaces. District 1, located in the heart of tourist attractions, provides easy access to iconic landmarks. For those seeking a quieter retreat, District 3 offers serene streets, perfect for longer stays. Meanwhile, District 2 boasts modern skyscrapers, catering to those with a taste for contemporary living.

During my stay in District 1, I never had any problems going from street to street, covering miles without feeling like I’m getting into unsafe territory. Ho Chi Minh City may have its quirks, but finding a safe place in this very busy city is easier than you might think.

Best Overall Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City – Au Lac Charner Hotel

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Au Lac Charner Hotel, situated in Ho Chi Minh City, offers stylish accommodation inspired by French colonial tea houses. Conveniently located near shopping and entertainment areas, it’s a 5-minute walk from historic landmarks like the Opera House and Notre-Dame Cathedral. The hotel features wicker-furnished rooms, an in-house restaurant, free WiFi, and offers massages.

10 Ho Chi Minh City Safety Tips

While it’s relatively safe in Ho Chi Minh, I did say that it still helps to be street smart. Here are some 10 tips I’d recommend when visiting Ho Chi Minh City

Know the Local Culture & Etiquette

As I spent more time in Vietnam, I quickly realized the importance of understanding local customs. En route to Ho Chi Minh City, I googled and educated myself on the dos and don’ts. At religious sites, such as temples and pagodas, it’s best to dress modestly and speak softly, bowing one’s head in reverence to statues and monks. Respecting the sanctity of these places meant refraining from public displays of affection, saving PDA’s (not that I even have anyone to do it with) for more private settings.

Another thing to know is that humility is just distinctly part of the Vietnamese cultural norms. Flashing valuables could be perceived as boastful, a gesture contrary to the local ethos. So, I made a conscious effort to keep my attire understated and not-so-flashy like that of the locals.

Haggling at market stalls is one thing I really enjoy when going to local markets, and it’s one habit that are normal here (thankfully) but I found that I get better results when I haggle in a friendlier manner than being abrasive.

Showing deference to elders is also one thing practiced here a lot, when words fail me since I don’t know their language, I just give them a nod of respect.

And when taking photos, ask permission. They’re not usually opposed to it. Although one area where you shouldn’t even bother asking for permission is when in military areas. This is illegal and comes with consequences, including potential jail time.

Avoid Monsoon Season

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Here’s one no-brainer tip: steer clear of monsoon or rainy season. With a tidal river running through the city, flooding is a recurring event every rainy season. Sadly this is true in most Asian countries and while the damage is often minor in Ho Chi Minh, getting around can be treacherous and may mean walking in knee-deep flooded streets while holding your sandals.

During monsoon season, the city transforms into a maze of submerged roads and impassable alleys. Although locals are used to the inevitable floods, it’s a different story for visitors. As the waters rise and recede overnight, it’s a constant battle to stay dry and safe while getting around the city.

So yes, probably skip Ho Chi Minh when it’s their peak rainy season. While Ho Chi Minh City has much to offer year-round, the added complications of flooding make it a less-than-ideal time to visit.

Stay in District 1

When it comes to finding a safe haven in Ho Chi Minh City, District 1 is my top pick. It’s the heart of this vibrant metropolis, giving you a blend of convenience and security that’s hard to beat. From upscale hotels to cozy guesthouses, District 1 boasts a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference.

I’ve found that staying in District 1 puts me right in the middle of where everything is. With its bustling streets and attractions nearby, there’s never a dull moment in this fast-paced district. Whether you’re looking to the iconic landmarks or sampling delicious street food, there’s a place in District 1 that has what you need.

We recommend Long Hostel (below) which has been my go-to place while in Ho Chi Minh.

Our Favorite Hostel in Ho Chi Minh – Long Hostel

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Long Hostel in Ho Chi Minh City’s Pham Ngu Lao area is praised for its vibrant atmosphere, convenient location near major sights and markets, excellent nightlife options, and dedicated staff, receiving high ratings on Hostelworld with many guests expressing a desire to return.

Avoid Packaged Day Tours

When it comes to visiting local attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, I learned to steer clear of packaged day tours. While these tours may seem like a bargain at $5 a day, they often turn out to be a waste of time and money.

Booking these tours through agencies didn’t fare any better. Instead of personalized experiences, I ended up on overcrowded buses, rushed from one tourist trap to the next. It was just a bit too much because they try to fit everything in one day and it leaves no room to fully appreciate each attraction.

In the end, I opted to DIY my way through the city, giving myself time to enjoy the rich culture and vibrant streets. In avoiding packaged day tours, I was able to really see Ho Chi Minh City on my own terms.

Get a SIM Card or eSIM

In any out-of-country trip, having a SIM card is a game-changer. For just $5, I was able to quickly switch plans when I find something interesting or learn more about what I’m seeing at the moment. I could also get around the busy streets faster with ease, thanks to apps like Grab taxi, which made booking transportation really quick.

Choosing a carrier was straightforward , with options like Mobifone, Viettel, or Vinaphone. I found it simple to pick up a SIM card at any post office or mobile shop, priced between 50,000 VND to 100,000 VND.

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

We’ve tested the top eSIMs on the market in Peru, and AIRHUB took the top spot. It’s the most reliable, giving us the strongest signal possible even at the highest altitudes and the deepest canyons of our hikes.

You’ll have the option to access multiple carriers when you sign up for an Airhub eSIM. Haven’t found any other eSIM that got that in the bag.

Take a Free Walking Tour

Going on a free walking tour in Ho Chi Minh City was one of the best decisions I made during my visit. Led by local students, these tours offer a different perspective on the city, filled with insider knowledge and personal anecdotes that bring each landmark to life.

Not only are these tours informative, but they’re also a fantastic way to orient yourself in a new city. These tip-based tours are almost always better compared to pre-booked tours because they really put a lot of effort into making their tours informative and fun.

Learn How to Cross the Street

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Navigating the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City can be intimidating. For a while, it reminded me of Fast and Furious except it’s mostly motorbikes and scooters. I learned to master the art of crossing the street if I even want to get to anywhere in this city. Always alert, I made it a habit to look both ways and proceed with care, knowing that traffic could approach from any direction.

One crucial tip I learned was to maintain my course once I started crossing. Despite the sea of motorbikes heading towards me, I resisted the urge to backtrack or hesitate. Instead, I kept moving forward, trusting in the flow of traffic to part around me. If you hesitate, speed up, slow down, stop or try to turn back, you’re more likely to cause an accident. Daunting I know, but this is how locals do it and I really just followed how they do it.

While pedestrian bridges and crosswalks seems safe, I remained wary of the sidewalks. Scooters would often encroach sidewalks, turning them into makeshift roads.

Have Travel Insurance

When I was preparing for my journey to Ho Chi Minh City, one thing I made sure not to overlook was travel insurance. It’s my safety net that in case of unexpected mishaps and emergencies. One of the biggest perks? It covers medical expenses, which can be a lifesaver in a country like Vietnam where healthcare costs can add up.

But that’s not all. Travel insurance offers coverage against trip cancellations caused by events like natural disasters or illness. Knowing I’m covered gives me peace of mind, allowing me to focus on enjoying my adventure without worrying about what-ifs.

And let’s not forget about baggage coverage. Whether it’s lost luggage or damaged belongings, having insurance means I’m not left high and dry. It’s a small investment that can make a big difference in ensuring a safe and stress-free trip. My go-to with the best coverage for my travel style is World Nomads. If you’re not convinced, we’ve written a detailed comparison of the leading insurances in the market.

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Always Inspect Your Goods Purchased

Before leaving a shop in Ho Chi Minh City, I always make it a point to inspect my purchases, especially electronics. It’s a simple step, but one that saved me from falling victim to a common scam: the old switcheroo. I was told that it’s common for shady sellers may try to swap out the items I’ve bought for cheaper versions if I don’t pay attention.

By taking a moment to examine my goods before walking away, I ensured that I’m getting exactly what I paid for. Whether it’s checking for signs of damage or verifying all the components are there. It’s always nice to know that you haven’t been duped, so do check your purchases.

Pay Attention to Your Dong

When I say Dong, I do mean Vietnamese Dong. Being mindful of what’s handed to you is very important. some of the bills look so alike, even in colour, so it has become second nature to me to keep on checking my bills. It’s not just about the numbers but also the colors. With denominations like 10,000 dong resembling 100,000 dong and 20,000 dong looking like 500,000 dong, it’s easy to get confused.

Imagine shelling out $25 USD for a banh mi or a coconut because of a simple mix-up! That’s why I always double-check the bills I hand over, so that I’m not overpaying for everyday items.

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe For Tourists?

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Ho Chi Minh City, like many Asian cities, is generally safe for tourists like me. Yet, it’s important to stay vigilant and heed some safety precautions during your visit. One thing I’m cautious about are thieves, especially in crowded areas or tourist hotspots. To avoid falling victim to bag snatchers or petty crime, I make sure to keep my valuables secure and never walk with my phone in hand. Additionally, I never leave my bags unattended, staying mindful of my surroundings at all times.

Another essential tip is knowing how to call for help in case of an emergency. Memorizing the local emergency number, 113 (not 911), ensures that I can quickly summon help if needed.

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe For Solo Female Travelers?

When it comes to solo female travel in Ho Chi Minh City, safety is a top concern, but you’ll find it’s generally a secure destination. Compared to other big cities, crime rates here are lower. Violent crimes against tourists, especially women, are rare occurrences.

Still, it’s essential to prioritize your safety with some basic precautions. Avoid wandering alone late at night, especially in dimly lit or unfamiliar areas. Opt for modest attire to minimize unwanted attention. Stick to reliable taxi services for transportation. Most importantly, trust your instincts in any unfamiliar situations. Your intuition is a powerful tool for staying safe.

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe At Night?

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Exploring Ho Chi Minh City after dark is quite the experience, with bustling night markets and lively streets. Saigon comes alive in the evenings, offering an exciting atmosphere for nighttime adventures. As long as you stick to well-lit areas, you’ll be okay wandering the streets solo.

During my own nighttime walks around the city, I always felt at ease, even when carrying valuables like my laptop (although I would not recommend this). But, it’s essential to remain alert in crowded areas to avoid pickpockets.

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe For Digital Nomads?

Absolutely. Ho Chi Minh City is great for digital nomads, offering everything I needed for a productive and enjoyable remote working experience.

One of the perks of being a digital nomad here is the plenty of coworking spaces. There are plenty of affordable options to set up shop and connect with other remote workers like myself.

Plus, the city’s vibrant cafe culture makes finding a cozy spot with reliable WiFi a breeze. Whether I’m looking for a strong Vietnamese coffee to wake me up or a quiet corner to focus, there’s always a cafe nearby ready to accommodate my needs.

What sets Ho Chi Minh City apart is its friendly atmosphere. From locals to fellow expats, everyone is welcoming and approachable, making it easy to feel at home in this bustling metropolis.

And when the workday is done, the city comes alive with a fantastic social scene. Whether I’m unwinding at a trendy bar or sampling delicious street food, there’s never a dull moment in Ho Chi Minh City for a digital nomad like me.

Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe For Families?

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For families, Ho Chi Minh City may not be the first choice, but with some careful planning, it can still be a great getaway. While it’s true the city’s streets and atmosphere might not mesh with most family vacations, there are still plenty of positives.

Ho Chi Minh City offers many exciting activities for families, from cyclo tours to lively markets and beautiful parks. The city’s rich cultural heritage is also evident in its temples and pagodas, which are family-friendly.

Yet, it’s essential to be mindful of some challenges, such as the busy streets, the heat, and the possibility of encountering pickpockets.

Is Grab Safe in Ho Chi Minh City?

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Using Grab in Ho Chi Minh City has been a reliable and safe option for me. With Grab, I feel confident knowing that I won’t fall victim to taxi scams, a common concern in bustling cities like this. Plus, Grab implements safety measures like to those of Uber, ensuring a secure ride experience.

Are Taxis Safe in Ho Chi Minh City?

In my experience, taking a taxi off the street in Ho Chi Minh City is generally safe. Violent incidents are rare, which offers reassurance to passengers like me. However, I prefer to err on the side of caution and opt for safer options whenever possible.

Using a ride-hailing app like Grab or pre-booking a taxi through a reputable company such as Mai Linh or Vinasun adds an extra layer of security. This way, I can ensure a reliable and legitimate ride without the risk of encountering pirate taxis.

Is Public Transportation Safe in Ho Chi Minh City?

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From my experience, riding the bus in Ho Chi Minh City is a safe and affordable way to get around. The city’s public transportation system is well-maintained and generally reliable. It can get intimidating though, especially with the language barrier but it is doable if you do your research beforehand.

But, it’s essential to consider your time constraints and travel preferences. If you have limited time in the city, exploring on foot or using a scooter taxi might be more efficient, especially for solo travelers. Cars can get stuck in traffic jams, causing delays and frustration.

Is it Safe to Drive in Ho Chi Minh City?

While I don’t have any experience to back this up, just watching the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City tells me that driving can be challenging and is not recommended for the average tourist. The driving culture here is quite different from what many know, with little regard for traffic laws and a need for assertive driving.

Is the Tap Water in Ho Chi Minh City Safe?

During my stay in Ho Chi Minh, my host told me that it’s best to avoid drinking tap water in Ho Chi Minh City, especially for foreign visitors like myself. Boiling water works though and did cause any issues for me, when I did it during my stay.

Fortunately, finding safe drinking water is easy in the city. Street vendors offer small bottles of water for convenience, making it simple to stay hydrated while exploring. For larger quantities, supermarkets and convenience stores sell multi-liter water jugs.

Is the Street Food in Ho Chi Minh City Safe?

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Exploring the street food scene in Ho Chi Minh City is an absolute must, and it’s one of the highlights of my visit! From mouthwatering pho to delightful banh mi sandwiches, the culinary experience here is next level. I actually prefer to food here compared to that of Hanoi’s.

I can still recall the rich flavors of the various soups I sampled, each one a nod to Vietnam’s vibrant food culture. And who can resist a banh mi for less than a dollar? It’s a delicious and affordable option for a quick lunch on the go.

When it comes to food safety, I always make sure to choose street food vendors wisely. I look for vendors who prepare food fresh and avoid anything that seems to have been sitting out for too long. Additionally, I prefer stalls with concise menus, as they tend to focus on quality over quantity.

To ensure both delicious fare and food safety, I opt for eateries bustling with locals, a sure sign of authenticity and high standards.

Is the Air Quality in Ho Chi Minh City Safe?

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When it comes to air quality in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s a concerning issue that I’ve noticed during my time here. Like many cities in Southeast Asia, the air quality can be poor, affecting both residents and visitors alike.

To stay informed about the current air quality conditions, I rely on resources like IQAir. This site provides up-to-date information and projections for the upcoming days.

PM2.5 particles, which are fine particles less than 2.5 microns in width, pose health risks when inhaled. Given the elevated levels of these particles in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s essential to take precautions. Wearing a mask outdoors and minimizing outdoor activities on days when air quality is particularly poor are must-dos.

Is Ho Chi Minh City LGBTQ+ Friendly?

From my experience, Ho Chi Minh City embraces LGBTQ+ individuals with a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere. The city is home to many gay-friendly establishments, including bars, restaurants, and clubs, where everyone is welcomed with open arms.

For those seeking nightlife, Republic stands out as the largest gay club in the city, hosting entertaining drag shows and lively music events. Full Disclosure offers exciting monthly LGBTQIA+ parties, featuring live performances and energetic DJs that keep the party going late into the night.

Additionally, venues like La Fenetre Soleil and Whiskey and Wares provide welcoming spaces for both LGBTQ+ and straight individuals to socialize and enjoy delicious drinks in a trendy setting.

Is Shopping Safe in Ho Chi Minh City?

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In my experience, shopping in Ho Chi Minh City is not only safe but interesting. Exploring the markets and shopping districts can be a thrilling experience and you’ll see some items and things you probably haven’t seen int the west.

Before diving into the shopping frenzy, I always make sure to do some research or go around first to get an idea of fair prices for the items I’m interested in. This helps me bargain with confidence.

When it comes to bargaining, I follow a simple rule: never pay more than two-thirds of the vendor’s initial asking price. And remember, it’s okay to walk away if the deal doesn’t feel right. There are plenty of other vendors eager to make a sale, so don’t hesitate to explore your options.

Shopping Scams in Ho Chi Minh City

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Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City can be exciting but it’s essential to stay alert to avoid falling victim to scams. I’ve encountered my fair share of dishonest sellers who tried to overcharge me. I’ve learned my lesson before.

One common scam involves sellers inflating the prices of goods, especially when they see a foreigner. They might quote a price that’s several times higher than the actual value of the item, hoping to make a quick profit.

Currency confusion is another tactic used by scammers. They might exploit tourists’ lack of familiarity with Vietnamese dong.

Well… Is Ho Chi Minh City Safe?

In my experience, Ho Chi Minh City is a safe destination for travelers, especially if you follow some simple guidelines. Violent crime is rare, but it’s still wise to stay alert and take precautions. Embrace the vibrant culture and delicious cuisine—try street food like pho and banh mi for an authentic taste of Vietnam.

Exploring the city’s landmarks, such as the War Remnants Museum and the iconic post office, offers valuable insights into its history and culture. By immersing yourself in these experiences, you can make the most of your time in Ho Chi Minh while staying safe and secure.

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