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This article was written in collaboration with Dealchecker
Vietnam is a famously beautiful and vibrant destination which is relatively safe for foreign travellers who wish to explore its landscapes, history and culture. Despite integral conservatism in Vietnam’s lifestyle, women are generally well respected.
However, for those females visiting independently there are some country specific tips to keep safe in what can be such an unfamiliar environment.
Vietnam is not a country where women are required to cover up from top to toe; in fact, local women are usually quite stylish and not afraid to bare a little skin.
However, very skimpy clothing is not a local custom and you should make sure you respect this. Respect should particularly be paid at any places of worship such as pagodas or temples that you view during your time in Vietnam – small shorts, short skirts, bare shoulders and low cut tops are not suitable here.
A woman’s dress choice should never be cause to provoke ill behaviour but avoiding provocative dress is the easiest way to ensure you do not attract unwanted attention on your stay.
Be careful with personal belongings
Unless you live in the busiest of cities, you probably think little about pickpockets and thieves when out and about at home. Unfortunately, theft does occur in Vietnam and criminals do try to snatch valuables such as phones, jewellery and purses/wallets from passers-by.
It is not uncommon for motorcyclists to drive by and snatch a handbag from a female walker. Try to keep all personal belongings hidden.
Prepare for questioning
In Vietnamese culture it is common to be questioned if you are an unmarried woman travelling alone. Not all modern lifestyle choice are understood here and though questioning may not be malicious, it can be uncomfortable. To avoid this, you might want to wear a ‘wedding’ ring and explain that your husband is elsewhere.
Another commonly asked question by the Vietnamese is ‘what is your age?’ This is usually asked so that you may be addressed appropriately by the person asking. If you are asked how old you are, remember that this meant with no offence.
Public displays of affection
In Vietnam, it is not deemed appropriate to conduct public displays of affection. Young Vietnamese are becoming more and more accustomed to everyday Western culture but whilst holding hands is acceptable, kissing is not advised in front of locals.
Travelling around Vietnam
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The vehicle of choice for most Vietnamese is the motorbike. You will come across men who will ride you across town on their bike (known as the ‘xeom’ or ‘hugging bike’) for a fraction of the cost of a regular taxi. It is a faster and cheaper alternative and is frequently used without problem.
The etiquette if you are a female is that you place your hands around the driver’s waist for security; however, feel free to ask whether you can do is if this makes you more at ease. Men put their hands on the driver’s shoulder.
The time to be cautious of ‘xeom’ use is of an evening when your personal safety may be at higher risk. Unfortunately, drink driving can be a problem in Vietnam but taxi drivers are more likely to drive safely whilst ‘on duty’.
Follow these few simple guidelines and you will have a fantastic time exploring this incredible country!