Hanoi Scams – Common Scams In Hanoi

By Onetrip | Hanoi Travel Tips

Jun 17

Scams in holiday are more and more popular and if you are not careful , you may become one of the victims of these scams . It means that these scams will create disappointment and annoyance throughout your whole journey, especially in Hanoi, where this problem is alarming . These are some of the Hanoi scams you may encounter while traveling in Hanoi and some tips to avoid them.

Exchange rates – Scams in Hanoi

Exchanging money in Vietnam is a must for travelers because it is common and convenient to use cash rather than credit cards in Vietnam. Most of the everyday payment is made by cash. There are ways to exchange money in Vietnam, you can read it here: Cash, Credit Cards and ATMs in Vietnam

When exchanging money in Hanoi, you have two options :  banks or jewelry stores. For the first option( go to the banks), you will absolutely feel secure about the exchange rates (this option should be recommended first). If you want to choose the second option( jewelry stores), be careful of the exchange rates scam.

Because  if you exchange money at hotels or gold and jewelry stores, you should check the exact current exchange rates first. You may find this information on the internet or in smartphone apps.

Beware of the exchange rates scam– Hanoi Scams

Also, unprincipled hotels quote rates in dollars, then when you want to pay in dong, inflate the exchange rate well up. For a long stay, you will waste a lot of money. Before booking, if possible, ask the price in the currency you are going to pay in.

If you’ve pre-booked, then check again when you arrive. If the rate is too high, ask them for an explanation before handling over your passport or any other guarantee. Alternatively, pay in the currency they’ve quoted — usually dollars.

The updated exchange rates – Hanoi Scams

Exchange Money in Hanoi – where prestige is

Hotel scams – “that” to avoid in Vietnam

Hotel scams are also one of the common Hanoi scams and there are some different kinds of scams.

When you arrive at the hotels, they might tell you that there is no room left there and there is a mistake. After that they will recommend you another hotel that has the same price and quality as the previous one. Because of not having wasted time and being too tired during the trip, you often agree with the new hotel that later you find that it’s better compared to our usual hostels and guesthouses.

But beware, the scam here is that when you checkout and pay the bill for your departure, you can realize that you must pay up to $$$/ night for a room and maybe get trouble with “nasty” speeches of receptionist or staff who will demand full payment.

Also, try to avoid leaving your passport as a deposit because it’s easier to walk away if they’re not holding your passport. Instead, if a guarantee is needed, pay in advance. It’s actually better to lose your money than have trouble with your passports.

One more thing, be extremely careful when choosing your accommodations in Hanoi. Rogue hotels and guesthouses are popping up everywhere, which can make you really confused between fake hotels and real ones. In the worst situation you may go to a fake hotel.

To prevent this, check carefully with google map to make sure you arrive at the real hotels.

Fake Tours – Tour Agencies

You should double research to choose the best travel agency

Hanoi, as well as the big cities in Vietnam, is a touristic city with many tour agencies. Occasionally, tourists choose a famous agency they search on the internet to book and get more information about their tour. However, it is still at risk with information they have( if the website tourists choose is not official or unreliable). The recommendation here is that you should do some search on Tripadvisor which is very well- known, specialized website in tourism ,instead of picking a random agency in the Old Quarter.

Also, be aware that you may encounter the fake tour agency. Fake tour agency is a pretty visible problems not only in Hanoi, but in large cities as well, some tour agencies will be rebranded by other famous agency in order to make lucrative business. One of the case it’s Sinh Tourist agency, which has at least 7 fake branches scattered around Hanoi. They are properly the fake ones, not the real one and not gonna provide you with the best service for sure.

Fake tour agency is a pretty visible problems not only in Hanoi, but in large cities as well, some tour agencies will be rebranded by other famous agency in order to make lucrative business. To avoid this scam, make sure you check with Google Map to go to the exact address of the agency.

Our tour is trusted by Tripadvisor. Check Onetrip hanoi tours

Hanoi Taxi Scams

For getting around Hanoi, you might can’t avoid hailing a taxi to travel around. However, there are a couple of common problems that happen with the taxis in Hanoi and here are the ones to look out for.

The first and main concern is the taxi ride from the airport. I must say that the airport is a haven for potential scammers. If you get outside Noi Bai airport after the arrival, you will mostly be invited a ride by some taxi drivers. Most will try to demand a fixed fare that’s much higher than the normal rate. Ensure you get in a taxi that will agree to go by the meter (it should end up costing about $10-15 USD).

Only hop on a taxi if the driver agrees to turn on the meter

Hailing a taxi is one of the options you might choose to travel around Hanoi. However, there are a couple of common problems that happen with the taxis in Hanoi and here are the ones to look out for.

To avoid taxi scams, there are several ways. You can book a GrabCar by using your smartphone. Or look for a reputable companies such as: Mai Linh Taxi (the remarkably green cab with its name “Mai Linh” on both sides, Taxi Van Xuan (the grey cab with a blue and a red line along both sides), Taxi Airport (the half white and half dark pink cab with its phone number on the front door).

If you have to use taxis, ask your hotel receptionist to help you. And make sure you are clear with the price first with the driver.

Taxis from the airport

Noi Bai airport is often referenced as a hotbed of scamming taxi drivers and has been well-covered in the Travelfish.org forum. In theory, all the licensed taxis are often set up a metered cab to measure the travelling distance and the payment .

If you use one of these taxis, get agreement on the rate before you get in by pointing at the rates sign and getting a confirming nod. If the driver tries to charge you more upon arrival, don’t pay. Also, don’t pay any extras for the tolls/parking — that is all included.

If you are arriving late, the safest option is to book in advance through your hotel or a company such as Hanoi Airport Transfer, this is also a high recommendation. For the budget-conscious ,take the Jetstar or Vietnam Airlines buses, instead of hailing a minivan, but you are likely to charge a little more than locals – maybe one dollar.

Note that when you leave from the airport, do not get waylaid by the men who pounce because they may work for an unlicensed taxi company and will overcharge.

Another note is that when you have picked a taxi from airport or station, maybe there is a mistake that the taxi driver take you to a wrong hotel, this risk can be objective or subjective, therefore I suggest that you should make sure the name of hotel or exact address and make it clear that you have a reservation. If the driver takes you somewhere else you have two options: (1) get out and walk (2) refuse to pay until they take you where you want to go.

Taxis from the train station

Tourists arriving at the train station are often tired and unfamiliar with Hanoi and they tend to get to their hotel. Hailing a taxi is the best way to their hotel. Mai Linh taxi is reliable taxi brand for tourists and the payment almost upon the figure on cash machine with the fixed rate ( 10000 to 12000 VND per one kilometer). As a rough guide, it’s about two kilometres to the cathedral area, so 30,000-40,000 VND is a fair fixed price, depending upon the size of taxi. It’s a bit further to Ma May area, so you’ll likely need to pay 40,000-50,000 VND to get there.sde

Note that the direction or way from station to Old Quarter is so complicated, therefore don’t be surprised if it’s not quite as direct as you may know before.

Taxis around town

As I recommended above, choosing a well known and reliable taxi brand is the number one priority such as Mai Linh because they also have a fixed rate for each traveling distance and besides that, some other brands like Phu Dong, Thanh Nga, Vic or Morning taxis also make me feel secure with prices, so you absolutely consider these

Another tip is to always negotiate before you get into any taxi

Agreeing a fixed rate is only advisable if you know how much you should be paying. Their first bid is likely to be high, especially late at night.

Alternatively, take another mode of transport. Walking is a great way to see Hanoi, buses run reasonably frequently, or combine travel with sightseeing on a cyclo.

My final tip regarding taxis, wherever you catch them, is to make sure you have enough change on you. It’s a common trick for drivers to claim they don’t have any change. If they do this, pay less rather than more (if you have it) — no change, their problem, not yours.

Be careful with the Free Donuts

Around the Old Quarter, it is not hard to see so many street vendors approaching the tourists and offering free donuts before they buy. Sounds pretty good, but in fact that is a kind of scam.

These donuts are not really goods, they are a part of a scam. Therefore if any vendor goes towards you and invites some free donuts, say No to them

Don’t get in this strap!

Because after you accept it, the seller will demand that you pay her a large amount of money for the doughnut you just “bought”, meanwhile the real price of this donut in the market is so low. They can get aggressive and continue to follow you around until they get your money. This can create this an almighty and embarrassing scene.

If you want to enjoy an exciting trip, and do not get trouble, please avoid this scam or just say no to all of them immediately. Believe me! You will see a lot of them, especially in Hanoi Old Quarter.

The scam of Free Photos Opportunity

The image of a female hawker wearing typical Vietnamese conical hats and carrying hawker baskets across their shoulders is not unfamiliar with tourists and locals in Hanoi Old Quarter.

Sometimes they smile at you and offer you to put on their hat or even take some picture with their baskets for free. However this is a kind of scam- as the donuts scam, nothing is free. If you accept to take a photo with them, they will demand you to pay for it

Other than the hawkers with conical hats, you will also meet the street sellers carrying fruit and good who offer free pictures. Again, say no to them at first because there is nothing is free here. If you agree, you’ll likely have to face an embarrassing demand for payment later. They will follow you and create a scene.

After this, they will follow you and demand for payment

Pick Pocket and Bag Snatcher

Pickpocketing and bag snatching seems to have quietened down in Hanoi. However, for safety, you still need to watch out for it, especially whenever you are at crowded places, because the thieves can take the opportunity to blend into the crowd to pull something out. If you do not want to be a victim of pick -pocket, please pay much attention to your belongings

For the motorbike thieves, especially careful if you are wearing a bag that is slung across your shoulder-you are particularly injured, in the worst situation, you may be dragged across the street, leading to many serious injuries

This is a horrible crime, but thankfully, this crime is now uncommon in Hanoi (and they were very open about all the current scams in the city). This is more prevalent in Ho Chi Minh City.

To avoid this kind of scam, We advise you to use a bag with two straps when you walking on the street and if you visit some crowded places like night market or walking street…., you can wear this bag in front of your chest. Always be careful and keep your eyes on everything around!

​How to be Safety in Hanoi ?

​Hanoi remains a relatively safe city for visitors, but the more you aware of some typical hazards, the more you will increase the likelihood of you having a hassle-free stay.


Here are some things to beware of:

  • ​Petty theft is not be a big issue in Hanoi, but bear in mind that the average Vietnamese salary is around $150 per month. The reason leading to this problem is the wealth disparity, in other word- rich and poor difference, especially in Hanoi. Therefore you must preserve their belongings to avoid being a target for thieves because the valuable things such as mobile phones, Ipod, cash always draw attention to the thieves
  • ​Don’t carry too much cash. Use an ATM card for regular withdrawals or keep the cash in a safety deposit box at your hotel. When you go out, you should bring moderate amount of money or if not you can keep it in a bag and wear in front of your chest in order to always keep an eye on your money
  • ​Be especially vigilant at night when the streets are quieter and it’s easier for thieves to cut and run, particularly when victims are drunk. We’re not saying don’t drink but if you’re planning a big night out don’t take valuables, make sure you’re with other people and do have a plan for how you’re getting back to your hotel, particularly if you head outside Old Quarter to areas like Phuc Tan (where the infamous Phuc Tan Club is located).
  • ​Avoid wandering the streets at night, especially alone. We’ve also heard of taxi passengers being threatened when they refuse to pay inflated fares or when they comment that the meter’s running too fast. If you are going to cause a fuss about the meter — and we wouldn’t blame you — try to wait until you’re at your destination and have an escape route and other people around you.
  • ​The main hazard to be aware of in Hanoi is the roads — and pavements, or anywhere else traffic chooses to drive, legal or not. Whenever you walk around the Old Quarter , you must pay much attention to surroundings because the location is not large, meanwhile there are too many vehicles transporting, it seems to be dangerous unless you are careful , especially crossing the street.
  • ​Don’t trust red lights, sometimes you should be aware of situation around you instead of depending mostly on traffic light because there are many people passing the red light and ignore the traffic signals, which can cause unpredictable ricks
  • ​Don’t drink and drive, wear a helmet and take it easy. And don’t forget, if you don’t have a local license, your insurance won’t cover you in case of an accident.
  • ​A minor motorbike related consideration: exhaust pipes are hot. Be careful not to Be careful with drink and drugs, you may become a victim of dodgy alcohol affection, so please don’t try any random drink if you do not know the origin of that
  • ​Men should be aware of being courted by sex workers; do remember that HIV is an issue here :((((, as is stealing from flattered and satisfied clients.
  • ​Hanoi has seen a few outbreaks of diseases recently: Japanese encephalitis and measles have caused deaths among Vietnamese, particularly children. Dengue is also a risk, as is rabies. None of these are at epidemic levels but do ensure you’re injected and wear mosquito repellant, or cover up, to avoid bites.

​Above are some of the common Hanoi scams that you most likely to encounter. Always watch out and don't be a victim of any Hanoi scams that ruin your holiday.

  • Jack says:

    Thank you. Good tips

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