5 Common Scams in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)

Everyone that has stepped foot in Vietnam knows that the Vietnamese are great at scamming foreigners (and other Vietnamese).  We’ve compiled the five most common scams in Vietnam, how to get out of the scams, and how to avoid the scams.  I have seen all these scams, but only fallen for one.  Guess which one?

This article says Vietnam, but all the scams mentioned take place in Ho Chi Minh City as that is where I live.

1.   The 100k Switcharoo

You take a Mai Linh or Vinasun taxi from the airport to District 1 and the fare is 200k Dong. At your destination you hand Taxi Driver Nguyen a 200k Dong note.  Wait where is the scam?

Taxi Driver Nguyen turns around and says, “You only pay 10k” while holding a 10k note.

You just got scammed in Vietnam.  I fell for this scam within 20 minutes of arriving in Saigon.

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City.

 “How to handle this scam?”

Yell and say “I pay 200” and get out.

Note: If you have luggage in the trunk, then the cabby might drive off with your luggage.  That is why you don’t put luggage in the trunk in third world countries.

Note #2: If a police officer shows up, then things will get much more expensive.  That is why you don’t get police involved in a third world country.

“How do I avoid this scam?”

Sign up for Uber or Grab: you don’t have to pay in cash, never have to worry about getting lost, but still have to worry about scams (this is Asia) and drivers not showing up.

Alternatively, you can just go to the booth at the airport and pre-pay. The price is about the same, but you don’t have to worry about taxi scams.

2.  The Fake Taxi

After a night dealing with freelancers at Apocalypse Now or fat backpacker girls on Bui Ven you drunkenly exit the bar and look for a taxi.  In your drunken stupor you hop in the first taxi you see.  Not noticing the car is 20 years older than most taxis and has a Vinesun sign on top.

You sit down and the driver speaks very good English, a rare occurrence in Vietnam where the drivers English vocabulary consists of: “hello” “money” “marijuana” and “massage girl”.  Looking at the meter you see the numbers are going up faster than my penis at a blowjob bar.  As you try to escape you notice the doors won’t open. The windows are tinted so dark that no one can see inside (not like you’d get help anyway).

To your horror, the driver points at the meter that reads 500k… for a 50 meter taxi ride.

How To Get Out Of This Scam?

I’ll be the first to admit that I am dumb. However, I’m not dumb enough to get into a fake taxi. I don’t know an answer other than paying the driver.

How To Avoid This Scam?

Don’t get in fake taxis.  Use Uber or Grab.  If you must take a taxi, then use Mai Linh or Vinasun.  Make sure to check the spelling of Mai Linh (white and red) and Vinasun (green).

3. The Pickpocket Scam

I can’t think of anything witty to say.  Pickpocketers roam the streets of Ben Thanh market.  Why you would want to go there… I don’t know.  However, if you do go you might get pickpocketed.

How To Get Out Of This Scam?

Unfortunately, the pickpocketers are very good at their craft

How To Prevent This Scam?

Put your wallet in your front pocket like a goober.  Alternately, get a money pouch thing that tourists use to store money.  Having some sexy tight  pants with deep front pockets is ideal.

4. The Snatch

Not that snatch you pervert.  This Vietnam scam happens when an unsuspecting tourist pulls out their iPhone X to take a video of the terrible traffic.  Suddenly, a hand from one of the 20 million motorbikes passing around reaches out and grabs the iPhone.

You just got snatched in Vietnam.

How Do I Get Out Of This Scam?

Try and grab the thief’s arm.  If he falls, then you can start yelling and pointing while yelling “thief”.  An angry mob will form and beat the guy within inches of death.  Or they’ll attack you because you caused an accident.  Life is all about chances.

How To Prevent This Scam?

Never pull your phone out on the sidewalk.  No one cares about your selfie and you can wait 10 minutes to respond to the Vietnamese girl that just message you “what you doing?” on Zalo.

5. The Vietnam Thigh Trap

You meet a pretty Vietnamese girl at a bar (LOL) and you “fall in love” with her over “interesting conversations” and boring Asian girl sex.  You go back to your home country and spend your days talking to her, professing your love to her (LOL), and spanking your white monkey to the memories of her Asian bush.  This goes on for a few weeks and then your “girlfriend” suddenly gets ill and needs to visit the hospital.

You, a kind gentleman, offer to send money (LOL) for her $150 medical bills.

You just fell for the Vietnam thigh trap scam.

How Do I Get Out Of This?

Find a girl to have sex with.  You will forget your “girlfriend” on the other side of the world in a few days.  Trust me on this one.

How Do I Prevent This?

Wait 6 months after moving abroad before dating a Vietnamese girl.  Even better, have lots of sex before getting a girlfriend.  And whatever you do, don’t seriously date a Vietnamese girl you meet at a bar.  And never send money to one.

Knowing these scams can prevent them.  I wish I knew about scam #1 before arriving in Saigon.  On top of that, Vietnamese people think of new scams everyday just to make life miserable for expats. As a positive, even if you do get scammed it usually involves under $10.  On the negative, it is a huge ego blow.  I’ll still try to keep this list updated as I encounter new scams.

What scams have you fallen for in Vietnam?


  1. Or just carry small notes. 10k, 20K and 50k notes are easy to use in VN (everything is cheap) and will make this scam pretty much impossible.

  2. One day after coming down from a 5 day ice bender while living in district four I saw an old hag on the sidewalk selling cakes or something. I asked how much for one and she told me 50k. I gave her 100k but she only gave me 20k back. I was furious so I pushed the cake back to her indicating that I didn’t want it anymore and motioned for her to give me my money back. She just smirked at me, said “ok” and gave me 10k back. I snatched her purse out from her stall where she kept it and started rummaging through. She started to call for help. At that point a crowd started to form so I threw her purse back to her and demanded that she return my money. One young guy that spoke terrible English tried to come over and mediate. I attempted to plead my case but gave up quickly. She had the linguistic advantage and was obviously lying through her mangled rotting teeth about what happen with whatever she was saying. Then I switched into Chinese hoping that there would be a few onlookers that would be able to understand. I called her a scammer and whatnot. The old bat could obviously understand me because she got very embarrassed and started frantically trying to justify herself to the crowd in her native gookese. After silently staring at her for a few brief moments I called her an old cunt in Chinese and calmly walked off leaving her there surrounded by the crowd. I knew I wouldn’t get my money back, but at least I left her with no face.

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