Dealing with the traffic police in Vietnam is pretty easy. I’ve only had one interaction with them (wrote about here), which went pretty well all things considered.
Anyway, a commenter asked me to write an article on what to do during a traffic stop in Vietnam, so here is the article.
What To Do During The Traffic Stop
Vietnamese police don’t pull that many people over. And most of the time they pull over cars.
Here’s what to do if you’re unlucky enough to get pulled over while on a motorbike:
Stop In a (Relatively) Safe Spot
Some foreigners recommend ignoring the police. Personally, I think that’s dumb. Those foreigners are probably lying, too.
Don’t run from the police.
Please. It’s a really bad idea.
Take Your Keys Out Of The Ignition
Sometimes the police will take your keys for extra bargaining power. Don’t let them do that.
Take the keys out of the ignition immediately after turning off your bike.
Walk to The officer
Vietnamese cops have no fear of getting shot or whatever, which means they expect you to walk to them. They are normally in front of you if pulled over by a bike. They’ll be behind you if they flagged you down.
It’s pretty easy to figure out where they are, so I’m not sure why I included that.
Salute The officer
I’ve seen Vietnamese police salute Vietnamese men that they pull over, so it’s probably a good idea to salute them. It will definitely show them that you know how things work.
And that’s super important.
You can actually pay the ticket on the spot (no receipt!). And you can even bargain about the cost.
The normal rate is 200k. The commenter that requested this article said the cops asked for 3 million ($132), which is a joke.
You shouldn’t pay more than 500k. 200k is standard.
Also, if you know Vietnamese, now is the time to use it!
They Won’t Take Your Bike
If there’s no police truck on the scene, then the police won’t take your bike. They aren’t going to wait for the truck to show up and deal with all the paperwork.
Just no. That’s not how it works.
They will still threaten to take your bike, but they won’t. Just sit on the sidewalk or pretend to walk away.
They’ll then lower the amount of your on-the-spot ticket (no receipt!).
If there is a police truck, then they will take your bike. That’s pretty much a rule. And you will have to go to the station to pay the ticket (you get a receipt for this one). You might be able to pay the ticket on the spot (no receipt!) if there’s a truck, but it will probably cost more than 200k.
How To Not Get Pulled Over By Vietnamese Traffic Police
The cops randomly pull people over here. There just isn’t much you can do to avoid it. It’s a good idea that everyone on your bike wears a helmet, though.
The police will always pull you over for not wearing a helmet.
Personally, I’ve only been pulled over once. And that’s because it was late at night in a far district.
My bike is so ugly/cheap that they usually just ignore me. Here’s another tip to avoid getting pulled over:
Ride with a helmet camera
The helmet camera doesn’t even have to work. You can just put an old GoPro frame on your helmet, and the cops will ignore you.
I guess they’re camera shy.
What Not To Do
Try to Pay the Official Fine
Don’t be a goofy goober and start talking about paying an official fine, bribes, or that stuff.
That ain’t how things work here, goober. I read about a goober expat that insisted (in fluent Vietnamese…) on paying the official fine. This goofy gooberpat even pulled out a video camera while talking about bribes…
And the cop took his phone, punched him in the stomach, and deleted the video…
*thug life music starts playing*
That is literally the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. I literally cried laughing the first time I read it.
Here’s the post on Facebook (Click the photo for a link to the full post):
You get what you deserve, goober boy. The story might be fake. However, I really, really, really hope it’s real because it’s so funny.
Anyway, don’t be a goober. Just pay the roadside fine (no receipt!).
Be a Tough Guy
I’ve heard expats say that they yelled at cops, and the cops just magically disappeared.
Normally I would just say, “I’m sure that’s exactly what happened, bro.”
But those guys are so tough that I’m scared of calling them out…
Nah, just joking. The guys that brag about their toughness on random Facebook groups (as opposed to anonymous blogs, I know I know) are always soft as marshmallows, which means they definitely aren’t yelling at the Vietnamese traffic police.
Anyway, I don’t recommend trying the tough guy routine on the police in Vietnam. It probably won’t work. And the roadside fine (no receipt!) is only $9…
Cheap Charlies with anger management problems are almost worse than goofy gooberpats.
That about covers it.
If there isn’t a truck, then you can get away with paying 200k (or whatever is in your wallet).
If there is a police truck there, then they will probably take your bike. You might be able to pay a roadside fine, but it will probably cost a little more money.
Of course, don’t expect a receipt for any tickets that you pay on the side of the road. We all know what that means, I think.