I Nearly Got Arrested in Vietnam

What’s up readers?

I almost got arrested by the Vietnamese police.

This story isn’t really a good story, but it is part of my journey. Remember, this blog is about detailing my life abroad, which means the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We have the latter two covered pretty good with this one, fam.

Night at Bui Vien (Party Street)

I normally don’t like to go to bars, nightclubs, or drink. The last time I drank alcohol was a few months ago and I didn’t particularly enjoy it…

But I’ve broken up with two different girlfriends in the past three months, had some business setbacks, and some existential crises. That said, I did initiate both breakups and dug myself into a hole with business. In other words, it’s all my fault lol.

Anyway, loneliness set in hard on Friday night.

No Vietnam Cupid dates lined up.

No work to do.

All my guy friends are busy with their GF’s.

What better time to go out to a bar and get wasted, right?

What could possibly go wrong?

Going to the Bar

Every guy has to go fresh before going to the bar. I put on my Chinos, desert boots, and a nice fitted button down.

Not gonna lie, I look sharp as a tack when I wear that outfit.

Around 8PM, I drive myself to Bui Vien and enter Donkey (that’s the name of the bar) and the place is pretty much empty. Whatever. I just order a beer and sit on the balcony overlooking Bui Vien Street.

It’s pretty nice up there and I stick around for about an hour listening to music and enjoying a few beers. I have a strict “no phone” policy when out at night too. It makes me more social and talkative.

The problem is that it’s hard to be social and talkative when you’re the only person in the bar.

Bar Chilling

The bar finally starts to fill up with people around 9PM. Now, I’m a lightweight when it comes to beer and I’ve already had three beers within an hour.

Needless to say, I’m somewhat fucked up at this point. A little slurring speech. I’m probably two or three beers away from being 100% fucked up.

I’m also engaged in a super fascinating conversation about literally nothing with an even drunker expat dude. This dude, I forgot his name, ends up leaving the bar to get a happy ending massage on BV. I wasn’t that interested in paying like $40 for a half-hearted handjob, so I let him go find his happy ending by himself.

Someone bumps into me as soon as my drunken expat friend leaves. I turn around and it’s this short and brown Asian girl. For the unaware, a woman unnecessarily initiating contact with a guy is a greenlight to start a conversation.

filipina girl

“Xin chao,” I say to her with a smile on my face.

“I’m not Vietnamese,” she says. She was very unamused.

“Oh ok,” I respond.

“Guess where I’m from?” she asks with a smile on her face.

I grab her brown hand, pull it to my nose, close my eyes, and do an exaggerated sniff.

“You smell like a Filipino,” I respond.

She busts out laughing.

“You right. How you know?” she asks, still holding back laughter.

“Magic,” I respond.

Again, she busts out laughing.

That was the beginning of a very fun conversation.

I normally don’t like talking to women, but this chick was somewhat fun and spoke great English… or maybe I was just too drunk and happy. Not sure.

Where are your friends?

The night is starting to wind down and we’re both getting tired and a little too drunk. It’s around midnight.

“Yo, let’s go,” I tell her.

“Go where?” she asks with a big smile on her face.

“Not here,” I respond.

“Let me tell my friends that we’re leaving,” she says as she scampers off to find her friends.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see her wander off to these two kind of plain looking white chicks. She says something to them, points at me, they all laugh, and she comes back… alone.

[Kind of weird that these two chicks never pulled the Filipina girl away or even introduced themselves. I suspect they were helping her find a guy for the night, but that’s just a guess. Understanding a woman’s though processes is pointless.]

“My friends think you’re cute and not a murderer,” she says while giggling.

“Maybe right or maybe wrong. Life is about chances,” I say with a wry smile.

She laughs.

We walk out the bar together and go towards the parking garage on Pham Ngu Lao to get my motorbike.

I’m a little buzzed, but not terribly fucked up. The Filipina chick is holding my waist as we’re walking down Bui Vien Street to “stop me from stumbling all over the place.”

I wasn’t really stumbling. She just wanted to touch me, but that’s beside the point.

The Ride Home

We get to my motorbike and I pull my keys out.

“You not drive motorbike now,” she yells as she grabs my key.

“Fuckkkk you. I’m not even drunk,” as I grab the keys out of her hand.

“Neo, you’re way drunker than me. Just let me drive.”

She ends up driving my motorbike…

For about 5 feet. My motorbike is super heavy and way too big for her petite frame.

Yup. I had to drive the motorbike home.

I was a little buzzed (maybe a .08 on the US system), but I was still riding my motorbike fairly well. Probably because of the literal 10,000’s of miles that I have ridden on my fixed gear bicycle while living in the US. Hell, I was even a bike messenger for a summer during university (fun job).

Plus, it was after midnight at this point. There was literally no traffic once we left District 1.

The Incident

I’m driving slow as fuck, like 10mph, in the right lane in a perfectly straight line. No traffic.

Things are going well…

It’s just taking forever to get back since I’m driving so damn slow.

Suddenly, I see a police motorcycle with two cops on it pull up next to me.

The cop on the back has two white batons in his hand and motions for me to pull over.


I consider running for about 0.1 seconds, but there is no way my piece of shit motorbike is going to outrun the Honda CB250 that the police use.

I pull over, take the key out of my motorbike, and walk toward the two cops. Yes, things are done much differently in Vietnam.

One of these cheeky cunts has his iPhone with the Google Translate app installed on it. He begins speaking in Vietnamese and English words begins coming out of his phone.

What is this sorcery?

“Where is your license?” says the voice of Google Translate.

I shake my head, pull out my wallet, and give the guy a 200k note.

He frowns and pushes the money away.

He then motions like he’s drinking a beer and speaks Vietnamese into his phone.


My Filipina friend-for-the-night bursts into tears. She cried so much it looked like she was faking it.

As for me, my balls shriveled up into my body when he said “jail” and I felt a little lightheaded.

Remember that scene from Breaking Bad where Hank has a panic attack in the elevator?

That was me.

A Compromise is Made

I’m imagining myself stuck in a Vietnamese jail that looks like the dungeon from Saw I.

No contact with the outside world.

Roaches. Rats. One rice meal per day.

My family won’t even know what happened to me until the police get around to notifying the US embassy.

Then I remember I’m in Vietnam…

These asshole cops are way too fucking lazy to do the paperwork required to arrest a foreigner and impound a motorbike. Especially for a bullshit traffic infraction. They just want more money.

I jam my hands into my pocket and pull out my wallet. The cops don’t even flinch, which I find funny because doing that back home would get a gun pointed in my face.

My wallet has a hidden pocket where I keep a 500k ($20) note.

I pull out the 500k ($20) note and the 200k ($8) note from earlier and hand them to the cop. He quickly puts them in his pocket and smiles. That is half his weekly salary.

“You. Go,” he says as he waves me off.

My Filipina friend and I hop on my motorbike and drive to my apartment.

That’s Vietnam for you.


Note: The Filipina chick was an English teacher in HCMC, but she was ugly in the morning. Drunk goggles are real.

Her crying when pulled over was also real. She really thought I was going to jail.


  1. YO dude why don’t you trying to be pretended what they said, you’re not going to the jail unless you hit somebody and get an accident, next time trying to record videos and let them show what is your violation error dude, mess the things up, pick up the phone and pretending that u r calling to embassy and let them know that, I meant cops in vn are suck there be another many many ways to deal with

    1. Yeah, I know about the embassy trick. I didn’t want to push my luck at 3AM, drunk, and without a license. $30 ain’t bad for all that. Plus, I just wanted to get home.

  2. Hi mate,

    May you do an article about the traffic police situation here in Saigon and how to handle them?
    I just got stopped by a traffic trap set up by the traffic police.
    They said that I did not drive in the correct lane.
    So, they asked for a bribe of 3 million and I knocked it down to 1 million.
    It was the first time I got pulled over and I think they could see I panicked.
    Maybe that’s why they asked for an astronomical sum.
    In any case, I checked around after that and saw conflicting advice. Some even advised to run away or to ignore them completely…
    I later realized the going rate is from 200k to 500k vnd…

    1. They won’t take your bike if they don’t have a truck – they don’t want to wait for the truck AND do all that paperwork.

      Just pay 200k. If they refuse, then sit on the curb and tell them to take your bike. As I said, they won’t take it. Also, make sure to take out the keys BEFORE they pull you over.

      You can also start saying “USA. Go to US embassy. Pay at US embassy. Donald Trump.” and they might let you go lol

      1. Nice.

        Why do I have to take out the keys before they pulled me over?
        The new laws seem to suggest that without a driving license the rate is from 800k to a million.
        I showed them my home country’s license and they accepted it.
        Now I piece back the pieces, I could see their “good acting”.
        When I said I couldn’t pay more, they look concerned and said they would impound the bike…

        1. They sometimes take the keys until you pay.

          800k-1mm is the official fine, but you didn’t pay an official fine. The bribe amount is still ~200k.

          If they had a police truck there, then they (maybe) would have taken the bike. Otherwise, nah. They were just trying to scare you into paying. I’ve never heard of them calling a police truck to impound a foreigner’s bike.

          >Now I piece back the pieces, I could see their “good acting”.

          Yup. It was all acting lol.

          >I showed them my home country’s license and they accepted it.

          I’m surprised. I don’t think Vietnam accepts foreign driver’s licenses. This might have also been acting.

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