The 5 Most Dangerous Places In Vietnam To Know About

Discover the five most dangerous places in Vietnam in our guide, which hops from the snake-filled Mekong Delta to the big city of HCM.

dangerous places in Vietnam

A land of emerald-green rice paddies, rattling railways, soaring karst cliffs, glimmering tropical seas, and moody cities scented with coffee, ginger, and five spice, this is one seriously enthralling part of Southeast Asia for travelers both old and new. But what about the most dangerous places in Vietnam?

That’s what we focus on throughout this guide, which homes in on the cities, towns, beach resorts, and regions that might not be the safest spots in the home of banh mi baguettes and pho noodle broths. You’ll notice that they’re each sketchy for different reasons. Some are tainted by poor crime stats, others are prone to natural disasters, others have snakes and critters than can kill you in a matter of hours.

The good news is that Vietnam is generally considered to be one of the safest countries in the whole of Asia for both group and solo travelers. Yes, it might have been wrapped up in a brutal war until 1975 but things have changed A LOT in the 50 years since then. It’s now a backpacker haven, flaunting electrifying cityscapes and palm-fringed sands galore. Our advice? Getting booking right away, no matter what’s listed below!

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City at night
Photo by Envato Elements

The big southern town of Ho Chi Minh City – the biggest in the country, no less – is certainly one of Vietnam’s must-see spots. A sprawling megalopolis of nearly nine million people, it spreads from the edge of the Mekong Delta (a boat trip to floating markets, anyone?) up the winding Dong Nai River in a sea of steel-clad skyscrapers and frantic districts.

But, between visits to the sobering war museums and nights of whisky drinking down the infamous Bui Vien Walking Street, you’ll need to have your wits about you. For one, HCMC has some of the highest pickpocketing and petty crime stats in the country. Bag snatches are commonplace in the main tourist areas. Plus, travel scams – especially of the overpriced taxi variety – happen almost every day.

On top of all that, there’s the traffic. They say you’ve not seen traffic until you’ve visited erstwhile Saigon. While veterans of New York and London might scoff at that, there’s really nothing that can prep you for the vehicle-clogged streets of Nam’s southern town. Timing a crossing is an artform; dodging scooters and hulking coaches is a day-to-day necessity.

All travelers to Ho Chi Minh City should be extra vigilant against potential street crime and muggings. Having a good cross-body money belt can help with that. Also, never travel around with too many valuables on your person. Finally, a decent travel insurance policy is a must for these parts. That way, if things do go south, you’re covered.

Hanoi

Train tracks in Hanoi
Photo by Envato Elements

The enthralling capital of the nation follows a close second to Ho Chi Minh City in the south when it comes to listing the most dangerous places in Vietnam. Again, you won’t want to skip out on it just because of the worries. This is unquestionably one of the most amazing cities in Asia, what with that Old Quarter and its ancient guild sellers and smoky coffee bars.

But there’s certainly room for improvement when it comes to levels of crime in Hanoi. Numbeo lists the risk of thefts, drug crime, and vandalism as all “Moderate.” It also reveals that the risk of corruption and bribery-related crimes is “High” across the city. That’s not the worst picture, but it’s hardly encouraging, either.

You’ll also need to dodge the same nightmarish traffic in Hanoi as you do in HCMC. It’s probably not quite so bad here, but you’re still looking at five-lane streets crammed from sidewalk to sidewalk in scooters that sometimes carry whole families, or even two. The traffic is particularly bad around Thong Nhat Park on the modern side of town, and on the boulevards that surround the Old Quarter. Step carefully!

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay
Photo by Envato Elements

Look, we’re not trying to put anyone off visiting the jaw-dropping UNESCO wonder of Ha Long Bay. Not for a moment. This is one of the top-draw attractions of Vietnam – nay, Asia as a whole. Imagine a vast corner of the South China Sea where needle-like karst mountains jut straight out of the water and hidden caves conceal white-sand beaches. Amazing, eh?

In fact, the issue with Ha Long Bay is precisely its popularity. The place gets so many darn visitors that trips here aren’t the intrepid, boundary-pushing affair they once were. I guess we’re really complaining about just how awfully hectic it is at the ports for people boarding the iconic junk boats to travel around the region. Hit up the Ha Long Cruise Port or Dao Thuan Chau island and you’ll see what we mean. They’re each hotspots for scammers, dodgy taxi firms, and pickpocketers if ever we saw em’.

Then there’s the added risk that comes with the pollution in Ha Long. Things have gone from bad to worse on this front in the last decade or so. Soaring boat and traveler numbers have lead to reports of raw sewerage, dirty oil, and domestic waste being released straight into the seas. It’s not pretty and certainly not great for swimming or kayaking in!

The Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta
Photo by Envato Elements

The Mekong Delta has long been a magnet for intrepid travelers on the hunt for real Vietnamese wilderness. It spans a vast area in the south of the country, rolling from the edges of southern Ho Chi Minh City to the Cà Mau Cape where the South China Sea meets the Gulf of Thailand. Within, you’ll find floating markets, traditional waterside villages, and some of the densest coast jungles in the country.

It’s those coast jungles that really warrant the mouth of the Mekong a place on this list of the most dangerous places in Vietnam. The reason? They’re home to several of the country’s deadliest snakes and critters. Chief among them is the lime-green white-lipped viper and – of course – the king cobra, which is known to have the power to kill an adult human in just 12 hours!

What’s startling is that recent studies have shown that the vast majority of people who fell victim to snakebites in the home of pho noodles were residents of the Ho Chi Minh area and south. That’s the Mekong Delta right there! The only piece of good news is that only six of the recorded 131 overall cases proved deadly.

Nha Trang

Nha Trang
Photo by Envato Elements

Nha Trang is one of the jewels in the crown of the Vietnamese tourism scene. The city spreads its wings up and down a huge bay along the central coast, with a long, uninterrupted stretch of yellow-white sand fringing its front. The South China Sea rolls in here, offering cooling waters that always seem tinted a perfect azure blue for swimmers. There’s also a buzzing nightlife scene – check out the main promenade and the booze cruise offering.

What’s the danger, then, you ask? The flip side to the coin of this good-time resort is a serious issue with drunk expats and travelers in the main nightlife quarters. Once the sun has set, the twin party districts of Loc Tho and Tan Lap can be quite raucous affairs. We recall watching as one particularly buff and boisterous Brit took it upon himself to swing fists in a chilled Vietnamese beer bar. Some folks can’t handle their five-hour booze cruises, eh?

Nha Trang also has a few other things that put it up there with the most dangerous places in Vietnam. Be wary on the beaches, for one. They’re known hotspots for jellyfish throughout the summer months between April and August. You’ll see warnings posted on the sands. Take heed, for these jellies do sting and can cause discomfort for days. Oh yea, and there have even been great white sharks – of the 10-ton variety, no less – discovered in Nha Trang bay in recent years. Yikes!

The good news is that great whites are nowhere near as common as the gentle basking sharks, which many people flock to Nha Trang to dive with. Plus, the beaches here, jellies or not, are simply wonderful, offering oodles of R&R on the side of a vibrant city filled with fantastic eateries and sunset cocktail bars. Don’t miss out; just be wary.

The most dangerous places in Vietnam – our conclusion

The most dangerous places in Vietnam span the whole of this S-bend of Indochina. From the balmy tropical jungles that crowd the region where the Mekong River meets the sea all the way to the traffic-packed streets of energetic Hanoi in the far north, there are plenty of places to keep a watch out for.

That said, Vietnam is widely seen as one of the most traveler-friendly destinations in Southeast Asia. That might seem strange for a nation that’s synonymous with brutal civil war for anyone over 60, but it’s now up there with Thailand and Indo as one of the most-visited parts of the region.

The truth is that most people come, explore, and go without any issues, just priceless memories of mystical Buddhist temples and morning swims in the South China Sea.

Joseph

For more than 11 years, Joe has worked as a freelance travel writer. His writing and explorations have brought him to various locations, including the colonial towns of Mexico, the bustling chowks of Mumbai, and the majestic Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not crafting his next epic blog post on the top Greek islands or French ski resorts, he can often be found engaging in his top two hobbies of surfing and hiking.

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