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Common Scams in Hanoi, Vietnam and How to Avoid Them

Scams in Hanoi, Vietnam

avoid scams hanoi vietnam

Hanoi is a charming city, and the Vietnamese people are generally friendly, welcoming, and kind. However, Hanoi has its fair share of scammers willing to take advantage of naive tourists. Beware of any stranger who acts too friendly or too helpful. Stay alert, stay safe, and use common sense, but don’t expect much help from the local police.

Doughnut Scam

You’ll see ladies carrying baskets of donuts all over the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It’s strange, because you will never, ever see anyone (especially a local) actually eating them! The donuts themselves aren’t that good, but they are used as a part of a scam. A friendly lady will approach you, offering you a doughnut. When you decline, she will give you one to try “for free”. After you accept it, she will demand that you pay her a large amount of money for the doughnut you just “bought”, and will continue to follow you and pressure you (sometimes recruiting her friends to help) until she gets her money. Avoid this by simply avoiding the donuts. There is a reason that nobody is eating them!

Shoe Repair Scam

While walking, a “concerned” man sitting on a stool by the side of the road will point to your shoe, indicating that it’s falling apart. As soon as you stop to look, he will squat down and begin applying glue to the shoe’s non-existent defect, afterwards demanding that you pay him some exorbitant amount (sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of dong) for his service. If you refuse to pay, these men might try to hold your shoe hostage, and can sometimes become aggressive. To make matters worse, the “glue” that they apply is actually a chemical solvent which will dissolve the stitching in your shoe for real, perpetuating this scam.

Fake Tour Agency Scam

There are so many tour agencies in Hanoi. The most famous and reputable of these is the Sinh Tourist (formerly the Sinh Cafe). Unfortunately, many less-reputable companies have tried to take advantage of Sinh’s good name by creating fake Sinh Cafe and Sinh Tourist offices, even down to the logo on the sign! These are not the real agency, and will overcharge you and rip you off. Be sure to visit the Sinh Tourist’s official website: to make sure that you go to the correct office when you are booking your train or bus tickets, or when booking a tour.

Free Photo Scam

You’ll see hawkers all over Hanoi wearing typical Vietnamese conical hats and carrying hawker baskets across their shoulders. Sometimes they will smile and wave, offering to let you wear their hat or to take a picture with their baskets. After that they will demand that you pay them. There is no such thing as a free photo!

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