I arrive in Hanoi at the airport Noi Bai and the cheapest way to go to the city center is by bus. This way I’m sure I will not be a victim of a scam in Vietnam. There is a bus station just 3 minutes’ walk away from the arrivals and the buses are very frequent. I thought that hopping on bus number 7 would be ok, but I had to change buses in the middle of the way. Already on the bus from Hanoi airport to city center, I showed the bus assistant where I want to go and he helped me by telling me where I need to switch buses and what bus to catch ahead.
I didn’t wait longer than 5 minutes to hop on a bus at the airport. The bus tickets are extremely cheap: 5000 dongs. You can’t get any cheaper than this to the city center. However, Hanoi is not pleasing to me. The sky is filled with smog and you can’t have a clear view. Everything around is “white-ish” and I can even state that the sky in Hanoi looked even worse than the sky in Delhi, India. Hanoi’s sky during the 3 days I spent there never went blue. It was in fact the most disgusting sky I have ever seen. But there might also be the option of a very cloudy sky…
Anyway, I have been to Ho Chi Minh, and I hear that Hanoi is more polluted than the southern city and I noticed it right away.
Scam in Vietnam: Hanoi airport
I decided to go from Hanoi airport to city center by bus as I arrived in the morning, but I had a friend that arrived at night. We would meet later. I told her to use Grab that is cheaper than taxis and I told her how to use the app, just in case. The truth is that she was scammed even when I told her to only enter the car with the same car plate as shown on the app. She was waiting for her Grab car and lost connection to the wifi. As she saw the car was nearby she waited, until she was approached by a man. This man asked her: “Grab?”, and you can figure out what happened next. Grab drivers never come out of the car looking for you. NEVER! So, this was definitely a scam. Unfortunately, she said yes to the man that approached her and entered the car without even seeing the car plate. She was already into a scam in Vietnam.
This car driver took her somewhere not very far from the airport and told her to get out to change cars. That’s when she noticed that something was not ok. She texted me saying what is happening and I immediately noticed she was in trouble. I had no idea what was going on or into what kind of scam she was in. I hurried to call her but she didn’t answer. I was basically freaking out.
Finally, after many minutes of angst, she arrives at the hotel and tells me what has just happened.
So, when the car driver told her to get out and change cars, she didn’t. She noticed this wasn’t supposed to happen and immediately got out of the car with her luggage stating that she wasn’t going anywhere. At that moment the man was asking her 1000000 dongs for those 5 minutes drive. I can’t even imagine how much would be the whole trip to the city center. To have an idea they were asking her about 40€ for a 5 minutes ride. In Vietnam, this is a lot of money!!!! At least it was a scam to get money and not something more dangerous like human traffic or whatever. Fortunately, she didn’t have any money with her as I was supposed to pay for her ride once she arrived at the hotel. So, these scammers didn’t get along with this scheme.
She was lucky that the Police passed by and stopped. I guess that they might be already aware of this situation as they did nothing to punish the scammers but helped her to get a real taxi into the city center. I think she was lucky after all because if there weren’t those policemen she would be in the middle of nowhere at night.
She ended up paying much more for a taxi than for a Grab, but at least everything was ok. It was a scary first hour in Vietnam and I felt sorry for her. But the whole trip ahead was worth the visit.
This is just to aware people that Vietnamese are very smart and can scam you very easily.
Scam in Vietnam: The fruit sellers
Another popular scam in Vietnam, more specifically in Hanoi, that this time I fell into, is these ladies selling fruit.
I was walking behind this lady that is carrying fruits on her shoulders with a bamboo stick and I was taking her a picture. But she looked back and saw me. Very smiley and sympathetic she started to wave her arms as if telling me to hold the bamboo stick myself. I said no immediately but within a blink of an eye, she had already put that Goddamnit heavy thing on my shoulders. Once you have it on your shoulders you are already scammed. It was easy as 1,2,3.
Then we spent some moment laughing as I’m trying to get rid of that thing. I admire these ladies. Those fruit baskets are very heavy! After much insistence, she has my friend taking me a picture with her merchandise on. Then she tries to sell us the fruits. I mean, she actually demands you to buy the fruits because you took a picture. I wouldn’t mind buying those fruits, the thing is that she sells them double the normal price. I felt scammed and I didn’t like it. If it was my wish to do so, I wouldn’t mind paying double for those fruits, but as I was obliged to do so, I felt illuded and disappointed by her behavior. I like it when people are genuinely smiley, not just because they want something from you…
Scam in Vietnam: Is Vietnam the land of scams?
Be aware of fake products in Vietnam! Vietnam is known for its contrafact products and I also managed to be fooled. I bought fake sunscreen in Mui Ne. I know it not only for the low price but also because I had the biggest sunburns in my life, as well as a friend. This friend bought a fake hair conditioner in Mui Ne too. It is a known brand that already has some videos on youtube helping you to identify if the product you bought is original. Other things I bought in Mui Ne went directly to the trash. I didn’t trust their efficiency.
Also, the Vietnamese managed to recycle condoms. Just be very aware while in Vietnam.