Written by Bethany McAtee

Those looking for remote adventure and authentic culture should look no further than Vietnam. With maze-like cities and rural areas host to a variety of outdoor activities, there are plenty of opportunities to explore, and to let out your wild side. Yet it is important to be mindful of local laws whilst having fun, as punishment for committing crimes can be harsh and the prison conditions even more so. Read on to find out how you can make your trip to Vietnam trouble free…

Drugs Will Endanger You and Your Holiday

Think twice about accepting or buying drugs in Vietnam. What might be a ‘one-time holiday thing’ could be your last experience outside of a jail cell; 20 Australian citizens are currently experiencing just how severe drug penalties are after trafficking drugs (Pike, 2018). Being caught with a small amount of heroin can lead to fatal consequences. Remember to be cautious about who offers you a drink at parties or festivals and don’t leave drinks unattended to ensure that you aren’t spiked. Last year 7 people died at a music festival in Hanoi as a result of drug taking, as often drugs have been tampered with and have a stronger potency than in Europe. This devastating situation is featured on the Vietnamese FCO travel website, and their advice? Don’t take illegal drugs.

Restrictions on Photography and Prohibition of Political Propaganda

Recommended historic sites in Vietnam include the Cu Chi Tunnels that were used during the Viet Cong war, the War Remnants Museum and various prisons, such as the Con Dao Prison Complex. Whilst these locations mostly allow you to document your experience, note that photography is sensitive in Vietnam and when there is a sign that prohibits photography, make sure you obey it. At military installations, demonstrations and border crossings (just stay away from these), you should never take pictures, otherwise you risk arrest. This is due to Vietnam’s sensitivity to anti-government propaganda, which applies to posting political pictures or text on social media and blogs too. If you see a protest occurring, do not join in or take photographs – walk away.

Gambling, Prostitution and Pornography

There is much to do in Vietnam; kayaking in Halong Bay, hiking in Sapa, chilling on the beach in Nha Trang or exploring the tasty cuisine in Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, gambling and prostitution shouldn’t even need to feature in your holiday plans. In fact, they really shouldn’t, as both are illegal. Gambling is accepted only in casino’s sanctioned by the state, so no poker playing in the street or betting, regardless of how innocent. If you do see prostitutes in Vietnam, don’t get involved. Pornography, like prostitutes, is commonplace, however it is illegal to possess physical copies. The Vietnamese are also less accepting of nudity, which means no skinny dipping at the beach.


For more information on travelling safely abroad, visit the Travel Aware website or for travel stories, tips and advice follow the FCO at @FCOTravel on Facebook and Twitter and @TravelAware on Instagram.



Pike, M. (2018) 13 Ways to Get Arrested in Vietnam. Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/vietnam/articles/13-ways-to-get-arrested-in-vietnam/ (Accessed: 19th May 2019)