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Before you go, check for the current conversion rate, banks use 1USD = 20800 Dong. Always ask for the price up front, particularly on check-in at hotels where they usually quote the room in USD. For Taxi, watch their meter. The Green Taxi from "Mai Linh" and the white from "Vinasun" are good to use. There are many illegal Taxi which do not follow regulation on metering. Vietnam is not a sophisticated country, everything there is cheap (less in tourists areas). They are poor people, so don't be so cheap if you can afford to give people tips for their services.
Street sellers and taxi drivers in particular might try to overcharge you by:
You may also find that when a hotel becomes popular, other hotels will start trading on its name. Check the address of the hotel you have been taken to matches the one in your guide book or brochure. The copycat hotels are unlikely to be to the same standard as the real deal.
When booking tours, confirm exactly what is included. Some tourists travelling with disreputable tour companies have reported that their trips only included a small fraction of what was quoted on their itinerary. eg a trip to Halong Bay that includes snorkelling and swimming may only include ten minutes of such activities, or a trip to Sapa which includes trekking through tha bamboo forest may involve mainly walking along roads and no visit to said forest. Argument later is generally futile.
Check the reputation of the tour company online, and as with the hotels, ensure that you aren't booking with a company which has borrowed its name from a more reputable company. Companies which seem to have good-to-mixed reviews online include, ODC Travel, Handspan and Kangaroo Cafe.
Be cautious when using a travel agent to purchase train tickets, there is nothing printed on Vietnam Railways tickets indicating the class you are booked in. This results in a common scam with private travel agents where you will pay them to book a soft-sleeper ticket, they then book you a cheaper hard-sleeper ticket, and you don't know you've been ripped off until you board the train and your berths are in the lower class. By then with the train on the verge of departing it is too late to go back to the scamming agent to demand compensation.
Beware of people walking around selling books from a box - they are photocopies, and sometimes poorly OCR'd so that the text wll include spelling errors, missing text, illegible maps, poor photo reproductions etc.
Finally, try not to become too cynical or feel that everyone is trying to scam you, and if you do get tricked, remember that the monetary value of the overcharge when you convert it back to your home currency is usually very small.