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Street Tout Pickpocket

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San Francisco...
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Street Tout Pickpocket

A general warning to others about Hanoi. Watch out for the annoying street touts. On the last day of a recent stay I was robbed by a pickpocket outside the big main market. He approached me posing as a postcard/map tout, then bumped into me after I said "no thank you." He used a map to hide his hand as he reached into my side pocket and stole an expensive small camera I had just been taking photos with. I only discovered my camera missing a little later. Guard your belongings at all times.

Nha Trang, Vietnam
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1. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

I'm sorry to have to add this: don't put anything in your pockets that you cannot afford to lose. You just can't beat the pickpockets. They come in all shapes, on scooters, on food, on anything.

Don't stand curb side with your camera to take pictures, or at least have the strap wrapped securely around your arm. Keep your wallet in a place nobody can reach and carry a couple of hundred thousand in your pocket.

Don't use your phone near any place that is accesible by anyone on a motorbike. Nor your tablet pc. I'd go as far as to say: leave all that gadget junk at home, and buy a $5 used old Nokia when in Vietnam.

I am NOT being overly cautious, I speak from experience. I was speaking to the police the other day. All those 6 million tourists are a godsend to the thieves. The reports of thefts from tourists are on the rise. And the locals are being hit as well. Many of them save 12 months to buy an iPhone and it may be gone in 5 seconds. They can ill afford the loss.

Edited: 12:49 pm, April 14, 2013
Italy
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2. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

Good advise from Jim, never carry a lot of money or expensive jewellery but thanks for your post it's always good to get reminders about these things it makes us more vigilant and sorry about your camera.

NJ
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3. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

Does anyone have a good idea how to carry the small change you'll need for the day? I'll keep most of my money in the hotel or a money belt, but what about the $20-30 you want to be able to access easily?

QLD
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4. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

Cargo pockets in pants with velcro or buttons

No wallet no bulge

Edited: 5:41 pm, April 14, 2013
Nha Trang, Vietnam
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5. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

Forget cargo pants. I don't want to sound alarmist, but you'll be the stranger, it will be hot, the traffic noise is deafening, you will be confused. One or two bikes will come close to you and while you think it's just a minor traffic misjudgement your pockets will be emptied while you are busy apologising. This is how it happens most of the time.

Edited: 7:48 pm, April 14, 2013
San Francisco...
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6. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

I think as far as Hanoi goes, Jim is right. Carry nothing in your pockets or accessible bags that you cannot afford to lose. I live in Bangkok and normally I am very careful when I am in close crowds (e.g., the BTS, Chinatown, etc.). In Hanoi, (which I visited a number of times), I now understand that potential pickpockets (e.g., street touts) have become more than a nuisance and they are using the street chaos and the distraction of shopping to their advantage. The thief that stole my camera know exactly what he was doing. I can remember the entire scene as it played out.

Hanoi, Vietnam
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7. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

Hanoi is not all that bad - I've never yet had a dime stolen from me on the streets, and I've spent a considerable amount of time in this town since 2008 (I insist on cargo jeans/shorts). I try to dress with my shirt tails out, and avoid crowds of people (except for the night market).

Pickpockets are everywhere on earth, and the one time my pocket was picked was in San Francisco. I never carry much cash anyway.

rural West Aussie
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for Perth
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8. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

I use a PacSafe handbag; DH wears shirts with breast pockets that have some sort of closure- zip, button or velcro.

Ho Chi Minh City...
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9. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

Yes, breast pockets with zipper or button, you are taller and its not easy for them to reach. And carry two cards: one with you and one left at your hotel in case you lose your wallet and need emergent cash. Also never put millions dong in your wallet.

Edited: 10:13 pm, April 14, 2013
Llanbrynmair...
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10. Re: Street Tout Pickpocket

"One or two bikes will come close to you and while you think it's just a minor traffic misjudgement your pockets will be emptied while you are busy apologising. This is how it happens most of the time."

I understand that this a common ploy in HCMC, but it's not at all usual in Hanoi, to which this thread pertains and where theft from tourists is not anywhere near as widespread.

While all the advice given in this thread is sensible and sound it would be very wrong to give first-time visitors to Hanoi the impression they will be targeted from the second they step outside the hotel door. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I'm 5.5 weeks into my latest 8 week stay. As usual I've carried everything I might need for the day in a leather shoulder bag slung across my front, including camera, iPod, a limited amount of cash and a debit card on days when I need to make a cash withdrawal. Again as usual, I've not fallen victim to robbery or attempted robbery.

Act sensibly and exercise the usual precautions, but don't let a handful of unfortunate experiences induce a feeling of paranoia that could mar your stay.