A web post this month by the world’s largest travel guide book is reminding Vietnam that its traffic problems are reaching foreigners.
A local vendor (C) is trying to force her yoke on the shoulder of a tourist in Hanoi. If getting success, she will ask the visitor to pay up to US$5-10 for buying some fruits just worth half a dollar, Photo: Tuoi Tre
The subheads in “Vietnam tips: a first-timer’s guide,” by Lonely Planet’s Tom Hewitson, include “Be wary of Taxi Scams,” “Know Your Night Buses,” and “Motorcycle Safety.”
The warning is not new but it once again rings the alarm bell for both the government and locals in Vietnam, where a record 11,500 people died in 15,000 road accidents nationwide in 2010, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.
Lately, visitors have worried about the traffic chaos here because a bus with 40 passengers, 30 of them foreign, flipped over in the coastal Co Ma mountains July 13, injuring 13.
What’s more, Hanoi expat George Heydlauff decided he’d had enough on July 2 and tried to enforce traffic rules at a hectic intersection by grabbing onto offending motorcycles. Some criticized the method, while others strongly praised the attempt at order.
Tourists must remember that, when it comes to long-haul buses and taxis, quality depends on price. Buses, minibuses or minivans are often overflowing with passengers, as well as inexperienced and reckless drivers.
“Not to put too fine a point on it, a lot of buses don’t have working bathrooms and the further back you are, the worse the smell gets,” Hewitson writes of night buses. He also asks tourists to watch out for rampant swindlers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
“For many, motorcycle taxis are the only way to truly see the thronging streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,” he writes. “However, although unlikely, scams can happen and your best protection is a decent knowledge of where you are going and points along the way.”
Cabbies have been known to overcharge international visitors and sometimes even steal from them.
If traffic and tourism authorities are paying attention, they should provide backpackers with low-priced and safe buses, especially for ancient sites in The Old City of Hue, Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and “Saigon in the Past”.
Motorbikes are encroaching zebra crossing while walkers are crossing on Le Duan Street in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Source: tuoi tre
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