Local Laws and Customs – Vietnam Travel Tips


You must follow the instructions of the local authorities. Sanctions are provided for in the event of non-compliance.

The penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs can be severe. Anyone found in possession of a small amount of the drug can be sentenced to death.

Illegal drugs are often falsified or spiked and can be much stronger than in Europe, there were 7 deaths at a music festival in Hanoi in 2018 related to illegal drugs. A number of British nationals in Vietnam have suffered from severe psychiatric problems due to drug use. Don’t take illegal drugs.

Crimes like sex offenses can lead to very long prison terms, and even a death sentence. The Vietnamese legal system is not well developed and the level of prisons is very poor.

Reporting a crime to the police can be a long and difficult process. You should consider having someone who speaks Vietnamese accompany you to help translate. You will usually need to sign documents in Vietnamese. You should ensure that you only sign documents that you are sure have been translated accurately.

Foreign nationals subject to criminal investigations may be legally detained for long periods before evidence is presented. There may be long delays before contact is allowed with legal counsel, UK consular officials or family. Legal representation is also far below the standard you would expect in the UK.

Foreign nationals involved in traffic accidents have been prevented from leaving Vietnam subject to the completion of police investigations. This process can be time consuming and foreign nationals have been asked to agree to out-of-court financial settlements. UK citizens in such situations are advised to seek legal advice and professional representation.

Vietnamese law requires everyone to carry photo ID at all times. You must have a photocopy of the pages of your passport with your personal details and your visa for identification with you, and leave the original document in a safe place.

When entering religious or cultural sites, respect local customs and wear appropriate clothing.

Vietnam is a generally tolerant and progressive place for LGBT travelers. Homosexual relations are not criminalized by law and sex reassignment is recognized by the Vietnamese Civil Code. Vietnam abolished the ban on same-sex marriage in 2015, although same-sex couples are neither recognized nor protected by law. In some parts of society, LGBT rights and issues are even more tolerated than accepted, but Vietnamese society has become much more tolerant in recent years. Check out our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or collect protected wild animals or plants. Vietnam is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Those caught buying or tampering with these items could be prosecuted and receive long prison terms or fines.

Never take photographs near military installations.

There are restrictions on the use of the Internet, which may affect access to social media websites.


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