Problems encountered by visitors to Sapa
So far there have been many tourists being cheated so that this is very good information for travelers to avoid the troubles when you are traveling in Sapa or in Vietnam. This information is written by our experiences and some travelers who had been cheated. You should take a look and print it out to bring with you while traveling in Vietnam. The people are well aware of who’s a tourist and who’s not. They see you coming from miles away, and can be very persistent with offering moto-taxis, cyclos, regular taxis, waving for you to come into their restaurant, offering to sell you maps, books, wanting to clean your shoes, and the list goes on.
The streets can be a little tricky to become familiar with, and even if you can follow a map, you might not know the must see attractions, top restaurants, how to find food street, what food street even is, where to go for the best bargain clothes, where to find the best Vietnamese food stalls, how to ask for food once you’ve found one, etc.
Bargaining can be quite difficult for some, and for others loads of fun; we want to make it enjoyable for you by providing average costs for numerous items.
We help get you familiar with some common Vietnamese phrases, which are sure to amuse the Vietnamese people, but more importantly have you become more involved in this City you are a visiting.
You will get so much more out of your Sapa stay with these little treasure tips!
@ Problem 1
There is not enough information available to first time travelers to Sapa either on Vietnam Airlines or at Noibai airport and Lao Cai train station. Thus, travelers are not aware of their options for getting to Sapa from the train station or bus station, what such a trip should cost, and who are reliable drivers.
@ Solution 1
Brochures with this information in many languages can be printed and put in seat pockets of all Vietnam Airlines planes; these brochures should also be made readily available at the airport.
@ Problem 2
Frequently visitors have trouble finding legitimate transportation from Lao Cai train station to their hotel in Sapa. Sometimes they are driven by minibus drivers who promise to take them to a specific address in Sapa. However, instead of being delivered to the requested hotel they are delivered to a different hotel where the bus driver has friends. They are frequently then overcharged at this hotel.
@ Solution 2
Travelers to Vietnam should be warned in advance or at the train or bus station not to depend on either the drivers at the train and bus station or hotel staff that he recommends. In addition it should be a requirement that the street signs be pointed out to the traveler by the bus driver so that the traveler knows whether s/he is being delivered to the correct hotel.
@ Problem 3
Another problem arising for travelers from Lao Cai train station is that the price quoted for transportation normally includes the road tax. However, upon arrival, travelers are charged for the road tax again.
@ Solution 3
Travelers should be made aware by information of standard prices for transportation and the fact that these prices already include the road tax.
@ Problem 4
Travelers are frequently led to foreign currency exchange venues by bus drivers. At these exchanges they are given a poor exchange rate, e.g., 15,000 VD for $1 USD rather than the standard rate at http://www.vietcombank.com.vn/en/Exchange%20Rate.asp. In addition the driver receives a commission from the foreign exchange seller.
@ Solution 4
Travelers should be encouraged to exchange money at foreign exchange sellers recommended by legitimate hotel owners.
@ Problem 5
Be aware of the denomination of Vietnam Dongs which consist of too many zero (0). Some unscrupulous drivers try to rip you off by adding one more zero to your fare OR cheating that your VND500, 000 note is only VND50, 000. i.e. overcharges you 10 times higher than actual cost.
@ Solution 5
Distinguish Vietnam Dong notes and the exchange rates. Be alerted and stand firmed if the driver asks for more notes. Call local reliable sources (hotel staff, policemen, and local people) for assistance if you feel unsure of the situation.
@ Problem 6
The first person a visitor meets is frequently the boy selling postcards. These sellers frequently cheat the visitor either by overcharging for the cards or by asking for VD 5,000 but extracting VD 50,000 from the confused traveler.
@ Solution 6
Travelers should be encouraged to purchase cards, maps and other such items from bookshops rather than street vendors.
@ Problem 7
Even enterprising visitors who find a hotel on their own frequently find that a person claiming a commission has followed them to the hotel.
The receptionist should ask travelers whether such a person helped them to obtain lodgings or not.
@ Problem 8
Travelers are frequently sold tickets by travel agencies for tours of local sites. They are frequently promised small group tours and good train seats. After paying, they find that either the tour does not exist at all or that there are very many people on the tour, that the quality is very bad and that they have paid for good train seats but received inferior ones.
Once they are in a legitimate hotel, travelers should be able to rely on hotel staff to advise them on tour agencies that are reliable and honest. In addition, it may be better to charge for the tour after it has been taken in order to guarantee that the visitor is satisfied with its value.
@ Problem 9
Tourists are prey to pickpockets when they travel to the market.
@ Solution 9
Tourists should be advised to leave their valuables and extra money in the hotel safe.
@ Problem 10
There are imitated VND notes printed for ritual purposes, but some taxi drivers will cheat you by giving these notes back as small changes.
@ Solution 10
Tourists should be advised to check the notes carefully. The right notes should always have the imprinted words `Ngan hang nha nuoc Viet Nam` (means `The State bank of Vietnam`) & the picture of the later president Ho Chi Minh. See the fake notes below for your information: