How traffic in Vietnam looks like
Does Vietnam have a traffic law? It does, but sights and sounds on the roads do not make this sense. A friend of mine who had 3 week Vietnam tour from Canada commented: “Look like your traffic has a rule, joined by an un-ruled behavior in a ruled regulation”. Sounds complicated? In fact, the sense to obey the traffic law in Vietnam is very bad comparing to its neighbor ASEAN nations. Imagine, all kinds of vehicles mingle in the streets from the pedestrians to cars, cyclos, scooters, bicycles mixed together. All weave around and keep the flow run. It’s mostly slow and sometimes deadlock. In that flow, there is no sacrifice to be offered or graced. Any single inch left on the road, there comes a rush and a tyre of motorbike or car will be placed right then. It includes with the frustrating beep beep horns and the angry glance thrown to the one who won on that race of the empty space. Who cares? Most of the people seem busy and going to the fire with various reasons to blame for. Should Vietnamese locals be rated as the most try-to-save-time people on Earth?
What travelers think about it
“Your traffic law was reinforced only when they found the policeman in the intersection” said another customer of mine in the olden days. It was after he witnessed so many people crossed the red light at most of the X-ing in Hanoi. If one traveled to Saigon and was around at some main roads in District 3, there might come up rampantly evasion of those locals with bikes from the road to the pavement (mostly from 5-6pm). It would be such a threaten feeling. This bad memory could impress upon the tourists’ mind for quite a long time.
No doubt people who come from the West found it scary. I had a retired client who traveled with me 10 years past. On her first 4 days staying in Saigon, she was always with pressure when we did the walking tours or when we ventured around local markets. I remembered that she always grabbed my hand whenever we made the street cross. Who knows, after surviving the first timer experience in those 4 days, she was getting brave and excited. She even came out of her way to help other bunch of travelers who clumsily and unwillingly put their feet in to the dense non-stop traffic. She had them crossed with her safely to the other side and receiving with a big thank and admiring look from those travelers. Can you believe it? What a job!
Tips to cross the street in Vietnam
Don’t stay back, I hope my sharing on this blog will not hold you off. Watch it, see how locals do and just follow them. Take a deep breath and there you go to challenge it. Your experiences are nice and memorable only when you hands-in the work and getting familiar with the daily amazing traffic. Here are some tips that I want you to know or be aware of before your arrival in this beautiful Vietnam.
- Don’t wait for the traffic flow to stop. Even if you are in a zebra crossing but without the traffic light, and a reinforcement of a policeman. It is because the locals don’t have a culture to stop. Just start crossing and then you will find a way in it. Then, seriously follow tip #2.
- Steadily and slowly cross the street. Use a slow pace as the people are going to watch you from a fair distance. So they will gauge your pace and be around you. Never step back suddenly or run faster than your normal pace, you may be in a mess or overflowed.
- When walking through the crowded and narrow streets in Hanoi and Saigon, you rarely found the available space to walk on the pavement. It’s due to local business settings or family shops, motorbike parking, etc. then ALWAYS walking against the traffic flow. Single-lined walking in this case is necessary if you are a group of friends.
- Request a helmet if you are going to take a Xe om and if the driver say no need to wear. It is better safe than regretting later.
- Lastly, if you are on a big tour coach, get your camera ready. So you will not miss lot of beautiful Kodak moments when your bus moving around the crowded streets.
Happy and Safety Travelling!
Tim Lee – The Founder