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How to Cross Streets in Vietnam

Crossing the street in Vietnam can be a challenge. Anyone who’s been to Vietnam’s biggest cities such as Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Hanoi, Hai Phong or even Da Nang knows how overwhelming it can be to cross the street. Even for most experienced travelers.

Cities like Saigon and Hanoi have nearly 10 million people, and almost as many scooters. So crossing the streets can be very tricky. And dangerous.

Crossing streets in Vietnam may be a thrill to some people, but source of anxiety for others. But if you want to enjoy the best of Vietnam, you’ll need to figure out a way to cross the street. Safely if possible.

Traffic in Vietnam

The traffic in Vietnam’s biggest cities is very chaotic and it may seem to foreigners that there are no rules. But there are traffic rules in Vietnam. Unwritten rules that are very different to what most people are used to.

Although some pedestrian crossing have special pedestrian traffic lights, you’ll be waiting for a long time if you plan to wait for a clear street to cross. Many drivers in Vietnam consider the traffic lights as suggestions, not mandatory. And almost every driver in Vietnam considers zebra crossing as suggestion rather than something they need to stop at.

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10 rules to follow when crossing the street in Vietnam.

  • Follow the locals. If you see locals crossing the street, observe how they do it. Or better yet, get right next to them and cross the street. Vietnamese are a helpful group of people so they will have no issue helping travelers to cross the street.
  • Make the first step and maintain a slow and steady pace until you get to the other side. Walk confidently and predictable so that the scooter drivers can decide whether to pass in front or back of you.
  • Raise you arm in the air. You’ll see that locals often raise their hand when crossing the street. This will make them more visible to scooter drivers further away.
  • Do not stop. Once you enter the street, do not stop. Continue at a steady pace.
  • Be careful of buses and trucks as they won’t have the capability to maneuver around you like the scooters. And they may not stop.
  • Never run or make quick maneuvers. If you do, scooter drivers will have a hard time anticipating where you’ll be when they pass you.
  • Use the zebra crossings and traffic lights, even though the drivers seem do ignore them. But it’s safer to cross there than in other areas.
  • Do not turn back. Once you start crossing the street, keep the pace and do not return back to the other side.
  • Be prepared to be horned at. But don’t worry, it’s just the drivers letting you know they’re there. No need for panic.
  • Look towards the traffic and try to make an eye contact. It will assure you that the driver has spotted you.

But you can’t master something by reading about it. Now you need to try crossing the street in Vietnam!