They may look fun and appealing, but these are a guaranteed tourist trap. The rickshaw riders are smooth talkers and will entice you with an offer of “no payment necessary” if you don’t like the ride. Unfortunately, there’s always a catch. Whatever you choose to pay, the rider will insist that it is insufficient. If you choose not to pay, the rider may just start getting verbally abusive and draw in a huge crowd to pressurize you into paying. In the worst-case-scenario, some of these riders are affiliated with local gangs. They will end up taking you to a secluded spot and then proceed to rob you of all your belongings.
Avoid these rickshaws when you're out on the street. If you really wish to experience it, speak to your hotel manager and ask them to arrange one for you on behalf of the hotel. This does a good job of transferring some of the liability to your hotel.
Photos with street vendors
This is another tourist trap. These vendors will build rapport with you and then try to convince you to purchase their wares. This is all good – and we also believe in purchasing local products and supporting the local community. However, if you receive an offer to take a photo with them, do stay alert. Very often they work in groups and will hound you to pay “extra for the photo” after you have taken it. Being chased by a multitude of demanding street vendors whilst on holiday – I’m going to take a wild guess that this is definitely NOT on your bucket list!
If you do find yourself in such a situation, it may be sensible to just delete the photos instead of getting into an altercation.
Milk for babies
You may have just had lunch or dinner and be heading happily back to your hotel, when you're suddenly be confronted by a tearful local with a child. The local will probably mention tearful stories about how the child they have is hungry, whilst asking you to purchase some milk for the baby. Chances are that you will then be taken to a shop where the milk will be sold to you at an inflated price. And, once you leave, the milk will be returned to the shop and the local and the shopkeeper will split the money between themselves.
Empathize with the local, but avoid being directed to the shop. If you really feel like buying the milk, open the milk packet yourself to ensure that the child will benefit from it.
Tour operators and tour guides
Be wary of tour operators who actively try to sell you their tours by promising a ridiculously low price. This specifically happens in Hanoi, where you are trying to book your Halong Bay Tour. Halong Bay is magical, but this experience can be ruined when things start going wrong from the very start. Thankfully, we did our research and were wary of hearing about boats where travelers got robbed, their rooms got flooded and, during our time at Halong Bay, we actually did witness a boat catch on fire.
It’s a pretty detailed account and stay tuned for our feature next week about how we chose our Halong Bay tour operator!
Not all restaurants are bad, but many keep a “separate tourist menu”, with inflated prices and often charges mentioned in US dollars, instead of the local currency. Steer clear of these places! Also avoid partaking of “seemingly complimentary finger food” such as fruits or bread-sticks, as these sometimes have exorbitant charges attached to them.
Always try to check TripAdvisor or online for restaurant reviews, and ensure that you are aware of everything you have ordered so that you can double-check it against your bill.
Airport taxi drivers
This one is a goldmine! From charging for parking, and charging you twice or thrice the normal fare, these taxi drivers also often operate another scheme – telling you that they do not recognize your hotel (after you have left the airport premises) or telling you that the hotel you have booked is closed. They will then take you to another hotel and convince you to check in there – these taxi drivers earn a commission from every new hotel guest they bring to the hotel.
Best to arrange for your original hotel to arrange airport pickup, or alternatively just use Uber!
Motorbike/ scooter rental
Motorbikes or scooters are a favoured form of self-transport used by backpackers and tourists when they visit South East Asia. Unfortunately, there are some fraudulent rental places that could seriously dent your adventurous spirit. Some places claim that you have “damaged” their motorbike once you have returned it to them and then charge you for “repairs”. Other places engage someone to follow you and then “steal” your bike so that later they can charge you for compensation for loss of the Bike and also threaten to report you to the police if you don’t pay for a brand new bike.
Only rent from reputable places, after checking reviews. If you are long-time friends with any of the locals, ask them for personal recommendations.
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