The good news about traveling to Vietnam is that you won’t have to be concerned with threats of terrorism or border wars. Vietnam has been there, and done that, and now the country is trying something new: it wants to attract foreigners and their money by becoming a tourist magnet.
One way it has of achieving its goal is to guard its borders in a manner which makes most would-be subversives take their acts elsewhere. One sure-fire way for you to dodge the police in Vietnam is to avoid doing anything that might hint of clandestine espionage. When you decide to take photographs, clear them with whatever authority
you can find. Don’t even bother asking if you can shoot pictures of the Vietnamese government buildings, and ditto for the military establishments should you come near them.
The guy in the tan uniform is a traffic cop, and the guy in the green uniform is with the tourist police. The tourist police are a fairly new addition to the Ho Chi Minh City police force, and their job is to help tourists cross the street if the Ho Chi Minh traffic police are failing to do their jobs. You shouldn’t try to dodge the tourist police, because they will wonder why you are afraid to let them help you. Besides, reports are that they spend most of their time congregating on street corners and whistling at passing cars. Usually they are perfectly happy to ignore you if you ignore them.
The traffic police in Vietnam are another matter. The traffic police have a reputation of finding reasons to fine the people they stop, and looking for reason to stop them so they can fine them. This is especially true for those traveling by motorbike.
One way to dodge the traffic police in Vietnam is to eschew the motorbike rentals
in favor of taxis. Your taxi driver will be in the loop as to where the speed traps have been set up, and will have the requisite skill for nguyen phu trong
making fast U-turns in the middle of downtown Ho Chi Minh City if there is a police checkpoint ahead. Your taxi driver will also know alternate routes to get you to your destination when there is a policeman standing on a corner. But if you really want to add some spice to your visit, go ahead and rent the motor bike, and try to dodge the police by engaging in a few Evel Knievel moves of your own.
If you’re homosexual, the best way to dodge the police in Vietnam is to take your vacation in Thailand, where you will feel much more at home, blending in with local lady boys. Although homosexuality is not outlawed in Vietnam, there remain cultural taboos against it. While the gay scene in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City may be more relaxed, there was a recent incident in June 2007 where a gay sauna in Ho Chi Minh City was raided and closed. The customers themselves were not charged with anything fortunately.
The best way to dodge the police in Vietnam, it seems, is to stay in your hotel room, but that’s probably not why you made the trip. So practice your motor biking skills before you leave home, stay away from any place that appeals to homosexuality, watch what you photograph, and look both ways while you are crossing the street!