Walking On Street

Author: Dwight Zimpel
Filed under tourism -> travel-guides-and-tips | Sun, 01 Nov 2009 | viewed (1781x)


Many people considering traveling to Vietnam are concerned about crossing the street in larger cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It seems as if there are no (observed) crosswalks; and pedestrians appear to be in great danger.

It is of little consolation, but pedestrians only account for about 10 per cent of those killed in transportation accidents in Vietnam. By contrast, drivers and riders of motorbikes account for about 60 per cent of fatalities. These figures come from a study dated 2001.


This is a Basic Rule of the Road for pedestrians in Vietnam. Once you make the commitment to cross ANY street, road or highway DO NOT STEP BACK if you see a motorbike or bicycle approaching you. This is one of the unwritten rules of the road in Vietnam. Motorbike and bicycle riders negotiate pedestrian “obstacles” by passing behind them.

If you change your mind about crossing the street follow this advice: When you change your mind after starting to cross you will most likely stop. DO NOT STEP BACK! Turn around and wait a second or two. Then proceed back to the curb or side of the road.

Note: This advice does not apply to approaching cars, buses, or trucks! No place in the world do people step in front of large vehicles except California.

Actually, there are controlled intersections in larger cities – either with traffic lights or traffic control officers. Traffic normally stops for red lights. Right turns on red are legal – I think. As green lights approach there is some cheating and jockeying for position. Sidewalks are often used for a curb lane.

The following traffic story was told to me by a Vietnamese man in Nha Trang:

A Vietnamese policeman stops a driver for running a red light.

Officer: “Did you see the traffic signal at the intersection?”

Driver: “Yes.”

Officer: “Did you see the red light?”

Driver: “Yes.”

Officer: “Why didn’t you stop?”

Driver: “I didn’t see you.”

If you’re ever in doubt you can always use the tactic employed by men in an unnamed part of the world where women and children are considered property. Wait until a woman and a couple of kids start across the street and use them as a screening device to get approaching traffic to stop.

Plan on walking a lot while traveling in Vietnam. Many of the streets in areas attractive to tourists were built before cars and trucks were common. Hoi An actually has an area popular with tourists where only pedestrians are allowed during certain parts of the day.

Vietnam is a bargain travel destination and walking is the cheapest transportation there is.

Enjoy your walk in Vietnam!

Tagged : tourism people walk