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How do I cross a road in Vietnam?

7 Answers

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TLDR version from a foreigner turnt local:

Make sure you have a quick moment of eye contact. Then nod.
Or: wave your hands high, like you’re waving to them or “stopping” them
Please walk in a straight line and keep walking, DON’T MAKE SUDDEN STOPS
The motorbikes will drive around you if you keep moving at your pace

If all above don’t work, then just grab a nearby old lady and she will take you to the other side ;)

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I’ve learned so much from the other answers!

Maybe I should share my experience.

I’m a pediatric oncologist, and have been to Vietnam (mainly HCMC, but also Hanoi, Hue and Danang), mainly to visit my colleagues and hospitals, and often to teach.

I’ve crossed the roads many times; I’m still alive.

One of these road-crossing-staying-alive incident taught me so much.

Some years ago, I was staying in a small hotel near Ben Thanh Market. My colleagues (a fellow doctor, and two senior nurses) were trying to cross the street to the market. We hesitated for some time. Then I saw an old lady who looked like she was also crossing the same road. I smiled at her.

She then walked over to us, and held the hand of one of the nurses, and led her to cross the road, confidently. The rest of the group followed her.

So, I learned an important lesson — SMILE, and you will be LED (safely, and confidently)

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You keep walking steadily at the same pace often diagonally into the traffic and trust them to go around you. Whatever you do, don’t stop. No one will expect that.

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For me, crossing the street in Vietnam is very easy. Remember to raise your hand, that would ask people to slow down, keep a steady speed, don't suddenly stop. That's it, very easy

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In Vietnam, it is important to be aware of your surroundings when crossing the street. It is common for motorbikes and bicycles to weave in and out of traffic, so it is important to look both ways before crossing. Additionally, it is helpful to make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you before crossing. It is also recommended to walk in designated crosswalks and to avoid crossing during peak traffic hours.

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Crossing a road in Vietnam can be quite a challenging task, as the traffic can be very heavy and chaotic. However, there are a few things you can do to make the process safer and easier.

Look both ways before crossing: Make sure to check for incoming traffic in both directions before crossing the road. Remember that traffic in Vietnam often moves on the right side of the road.

Make eye contact with drivers: If possible, make eye contact with drivers before crossing the road. This can help ensure that they see you and will know to slow down or stop for you.

Walk slowly and steadily: When crossing the road, walk slowly and steadily. Do not run or change direction suddenly, as this can be dangerous.

Use a pedestrian crossing or overpass: If there is a pedestrian crossing or overpass nearby, use it. These are the safest places to cross the road.

Watch for motorbikes: In Vietnam, many people travel by motorbike. Watch out for motorbikes when crossing the road, as they can be difficult to spot and can move quickly.

It's also important to note that traffic rules in Vietnam are not always followed and sometimes ignored, so it's best to always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.

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In 1993 during my first post-war return visit to Vietnam, my travelling companion and I were both too terrified to cross the busy street in Saigon. So our friend’s fifteen year old daughter, took us both by the hand and guided us across unharmed. She explained, “Just walk slowly and do not stop”. Further advice I learnt myself is: the motorbikes are so crowded they are relying on YOU to move forward so that they can aim behind you and get past.

Note: Saigon is more crowded with traffic and SAFER than Nha Trang, where the above advice does not always work.

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