DSLR safety in Ho Chi Minh


hollyrad

New Member
Nov 15, 2010
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#1
Hi bro / sis,

Will be heading to HCM next week with wifey for 5D4N.

Would like to know if it's safe to take my DSLR or just a PNS as got worried / paranoid after reading all the negative comments in the web in terms of theft, snatch and grab, etc.

Tried searching in CS for related posts but no fresh posts, e.g. late 2013 or 2014; found 2012 and prior only. As such unsure if it's still a good benchmark in case the situation has changed.

Appreciate some feedback / experience on my query. Any other general feedback / experience is also welcomed.

TIA everyone :)

Cheers!
 

Dfive

Senior Member
Nov 20, 2008
3,141
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Singapore lah....
#2
Its fine... Look confident, use common sense, have ( and use ) good situational awareness... some just don't have this at all mind you, dress down ( not fancy ), carry your camera close in front of you... if worried in crowds just put away in a discreet bag.

Same as Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Bangkok, Manilla..... use the above and you'll be fine.
 

Likes: Octarine
Mar 26, 2010
409
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singapore
#3
Hi Sir, you have to sling your DSLR to your body at all times. My 60D was snatch away from me. I was lucky the I hold it firmly and they did not manage to out it away from me. The location it happened was at backpacker area so you have to be careful when crossing the road. You have to watch out for those rider with pillion and ride slow towards you.

Nevertheless, enjoy your trip.
 

Likes: PetezWarr

edutilos-

Senior Member
Dec 28, 2010
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#4
As always, such incidents are a result of opportunity. If you are alert, the would-be snatchers will think twice and they will target easier prey. I did not encounter any issues when I was last there a few years back. Ditto for things like pickpockets. That said, I've seen the same complaints about HCM/Hanoi, so try to keep an eye out to ensure that your holiday will go smoothly.

Have fun!
 

hollyrad

New Member
Nov 15, 2010
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#5
Hi guys, thanks for the pointers. Am aware we have to be street smart and being aware of our surroundings at all times. Nonetheless, sometimes we may forget and let our guard down. I recall when we were in Europe, our senses were on red alert whenever the places got crowded or when we notice a group following our steps; touch wood, nothing happened and that made it a good trip.

What I'll do is to see how the situation is and assess from there on. I'll likely take my PNS along...just in case the situation doesn't warrant the DSLR ;p
 

Octarine

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 3, 2008
12,492
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#6
I was in Hanoi two times, strolling across the markets and crowded roads during day time and evening. Nothing happended. We stayed in the Old Quarters. Dressing down really helps, blend into the crowd, sit among the locals...
 

hollyrad

New Member
Nov 15, 2010
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#7
Octarine, yeah blending in is indeed a good point so you won't stick out and be "screaming" tourist :cool:
 

surrephoto

Senior Member
Jan 14, 2009
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#8
The skills of motorbike snatch-theives (a.k.a Ali Baba) are still far from those in JB or KL. The usual victims are those who really let their guard down. I once saw a french woman being robbed near to Ben Thanh market bus terminal, it was purely her carelessness as she was trying to flag a cab with her hand which at the same time, foolishly, holding on to her bag. Evidently, most victims are female tourists who sling their bags towards the side of the traffic.

Do not shoot early in the morning a.k.a sunrise. 3 friends (1 singaporean expat, 2 vietnamese photographers) have had encounters with attempts to off-load their D-SLRs, mainly on the few bridges which are popular spots to shoot sunrise/sunset over the saigon river. The vietnamese were injured, but managed to hang on to their gear, whereas my singaporean friend was robbed of his then 5 year old D40.

The situation in Hanoi seems to be much better. So HCM is probably slightly more dangerous.
 

Likes: PetezWarr

hollyrad

New Member
Nov 15, 2010
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#9
Tks to all your replies..helpful advice. Tks again. Cheers
 

Sep 9, 2014
99
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Singapore
#10
Hi bro,

I frequently go to HCMC, I highly suggest not to bring your expensive DSLR man. From my personal experience, I will rate safety there as 2/10, even my girlfriend is a local there and we got robbed in broad daylight. Especially at road junctions, motorcycles never ever stop despite the "red light". If u see somebody on a bike eyeing at you DO NOT CROSS the street. Yeah and there are news that even celebs who visited the tourist areas such as District 1 etc. Their cameras, ipads, etc got snatched. Hope u take my advice. Just use your iphone but also be careful. anyway in HCMC nothing really much to take lol.
 

Dfive

Senior Member
Nov 20, 2008
3,141
10
38
Singapore lah....
#11
Hi bro,

I frequently go to HCMC, I highly suggest not to bring your expensive DSLR man. From my personal experience, I will rate safety there as 2/10, even my girlfriend is a local there and we got robbed in broad daylight. Especially at road junctions, motorcycles never ever stop despite the "red light". If u see somebody on a bike eyeing at you DO NOT CROSS the street. Yeah and there are news that even celebs who visited the tourist areas such as District 1 etc. Their cameras, ipads, etc got snatched. Hope u take my advice. Just use your iphone but also be careful. anyway in HCMC nothing really much to take lol.
I spent 4 days there, got some very rewarding images actually, will go back there again.

I was cautious yes... but never let it get in the way of a shot. I had my D800 with big primes entire stay, I was ok. :)
 

gp2700

New Member
May 23, 2009
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#12
My personal experience is that don't let your guard down. Be aware of who's watching you, what they are doing all the time.

I was riding in HCMC about 2 years ago and was using my Samsung Note 1 as GPS so I kept the phone in my left shirt pocket. At a red light stop, just as I turned my head around to talk to my pillion, 2 men on a bike rode up beside me on the left. The pillion grabbed my phone from my shirt pocket and both rode off even though it was a red light. It happened so fast that I was totally stunned. Couldn't chase at all because their getaway motorbike was heavily modified.

Shortly after this incident, I heard from one of my partner's employee that her handbag was snatched and she was dragged by the motorcycle for a few meters before the thieves let go of her bag(apparently, her handbag had very good quality straps). Luckily, she suffered light bruises to her arms, legs but not her face.

For those carrying iPads when walking, I noticed that even my Vietnamese friends carry newspaper to conceal their iPAD before they exit their vehicle.

I understand that the authorities are trying to strengthen security near the Ben Thanh market area because there are alot of tourists there. The problem is, the security forces deployed are all on foot. No vehicle patrols. Means less chance of pickpockets around the area but snatch thefts are still very common.

Be very careful, don't let your equipment go out of sight i.e put it in backpack and sling backwards. The last thing you want is to see your equipment go safely into the bag and when you reach for it, there's a big gaping hole at the side or bottom... For this reason, I prefer to use a no brand bag to front sling infront of my body. Having a Nikon/Canon/Lowepro/branded bag screams loud attention to potential thieves.

I'm heading to HCMC tomorrow then to Hanoi on Wednesday and am bringing my D700. Wish me luck !
 

Makinen85

New Member
Jan 13, 2011
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#13
I always go HCMC before heading to visit my in-law at other province.

Just secure your Dslr or any electronics devices as close to you as possible. Always check your belonging.
 

Aug 10, 2008
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#14
Currently in Hanoi. Feels like one of the safest places I have ever been to.

I was in Hanoi two times, strolling across the markets and crowded roads during day time and evening. Nothing happended. We stayed in the Old Quarters. Dressing down really helps, blend into the crowd, sit among the locals...
 

May 5, 2007
110
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Singapore
#15
Was travelling in HCMC in a group. One of our guys was trying to shoot some street scene while crossing the road. The traffic lights were red for vehicles but green (man) for pedestrians. And just within a split second, a stationery motorbike with a pillon rider just sped, snatched his DSLR and ride off (even though it was red light for vehicles). And we were completely stunned. Making a police report is another tedious process there. U won't be able to get your camera back coz it's just not traceable, and the best you get out of this is a couple of hours at the police station and a black/white police report.
 

Dec 30, 2003
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Singapore
www.skylightimages.info
#16
Just got back from HCMC. My fifth trip there and have yet to encounter anything of that sort. I always go there to shoot, and have carried DSLR, micro 4/3 and Fuji X cameras... Just sling your camera or bag diagonally across your body when you're crossing the street. That way the snatchers can't easily seperate you from it. Also, yes - dressing down helps. Keep your wits about you. If you see somebody eyeing you, stare back and let him know he'll have a hard time with you. These thieves look for easy prey.
 

DSolZ

New Member
Mar 6, 2010
784
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#17
hmm i don't have problem with using dslr in Vietnam.
 

#18
The exact same thing happened to me a couple of years ago. The snatch was at 8:30am in the morning outside Notre Dame


I am now much more cautious in Saigon as the level of crime has increased significantly in the last five years. This does not only affect tourists. I know many local people who have had laptops and iphone stolen out of their hand as they were making calls.

Make sure your travel insurance can cover the FULL LOSS of your camera and lens. I now have 10k of cover after my previous insurance left me with a big loss .
 

Last edited:
Feb 4, 2009
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#19
I have an office in Vietnam. Travel to HCMC once a month. I do carry my FF n Fuji X bodies. Do sling the bodies across your chest and bags in front. don't stay too long at a single location. My buddies got their mobiles and iPad snatch while surfing at roadsides or crossing roads. Yes, these crooks work in two or more....be safe n always look around!
 

caroland

New Member
Mar 31, 2008
470
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pariS
#20
Remember not to sling your camera to your back.
They are pros to strip your lens.
I do not use camera strap only rapid wrist strap.

Hope it helps.
 

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