Pick-pocketed in Ho Chi Minh City: A cautionary tale

I use one of those little purse/wallets that go over your neck and hide in your top. Steel cable in the neck cord.

Works well whenever I visit family in Alabama.


As others have said, the front pocket is safer. I never use the back pocket. For one it’s not good on your posture if you sit on it. It’s still possible for someone to lift your wallet from the front pocket, but it depends on how loose the pocket opening is on the pants.

Just a silly idea, I wonder if one can sneakily install Velcro or a snap on pant pocket opening

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You consider that story to be “trashing” Vietnam? And racist? Lighten up, Francis.

This. I’ve always used a belt similar to the one you describe, or better, one that hangs around my neck and under my shirt. Never had a problem in many years of travel.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

70s British public awareness programming is here to help!

“It was some [BLEEP] head like him that stole my wallet on my last trip to Paris,” he said, nodding his head in my direction. “He got me on the subway, came up from behind, and I never felt a thing. Cash, credit cards, driver’s license, poof, all of it gone, just like that.”

I pictured a scoreboard reading Marty, zero; stinkpots, one.

“What you’ve got to understand is that these creeps are practiced professionals,” he said. “I mean, they’ve really got it down to an art, if you can call that an art form.”

“I wouldn’t call it an art form,” Carol said. “Art is beautiful, but taking people’s wallets, that stinks, in my opinion.”

“You’ve got that right,” Martin said.



I have family in Vietnam, and have been there several times without incident. Relatives have warned me to be aware of this kind of thing, though. Large tourist drawing cities around the world have small time crooks, but in general I have found Vietnam to be very safe and not a place I have to constantly be hyper-aware of getting ripped off. Generosity and sincerity are much more common.

I have never heard anyone there refer to the place as Ho Chi Mihn City, even when buying bus or plane tickets there. It’s ok to call it Saigon like the locals do.


Any area high in tourism will have pick pockets and such. They warned of it in Italy especially Naples. I kept everything of value in one of those money pouches you wear on your stomach with a zipper under your shirt.

The only possible crime I saw was an Irish guy on a train yelling at a supposed gypsy for trying to pick his pocket. Whether that was true or not I don’t know, but the guy he was yelling at had a shit eating grin on his face.

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Chiming in here. I’ve had my pocket picked twice…in the Philippines and China. And damn, these guys are good. BOTH times my FRONT pocket was picked. So having it in your front pocket still is no guarantee.

Another common type of pickpocket are “razor artists”. These fellas will actually slice open your backpack and snatch wallets and what not without you knowing a thing.

So here’s the deal. When you’re in a densely packed area, you have to be super vigilant. Keep your hand in your pocket upon your wallet, use a moneybelt, or place your valuables in a very inaccessible pocket. (Say, an inside pocket within a zipped up jacket). And of course, pickpockets congregate where the tourists are, so any city bus/tram, famous attraction, or shopping mall is where they generally work.

I would say 99% of the folks I run into are honest, and I’ve had people take great strides to return stuff to me in every country. Don’t let the 1% of professional thieves sour your experience of a country. But eh…it’s a living.


With that much dong, there’s going to be a bulge.


A good friend of mine lost a camera in vietnam-- just snatched by a thief, and handed off to an accomplice on a motorcycle.


he should have taken a picture of the license plate

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Was that sign devised to favor pickpockets? I’d expect my camera to be safer held in both hands and my purse safer held between my arm and my body than having either one of them hanging in front of me with my hands out by my sides.

For me, it was Madrid in the park near the main train station. I learned the hard way to be extra vigilant anywhere tourists were congregated, and usually walking around gawking at the sights. The technique used was to squirt some mayo/mustard mixture on the back of my jacket, then give me a friendly tap on the shoulder to tell me about the bird shit, while an accomplice was busy lifting what he could in the confusion.

I later had someone try the same trick on the subway, but he exited quickly when I went after him. It’s just a fact that tourists carry valuables and make a good target because they are out of their element. It happens everywhere.


Sort of.
Listen to any good pickpocket talk (Apollo Robbins, for one…) and they’ll tell you the front pocket isn’t much more difficult to lift from than the rear.

Me? Oh, I stuff my wallet into my underwear. Way down in there.

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What you did there: I see it.

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This is an advert for the friend who makes wallets. You all been scammed…

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I didn’t get pickpocketed in Vietnam, but I was there when they were filming The Quiet American. I was in the theatre across the square while they were filming this scene:

Two people did try to pick my pocket on a train in Italy though. I was sleeping on a bench in a compartment and felt something, so I sat up and saw two guys reaching for my pocket. Once they realised I’d noticed, they sat down next to me and asked me for money. They were more opportunists than people with any skill, which was a good thing as otherwise they would have taken all of my money and passports.

You mean some guy lost his wallet on vacation during a festival and had to call his bank to have his credit cards replaced?? What a CRAZY story.

The only cautions here are, A. When traveling, don’t walk around with your credit cards in a wallet in your pants pocket during a crowded festival. In VN, or anywhere else. Especially when you’re trying to keep track of a kid. Stash your cards and documents somewhere safe, and just carry enough cash for the day. If you are between hotels, carry all your docs and cards in a money belt under your clothes. Very safe. And B. don’t open an account with a bank that takes 3 months to replace your debit card if it’s lost. Any decent bank will Fedex you a replacement card in a few days anywhere in the world. With a few basic precautions, getting pickpocketed isn’t a big deal.

Ho Chi Minh City is fine. And, once you get used to the traffic, it’s an easy place to be, with nice folks. As is the rest of Vietnam. An easy place to travel. SE Asia in general is very safe as a tourist. You’ve got a much higher chance of losing stuff traveling in Europe, Russia or Latin America.