Local laws and customs

Penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs can be severe. Anyone found in possession of even a small amount of drugs can face the death sentence.

Illegal drugs are often tampered with or spiked and can be much stronger than in Europe. British tourists have suffered fatal overdoses in the past from very small quantities. Don’t take illegal drugs.

Crimes like sex offences can attract very long prison terms, or a death sentence. The Vietnamese legal system is not well developed and the standard of prisons is very poor. You could be prevented from leaving the country for an unlimited period without being charged.

When entering religious or cultural sites respect local customs and dress in appropriate clothing.

Vietnam is a generally tolerant and progressive place for LGBT travellers. Same-sex relationships are not criminalised by law and changing gender is recognised by Vietnam’s Civil Code. Vietnam abolished a ban on same-sex marriage in 2015, although same-sex couples are neither recognised nor protected by law. In parts of society LGBT rights and issues are still more tolerated than accepted, but Vietnamese society has become significantly more tolerant in recent years. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or collect protected wild animal or plants. Vietnam is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Those caught buying or trafficking these items could be prosecuted and receive prison sentences or fines.

Never take photographs near military installations.

There are restrictions on internet use, which can affect access to social media websites.