In foreign tourists’ eyes, traffic in Vietnam seems to be pretty hairy with a tangled and endless flow of motorbikes and cars, but for traffic lights, there are just a few. Crossing streets in such big cities as Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi is really a nightmare. The incredible volume of motorbikes and cars keep moving on and on with fast speed. Many drivers refuse to slow down to give space for pedestrians. However, crossing streets in Vietnam is not an impossible act; in fact, when you get used to it, you will find it not difficult at all to deal with this messy traffic.
First of all, you need to have a clear head and nerves of steel. Just kidding, you are not going to fight in a war (though a friend of mine has that feeling when crossing the street here.) Be relaxed, recite this spell “I will make it! I will make it!” and follow some tips below.
- Walk with confidence and DON’T STOP in the middle of the street.
The key to cross the road quickly and safely is to calmly and confidently walk across the street. Do not turn back or stop in the middle of the street. It will put you in danger because the drivers do not know what you are doing and what direction you are heading to. So do not be reluctant! Drivers know how to give way for you.
- Walk slowly
Bravely crossing the street does not mean that you have to close your eyes and run as fast as you could. It is extremely dangerous, too! You should walk slowly and observe the speed and direction of coming vehicles. It is advisable for you to raise your hands up in the air to give the drivers a signal that you are crossing the street.
Another thing you should remember is that never look the drivers in the eyes and smile with them in order to ask them to give way for you. It makes the drivers and yourself lose concentration, and no one knows what is going to happen next.
- Walk in group
If possible, wait for more people to cross the street with you. Walking together in a horizontal line and raising your hands up in the air are among the safest ways to cross the street. Drivers are willing to make ways for a group of people and you will feel more secured with the company of others.
- Look out for buses and cars
Many foreign tourists are afraid of an endless flow of motorbikes on streets. Besides motorbikes, remember to watch out for larger vehicles as buses, cars and trucks. The drivers of large vehicles are usually unwilling to give way for pedestrians unless there are traffic lights.
Sometimes, you can take advantage of these ‘giants’ when they are turning in the street. Whenever they turn right or left, one side of vehicles will have to wait for them, and if you happen to cross the street in the other side, then take this fortune! 😉
- Copy the natives
One of the easiest ways to walk across the busy street in Vietnam is to follow locals and copy their acts. They must know more clearly than anybody else what should and shouldn’t do when crossing the street in their homeland.
- Ask for help
Do not be reluctant to ask for help if any of the previous tips does not work with you. Vietnamese people are friendly, sociable and helpful so try asking guards, pedestrians or students to guide you to cross the street.
In short, crossing the street in Vietnam does sound dangerous for foreigners, but it is also a great experience for you. After getting familiar with the traffic here, you may realize that although people drive quite fast, they are really careful drivers. So, hope that all the above-mentioned tips are applicable for you and make your crossing streets in Vietnam more easily.