Vietnamese traffic can be overwhelming at first. The streets are a sea of scooters. Pedestrians step out into traffic, and simply let the flow of scooters flow around them. Vehicles (especially scooters) do not yield the same way vehicles do in the west. Instead of coming to a stop for pedestrians, they simply negotiate around. Visitors are typically surprised to see the tiny amount of leeway Vietnamese drivers regularly negotiate.

Locals will tell you that the best way to deal with crossing the street is to make sure no larger vehicles are coming (i.e. cars, buses, and trucks), and then walk at a normal speed across the street. It’s not easy to get used to, and many visitors end up watching locals and following their cues.

Safety regulations aren’t the same in Vietnam. You’ll see drivers steering with one hand and holding a large package on the back of their scooter with another. Small children often simply perched on stools in front of the scooter seat, or sit wedged between their parents.

Helmets are not always worn, but surgeon-style masks are very common. These are to help keep dirt and dust from the road off the driver’s face. Drivers may often don aprons that they wear to keep their clothes spotless.

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