How to be stopped by the Traffic Police in Saigon


Yesterday, after I crossed the Saigon Bridge on my way back from An Phu, I saw a Frenchman pulled over by the traffic police.

The traffic policeman actually crossed the street to pull a truck over.  As he signaled the truck to stop, the Frenchman rode his Honda Wave in the same lane as the truck.  I am not sure he realized that motorbikes must stay in the right lane (I got a ticket for being in the left lane 4 years ago).

The man got angry and started staring at the policeman.  As he was staring down the policeman, he ran into another motorbike!

That settled it.  He finally pulled over and I think the policemen took his motorbike and rightly so.

On that note, I have seen traffic police stopping foreigners but one thing I did notice, the foreigners were dressed in shorts and looked like tourists.  the man above wore shorts and a tank top.

It looks as if the traffic police are signalling tourists more than Expats.  A shirt and tie seems to keep the police away I heard.


  1. A shirt and tie seems to keep the police away- yea I can see how this would be the case, even just culturally, maybe personally by particular policemen. Folks here don’t like “backpackers” at all.

    That’s a funny story. There’s so much happening in so little space here that sometimes these whole little dramas get played out in a few seconds in front of you as you drive down the street.

  2. Hmmmmm, how do you know he was a Frenchman?

    I got pulled over for speeding out on the open road out in Nhon Trach Industrial area, east of D2. I don’t have my license yet so I smiled and pretty much played ignorant and he let me go.

  3. well, even if you are dressed in a work outfit (closed shoes, long trousers and shirt without tie) the police takes out foreigners nowadays. the spot at saigon bridge is particularly known for that and my boyfriend got pulled over several times with ridiculous fines like 20 USD. so far it could be settled with paying much much less (AND NOT GETTING AN OFFICIAL TICKET THOUGH INSISTING ON IT!!! which makes me believe expats are a welcomed source of income that is not declared). we both have our VN driver’s license to avoid troubles with the police and to be on the safe side for insurance purposes.
    safe trip everyone!

    • @Dave: That normally happens in the outlying districts but in Q. 1, 3, 5, and 10, they will bring someone who can speak English 🙂

      @riina: If the traffic police do not give you a ticket, have them contact somebody or call your Consulate. They supposed to bring an English speaker. For me, I have learned to always take down the name of the policeman pulling you over. I learned this in Kazakhstan. Look at their badge and write down their names with them looking. They will get a little nervous. I always keep a pen and paper in my motorbike. This actually works with policemen around the world. If they do not mind, then it may mean you actually broke the law 🙂

      By the way, the Saigon Bridge is good for the traffic police since people have a tendency to ride on the left lane to avoid the turn off. Stick to the right…

  4. thanks, kevin! the advice to write down the name of the police man is simple and apparently too obvious for me to think about. well, I am a natural blonde, can’t help it 😉

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