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Why You Should Not Give Money to Beggars in Vietnam


Beggars are particularly common in big cities and touristy areas in Vietnam like Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. And much as you pity them and want to be of help, please know that there are reasons why giving them money isn’t the best way to go about solving the problem.

Reasons Why You Should Not Give Money to Beggars in Vietnam

You can spot beggars in Vietnam most commonly at the street lights, in the local markets, or even in regular restaurants (usually small ones or open-air, street vendors’ ones). They can be kids or women in damaged clothes and with rashes on their skin, old tramps with a wrinkled painful look, disabled men on a wheelchair accompanied by a family member, a monk walking slowly barefoot with a pot in his hands. But notably and bizarrely, there are even those adults who look perfectly fit for a manual job with an acceptable wage but still beg for money to live their life.

why you should not give money to beggars in vietnam reasons

Old people make up a large part of beggars in Vietnam

We all agree with helping those in need is a benevolent act that should be encouraged, and that it is hard to stay indifferent in the sight of the disadvantaged. However, there are two reasons why you should not give money to beggars in Vietnam.

First and most important of all, local authorities are exerting great efforts in increasing social welfare for these underprivileged individuals. Social homes built to accommodate the homeless, new jobs created, simple job training courses opened for the uneducated with a view to alleviating the issue. Entering a social home and becoming an employee of a small manufacturing house is the more sustainable way of life for beggars, and that’s certainly what they should do instead of relying on others’ charity. A clear example of governmental endeavors in resolving the beggar situation is at the Ho Chi Minh City Council. Since 2014, the Ho Chi Minh City Council has been resolute on making the city a place of no beggars, bringing the mendicants to social homes and, training them the skills to do jobs.

why you should not give money to beggars in vietnam reason 1

The beggar can be dishonest and led by a scammer - a problem which is being tackled by the police

The second reason why you should not give money to beggars in Vietnam is that in a lot of cases, the beggar can turn out to be a scammer or a pawn of a scammer. Your money does not actually make their life any better, but in this case, it makes the situation even worse. Taking advantage of people’s goodwill, many fully capable men set up a play to swindle money filthily. These evil spirits force homeless kids and the elderly to become beggars, using drugs or some kind of tricks to make them appear miserable or physically impaired, before scattering them across different locations in the city. At the end of the day, they are the ones to take all the money and just give the poor victims enough to survive for the next “working” day.

Then there’s the dishonest vagrant who, after collecting a good sum of money in their hat, hides all the money away to “start from scratch”, before taking the motorbike taxi back to their lodging (yes, they turn out to be not homeless!).

How to Decline Beggars in Vietnam

Simply shake your head and keep a straight face in front of the beggars. This simple body language alone should suffice for your expression of decline. Remember to keep a straight face and if needed, stilt your head away from them to declare your refusal on a more resolute note.

On declining beggars, Vietnamese also accompany the head shake with the verbal response “Khong”, meaning “Nothing (to give you)”. But saying this is not really necessary in your case as a foreigner.

Waving hands slightly (while keeping them at your chest level) is another possible response to beggars in Vietnam since this gesture interprets in Vietnam as “no”, “forget about that”.

why you should not give money to beggars in vietnam so many beggars

Be assertive when declining beggars

What to Do Instead to Help the Poor in Vietnam

After knowing why you should not give money to beggars in Vietnam, you may wonder how you can help the underprivileged while traveling. It is better to help the disadvantaged in Vietnam through credible organizations, especially governmental ones. For example, if you want to help victims of agent orange in Vietnam, contact the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (click the box on the top right of the website to change the language to English). Other organizations in Vietnam dedicated to helping the poor in general include Vietnam Women’s Union and the Vietnam Red Cross Society.

Another way to contribute when you travel to Vietnam is by donating through the tour companies that you book a tour with. i Tour Vietnam, for example, has a meaningful GIVE BACK program for any of its tours and customers.

Showing your consciousness about the beggar problem in Vietnam by reading about this matter proves how aware and responsible a traveler you are. Find out more about how you can realize responsible travel in Vietnam, by going off the beaten track for example!

Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides
for fun and insightful trips in Ho Chi Minh City!

family outing in ho chi minh city motorcycle

Conclusion of Why You Should Not Give Money to Beggars in Vietnam

Government bodies in various cities of Vietnam are being particularly active in curbing the growth of beggars by establishing social homes and providing jobs. Therefore, be assertive in refusing beggars in Vietnam with a simple head shake and a straight face.

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Sunday, 01 October 2023

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