Laws in Vietnam

Laws in Vietnam

After an incident involving a Dutch girl getting her iPhone stolen, I researched the laws in Vietnam and put together this list just for you.


You can browse this post by topic and learn whatever you need to know to stay out of trouble.


Penalties for drugs in Vietnam is fairly severe. If you are caught in possession of heroin, you can be sentenced to death.

The laws in Vietnam allow(ed) for death by firing squad. Up until 2010, you would be tied to a wooden post, a lemon stuffed in your mouth then shot in the back of the head by a squad of 5 to 6 gunman. Now, you can expect to be put down by lethal injection.

However, let’s put the fearful commentary aside for a moment and look at the reality here.

Drugs are in abundance in Vietnam. If you’re going to some of the bars where the expats gather, don’t be surprised to see them pulling out a gram, rolling up a joint, then inviting you for a traditional puff-puff-pass.

Hooking Up

Oddly enough, your tinder-habits might lead you into hot water in Vietnam.

Apparently, the laws in Vietnam is against foreigners having non-marital sexual relationships and cohabitation with a Vietnamese citizen. Of course, this is a grey area with local authorities not taking it too seriously.

If you do have a relationship with the locals here in Vietnam you may need permission from Vietnamese authorities (and definitely the girl’s parents). Also, if you father a child, it will have the mother’s name on the birth certificate if you didn’t marry the girl.


Searching for a nice massage with happy ending? Well, that’s illegal.

It’s not difficult to find hair salons, karaoke bars, and massage parlors offering “additional services” behind closed curtains. This is a dodgy thing to get into because corruption is high in the country. You never know if the girl hustling her services has connections to police or the local mafia and seek to exhort you for more than you intended for a one-time wanking.

Recently, there has been a push to decriminalize prostitution in Vietnam in an attempt to make it safer for both the prostitutes performing the service and those who purchase such services (i.e. to minimize HIV). Sex workers in Vietnam often experience abuse, rape, and other unfortunate circumstances and legalizing this as a regulated profession may help reduce such issues.


Let’s be honest, we have all watched porn at some point in our lives. However, the laws in Vietnam state that importing pornographic materials is strictly forbidden. This means production, distribution, and possession are 100% illegal.

So, if you stumble across some DVDs from a sketchy night market you wanna add to your collection, don’t get caught. Depending on your luck, punishment ranges from fines to jail time. It might be better to tap into your wank bank for a 2-minute reliever than to suffer the consequences, yeah?


If you aren’t in a government license casino, gambling is illegal in Vietnam. You may feel ballsy enough to test your luck on some of the local street bets. However, if you get caught, you can receive steep fines or a severe prison sentence (depending on how deep you’re in).

Luckily, the government licensed casino offers a safe haven for holders of foreigner passports (hey, that’s you!).

Sensitive Photography

Sensitive photography refers to taking pictures at military facilities, border crossing, and political related events.

If you are caught snapping pictures in these locations, your camera can be confiscated. Afterward, you’ll be interrogated, and, in the worst-case-scenario subject to fines and/or imprisonment.


Thinking about starting your own blog? Well, if you do, make sure you don’t talk about the Vietnamese government.

The laws in Vietnam strictly prohibits discussion of the Vietnamese government in blogs, social media posts, online forums, and so on.

If you accidentally say a few unsavory words about the Vietnamese government in your blog, you can be detained, questioned, and then released (if you’re lucky). However, anything that resembles anti-Vietnamese propaganda is seen as a terrorist offense and could get you in deep trouble like this guy.


Are you traveling the world pushing the good guy in the sky? Well, don’t.

If you come to Vietnam claiming to be a tourist then start pedaling religious doctrines and ideas, you can get your materials confiscated and booted out of the country.


Politics in an area of laws in Vietnam that could get you into hot water if you don’t know how to keep your mouth shut.

Participating in political conversations and activities in Vietnam can lead to your arrest, jail time and/or deportation.

Unlike in America, where you can openly and offensively express your love or hate for Donald Trump, that kind of freedom of speech is a no-go in Vietnam.


If you’ve fallen in love with some of the old antiquities of Vietnam and want to bring it back to your country as a souvenir, be careful.

It is against the laws in Vietnam to export antiques unless you have a permit. If you really want to bring something home, get in touch with the Ministry of Culture to go through the legal paperwork and bring back a piece of their country the right way.

Jef van de Graaf
Canadian Copywriter & World Traveler
Business | Travel Blog | Connect


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