What NOT to Bring to Vietnam

what not to bring to Vietnam
what not to bring to Vietnam


We recently posted about the items you should bring with you when visiting Vietnam.  We thought it would be fitting to also tell you about the items you should not bring with you!  Here is a short list to guide you when packing for the trip and to remind you of the import rules in Vietnam.


1. The Obvious – We hope that the point we are making here is assumed, but to reiterate – please do not bring illegal drugs (yes, this includes cannabis) and weapons to Vietnam.  If you are caught with illegal drugs or weapons, the repercussions are not pretty!

2. Anti-Government Propaganda – Although we highly recommend learning about Vietnam’s history and culture before coming here, we do not recommend bringing some of these reading materials to Vietnam.  If they contain any material that one would consider to be against the current government, they will be confiscated and you will be heavily reprimanded.  What’s more, if you bring any printed maps, make sure that the map labels the giant body of water next to Vietnam as ‘Eastern Sea’, not ‘South China Sea’! 🙂


Eastern Sea Map
The body of water directly east of Vietnam is referred to as the Eastern Sea rather than South China Sea. Any maps that label it as South China Sea are prohibited.


3. Heavy or Excess Items – As we mentioned in our previous blog post, internal flights seem cheap at first but they really make their money on excess baggage fees.  If you can do without heavy items such as hair dryers or even heavy-shelled bags, you may save yourself a lot of money!  Also avoid bringing an excess of common hygiene products like toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc.  If you happen to run out during your trip, you can find all these items here, and most brand names are available.

4. Expensive Items – Thieves in Vietnam can be masters of their art.  If you flaunt that real gold necklace or diamond pendant while roaming the motorbike-saturated streets, it may get snatched before you even realize what has happened!  It really is best to leave your expensive jewelry back home to avoid theft.  Although rings are more difficult to steal, you still have to use caution.  Women do wear their wedding rings routinely here without a problem but you will have to be very aware of your surroundings.


With hoards of motorcycles around the city, if someone was to snatch your necklace and speed away, you wouldn't even know who to chase down!
With hoards of motorcycles around the city, if someone was to snatch your necklace and speed away, you wouldn’t even know who to chase down!


We do not recommend that you bring expensive electronic items, but if you must bring them, be extremely careful.  For the photography enthusiasts, professional cameras can be very useful here as Vietnam offers an amazing backdrop for your photos.  However, we advise you to have straps for your camera that are really thick and to keep it strapped across your body or wrist.  PacSafe makes bags for cameras that is reinforced with steel wire so it cannot be cut.  As for phones, many people have had their phone stolen right from under them as they write a text message or look at maps.  Have someone cover if you if you need to use your phone on the streets and stand facing inwards rather than towards the street.  Otherwise, keep it in a pocket with zippers.

PacSafe makes camera bags that are very theft-proof. The straps and the body of the bag contain a thick wire mesh that prevents anyone from cutting the bag open.
PacSafe makes camera bags that are very theft-proof. The straps and the body of the bag contain a thick wire mesh that prevents anyone from cutting the bag open.


5. Pornography – The sale or possession of any pornographic material is strictly prohibited and illegal in Vietnam, not just for tourists but for everyone.  Enforcement is very strict!  If you happen to have unlabeled DVDs in your bag, they will be checked at the airport.  Please note that pornography is illegal in most of Southeast Asia but more easily obtainable in some of the neighbouring countries.  If you are traveling around Asia, you will have to get rid of any pornographic material in your possession before entering Vietnam.

This is another great travel tip brought to you by XO Tours, the complete Vietnam travel resource! Our scooter tours with female only drivers will make you discover authentic Vietnam.


    • Dear Sue,
      There is no restriction to bring fresh meat into Vietnam as long as the amount is not too much.(The value does not exceed $200)
      However, the restriction varies from airline to airline. To be sure, please call your airline to check if they will allow you to bring meat with you.

      XO Tours

  1. Hi, we be traveling to VIETNAM in a couple of weeks and we were wondering about
    taking vitamin supplements into the country

    • Hi Niel,

      Vitamin supplements are okay to bring in Vietnam,
      However, please only bring the amount for personal use.
      Customs officers will ask if they see more than few bottles.


    • yes, there s no problem bring those into Vietnam, as long as the amount is reasonable for personal use. One of each will be fine.

    • Technically yes, you can bring fresh fruit like Cherries into Vietnam.

      However, I would recommend you to bring around 10kg, find a safe way to protect and preserve them during the long flight.
      Also custom officers may ask you if they suspect something and trust me, they always suspect something! 🙂


  2. Hi! i will be in vietnam soon and would like to know, if i could bring fruit & appitizer from usa ca.
    much appricated if you could let me know thank.

    • Dear Sam,
      Fruit and Food are okay to bring into Vietnam with a reasonable amount and nothing illegal is mixed in it.

  3. Hi! Im in US military. I plan to go to Vietnam in July. I’d like to know if i can bring a pocket karambit knife to Vietnam and carry it with me for my safety? Thanks.

    • Yes, you can bring a regular Swiss pocket knife with you for your safety, just don’t take it out unless it’s necessary.
      I would not recommend you to bring karambit knife with you due to its dangerous look.


  4. Hi there

    I am moving to Hanoi for 4 years for work, may my container include spices, sauces, vitamins for about a year and alcohol?

    Kind regards

  5. Hello,
    is an issue to bring Kamagra or Tadalis bought in Cambodia without prescription with me when coming to Vietnam, entry by bus?

  6. Hi, is it ok to bring a tripod and a GoPro style headmount straper to hold my phone because I want to vlog over there and I was just wondering if I could bring them

    • Marijuana is illegal in Vietnam, so it’s very likely that cannabis seeds are also illegal. Keep in mind that getting caught with drugs or drug paraphernalia in VN could result in a lengthy prison sentence or even a death sentence.

    • Hi mst,

      Yes, you should not have any issue bringing in personal medication as long as the amount is not too large. You should bring a prescription just in case someone asks you what the medication is, but it’s unlikely you would have any trouble.

  7. Hi,

    Can I check a box through with some food items (pasta, small jar or 2 of pesto, tomato paste)? I love Vietnamese food but will miss pasta over the year I am in Hanoi. Thanks !


    • If you are flying into Vietnam, you should ask your airline if you can send the TV as checked in luggage. You shouldn’t have to pay any extra at Customs. If you ship the to Vietnam, you will have to probably have to pay between 20-40% import tax.

  8. Hi. Am am going to move in Vietnam for a period of 2 years from Singapore. I will have with me two MacBook Pro, on PC, an iPAD and a PS4. Should I hand carry them with me there or should I ship the electronics using Speed Post in Singapore straight to HCMc? Any issues that I might encounter at customer?

    Thanks a million for your advice and time to reply!

    • Although I cannot remember the website mentioning how many laptops you can bring into Vietnam, I believe that the number is 2 without having to pay import tax. I have heard of people bringing in more laptops without any problems however, there have also been cases where travelers have been stopped and required to pay a hefty tax for bringing in too many. Shipping expensive equipment into Vietnam is not a much better solution as you will almost certainly have to pay a high import tax. I would just bring your laptops as carry-on luggage and pack them together tightly so it’s less obvious that you have more than 2. Chances are, you will not have any problems. Bringing in the iPAD and PS4 also shouldn’t be an issue. Make sure that all the items are not in their packaging so that you are not accused of trying to import merchandise for sale.

  9. Hi, go to Vietnam with 3 month visa but have this question.
    I know credit cards and ATM money transferring etc but now talking just from cash. I want know IF have over 5000USD cash money in pocket so what kind and in where should make declare to immigration from different money currencies, in departure airport or after arrive to Hanoi airport? Or is that more safety if send the money what goes over 5000USD in advance to Vietnam by Western Union from other country Western Union and pick up money when arrive to Vietnam from some WU branch if WU working in Hanoi? Please just correct answers.

  10. Hi There, some good info being provided here.
    I’m thinking about bringing some wooden carvings (Australian Indigenous artwork) as gifts for some friends in VN when I travel to Saigon. Do you know of any restrictions on bringing wood products into VN?
    Thanks for your help.

  11. Hi I’m moving to Vietnam next February I have a pocket knife collection which has about 12 knifes in it
    Can I bring into Vietnam
    Thanks ian

  12. Hello

    Can I bring Testosterone Gel pumps (Brand Name – Testogel) as a prescription anabolic steriod for personal use for a medical condition that I have without an issue from Customs at the Airport in Vietnam? The number of gel pumps that I intend to bring along with me for personal use will be limited only for the duration of my visit to Vietnam (i.e. two weeks).

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  13. Hi there.

    I’m planning to bring some raw Kobe beef from Japan to Ho Chi Minh city for my friend as checked luggage. Do I have to declare anything when arrived to Viet Nam?

    • According to regulation 15/2006/QĐ-BNN Vietnam forbids bringing raw or simply/preliminarily processed meat by hand into Vietnam (paragraph 19 point 4). That being said, we know of many travelers that bring in raw meat in their check-in luggage and have no problems getting through Vietnam customs.

  14. Hi,

    Thank you for this helpful article. Do you know what the regulations are for cbd oil that has 0% thc? Thanks a lot:)

    • You can apparently buy CBD oil in Vietnam so it’s probably ok to bring it in. http://cbdoilvietnam.com/

      I would suggest putting it in your check-in luggage, and maybe have a translated information sheet (use Google Translate) showing that it does not contain any thc or other illegal ingredients.

    • Yes, you can bring 2 cell phones to Vietnam. I would keep them in my carry-on to avoid the risk of baggage theft. I would also suggest removing the phones from their original packaging so that Vietnamese Customs won’t assume you are bringing the phones to resell in Vietnam. In that situation you may be ordered to pay a hefty import tax.

  15. Hi ,
    first of all , great job helping all who are willing to Vietnam.
    I have a query, I am a baptized Sikh traveling from India. due to religious reasons I have to wear Kirpan ( a sort of knife). I hope its not violating any rule. some other countries I have visited like Korea or Japan , had rules like that a knife blade longer than 6 inches is treated as weapon and is illegal. thankfully my Kirpan is less than 4 inches. If you can confirm any restrictions or cautions I need to follow will be of great help.

    • We just called our local police department and they said that carrying the small ceremonial knife on your body will not be a problem. If you are asked at all about your knife, just explain to the police/government that it is required by your religion and you shouldn’t have any issue. Bringing the knife through airport security and onto your flight will probably be another issue however, so I would contact the airport and airline to make sure that they will allow you through security and onto the plane with the knife on your person.

  16. Great job in confirm , I was so worried comming to Vietnam before talking to you. You have help a great deal in settling my nerves and giving me confidence, thanks a ton

  17. Hello,

    I have a Two-Part Question, Can I bring Bibles into Vietnam and the second part of that question is how many can my group bring in without upsetting the local officials and/or getting into trouble? Thank you so much for your help and my apologies if this question has been asked before.

    • You shouldn’t have any problems bringing in bibles to Vietnam. There is a large Catholic community in Vietnam so bibles are readily available. If you bring in a large number of anything, you might draw attention to yourself however, so I cannot say for certain if you won’t be subject to inspection.

  18. Hi,
    I am going to move to Hanoi for about two years. Is it permitted to carry in check in baggage, the kitchen items like Pulses, grains?.

  19. Hi all
    My husband take hemp oil capsules (legal in australia) for arthritic condition, we have stopovers in vietnam both ways on our way to UK will he have problems with carrying this medication into vietnam?

  20. Hi there, I was wondering if I could bring cured meats into Vietnam, like Parma ham or saucisson, in my check-in luggage??

  21. I am travelling to Vietnam and I have been told that the wine is not very nice there. Can I carry wine in my checked baggage, and get the 2litres duty free?

  22. I plan on moving to Vietnam in July. Can I bring used household appliances, pans and other used kitchen appliances?

  23. Hi. I was wondering if it’s ok to bring Viagra/Sildenafil or any other such pills into Vietnam? Different countries have different rules so would like to know.

  24. Hello XO,

    I was am going to visit HCM City and would be bringing in home made energy bars as samples for a local professional sports team, will these be allowed? Theyre properly sealed into small 2.5″ x 2.5″ sizes wrappers, bringing in about 8 dozens as samples.
    Thnak you.

    • Hi Srini, it’s super easy to find Vegetarian food in Vietnam. Just look for restaurants with the words “ăn chay” which means vegetarian.

    • Hi Shanti, yes, it’s super easy to find vegetarian food in Vietnam. The majority of Vietnamese people identify as Buddhist, and Buddhist eat vegetarian at least a couple of times a month.

  25. Hi I am going to Vietnam soon and I would like to do some beach metal detecting. Can I take a wooden handle for my scoop, I would appreciate your response.

  26. I leave in 3 weeks time.

    I need to use Oxynorm (also known as OxyContin) but I use the liquid version on prescription.

    Because it’s liquid, even if I have a prescription will I be limited to 100ml max? If allowed at all?

    I also use over the counter solpadeine for migraines. Can I travel with these? I’ve heard that they are very strict with codeine products in airports.

    • If you medication is over the counter or you have a prescription you should be fine. The liquid medication I would put in your checked luggage. People are usually only flagged if they carry an unusual amount of medication. I would also recommend taking all your medication out of their packaging and put them in nondescript bags so that they draw less attention.

  27. Thank you for your reply. This is the opposite advice I’ve had from people saying to keep the medicine in original packaging etc with name on.

    I’m very confused about what to do for the best.

    • I am giving you advice from my personal experience. I am a US citizen that lives in Vietnam and have brought over a lot of medication (both prescription and over the counter) for relatives that live here over the years. In over 10 years of traveling back and forth between the US and Vietnam, I have NEVER had an issue with Vietnam Customs stopping me to check the medication. I always put my prescription medication in Ziplock bags. The only medication I keep in the original packaging are things like Tylenol. Medication in paper packaging I put in Ziplocks. You can obviously remove the medication from the packaging but keep the packaging on hand if you are asked about them.

  28. Hi,
    I will hope to visit Hanoi next week from Sri lanka, and I like to Know can I Bring powder of chili and Curry Powder and Dhal is small amounts to Vietnam?

  29. I am an amateur metal detectorist. Will I have a problem going through customs
    with a metal detector? I am not looking for gold or ancient treasures; but if in the
    oft chance they are found, I will turn over to authorities.


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