THE MYTH:

Do motorbike tire repair places put nails out on the road to get more customers?

The short and simple answer is yes, they do. Tire repair shops along various streets have gained a reputation for their willingness to do just about anything to get more customers. Local Vietnamese have taken to calling them the “nail devils” because of the high number of traffic accidents they cause by littering nails on the roads. This practice is punishable by Vietnamese law due to the high number of injuries – and even death – it has caused in recent years.

THE MYTH:

Is it true that a Vietnamese woman and male foreigner can’t stay in the same hotel room together unless they are married?

This depends on who you ask. It used to be (and in some places, still is) that a couple going into a hotel for the night would be asked for proof of their marriage (usually the marriage certificate, but two ID cards with the same home address would also do). This practice has roots in a particularly unfortunate phrasing of clause 8.5 of the defunct regulation number 02/2001/TTBCA, April 5th, 2001. Clause 8.5 states that “the accommodation provider must provide separate rooms for men and women unless they are family members or husband and wife, if they have adequate facility.”Wedding Ring

While clause 8.5 did not expressly forbid different sex cohabitation, it has been used as a standard process for the majority of hotels in Vietnam. Coupled with Vietnamese traditional moral values, the practice has since been accepted as the status quo for the hospitality industry and interpreted as a legitimate ban. In the Vietnamese legal community, clause 8.5 was and is a cause for debate. While many lawyers interpret it as a functional ban against cohabitation, just as many argue that the spirit of the law is to protect guests from being exploited by unscrupulous accommodation service providers, not to give legal weight to a moral standpoint that may or may not be appropriate.
This same group of lawyers also pointed that no charge has ever been made against either the guests or the hotel in question on clause 8.5. Whenever a charge is pressed, it is usually over prostitution or drug crimes. In 2010, a new regulation number 33/2010 TT-BCA was introduced as replacement for the old one. The exact sentence that perpetuated the entire practice was conspicuously missing. However, instead of bringing closure to a much debated issue for the last decade, the new regulation only threw the whole thing into further confusion. Because the original ‘ban’ wasnever a truly legitimate ban in the first place, owing its strength more to local custom than bulletproof legal clauses, so even with the new regulation, it can’t be said to have been ‘lifted’ either. Either way, the debate is now entirely theoretical and kept strictly within the Vietnamese legal community.

Do you have a myth you want us to bust? Email us at saigonmythbusters@oivietnam.com.