Traveling to Vietnam is as safe as traveling to any other Asian countries nowadays. You do not have to take any vaccination before entry to the country, as health certificate is not required. Nevertheless, you should take some preventive measures regarding your health while visiting any developing countries, so that you would not lose your precious time during holidays.
The first rule is not to eat anything that is “raw” such as raw meat, raw fish or raw vegetable including salads. Try to dine in the clean restaurants or hotels, and ensure that the food is properly cooked and clean. Avoid any food that has been prepared beforehand and kept in room temperature for a period of time, such as the food with condiments. You should completely avoid the precooked foods in the street stalls. Boiled rice, hot noodles, coffee and tea should be fine and safe. As of fruits, it is recommended that you take those that you peel by yourself.
Taking the bottled mineral water with seal intact is the best recommendation, I supposed. If this is not available in remote area, try to take at least the purified or boiled water. Some experienced travelers bring along with them the Halazone tablets and mix it with the drinking water to kill the bacteria. Do not drink any milk unless you are sure it has been pasteurized. Contaminated food and drink can cause vomiting, diarrhea, typhoid and Hepatitis A.
The local pharmacies in Vietnam can almost be found on every corner of the streets in the major cities. Purchasing the drugs over-the-counter is very easy and does not require any prescription. You should be aware that most of the medicines sold over-the-counter are often counterfeit or expired. Many antibiotics available here are generally obsolete and the diseases can be drug-resistant.
Before traveling to Vietnam, consult your doctor for the prescribed medicines in case you have a chronic illness. In addition to taking along the drugs with you, ask your doctor to write down the generic names of the drugs and keep it properly. This will help to avoid any confusion in case you need to buy that medicine in Vietnam, since the alias may be different. Some Western clinics and major hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and in Hanoi do have imported and authentic medicines.
Other Health Risks
You should take preventive measures against the mosquitoes as in any tropical country such as wearing long sleeves and long pant, especially at dusk. Generally, the anti-malarial pills like Chloroquine and Mefloquine are recommended, however if you were going to the remote area, then Doxycycline may be a better choice. Mosquitoes repellent are available locally and can help a lot from insect disturbance.
The newly arrival visitors to Vietnam can be more prone to diarrhea than the local people. Bring along with you Imodium (or Lomotil) and the Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) like Pedialyte can be a good idea in case of mild diarrhea. In severe case, consult a physician in Vietnam is the only alternative.
If you were bitten by dog, cat or monkey, try to locate its owner so that the animal can be tested. Vaccines should be taken in case of doubt.
Some Basic Facts:
In Vietnam, there are approximately 800 hospitals, providing around 40,000 beds. Most of the hospitals are publicly owned, but less than 20% are under the control of the Ministry of Health. The patient occupancy rates can range from 50% to 120%, as the beds are limited.
Health insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is recommended, as international standard healthcare is minimal, especially in rural areas.
List of Western Clinics Hospitals in Vietnam:
Ho Chi Minh City
1) OSCAT/AEA International Clinic
65 Nguyen Du, District 1
Tel: 848 829-8520
Fax: 848 829-8551
2) Columbia-Gia Dinh International Clinic
01 No Trang Long, Binh Thanh District
Tel: (848) 803-0678.
1) Hanoi Family Practice
A1 Van Phuc, Suite 109-112
2) AEA International Clinic
31 Hai Ba Trung
3) AEA International Services
(emergency medical evacuation)
4) Vietnam International Hospital
Tel.: 574-0740, 574-1111