Vietnam is rightly regarded as a relatively safe place by any standards. That does not mean you should not use common sense wherever you go. In cities particularly there is no guarantee that there are no petty criminals around.
No vaccination is required, but visitors are advised to receive inoculations against hepatitis A and B, typhoid and tetanus. Inoculation for yellow fever and tablets for malaria are not necessary although doctors still usually recommend them.
There are excellent hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and health care centres in all provinces, but facilities are limited and there is a lack of medicines. Health insurance is essential and should include cover for emergency repatriation by air. Immediate cash payment is expected for services. Call 115 in the case of a medical emergency.
Travellers who stay longer than three months need a negative HIV-test.
Other risks: Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes advised. Dengue fever continues to be a problem; guarding against mosquito bites is advised. Japanese encephalitis is found in Northern Vietnam, including Hanoi.
Vietnam is a relatively safe country for visitors, including women travelling alone. In fact, given the country’s recent history, many tourists, particularly Americans, are pleasantly surprised at the warm reception that foreign travellers receive. That said, petty crime is on the rise – though it’s still relatively small–scale and shouldn’t be a problem if you take common–sense precautions. Generally, the hassles you’ll encounter will be the milder sort of coping with pushy vendors and over–enthusiastic touts and beggars.
Finally, having anything to do with drugs in Vietnam is extremely unwise. At night there’s a fair amount of drug selling on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Nha Trang and even Sapa, and it’s not unknown for dealers to turn buyers in to the police. Fines and jail sentences are imposed for lesser offences, while the death penalty is regularly imposed for possessing, trading or smuggling larger quantities.
IN THIS SECTION