Vietnam is one of the safest countries in Asia, and probably in the world. It has a stable government, the level of civil unrest is insignificant, crime levels are very low in comparison with most countries, and natural disasters affecting visitors are rare.
Providing they take basic commonsense measures, very few people have health problems in Vietnam. Malaria is now a problem in only a few remote areas, and mass immunisation programmes have minimised the incidence of infectious diseases. In all cases, wise travellers will check with their local medical specialist, even if only to confirm that recommended vaccinations are up to date.
It is best to assume that drinking water is risky throughout Vietnam. Bottled water, soft drinks and beer are freely available and cheap. Vietnamese food is nearly always cooked from fresh ingredients, so getting an upset stomach is probably less likely in a street side café than in an international restaurant that re-heats pre-prepared food.
The major health dangers are the effect of the sun and tropical heat. European skin will begin to burn very quickly on a hot day even if the sky is overcast: reputable high UV protection barrier lotions and cream are essential. Sunstroke is also a high risk: a wide brimmed hat that will shade the back of the neck as well as the eyes is better than a baseball cap. Heavy sweating caused by high humidity drains the body’s water supply rapidly. Drink plenty of water to replenish it and thus avoid unpleasant dehydration – several litres per day is generally recommended.
Health facilities are good in the big cities, limited in other urban areas and almost nonexistent elsewhere. If you are taking medication, bring a supply with you – a wide range of drugs are available in city pharmacies, but the selection is by no means comprehensive.
In the streets
Vietnamese traffic drives in the right (mostly) and has a somewhat cavalier regard for road safety. Pedestrian crossings, where they exist, are almost invariably ignored, so visitors need to exercise care. The best technique is to wait for a lull in the traffic, then walk steadily and purposefully across the road – oncoming bicycles and vehicles will move to one side to avoid a pedestrian. Hopping about trying to avoid the traffic makes an accident more likely.
In the cities, and especially in Ho Chi Minh City, petty crime can sometimes be a problem. To avoid difficulties, don’t:
• leave personal belongings unattended - put them somewhere safe or keep them with you
• carry a shoulder strap handbag or camera bag – a bag with a handgrip will deter motorbike bag snatchers
• carry large amounts of cash or vital documents – nearly all hotels have secure storage
• count money while standing at an ATM - put it in a safe place immediately and check it elsewhere
Most crime in Vietnam is low-level and opportunistic, and is uncommon in comparison with major cities elsewhere.
If you travel with Haivenu, you’ll be driven in a high-quality vehicle by an experienced driver with an unblemished safety record. The places you visit will be safe and managed properly. For example, we only use officially licensed boats on Ha Long Bay, and always moor in a secure area for overnight stays.
Of course, accidents can occur at any time. All Haivenu guides are experienced and chosen not only for their local knowledge, but also for their sense of responsibility and ability to act decisively. They can be relied upon to take prompt, effective action when a situation merits it. The safety of guests is always top priority.