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The Best of

Vietnam

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It is relatively safe to swim in the ocean in Vietnam. Factory spills pose the greatest risk to swimmers. Authorities are required to alert swimmers if there could be an issue but be alert to any strange red, brown, or dark blue water. Swimmers should also be wary of undertows.

There are three emergency numbers in Vietnam.

Police: 113 Medical assistance: 115 Firefighters: 114 If you are the victim of a crime, report it to your consulate. You should also get in touch with your embassy if your passport is stolen or goes missing. It’s a good idea to have your embassy’s contact information with you while you travel.

In the event that a U.S. citizen is a victim of a crime, they can dial (202) 501-4444 to reach the embassy.

Canadians can call 613-996-8885 to get in touch with the Emergency Watch and Response center in Ottawa.

Vietnam is a safe country for visitors. Violent crimes against tourists are quite rare. There are pockets of crime, just like everywhere else in the world, and reports of pickpocketing and purse-grabbing have been the most frequent in Ho Chi Minh City. Visitors should mostly be wary of low-level scams — look out for overcharging taxis, counterfeit or low-quality goods, and unlicensed tour guides. There are many types of crime in Vietnam that visitors probably won’t encounter. Governmental corruption is an issue and government officials offer very little transparency. The police force is not much different — It’s a common complaint that police will fine drivers for made-up offenses and pocket the money for themselves.

It is easy to get medicine in Vietnam, although you should always bring necessary medication with you. Vietnam’s pharmacies are stocked with medicines that typically require a prescription in the U.S. Read the labels carefully!

Water is not safe to drink in Vietnam. Only drink bottled water.

You can easily exchange money in banks once you arrive. There are money exchange counters at the airport, but they won’t give you the best exchange rate. If you need to get some money right away, hotels in large cities and major destinations should also be able to exchange your money. Otherwise, talk to a local guide or travel planner about which spots offer the best deals.

There are mosquitoes in Vietnam, especially in humid areas like the Mekong Delta. Be sure to bring strong mosquito repellent with you. You don't have to worry as much about mosquitoes in the mountains.

You are not required to get any vaccinations before you visit Vietnam, unless you’re traveling from a country that the CDC has flagged for yellow fever. Travel doctors or the CDC may recommend some medications, depending on what you plan to do. Malaria is possible in rural parts of Vietnam, and there have been cases in reported in Mekong Delta. The CDC only recommends “mosquito avoidance” for this area. Mosquito repellent with DEET is shown to effectively ward off mosquitos.

Japanese encephalitis is only of concern for people who intend to work closely with livestock, so it’s probably not a cause for concern for you on your vacation.

If you have any concerns, consult wtih your physician. Travel doctors typically have the latest information about what infectious diseases are of most concern in each region.

Medical facilities in popular destinations and large cities often staff an international doctor who speaks English. State-run hospitals are not as modern or as well-stocked as you’ll find in the U.S. or Europe, but they have no trouble handling basic medical complaints. Private clinics have nicer facilities and more advanced treatments. While traveler’s insurance is always advisable, you can also rest assured that medical treatment here is far less expensive than it is in the United States. That being said, travel insurance is always advisable.

Rural Vietnam has much more limited medical facilities. If you need emergency medical treatment, you’ll most likely need to a medevac to a hospital in the nearest city. This is quite expensive — one of the many reasons to buy travel insurance.

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