Before traveling to a certain place, it is important to acknowledge some basic information about the health situation in that destination. If Vietnam is your choice this vacation, then you should read on the whole article here as we will give you what you need to know about health tips in Vietnam before going.
Before you go
Before traveling to Vietnam, be sure to purchase insurance for your trip. Two months before you leave, you should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information on health risks in Vietnam and to receive any vaccinations you may need. Pregnant women should consult their doctors for specialized advice. Anti-malarial drugs and many diarrhea treatments are not completely safe during pregnancy.
If you have a medical condition or allergy of which requires particular attention, carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. Here is our recommended medical kit, including:
- DEET-based insect repellent
- Paracetemol or ibuprofen for pain relief
- Anti-itch ointment, such as hydrocortison
- Antihistamine for allergy treatment, such as zertec, benadryl
- Bacitracin for wound care, such as neosporin
- Diarrhea treatment, such as imodium
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is recommended for tourists to Southeast Asia to take the following vaccinations:
- Adult diphtheria & tetanus single booster is recommended if you have had none in the past 10 years.
Hepatitis A: supplies nearly 100% protection for about 1 year. A booster after 12 months will supply at least another protection of 20 years.
- Hepatitis B: is considered as common routine for most tourists. Lifetime protection happens in 95% of population.
Mumps, measles and rubella (MMR): just two doses of this vaccination are required if you do not have had those diseases. A lot of young adults tend to require a booster.
- Typhoid: it is recommended if your trip is over one week and just to developed cities. This vaccine offers about 70% protection and can last for 2-3 years.
- Varicella: discuss the vaccination with a doctor if you have not had chickenpox.
Common health issues in Vietnam
Pollution in Vietnam
One of the most common health issues in Vietnam is the air pollution. Air pollutants may aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms. Symptoms include scratchy throat and nasal drip. For anyone with respiratory ailments, invest in a small mask while traveling around metropolitan areas, or plan to spend more time in the countryside if possible.
The risk of contracting malaria is heightened in the rural highlands. Consider taking anti-malarial medication if you plan to travel to any remote destinations in Vietnam. Dengue fever has become increasingly problematic in Southeast Asia and occurs mostly in the Mekong Delta, including Ho Chi Minh City. With no vaccines available, the best preventive measure is to wear bug spray during the hours of sunrise and sunset.
Vietnam tends to be hot and humid year round. Don’t underestimate the strength of the sun. Sunburn can happen quickly: it’s best to wear sunscreen throughout the day. Be vigilant with reapplication, especially at beachside destinations. Dehydration is another concerns, as well as heat exhaustion, which may show up in symptoms such as headaches and irritability. Drink plenty of water. Heatstroke is a more serious consequence of overexposure to sun and may require hospital treatment. If you’re feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous, and have a temperature of over 41°C, get medical help immediately.
Traveller’s diarrhea is a common concern when in new countries. Stick to bottled water and avoid ice in rural areas. To avoid contracting bacteria, look for restaurants with a high turnover of customers and those that prepare freshly cooked food. Generally street food in Vietnam is quite safe, but always use your own judgement when choosing from vendors. If you experience stomach upsets or diarrhea, take rehydration salts and stay hydrated. If the problems persist, seek medical attention.
Hospitals in Vietnam
Major cities such as Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City have a number of state-owned and private hospitals with English-speaking staff. While small pharmacies are common in almost any Vietnamese city, in the rural areas you may be far from the nearest pharmacy or hospital.
Other health tips in Vietnam
- It is necessary to be careful of what you are drinking. In many areas of Vietnam, tap water is heavily chlorinated, particular in urban areas. Avoid it. Stick to bottled water which is sold out everywhere. In general, ice is safe in cities and resorts, and is usually added to coffee and beverages.
- Fact is, even on a day that seems cloudy, sunburn could happen quickly. So, you should always use a strong sunscreen with the SPF of at least 30. Besides, try to reapply sunscreen after having a swim. Don’t forget to wear a hat and avoid sun rays from 10 am to 2 pm.
- Even when you are healthy and fit, you should still not travel without health insurance. Who knows, accidents may happen. If your own health insurance does not cover you for medical expenses abroad, then you had better get extra insurance. Because emergency evacuation is rather expensive, so warrant that your policy already covers this.
Besides health issue and health tips in Vietnam, it’s also necessary to know about safety in the destination. Click here to find out more about Safety in Vietnam for tourists.