Most major towns in Vietnam will have a public hospital, but these can be poorly equipped and overcrowded. Also you will probably need a Vietnamese speaker to assist with translation. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have a few well equipped private hospitals with English speaking staff.
Most of the problems that visitors encounter are minor, such as upset stomach, and not a cause for concern. Usually these clear up within 24 hours. However, if you are unlucky enough to suffer something more serious then either go to one of the private hospitals in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, or fly to Bangkok.
The only compulsory immunisation required by the Vietnamese authorities is the yellow fever vaccine if you have come from an infected area.
Ask your doctor for advice regarding the immunisations that are advisable for your trip to Vietnam. This should be done 6 to 8 weeks before your departure date. The following vaccines are generally recommended for adults:
A pharmacy will be found in most cities and town in Vietnam. They sell a wide range of products, both locally and internationally produced. However, they are not always dispensed with the correct dosage information and warnings. Also the drugs may be much stronger than those in your own country. If you need medication bring it with you.
It is also a good idea to purchase a medical kit before you leave home. Your doctor or local pharmacy should be able to advise.
By international standards the cost of medical treatment in Vietnam is surprisingly low. Nevertheless health and accident insurance is strongly recommended. Make sure that the policy covers you for a visit to Vietnam, many do not.
Adjusting to the tropical climate of South Vietnam can take a while, but you can lessen the degree of discomfort by heeding a few suggestions.
- After bathing, dry thoroughly and apply powder.
- Use a fan to circulate air instead of air-conditioning. This will greatly speed up the process of acclimatisation.
Tap water comes from various sources. In major towns and cities it may have passed through a treatment plant. However, this is no guarantee of its purity so don't drink it.
Bottled water is provided in most hotels, and can also be bought easily and inexpensively at most shops. Make sure the seal is intact before you buy. Avoid ice cubes unless you are sure they are made from purified water.
If you are going to high risk area such as Ca Mau seek medical advice before you leave. Such advice is best obtained from organisations like the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, in London, who have the latest information. Some strains of Malaria parasite are now resistant to the more common anti-malarial drugs. Therefore, it is important to check ensure that you have the correct medication for the country you are going to visit.
Generally it is wise to take sensible precautions to avoid insect bites at all times. If windows are fitted with insect screens use them. The sensible use of an insect spray to kill any invaders is also recommended. Several different brands are available in the shops.
Rabies is endemic in Vietnam so if you are bitten by an animal seek medical advice immediately. You should also ask your doctor about vaccination against rabies before you leave home.
If you don't know how this disease is transmitted find out right now!
If you do require an injection of any kind, watch carefully to see that the doctor or nurse uses a new syringe and needle, or take on with you. Condoms are widely available throughout the country.