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Is Vietnam safe to travel to?
Trek across diverse lands with transportation and medical safety in mind.
Vietnam is deemed a generally safe area for travelers with a few risks common to traveling abroad. Some main concerns include petty crime, unsafe transportation and poor emergency care throughout the country. But precautions, like ridesharing, getting vaccinations and buying travel insurance, can go a long way in keeping you safe while traveling to this unique country.
Is Vietnam safe to travel to in 2020?
Yes, Vietnam is considered a safe place to travel. The country holds a level 1 travel advisory from the US Department of State, which recommends standard precautions for traveling. However, Vietnam does see its fair share of petty crimes, such as theft, taxi or ATM scams, sexual harassment and even armed robberies.
How to stay safe in Vietnam
Safety precautions to take in Vietnam:
- Keep money and valuables in a hidden location, such as your hotel room.
- Look both ways before crossing any street by foot or vehicle, even in crosswalks or at traffic lights.
- Take multiple photos of your passport before arrival in case it gets lost or stolen.
- Note your options for an emergency in buildings or on public transportation. These areas may not include the safety and fire code standards US citizens are used to.
- Don’t travel to border areas without a travel permit. Borders are considered sensitive areas for policing.
- You’ll need a police report if any type of crime happens during your trip.
Weather in Vietnam
Vietnam has experienced natural disasters such as typhoons, landslides and earthquakes. Extreme rain and flooding weaves into the country’s normal weather expectations — downpours happen often. If traveling during the rainy season from June through December, you might keep an eye on weather especially along the coast.
Is the food and drink safe in Vietnam?
Watch out for food poisoning risks and unclean tap water.
Is it safe to eat food in Vietnam?
Food-handling techniques in Vietnam may not rise to Western standards, and food poisoning is common. Hotel restaurants and mainstream grocery stores may offer the safest food, but you should take precautions even then.
A few tips when picking a restaurant:
- Avoid raw or undercooked food, including meat, veggies and fruit. You might eat these if you wash the fruits and vegetables in bottled or purified water yourself.
- Avoid meat you can’t identify or that has been stored at room temperature.
- If you do choose a street vendor, go with vendors who have clean, tidy stalls. Stalls with three sides offer the most protection for food preparation.
- Avoid alcohol sold on the streets since these may be tainted.
- If you have a food allergy, learn which common foods have that food and consider learning the word for it in Vietnamese to tell your server or look for it on a menu. Street food might be a good option to see how your food is prepared.
Is the water safe to drink?
No, the tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink, so stick to bottled water with an intact seal. You can find bottled water in a variety of stores. You won’t need to bring your own supplies. To keep safe drinking water in Vietnam, follow these tips:
- Only drink bottled water and check that the cap is sealed before opening.
- Brush your teeth with bottled water to avoid swallowing the tap water.
- Boiled and disinfected water is safe, such as boiled tap water for tea and coffee.
Compare travel insurance for your trip to Vietnam
Do I need vaccinations before going to Vietnam?
Yes, you could benefit from a number of vaccinations before leaving for Vietnam. First and foremost, you should keep up-to-date with routine vaccines. The CDC and your doctor can best advise you about other relevant illnesses you may come in contact with, including:
- Measles — One dose for children under a year old, two doses at least 28 days apart for anyone over a year
- Hepatitis A — Can infect people through contaminated food or water
- Typhoid — Infection through food or water with higher risks for travelers visiting family or friends, rural areas or eating local food
- Japanese encephalitis — You may need this vaccine if you’re traveling to rural areas, staying outdoors or traveling for over one month in Vietnam.
- Hepatitis B — Can infect people through dirty needles or medical supplies, blood or sexual contact
- Rabies — You may need this if you’re staying outdoors much of the time, working around animals, traveling with children or for a long period of time.
- Malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses —You may need prescriptions throughout your trip to avoid mosquito bites, especially in rural areas or if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. You can also protect yourself by using mosquito repellent or nets and wearing loose, long-sleeved clothing.
Travel insurance may not cover you if you don’t take the recommended medication for travel to Vietnam.
Is it safe to drive in Vietnam?
No, driving conditions in Vietnam don’t compare to the safe roads in the US. Traffic accidents often cause serious injuries to travelers, some requiring emergency evacuation. Drivers don’t follow road rules, travel at high speeds and show chaotic driving behavior with little regard for passengers or pedestrians.
If you do drive, the law requires a Vietnamese driver’s license for any vehicle. Vietnam does not recognize US licenses or international licenses. Avoid traveling by scooter or motorcycle. Large cars may not yield to these less-protected vehicles. You might also want adequate car insurance coverage for international driving.
Is transportation safe in Vietnam?
You’ll need to stay cautious with most types of public transportation. Types of transportation you might find:
- Taxis. Taxis scams happen often in Vietnam. When hailing a taxi, ride with a reputable company that uses a working meter. If possible, get the taxi driver’s name, phone number and plate number ahead of time or at pickup.
- Ridesharing. Many locals and travelers use ridesharing services like GrabTaxi in Vietnam. Make sure the information in the app matches the driver before accepting the ride.
- Buses. Intercity buses may get involved in accidents, and drivers drive at high speeds using unsafe behavior. You also risk petty theft on buses.
- Boats. Before getting on a boat, confirm the vessel has adequate safety equipment. Vietnam’s maritime standards may not meet typical US standards.
- Airlines. The Federal Aviation Administration has not verified safety standards with Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority.
Is it safe to travel to Vietnam when pregnant?
Pregnant women do face several risks involved with traveling to Vietnam. First, some recommended vaccines are avoided or considered unsafe for pregnancy, including the measles and Japanese encephalitis vaccines. Food poisoning, malaria, typhoid, hepatitis A or encephalitis could cause pregnancy complications.
You can find medical treatment for minor illnesses or injuries in hubs like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. But these facilities and others throughout the country may not meet Western standards. Serious situations may require you to evacuate to Bangkok or Singapore.
Consult your doctor before traveling abroad while pregnant. Also, you might check your travel insurance policy to see any exclusions like traveling after a certain time period or the costs of childbirth.
Is Vietnam safe to travel alone?
Yes, solo travelers can stay safe in Vietnam by taking normal precautions that other travelers take. You’ll see a beaten path through Vietnam for backpackers. You’ll also find a large expat community especially in the major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. For added safety, keep these precautions in mind to steer clear of harm:
- Be aware of your belongings and your surroundings.
- Keep an eye on your drink to avoid it getting spiked.
- Book your accommodation before you arrive.
- Dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention.
- Only use reputable transportation companies.
What travel insurance do I need for Vietnam?
Consider several types of travel coverage for risks you face in Vietnam:
- Medical emergencies. At the least, you should consider coverage for medical expenses and evacuations in case you experience serious medical needs.
- Baggage coverage. Lost or stolen baggage coverage could help you recover costs if your travel carrier loses your luggage or if you become a victim of petty theft.
- Trip interruption. This coverage could help if you need to stay longer to deal with the logistics of a travel accident. It also helps if you cut your trip short for personal injuries or natural disasters.
- Trip cancellation. This coverage covers nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip for a variety of reasons. That can include natural disasters or unforeseen illnesses to your or your family.
While a fairly safe destination spot for your travels, Vietnam is known for its petty theft, food illnesses and sometimes substandard medical care. Consider travel coverage so you can focus on the rich culture of Vietnam and less on the safety risks of traveling there.
Frequently asked questions about traveling in Vietnam
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