The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
Vietnam is a developing nation classified as lower middle income. Located in Southeast Asia along the South China Sea (east of Cambodia and Thailand), the climate is classified as humid equatorial (short dry season) in the north and humid equatorial (long dry season) in the south.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, or typhoid fever. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2018) Malaria risk due predominantly to P. falciparum exists in the entire country, excluding urban centres, the Red River delta, the Mekong delta, and the coastal plain areas of central Viet Nam. High-risk areas are the highland areas below 1500 m south of 18°N, notably in the four central highlands provinces of Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, and Kon Tum; in Binh Phuoc Province; and in the western parts of the coastal provinces of Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Quang Nam, and Quang Tri. Resistance to mefloquine reported.
- Recommended prevention in risk areas: C – Risk of P. falciparum malaria, in combination with reported chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine resistance. Mosquito bite prevention plus atovaquone–proguanil or doxycycline or mefloquine chemoprophylaxis (select according to reported side effects and contraindications) a
aAlternatively, for travel to rural areas with low risk of malaria infection, mosquito bite prevention can be combined with stand–by emergency treatment (SBET).
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: Rural areas only. Rare cases in the Mekong and Red River Deltas. None in the cities of Da Nang, Haiphong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Nha Trang, and Qui Nhon.
- Estimated relative risk of malaria for US travelers: Low.
- Drug resistance4: Chloroquine and mefloquine.
- Malaria species: P. falciparum 50%-90%, P. vivax 10%-50%, P. knowlesi rare.
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: Southern part of the country in the provinces of Dac Lac, Gia Lai, Khanh Hoa, Kon Tum, Lam Dong, Ninh Thuan, Song Be, Tay Ninh: Atovaquone-proguanil or doxycycline. Other areas with malaria except Mekong and Red River Deltas: Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. Mekong and Red River Deltas: Mosquito avoidance only.
4 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
Moderate risk exists throughout the country, including in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Other Food-Borne Illnesses
Precautions to prevent seafood poisoning may be needed.
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Other Disease and Health Risks
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
No intrinsic risk of attack by terrorist groups exists, but unforeseen attacks are possible.
Moderate risk of violent crime (armed robbery and sexual assault) exists in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Sa Pa (especially on the train from Lao Cai), and on Cat Ba Island (near Ha Long Bay).
High risk of petty crime exists in large cities, especially in areas frequented by tourists (including hotels and markets), particularly during the Christmas and Tet seasons.
Theft of valuables by criminals in passing vehicles is common.
Scams involving private card games (where travelers are invited by "friendly" strangers and incur substantial financial loss) and exorbitant fees for services have been reported.
Risk exists of robberies and/or assaults occurring after consuming intentionally drugged food or drink; tourists are frequently targeted.
Protests and demonstrations may infrequently occur and have the potential to turn violent without warning.
Landmines and other unexploded ordnance may be present, and restrictions may exist in areas bordering Laos and in the Central Highlands.
Piracy (involving commercial and private, leisure vessels) occurs in coastal waters.
Passenger boats may be unsafe, including ferries (especially in Ha Long Bay). Decline water transportation in vessels that appear overloaded or lack personal flotation devices or life jackets.
Rent water sports equipment from reputable operators. Scuba dive only with personnel certified by PADI or NAUI, and use equipment only from PADI- or NAUI-certified dive operators.
Basic safety standards for adventure activities may not be in place. Travelers should only use reputable adventure-sport operators for activities and equipment rentals.
Very high risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is greater than 24 per 100,000 population, the highest risk category. Carefully assess the safety of transportation options before any road travel. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark. Driving at night is not advised.
Traffic flows on the right-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
Many taxis are unsafe. Use taxis from official ranks or dispatched via smart phone app or radio from a reputable company and ascertain the license or identification number of the dispatched vehicle.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the civil aviation authority of this country oversees its air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards.
The typhoon season is from June through December, especially in northern and central coastal areas. The monsoon season is from June through September in northern and southern areas and from October through December in central areas. Floods, mudslides, and landslides may occur, especially in Hanoi and surrounding areas and in areas along the Red and Mekong rivers.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in Vietnam
- United States: [+84] 24-3850-5000; vn.usembassy.gov
- Canada: [+84] 4-3734-5000; www.vietnam.gc.ca
- United Kingdom: [+84] 24-3936-0500; www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-hanoi
- Australia: [+84] 24-3774-0100; www.vietnam.embassy.gov.au
Vietnam's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: www.vietnamembassy-usa.org
- In Canada: www.vietnamembassy.ca
- In the U.K.: www.vietnamembassy.org.uk
- In Australia: www.vietnamembassy.org.au
HIV testing is not required to obtain a tourist, work, or residence visa.