Health, Vaccinations & Hygiene in Vietnam

We look at the best seasons to travel to Vietnam, vaccinations to get before you go, plus food and water hygiene tips so you can enjoy your trip safely.

Medical Treatment in Vietnam

Medical facilities vary throughout the country with the city clinics and hospitals generally offering a good standard of care. You will most likely find that medical treatment in rural areas is poor or non existent. Private clinics tend to have the best standards however you will probably need to pay upfront.

Not all medications are available in Vietnam so pack what you need before you go (make sure the value is below US$100) and carry a doctor's letter with you highlighting what the medications are used for, dosage etc. Always declare these upon arrival into Vietnam, particularly if you have to carry medication worth more than US$100. 

Hyperbaric chambers are available in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa) and Binh Dinh (Quy Nhon).

Vaccinations for Vietnam

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travelers to Vietnam:

  • Routine vaccinations such as diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio
  • Hepatitis A & B. Hep B should be the norm for all travelers. It's given as three shots over six months and offers lifetime protection for 95% of people.
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese Encephalitis – if your trip will be longer than a month, the northern areas experience seasonal epidemics particularly during May to October)

For more information, visit your doctor prior to travel.

Mosquito-Borne Disease

Malaria & Dengue Fever

The mosquito-borne illnesses malaria and dengue fever are prevalent in Vietnam, particularly in the south. There has been an increase in the number of cases reported, and deaths from dengue fever with more than 184,000 cases and 32 deaths reported in 2017; 60,000 more cases than 2016.

Mosquitoes carrying malaria and dengue fever love the wet climate, so be careful when trekking in mountainous places like Sapa. There are no vaccinations available for dengue fever and it's advise to take anti-malarials prior to departure. Wear long trousers and socks, sleep under a mosquito ne,  and use a strong insect repellent.

Keep in mind it's advised not to take aspirin or ibuprofen until dengue fever has been ruled out.

Zika Virus

Zika virus continues to be an issue in Vietnam. Like dengue fever, there is no vaccination available so make sure you take precautions to avoid being bitten.

Japanese Encephalitis

This disease is prevalent throughout Vietnam, with the highest number of cases reported in northern Vietnam including north of Hanoi and border regions with China. Vaccination is available and bite prevention is recommended.

Food, Water & Hygiene

One of the highlights for travelers in Vietnam is sampling the local food. Keep in mind that hygiene standards for street stalls and restaurants can vary.

If it looks like it might make you sick, it probably will. 

Outbreaks of water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A occur from time to time in Vietnam. Avoid salads, ice cubes or icy drinks, anything directly washed with water, unpeeled fruit and vegies or uncooked foods. Practising good hygiene can also help guard against diarrhoea and other tummy bugs.

If you do suffer form a severe diarrhoea outbreak, visit a local hospital. 

Hand, foot & mouth disease is common throughout Vietnam, with outbreaks occuring during the year. Take precautions to avoid contracting it with good personal hygiene, i.e. lots of hand washing.

Water can't be consumed from the public water system in Vietnam. Aside from the risk of getting a tummy bug, it can be highly chlorinated. Stick to boiled or treated water.

Climate and Weather

Located in the tropical zone, Vietnam has plenty of sunshine, high rainfall, humidity and monsoons.

The average temperature is between 22C to 27C, with two distinguished seasons.

Seasons in the South

The cold and dry season lasts from November to April, and the hot and wet season from May to October.

sFlooding is common in the Mekong River Delta between August and November, when southeast Asia receives monsoon rains.

Seasons in the North

The north has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Flooding is common from June to December in and around Hanoi, in Northern Vietnam. 

The best time to visit the country is from October to April. Pack light and easy-to-dry clothing, as the weather can go from buckets to sunshine within minutes.

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