an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at
the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City. OSAC
encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Vietnam. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s
Vietnam page for original OSAC reporting,
consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only
to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication
assesses Vietnam at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal
precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Ho Chi Minh City as being a HIGH-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Despite this assessment, most visitors feel relatively safe. The level of crime
is comparable to other cities of similar size throughout Asia. Visitors
regularly fall victim to non-violent property crimes, which are usually
non-confrontational crimes of opportunity. Pick-pocketing and other petty
crimes occur regularly. Although violent crimes such as armed robbery are still
relatively rare in Vietnam, perpetrators have grown increasingly bold, and
there are reports of criminals using pipes, knives, and razors in attempted
robberies in Ho Chi Minh City. Thieves congregate around hotels frequented by
foreign tourists and foreign expats and areas such as Ben Thanh Market. Victims
have reported assaults in outlying areas at night. Another increasingly common
tactic is for a female associate to approach a male victim on the street,
grabbing and rubbing him while propositioning him with sexual favors in order
to distract the victim while picking his pockets. Maintaining an extremely high
level of situational awareness and alertness at all times is critical to
avoiding becoming a victim of this type of petty street crime. Do not resist
theft attempts; report them immediately to local police and to the U.S.
Theft from motor scooter is a popular modus operandi whereby criminals
grab bags and purses from victims while speeding past. This approach can cause
serious injury to victims if they are unable to extricate themselves from bag
straps quickly; motor scooters can drag victims behind them at high speeds. Carrying
bags on the arm opposite curbside and walking as far away as possible from the
edge of the curb can discourage potential motor scooter thieves. Smart phones
are very popular with motor scooter thieves, who snatch them from victims’
hands while passing. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should
The four to six weeks prior to the
Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) is typically the peak crime period of the year; those
preparing to return to their families and villages for the holiday seek to
acquire high-value gifts and cash rapidly to satisfy traditional gift-giving
requirements. During the one-week holiday (dates vary each year), police and
public security agencies remain at full operational staffing in order to
maintain peace and order in crowded public spaces, and to respond to the
increase in domestic disputes and residential burglaries of vacated homes.
Violent crime (e.g. homicide,
armed robbery, kidnapping) involving foreigners remains relatively rare.
sexual assault of foreigners by Vietnamese citizens does not appear to be
common, the Embassy is aware of two incidents that occurred in 2019. One involved
a foreign-national perpetrator traveling with the victim; in the other case, the
U.S. Consulate never confirmed the identity of the perpetrator. Incidents are likely
underreported to the U.S. Consulate due to the difficultly of obtaining police
assistance or a viable prosecution in all sexual assault cases, but
particularly in cases involving two foreigners or any incident not involving
extreme force and injury. Anecdotally, several Western consulates in Ho Chi
Minh City noted an increase in reports of rape in 2018-19, which coincides with
increased tourism and easing of visa restrictions.
Residential security is generally
good, if appropriate and adequate security measures are in place. These
measures include the consistent use of good deadbolt locks, securing all
man-passable entries, and using alarms and perimeter walls and gates.
Hotel rooms are generally safe if
occupants take sensible precautions, such as securing all money and valuables,
including electronic and mobile devices, in the room safe. Laptops and mobile
devices are subject to tampering; some U.S. government travelers have reported
the contents of their secured hotel room safes were obviously disturbed,
although no items went missing. Review
OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and Outs
and Considerations for Hotel Security.
Consulate local staff members have reported receiving a phone call from a post
office or bank claiming that the employee owes a bank a large sum of money. This
call usually involves a bank with whom the employee does not have a bank
account, and might even be in a different city. The bank or post office then
provides the phone number of a police officer that the employee can contact to
report that they are victim of fraud. Although the phone number does appear to
originate from a legitimate police office, these phone calls are part of a
scam. The “post office” or “bank” and the “police investigators” are all part
of a scheme to bilk money from the victim. The “police” will threaten to arrest
the employee unless they cooperate by opening a bank account and transferring a
large sum of money into it, which is then withdrawn without the victim’s
knowledge. Victims receiving this type of phone call should end the
U.S. citizens who form small
business ventures with Vietnamese partners have reported threats from their
partners or employees if the business relationship deteriorates. Some foreign expatriates
have faced threats, vandalism, and harassment in connection with their business
dealings, but have not reported acts of physical harm.
Organized crime syndicates
continue to accrue influence and power since their comeback in the past decade.
These criminal organizations focus much of their attention on drug manufacture,
sales, and smuggling; extortion schemes and protection rackets; manufacturing
and distribution of counterfeit goods; and
Banks in Vietnam reported
detecting skimming devices attached to ATMs, as well as cameras recording PIN
code keypad entries. Despite a police request for Vietnam’s commercial banks to
install and test anti-skimming devices on ATMs, most banks have not yet done
so. Most ATMs in Vietnam use simple technologies that render these machines
particularly vulnerable to theft of cash using fake credit and ATM cards. The
majority of ATM scams in Vietnam are the responsibility of non-Vietnamese
nationals. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud,
and Taking Credit.
In early December 2019, authorities
identified a Vietnamese state-backed threat group, APT32, also known as “Ocean
Lotus,” for cyberattacks that compromised the networks of BMW and Hyundai over
several months. The hacking group has mainly targeted foreign businesses with a
stake in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. Since 2017, the group has
incessantly targeted the automotive industry.
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi,
Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best
Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Other Areas of
While the Consulate has not
declared any areas off-limits, the Government of Vietnam considers certain
areas of the Central Highlands bordering Cambodia and Laos politically sensitive;
these areas are still open to tourists. Avoid military installations and camps
in these areas. Foreigners must enter and exit Vietnam through a major
international land or seaport, and cannot cross overland into Laos, Cambodia,
or China except at designated international checkpoints.
the State Department’s webpage on customs and
import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or
out of other countries.
Road Safety and Road
The combination of a chaotic road
system and common disregard for traffic laws makes crossing the street and
driving/riding in traffic two of the most dangerous activities in Vietnam. Police
are unable to control the burgeoning number of vehicles on the road, which
includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, and motor scooters. The number of traffic
enforcement police is simply insufficient to deal with the number of vehicles
on the road.
In 2019, Vietnam’s jam-packed
streets continue to worsen. A large influx of motor vehicles plus an increasing
amount of motorbikes has created a chaotic traffic scene in Ho Chi Minh City on
a regular basis. Combined with poorly maintained sidewalks, inadequate traffic
controls (i.e. stoplights at intersections), and the common practice of using
sidewalks as parking spaces for motor scooters creates a precarious environment
Vehicles, particularly city buses,
do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Accidents involving motor scooters
are common, and a motor vehicle accident can quickly draw large crowds with intense
arguments between those involved. Drivers of cars and motor scooters alike frequently
text on their cell phones while driving, further aggravating erratic driving
By Western standards, the
comparative death toll from traffic-related accidents is high. The leading
cause of death due to unnatural causes for U.S. citizens in Vietnam is motor
scooter accidents. Although the Government of Vietnam requires that all adult motor
scooter drivers and riders wear a helmet, there are no safety standards for these
helmets. As a result, most available helmets are substandard and provide
minimal, if any, protection to the wearer. Those planning to drive/ride motor
scooters in Vietnam should use a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved
If the passenger of a vehicle
opens a car door and hits or causes injury to a passing motor scooter, the
driver of the vehicle is responsible; police will detain them and confiscated
their driver’s license for an indefinite period.
OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State
Department’s webpage on driving and road safety
There are no U.S. government
restrictions on public transportation. Exercise vigilance with personal
belongings on crowded intra- and inter-city buses, both public and private.
Due to poor management, deteriorating
infrastructure, and a culture of disregarding traffic signals at crossings,
railway accidents are common. Most fatalities occur when a train collides with
a vehicle driving on roads built illegally over train tracks. Collisions and derailments
contribute to train delays, with most of these accidents taking place on the
popular route connecting Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City.
Take only marked and metered
taxis. The taxi industry is unregulated, allowing each taxi company to set its
own rates. Some metered taxis use rigged meters that accumulate charges rapidly.
MaiLinh and VinaSun taxi companies are the two main, registered taxi companies
that use fair meters.
Beware of fake taxis. Identify authentic
taxis by the correct telephone number painted on their sides, uniformed drivers,
equipment (e.g. meter, receipt machine, and tablet for GPS next to driver), and
unique taxi number inscribed on the rear of the front headrests and prominently
displayed on the exterior of the vehicle itself.
Grab Taxi, Grab Bike, and GoViet
are popular and safe to use where available. When using a ride-sharing service,
ensure that the license plate of the vehicle matches that on your app.
Negotiate the fare for xe om
(motor scooter taxi), pedicabs, and cyclo-rickshaws (pedicabs) prior to using,
and do not take these forms of transportation at night. Passengers riding in
cyclo-rickshaws may be especially prone to theft of personal possessions by
snatch-and-grab thieves, because they ride in a semi-reclining position that
readily exposes their belongings and does not allow for good visibility or
movement. Some cyclo-rickshaw drivers have reportedly kidnapped passengers and
extorted money; it may be risky to hire cyclo-rickshaw not associated with
reputable hotels or restaurants.
OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes,
Public Transport, and Overnights.
Ho Chi Minh City’s airport, Tân
Sơn Nhất (SGN), meets ICAO standards. Some flights, particularly those of budget
airlines, do not board at the gate, but instead use buses to transport
passengers from the gate to tarmac.
Take precautions when choosing
ground transportation at the airport. Travelers have reported robberies at the
hands of drivers who greet them upon arrival with a placard showing the
traveler's name. To minimize this, ask the company for the driver’s name, phone
number, and license plate number before traveling, and never let the driver see
your wallet. Write down or take a picture of the name of the taxi company,
plate number, and any other identifying information so that in any incident you
can report it to the local authorities. Do not patronize taxi touts,
particularly at the airports; these individuals have been involved in “express
kidnapping” schemes wherein they take passengers to remote areas and threaten
them until they agree to withdraw money from ATMs. Avoid over-the-counter
pre-payments at taxi booths for taxi rides from the airport; these are for
Take only licensed and metered
taxis from established airport taxi queues. Taxi touts (i.e., unlicensed cabs)
are illegal. At the international arrivals terminal, the taxi queue is located
curbside to the left of the doors exiting the terminal building, as indicated
by signs. Outside the domestic arrivals terminal, there are two legal taxi
queues. The first queue is curbside and includes taxis from all companies
except for MaiLinh and VinaSun; these companies have a separate queue located
in the center island, easily identifiable by Taxi Ambassadors wearing green
button-down shirts assisting with communicating destinations to taxi drivers. At
the taxi queue, passengers can use any taxi in the queue, and do not have to
use the first taxi. Insist on using the taxi company of your choice. Other
airports in south and central Vietnam also have legal taxi queues that travelers
Pedestrians do not have the right
of way, even when crossing with the light in a crosswalk. When crossing the
street, even within a crosswalk, look both ways before stepping into the
street. Walk at a steady pace following a predictable (i.e. straight-line)
trajectory towards the other side. Do not zigzag, stop, or speed up or slow
down suddenly. Motor scooter drivers will swerve around you as long as they can
predict your location in the crosswalk based on your speed and path. Adults must
hold the hands of children tightly near or in a crosswalk. Buses do not slow
down for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Legitimate tour guides and
operators must have licenses and registration. Waterfalls and other areas of
natural beauty lack safety guards and warnings typical in the United States. Many
boat tourism operators lack basic safety and rescue equipment on their vessels.
Local, Regional, and
International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Ho Chi Minh City as being a LOW-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. In September 2019, authorities detained an individual for allegedly
causing an explosion in Binh Duong Province’s tax office, charging him with a
terrorism offense. The explosion may have taken place in a restroom inside the
four-story building. Authorities claim the individual was acting under the
guidance of a U.S-based organization called the "Provisional National
Government of Vietnam," which is classified as a terrorist organization in
Vietnam. The Vietnamese government has also designated California-based “Viet
Tan” as a terrorist organization and accused the group of training members to
sneak into Vietnam to organize protests and instigate violence.
Most Vietnamese regard most
Westerners in a positive manner, and are friendly to foreigners. The most
recent Pew Research poll of Vietnamese showed 84% had a favorable view of the
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Ho Chi Minh City as being a LOW-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
government interests. Public security officials highly discourage civil unrest.
Demonstrations, protests, and marches may proceed only with a government-issued
permit. Although public security officials periodically allow smaller, more
spontaneous demonstrations to proceed, once the size of the crowd reaches a
certain mass, the police will end the protest using force, if necessary.
Demonstrations at the U.S.
Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City are commonplace, but rarely focus on the U.S.
Government or its citizens. Instead, demonstrators take advantage of the
Consulate’s high profile and large numbers of visa applicants to air their
complaints against the Government of Vietnam. Periodically, these
demonstrations temporarily disrupt Consulate operations; however, police rarely
allow disruptions to persist. Usually, the demonstrators are land-rights
activists protesting the Vietnamese
government’s uncompensated seizures of land.
No large-scale protests occurred
in Vietnam for 2019. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
The government strictly controls
all forms of political speech (particularly dissent) whether on the internet,
in the traditional media, or in public fora. Individuals engaging in public
actions the government deems political or critical of the government or
Communist Party are subject to harassment,
surveillance, detention, and arrest. This includes criticizing the
government or Communist Party, and/or their policies; possession of political
and religious materials; and unsanctioned religious activities (i.e.
proselytizing). Private conversations can lead to legal actions; U.S. citizens
have faced arrest for political activities in Vietnam. The new cybersecurity
law, which came into effect on January 1, 2019, criminalizes anti-government
content and allows investigators to request user data from internet service
providers. Review OSAC’s report, Lèse Majesté: Watching what you say (and type) abroad.
Tensions between the central
government and ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands provinces on the
western border of Vietnam continue; the government considers the ethnic
minorities to be a national security issue. A number of ethnic minority groups
from this area report harassment and persecution. Vietnam does not experience
large-scale ethnic violence; tensions between ethnic minorities and the
Government of Vietnam do not affect tourists.
Photographing military, police, or
other government facilities may result in detention and questioning, as well as
the confiscation of film or photography equipment. Detention of individuals
traveling to sensitive areas and taking photographs of sensitive areas or
situations has occurred. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for
South and central Vietnam
experiences two seasons: wet and dry. In Ho Chi Minh City and the central
Highlands, the dry season runs from December to March; rainy season is from
April to October/November, with minimal chance of typhoons, since wind speeds
greatly diminish inland. Resultant rains routinely cause severe street flooding
throughout the city. Police occasionally close bridges connecting Districts 1
and 2 if vehicles cannot pass safely. Due to poor drainage, even brief but
heavy downpours will cause flooding, disrupting traffic. Due to safety
concerns, many taxis and on-demand drivers will not drive when streets start to
flood, stranding people until rain abates and flooding subsides.
Typhoons strike the central coastal
areas of Vietnam, resulting in flooding and landslides, causing severe property
damage and posing a hazard to local populations. In November, Tropical Storm Matmo
killed one person, tore the roof off many residences, uprooted many trees, and
destroyed over 250 houses in the Central provinces.
Additionally, the Mekong Delta in
southern Vietnam is particularly vulnerable to severe flooding during the rainy
season. Climate change has caused environmental deterioration in the Mekong
Delta, further aggravating drought, saline intrusion, and flooding in the
Vietnam is home to a variety of
dangerous and poisonous insects and snakes. Hikers should take appropriate
precautions when walking in heavily forested areas and national parks. Review
OSAC’s report, When Wildlife Attacks.
Electricity is generally stable,
as are water supplies. However, in October, an oily sludge contaminated the Da
River, a crucial water source for one of Hanoi’s local water treatment plants. Subsequently,
authorities arrested three suspects for dumping waste oil into a stream, an act
that affected approximately 1.4 million people in the capital.
The theft of intellectual property
(IP) remains a problem in Vietnam. Despite revamped IPR laws on the books, IP
enforcement and prosecutions do not deter rights violations. Several
enforcement agencies are involved in and vested with the authority to address
infringement issues. However, the lines of responsibility are not clear, and
the lack of human resources and technical knowledge often results in poor
enforcement at both the market and street level. A wide variety of counterfeit
consumer goods, including pirated CDs and DVDs, are readily available
throughout Vietnam. Court actions are lengthy and relatively costly; therefore,
administrative enforcement has been the most effective approach and should be
the first step in dealing with infringement cases.
Currency exchange is legal only at
banks and authorized dealers. Vietnam officially allows the use of the Chinese
yuan for trading goods in its northern border towns; merchants, residents, and
related banks and institutions engaged in cross-border trade may use either the
yuan or the Vietnamese dong in these locations only.
There is no expectation of privacy
in Vietnam. Public security organizations with robust monitoring and
surveillance systems throughout the country use electronic and digital methods,
as well as official watchers and civilian informers. The government monitors hotel
rooms, telephones, fax machines, and internet use. Movements and activities may
be subject to surveillance by public security and police entities. The Consulate
routinely receives reports that intruders access and search electronic devices,
such as computers, laptops, and mobile devices in hotel rooms and private
residences when such devices are not in the possession of their owners. Personal
possessions, media, and documents are subject to search in hotels, residences,
and workplaces. Use of hotel room safes protects against theft but does not
safeguard contents from search. Be cautious when discussing any sensitive or
proprietary information, including while in vehicles.
Although acceptance of LGBT issues
has yet to be widespread in Vietnam, foreigners do not typically experience
discrimination to the extent that Vietnamese LGBT do, since the Vietnamese have
a generally more open and tolerant attitude towards the behavior of foreigners.
Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Vietnam, but there are no laws protecting
against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Review the State Department’s webpages on
security for LGBTI+ travelers.
Due to the legacy of the Vietnam
War, general attitudes towards those with disabilities are less harsh than in
other Asian countries. However, poorly constructed or deteriorating sidewalks,
the lack of sidewalks, frequent obstructions (parked motor bikes) on sidewalks,
and chaotic traffic make mobility challenging, particularly for those in
wheelchairs. Additionally, there are no standards or requirements for providing
access to those with disabilities, and the entrances to many buildings require
traversing steps. Some office and apartment buildings lack elevators. Review the State Department’s webpages on
security for travelers with disabilities.
The Government of Vietnam
considers some persons born in Vietnam or born to parents holding Vietnamese
citizenship to be Vietnamese citizens unless they formally renounce Vietnamese
citizenship with the Vietnamese Government. (Note: becoming a U.S. citizen does
not automatically result in the loss of Vietnamese citizenship.) As a result,
Vietnamese officials may treat U.S. citizens of Vietnamese origin differently
than other U.S. citizens. For this reason, all U.S. citizens should enter
Vietnam using their U.S. passports.
religious activity, and possession of certain religious materials are illegal
in Vietnam. The government has confiscated religious materials from U.S.
citizens whose stated purpose of travel to Vietnam was tourism but who engaged
in proselytizing or unsanctioned religious activities, such as holding Bible
study groups in hotel rooms; it has also detained, fined, and expelled them from
Vietnam. Religious organizations must register with the Government of Vietnam. Religious
activists and practitioners have reported harassment and abuse at the hands of
local authorities. Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
Vietnam is a transshipment and
destination country for illegal narcotics, which come across shared borders
with Laos, Cambodia, and China. Punishments for violations of drug laws are
particularly harsh, even for possession of small amounts of illegal narcotics. The
government still regularly employs the death penalty for certain types of drug
crimes – particularly drug smuggling; it has sentenced foreigners to death in
recent years, and regularly sentences foreigners to life imprisonment.
Drugs, including cannabis, cocaine,
heroin, and methamphetamine, are readily available in certain areas of Ho Chi
Minh City, including Phạm Ngũ Lão Street (also known as the Backpacker Area) in
District 1, and outlying districts of the city. Within the consular district, Tây
Ninh province on Vietnam’s western border with Cambodia and recently Tan Son
Nhat International Airport are infamous for trans-border narcotics smuggling
into Vietnam, although adjacent provinces also experience this type of illegal
The increase in methamphetamine
and intravenous drug use is a significant contributor to the increase in crime.
Illicit drugs may contain unknown and toxic or dangerous ingredients.
The kidnapping of foreigners for
ransom is rare in Vietnam. More common is taxi kidnapping, or express
kidnapping, in which criminal drivers take passengers riding in illegal taxis to
a remote location and threaten them until they pay a ransom for immediate
release or a ride to their desired destination. Use only marked and metered
taxis. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The
Police are underfunded and lack training
in a number of areas. Nonetheless, police are generally very responsive and
reliable in cases involving foreigners, particularly for cases involving
serious or violent crime. Case closure rates for serious crimes are high;
however, for pickpocketing and other petty property crimes, case closure rates
are very low given the frequency of these types of crime and difficulty
identifying perpetrators. While the overall policing situation is gradually
improving, some police openly solicit bribes or compensation – particularly traffic
police, who may set up roadblocks in outlying regions for this purpose. Foreigners
might be able to avoid paying bribes to traffic police by claiming not to
understand what the police officer is saying; however, this tactic is not
always successful. By law, police have the right to demand to see identity
documents and individuals must comply.
Police often will not take a
report of rape, including from a foreigner. Rape is extremely difficult to
prosecute in Vietnam, since the victim must demonstrate a certain percentage of
bodily injury resulting from the sexual assault; this is difficult to prove
unless injuries are visible and serious. Police typically will not investigate
rape cases even if the victim insists on filing a police report. Additionally,
although Vietnam has laws pertaining to domestic violence, police do not
consider domestic violence to be a serious crime, and commonly blame the victim
for engaging in behavior that provoked the violence.
Police in cities typically have a
fast response time compared to those in remote or rural areas, where road
conditions and distances may delay response.
The U.S. Government considers
bearers of U.S. passports to be U.S. citizens for the purpose of notification
and access when arrested. Upon arrest or detention, U.S. citizens should
immediately identify themselves as citizens of the United States and provide
proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or photocopy of their passport
to local authorities, and request to call the U.S. Consulate.
A 1994 agreement between the
United States and Vietnam states that police must give notification within 96
hours of a person’s arrest and grant access within 48 hours after that. Despite
this agreement, police rarely notify U.S. consular officers in Vietnam in a
timely manner when they arrest or detain a U.S. citizen. There have also been
very significant delays in U.S. consular officers obtaining timely access to
incarcerated U.S. citizens. Police generally do not charge an arrested under a
specific article of law until the conclusion of an investigation, which can
last months. The problem of access has been particularly evident when the
Vietnamese government considers the U.S. citizen to be a citizen of Vietnam,
irrespective of proof of U.S. citizenship. According to the 1994 agreement,
U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, have the right to consular access if
they received admission into Vietnam as a U.S. citizen with their U.S.
passport, and should insist upon contact with the U.S. Embassy or the U.S.
The emergency line in VIETNAM is 113; few
operators speak English. In Ho Chi Minh City, the Criminal Task Team can assist
victims of theft, fraud, assault, or threat of violence. The Criminal Task
Force’s phone number is (098) 186-0202. Depending on the situation, local
citizens may assist foreigners in distress by contacting police or medical authorities.
Another option is to go to a hotel that caters to foreign visitors, since
reception staff can usually speak English and are generally helpful in
emergencies. Victims must report all crimes to the police in the district in
which the crime took place. Police in Vietnam will not accept a report on a
crime that took place out of their jurisdiction.
If involved in an altercation,
traffic accident, or other situation that draws a crowd, ask bystanders to call
the police and/or leave the immediate area and call the police.
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
Vietnam has an extensive public
security and law enforcement regime with many different branches. The mostly
commonly seen police and public security personnel are:
police, who wear tan
uniforms, manage traffic and enforce traffic laws.
security police, who wear
dark green uniforms with red epaulets, perform routine police functions, such
as respond to calls and investigate crimes.
police, who wear black
uniforms with the letters “CSCD,” carry out the functions of riot police and
Other uniformed groups perform
quasi-police functions, such as the Civil Defense Force, volunteer traffic,
tourist security, and private security guards, who have no actual legal
The People’s Public Security falls
under the Ministry of Public Security and is the primary police and security
force of Vietnam. People’s Public Security has two branches: the People’s
Security and the People’s Police. The security branch is responsible for
national security, internal security, intelligence, borders and immigration,
and other aspects of security relevant to all peoples and areas of the country.
The police branch is responsible for traditional law enforcement functions such
as crime prevention, criminal investigation, traffic and road safety, civil
defense, firefighting, and disaster and emergency preparedness.
The Ministry of Public Security
(MPS) finished its significant national reorganization at the beginning of
2019. The declared intent of this restructuring is to reduce or eliminate
redundant or overlapping functions in MPS, as well as reduce the number of
points of contact. As part of this reorganization, significant personnel
reassignments occurred at senior leadership levels within MPS, reducing the
number of personnel in the senior ranks, and resulting in the early retirement
of many high ranking officers. One short-term result of the MPS reorganization
is that a substantial amount of MPS focus and effort redirected to
implementation of the restructuring plan.
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the U.S. Consulate website.
Health care infrastructure in
Vietnam does not meet Western standards. The quality of medical care in major
metropolitan areas is limited and in rural or remote areas can be nonexistent. Hospitals
in major metropolitan areas are more likely to be able to handle serious
emergencies, but medical care in rural and remote areas may be difficult to
obtain and may lack the capacity or capability to handle cases that are more
serious. Even when adequate medical care is available in private clinics, it is
expensive by Vietnamese standards, although often less expensive compared to
U.S. standards. Private clinics typically require full payment at time of
The emergency number for calling
an ambulance is 115. Ambulances are
rudimentary and typically only have a non-English speaking driver. They only
transport a patient to a public hospital, provide no life-sustaining treatment,
and are not able to stabilize patients. Private clinics, such as Family Medical
and SOS, have their own private ambulances, with equipment staffed by doctors
and nurses, which can transport patients to their clinics.
Although many types of
over-the-counter and prescription medications are available in Vietnam, they
may be sold under a different name and the composition of ingredients may
differ. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals exist in Vietnam. Bring an ample supply of all
necessary medications with you.
Medical education in Vietnam does
not meet U.S. standards. The Consulate refers its employees to private medical
clinics staffed by physicians trained in the United States, Europe, Australia,
and Japan. All serious medical cases go to Bangkok, Singapore, or the United
States for further treatment. Dental education in Vietnam also does not meet
U.S. standards; however, a number of private clinics staffed with
foreign-trained dentists can provide quality dental care at prices lower than
in the United States. Additionally, some Consulate staff use high-end private
dental clinics catering to expatriates and wealthy locals staffed by Vietnamese-trained
dentists. Private clinics require immediate cash payment upon receipt of
Strongly consider purchasing medical
insurance with medical evacuation (medevac) coverage due to the poor quality of
medical care in Vietnam, particularly in rural areas. Rural and provincial
areas lack the ability to transport critically injured patients by helicopter
to metropolitan areas; all transportation is via road using ambulances. Review the State Departments webpage on insurance overseas.
Vaccination and Health Guidance
Tap water in Vietnam is not
potable, but is safe for brushing teeth and bathing.. Drink bottled water only.
Ice used in restaurants, cafes, bars, and by street hawkers is generally safe
to consume, since ice made from purified water arrives regularly from factories.
Treat vegetables and fruits with a disinfecting solution prior to consumption
if eaten raw. Otherwise, wash thoroughly with running water. In restaurants,
raw lettuce and herbs consumed as part of traditional Vietnamese dishes are
already treated. Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?,
Ensure you receive all routine
childhood immunizations. Most travelers should also have hepatitis A and
typhoid vaccines, since you can contract both diseases through contaminated
food or water in Vietnam. Some travelers should receive immunization for
Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis B, and rabies, depending on the length of
their stay, activities in Vietnam, and destinations in Vietnam. There is no
risk of yellow fever in Vietnam, but travelers coming from countries with risk
of yellow fever (not the United States) must show proof of yellow fever
July and August 2019 marked the
peak of a widespread, serious outbreak of dengue fever, which is particularly severe
in Hanoi and HCMC; the outbreak infected over 200,000 people, killing 50.
Malaria typically occurs only in
rural areas, with the exception of the Red River Delta and the coast north of
Nha Trang. There are rare cases of malaria reported in the Mekong Delta, and no
reported cases in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Đà Nẵng,
and Quy Nhơn. Visitors to malarial areas should seek guidance from their
physician for information on how to avoid contracting malaria. Some general
best practices include taking a prescription anti-malarial drug, using insect
repellent containing DEET, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts to
prevent mosquito bites, and sleeping in well-screened rooms under a mosquito
Zika is endemic in Vietnam.
The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Vietnam.
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Ho Chi Minh City Country
Council covers southern and central Vietnam. The HCMC Country Council meets
semi-annually, typically in May and December, and holds an annual daylong
regional conference in March. For inquiries and membership information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For security
consultations, contact OSAC’s East
U.S. Consulate Contact
4 Le Duan, Ben Thanh Ward,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
0800 – 1700, closed Saturday,
Sunday, and U.S. and Vietnamese holidays
Embassy Operator: 84 (0)28
MSG Post 1: 84 (0)28 3520-4280
Posts in Vietnam:
U.S. Embassy Hanoi: 7 Lang Ha
Country Information Sheet
OSAC Risk Matrix
OSAC Travelers Toolkit
State Department Traveler’s
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program