The 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.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
There is considerable risk from crime in Ho Chi Minh City. Despite this, 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. Pickpocketing, purse slashing, bag snatching, and the theft of valuables is a common occurrence, particularly in areas tourist and business travelers frequent, such as hotels, tourist sites, public parks, and markets. 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.
Theft by motor scooter is a popular modus operandi whereby thieves 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 scooter 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 passing while passing.
The four to six weeks prior to the Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) typically is 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.
While sexual assault of foreigners by Vietnamese citizens does not appear to be common, in 2018, there were two reports of sexual assaults involving U.S. victims. Anecdotally, several Western consulates in Ho Chi Minh City noted an increase in reports of rape.
Residential security is generally good, as long as appropriate and adequate security measures are in place. This includes the consistent use of good deadbolt locks, securing all man-passable entries, and using alarms and perimeter walls and gates, particularly for those residences near the water, which are vulnerable to river pirates. U.S. Government employees regularly report surreptitious entry into their secured residences and associated tampering or damage of computer and other electronic devices or hardware.
Hotel rooms are generally safe as long as you 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. For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Considerations for Hotel Security.
U.S. Consulate employees report a scam in which a caller with an African country code hangs up without leaving a message. The victim calls the number displayed on the caller ID in an effort to determine who called. Once the call connects, the victim’s calling card or credit card rapidly depletes. The concept is similar to calling a pay number in the United States wherein charges to the caller begin to accrue once the call connects.
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 business people 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 loansharking. The U.S. Consulate has placed Xing Xing Nightclub (180 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City) off-limits to all U.S. government personnel due to concerns about organized crime activity.
In 2018, 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. For more information, review OSAC’s Report, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
Other Areas of Concern
While the Consulate has not declared any areas off-limits (apart from the aforementioned nightclub), 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.
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. For more information, review OSAC’s Report Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
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 2017, the city government outlawed food vendors from operating on sidewalks, which resulted in an increase in the number of motorbikes driving at high speed on sidewalks, particularly during rush hour. This, 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 for pedestrians.
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 behaviors.
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, the vast majority of helmets available is substandard and provides 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 helmet.
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. For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s Report, Driving Overseas: Best Practices.
Public Transportation Conditions
There are no U.S. government restrictions on public transportation. There are no subway systems in this consular district. 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. The majority of 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 the majority of such 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 (green car with white logo) and VinaSun (white car with green and red logo) taxi companies are two large, registered taxi companies that use fair meters. There are fake VinaSun taxis; identify authentic VinaSun taxis by the correct telephone number painted on their sides (184.108.40.206), uniformed drivers (white-collared button-down shirt and tie with VinaSun logo), equipment (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. Do not patronize taxi touts (i.e. gypsy cabs), particularly at the airports, as these have been implicated in “express kidnapping” schemes wherein they take passengers to remote areas and threaten them until they agree to withdraw money from ATMs.
Grab Taxi is popular and safe to use where available; however, in 2017, expatriates using social media sites popular with Westerners living in HCMC reported incidents of Grab Taxi drivers subsequently calling, sometimes multiple times, female passengers asking to meet. 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 cyclos prior to using, and do not take these forms of transportation at night. The Consulate is aware of reports that xe om drivers have driven foreign women passengers at night to remote areas and sexually assaulted them.
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 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 identified 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 should use.
Other Travel Conditions
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. It is imperative that adults tightly hold the hands of children 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
There is minimal risk from terrorism in Ho Chi Minh City. In December 2017, the Government of Vietnam sentenced 15 Vietnamese to prison for two purported attacks in April 2017: planting a petrol bomb at SGN airport, and firebombing a police vehicle impoundment warehouse in Biên Hòa. In July 2018, police arrested seven people for detonating two small explosive devices at a police station, injuring three people, during widespread protests in south and central Vietnam. Vietnamese authorities classified both incidents as terrorist events.
There is no regional or international terrorism threat or concern in Vietnam.
Local sentiment toward U.S. citizens and interests is generally positive.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Ho Chi Minh City. 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.
In June 2018, large-scale protests in south and central Vietnam occurred over the course of two weeks following the announcement that the National Assembly would consider a new law to establish three additional Special Administrative Economic Zones in Vân Đồn, Bắc Vân Phong, and Phú Quốc. Although no official estimates exist, eyewitness reports indicate that these protests may have been the country’s largest since 1975. In Ho Chi Minh City, protests on June 10 resulted in road closures, including the main route to the airport. Protests spread to other provinces in the days following, causing labor unrest in some factory towns. Protests resumed when the National Assembly passed a stringent cybersecurity law on June 12; these were generally anti-China in nature. Vietnamese security forces quickly moved to suppress protests through arrests and heavy police presence throughout major urban centers. Protests diminished significantly over the two subsequent weekends.
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.
Proselytizing, unsanctioned 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.
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.
South and central Vietnam experiences two seasons: wet and dry. In HCMC and the central Highlands, the dry season runs from December to March, and rainy season is from April to October/November, with minimal chance of typhoons, since wind speeds greatly diminish inland; however, 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 (e.g. Grab Taxi and Grab Bike) 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 July, Tropical Storm Son-Tinh killed 32 people and destroyed over 5,000 houses in the Northern 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 and flooding in the region.
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. For more information, refer to OSAC’s report, When Wildlife Attacks.
Electricity is generally stable, as are water supplies.
Major cities in south and central Vietnam are host to all major international and regional hotel chains, as well as numerous local guesthouses and bed and breakfasts. Airbnb is a popular alternative to hotels in major cities.
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. Local media has reported on the influx of fake currency entering from China, although the problem is not yet widespread.
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 routinely 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.
Personal Identity Concerns
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.
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.
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.
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 within District 1, and outlying districts of the city. Within the consular district, Tây Ninh province on Vietnam’s western border with Cambodia is infamous for trans-border narcotics smuggling into Vietnam, although adjacent provinces also experience this type of illegal activity.
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 passengers riding in illegal taxis are taken to a remote location and threatened until they pay a ransom for immediate release or a ride to their desired destination. Use only marked and metered taxis; in HCMC, use MaiLinh and VinaSun taxis.
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.
Vietnam has an extensive public security and law enforcement regime with many different branches. The mostly commonly seen police and public security personnel are:
- Traffic police, who wear tan uniforms, manage traffic and enforce traffic laws.
- Public security police, who wear dark green uniforms with red epaulets, perform routine police functions, such as respond to calls and investigate crimes.
- Mobile police, who wear black uniforms with the letters “CSCD,” carry out the functions of riot police and SWAT police.
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 authority.
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.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
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 in increments of four 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. Consulate.
Crime Victim Assistance
The police emergency number in Vietnam is 113; however, few operators speak English. 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.
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 (028) 3838-7342.
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.
U.S. citizens can call the U.S. Consulate’s duty officer at (028) 3520-4280 (after hours or on weekends) or the Consulate switchboard at (028) 3520-4200 (regular business hours). When the Consulate is closed, the switchboard number provides automated information for U.S. citizens on a variety of routine issues and emergencies.
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) initiated a significant national reorganization at the end of 2017, which was still ongoing at the time of this report. 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 the senior and leadership levels within MPS, contracting the number of personnel in the senior ranks. 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.
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 service.
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, that 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 services.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
International SOS (24-hour emergency clinic)
167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, District 3, Phone: (28) 3829-8520, Appointments: 3829-8424
HCMC Family Practice
34 Le Duan Street, District 1, Phone: (28) 3822-7848
FV (French Vietnamese) Hospital
Nguyen Luong Bang St, District 7, Emergency: (28) 5411-3500, Appointments: (28) 5411-3333
West Coast Dental
71-79 Dong Khoi, District 1, Phone: (28) 3825-6777
Available Air Ambulance Services
The following is not a comprehensive list. Please refer to the Department of State’s travel website for more information on air ambulance services:
4330 East-West Highway, Suite 1000, Bethesda, MD 20814, (240) 330-1000
3600 Horizon Blvd., Suite 300, Trevose, PA 19053, (800) 523-8662, (215) 942-8333
Medical Wings Siam Land Flying Co., Ltd.
222 room 3602 Donmuang Airport .Vipavadee-Rangsit Road
Sikan Donmuang, Bangkok, Thailand 10210, (66) 2247-3392, (66) 2535-4735
Pacific Flight Services (Pacific Air Ambulance)
Bldg 499 Seletar West Camp Seletar Airport. Jalan Kaya, (65) 64821727
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.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Tap water in Vietnam is not potable. 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, thorough washing with running water is necessary. In restaurants, raw lettuce and herbs consumed as part of traditional Vietnamese dishes are already treated. Tap water is safe for brushing teeth and bathing.
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 vaccination.
July and August marked the peak of a widespread, serious outbreak of dengue fever, which was particularly severe in Hanoi and HCMC; the outbreak infected over 180,000 people, killing 32.
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 net.
Zika is endemic in Vietnam.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Vietnam.
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 email@example.com. For security consultations, contact Regional Security Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or +84 28 3520-4435.
U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information
Consulate Address and Hours of Operation
4 Le Duan, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
0800 – 1700, closed Saturday, Sunday, and U.S. and Vietnamese holidays
Consulate Contact Numbers
Operator: 84 (0)28 3520-4200
MSG Post 1: 84 (0)28 3520-4280
Nearby Posts: U.S. Embassy Hanoi, Vietnam; U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia; U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
U.S. citizens should register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to traveling to Vietnam
Additional Resource: Vietnam Country Information Sheet