For before leave and during your trip
If you have special medical needs, or in case you become unwell or require medical assistance during your trip, here is some advice and information for before you leave and during your stay.
You are strongly advised to take out adequate insurance before travelling to Vietnam. Your travel agent will be able to suggest a suitable policy.
Bringing medicine into the Vietnam
If you want to bring medicine into the Vietnam, first check that it is licensed for use. Always carry medicines in a correctly labelled container as issued by the pharmacist. Otherwise, bring a letter from your doctor or a personal health record card giving details of the drug prescribed, in case it is queried by customs or you require additional supplies. Remember that some medicines available over-the-counter in other countries may be controlled in Vietnam, and vice versa.
Pharmacies & chemists
In Vietnam you can obtain prescription, and over-the-counter (non-prescription), medications as well as expert medical advice at pharmacies – often called chemists. We recommend you carry a letter from your doctor stating your prescription and dosage if you are taking any medication.
Pharmacy opening hours
Pharmacies are usually open from 09:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays and limited availability on Sundays. However, in larger cities you will find a number of pharmacies open late during the week and on the weekend.
Vaccinations & inoculations
You do not require an International Certificate of Vaccination when travelling to the Vietnam, but you should check if one is needed on re-entry into your own country.
Food & water
The number one rule is be careful of the water, ice can be particularly risky; if you don't know for certain that the water is safe, assume the worst. However, a lot of the ice in Vietnam comes from factories introduced by the French, so it is as safe as the bottled water. Following these rules will help you avoid water-borne diseases.
Never drink tap water.
Bottled water is generally safe .
Boiling water is the most efficient method of purifying it.
The best chemical purifier is iodine. It should not be used by pregnant women or those people who suffer with thyroid problems.
Water filters should filter out viruses. Ensure your filter has a chemical barrier such as iodine and a small pore size, ie less than four microns
Eating in restaurants is the biggest risk factor for contracting travellers' diarrhoea. Ways to avoid it include eating only freshly cooked food, and avoiding shellfish and food that has been sitting around in buffets. Peel all fruit, cook vegetables, and soak salads in iodine water for at least 20 minutes. Eat in busy restaurants with a high turnover of customers.
If you are unwell during your visit to Vietnam, first consult a pharmacist – also known as chemists. They will advise on treatments available over-the-counter (for example: available without a doctor's prescription). Chains of pharmacists include Boots and Superdrug.
Medicentres are walk-in private medical centres based in Hanoi. No appointment is necessary and you will normally be seen within 20 minutes. New and repeat prescriptions may be issued.
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