We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you’ll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller’s medical expenses overseas, guarantee your payment, or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Outside of Australia, Australian citizens do not have the same level of access to the Australian social welfare system (Centrelink). Medicare is also not available in Vietnam and medical services are provided on a fee-paying basis. Once overseas, you will be responsible for meeting all costs associated with any treatment you receive.
Prescription medicine that is available in Australia may not be available in Vietnam. For information about carrying medications into Vietnam, see the Entry and exit section.
The standard of medical facilities and care in Vietnam varies. Foreign private medical clinics are available in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau and Da Nang but may not meet Australian standards. Medical facilities and care at most public hospitals, especially in areas outside Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, are poor and medical evacuation to a major centre may be required for even relatively minor operations. Doctors and hospitals expect fee payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care. Some hospitals may liaise with travel insurance companies for payment, others may request upfront payment.
Air evacuation from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City may be required in cases of serious illness or accident. Air evacuations, often to Bangkok or Singapore, are very expensive.
Hyperbaric chambers are located in Khanh Hoa (Nha Trang), Quy Nhon (Binh Dinh), Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Outbreaks of water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, rabies, typhoid, tuberculosis, and meningitis) occur from time to time.
Zika virus: There is ongoing transmission of Zika virus in Vietnam. All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and to defer non-essential travel to affected areas. Further advice for both females and males is available from the Department of Health. Also see our Zika virustravel bulletin.
The mosquito-borne illness dengue fever is prevalent in Vietnam, particularly in the south. Malaria is also a risk in some remote mountainous areas of Vietnam. We recommend you take measures to avoid mosquito bites including using insect repellent at all times, wear long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing, ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof and that you ask your doctor about taking prophylaxis against malaria.
The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is also prevalent in Vietnam. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use and is currently available in Australia.
Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease that is almost always spread by an animal bite but can also be spread when a rabid animal’s saliva gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin. In Vietnam, most cases are reported in the mountain provinces of Northern Vietnam and most commonly transmitted through dog bites. Travellers are strongly advised to avoid direct contact with dogs and other mammals. See our health page for further information on what to do if bitten by an animal that may carry rabies.
Acute watery diarrhoea and cholera occur in Vietnam, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time throughout the country. Careful preparation and selection of food and good personal hygiene are strongly recommended. Medical attention should be sought if symptoms continue.
We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals and to avoid ice cubes, raw and undercooked food and unpasteurised dairy products. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is common in Vietnam with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. In Asia, outbreaks of HFMD usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until August to October. It mostly affects children under the age of 10 years but adult cases (particularly young adults) are not unusual. The illness is characterised by fever as well as blisters and rashes on the hands, feet and buttocks. HFMD is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges and faeces of infected people. Normal hygiene precautions should be taken including careful and frequent hand washing.
Outbreaks of conjunctivitis occur in Vietnam. We advise you to avoid close contact with anyone who is infected, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and avoid exposure to infected eyes.
In Vietnam, you may need to produce a legalised birth certificate to be recognised as next of kin for medical consent purposes. Find more information about legalising documents at Legalising documents.
Vietnam has experienced human deaths from avian influenza in the past. See our health pages for further information.