Get inspired | Health information
Travelling with Friends Travel Vietnam is the very best way to get up close
and to get the greatest and unique experience about Vietnam in a way you’d never manage on your own.
Being healthy during your travels and returning home healthy is important for everyone. Travelling to Asia can be exciting and a bit frightening at the same time.
When you prepare for your trip in an appropriate way, you are ruling out most issues you might come across. Start planning your vaccinations in time, since some vaccines require more than one shot over the course of a few weeks. Make sure you prepare well for your trip, so that besides a cold and a dose of travellers’ diarrhea, you get back home in good health.
Note: All the ‘medical information’ stated below is from the Dutch ministry of healthcare and is based on Dutch healthcare. We always advise to see a doctor or visit a specialized travel clinic for advice on your medical situation and needs.
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- Never drink water from the tap. Drink bottled water and check if the bottle is sealed.
- Wash your hands before you start eating.
- Drink enough water, especially when it’s hot.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Use sunscreen, a hat and cover up with clothes.
- Rather set the temperature of your room’s air conditioner to 26°C instead of 18°C, this will reduce your chances of getting a cold.
- When eating, drinking and looking after your own health, using common sense is the best medicine.
The Dutch ministry of healthcare advises to take a DTP vaccination. DTP stands for diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Outside Europe or the US there is a higher risk of catching one of the diseases mentioned before.
The Dutch ministry of healthcare also advises on taking a hepatitis A vaccination. You can get infected by hepatitis A from eating food washed in contaminated water, or drinking contaminated water. For more accurate and extensive information on vaccinations see a doctor or visit a specialized travel clinic.
There is a big presence of mosquitoes in the tropics. This can be really tedious, but when you protect yourself sufficiently this shouldn’t be a big concern.
In urban areas the Aedes mosquito can carry the dengue virus. The Aedes mosquito is active during daylight hours. Dengue can lead to fever, muscle- and joint aches. It can keep you in bed for quite some time and can make you feel really ill. Currently there is no vaccine against dengue fever.
Malaria is – like dengue - a disease transmitted by a mosquito (Anopheles). The Anopheles or malaria mosquito is active in the evenings and at night. There is no vaccine against malaria. It is possible to take preventive medication. Please read the information leaflet carefully and take a close look into the side effects of the medication you are taking. Some antimalarial medication has very severe side effects.
Not every mosquito bite means you will get infected right away. As a matter of fact most mosquitoes are not carrying dengue or malaria. If you get fever, it is advisable to see a doctor (preferably within 24 hours) so they can conduct a simple test, to determine whether you are infected with malaria or dengue and prescribe adequate medication.
In many places in the country there is a very small, to no risk of malaria and dengue. Please consult a travel clinic or your doctor for further information on malaria and dengue.
The best protection against these two diseases is preventing yourself from getting bitten by mosquitoes. There are a few, very effective measures. Wear long sleeve shirts, trousers and socks. Especially later in the afternoon and in the evenings mosquitoes get active, cover up, so you won’t get bitten. Use insect repellents such as DEET. When staying in an area with many mosquitoes sleep under a, preferably impregnated, mosquito net.
Don’t underestimate the strength of the tropical sun: sunburn can be avoided by restricting your exposure to the midday sun and liberal use of high-factor sunscreens. Drinking plenty of water will prevent you from dehydration, but if you do become dehydrated – signs are infrequent or irregular urination – drink a salt and sugar solution.
Heatstroke is more serious and may require hospital treatment. Indications are a high temperature, lack of sweating, a fast pulse and red skin. Reducing your body temperature with a lukewarm shower will provide initial relief.
High humidity often causes heat rashes, prickly heat and fungal infections. Prevention and cure are the same: wear loose clothes made of natural fibres, wash frequently and dry off thoroughly afterwards. Talcum powder helps, particularly zinc oxide-based products (prickly heat powder), as does the use of mild antiseptic soap.
Pharmacies can generally help with minor injuries or ailments and in major towns you will usually find a pharmacist who speaks English. The selection of reliable Asian and Western products on the market is improving rapidly, and both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi now have well-stocked pharmacies. That said, drugs past their shelf life and even counterfeit medicines are rife, so inspect packaging carefully, check use-by dates – and bring anything you know you’re likely to need from home, including oral contraceptives. Tampons and reliable, imported brands of condoms (bao cao su) are sold in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, but don’t count on getting them easily elsewhere.
Local hospitals can also treat minor problems, but in a real emergency your best bet is to head for Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Hospitals in both these cities can handle most eventualities and you also have the option of one of the excellent international medical centres. Note that doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services rendered; you will then have to seek reimbursement from your insurance company (make sure you get receipts for any payments you make).