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Vietnam - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Vietnam. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to increasing petty crime targeting foreigners.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Petty crime against tourists is increasing, particularly in the larger cities. Although violent crimes such as armed robbery are still relatively rare in Vietnam, perpetrators have grown increasingly bold. Knives and razors have been used in attempted robberies in Ho Chi Minh City. Motorcyclists grab bags and other valuables from pedestrians and from passengers or drivers on motorbikes; this often results in injury to the victim. Hotels and tourist areas are more likely to be targeted by criminals. Thefts also occur on crowded buses and trains and in shopping centres and markets. Bag slashing is a frequent occurrence in crowded streets and markets. Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure that your personal belongings and passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
When leaving the airport, you should only use authorized airport taxis or hotel transportation. Authorized taxi companies usually have operators posted at airports who are responsible for monitoring taxi services. These companies publish the taxi driver’s name and vehicle number on a card that should be affixed to the windshield (in front of the driver’s seat). Individuals posing as taxi drivers have targeted foreign visitors at Hanoi airport and robbed them by forcing them to withdraw money from automatic banking machines. Travellers have also been robbed by drivers who greeted them upon arrival with a placard showing their name. If you are expecting to be picked up, ask for your driver’s name, phone number and licence plate number before you travel. Be familiar with your hotel’s address and neighbouring landmarks because taxi drivers have taken unaware visitors to the wrong establishment, in order to receive a commission. Never share a taxi with a stranger.
Threats of physical injury related to personal disputes occasionally occur. If you are in this position, contact the local police and the closest Canadian government office immediately.
Credit card fraud
Both tourists and expatriates have been targeted by credit card forgery crime. Avoid using your credit card in smaller establishments, and pay careful attention when others are handling your card. Consider obtaining a second card, with a low credit limit, for use during your stay in Asia.
Tourists have been victims of gambling scams in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (particularly in the Pham Ngu Lao neighbourhood). This scam usually starts with a friendly invitation to someone’s home to meet a relative interested in visiting or studying in Canada. While the visitor is waiting for this individual, a casual game of cards will begin. Even though they started with only a small wager, victims have reported losing thousands of dollars over the course of an evening.
Public demonstrations are generally not tolerated in Vietnam and can carry heavy penalties, including lengthy jail sentences. Avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.
Traffic accidents occur frequently, often causing death or serious injury. Motorcycle riders and pedestrians are common victims. Driving standards are poor, vehicles and roads are often badly maintained, and roads in major cities are congested. Rain can flood potholes and roads, especially those in the north, can become impassable during the rainy season. Travelling after dark is dangerous.
Driving without a Vietnamese driver’s licence is illegal. If you are involved in a traffic accident, you may face criminal charges and have to pay compensation if someone is injured. You may be prohibited from leaving the country before paying this compensation. Hiring a car and driver for personal transportation is strongly recommended. Rent a motorcycle only if you are accustomed to local driving standards and be aware that insurance is not included with these rentals. Motorcycle taxis (known as “xe oms”) are unsafe and should be avoided.
Bus accidents are not uncommon. A number of fatal boat accidents have occurred in past years, some in Halong Bay. Ensure that your tour operator follows up-to-date safety regulations.
Keep ticket stubs at all times when travelling by train, as they are required when exiting the train station. Passengers without a ticket stub will be required to pay the fare again.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, further out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report, published by the International Maritime Bureau.
General safety information
Travel near military facilities in some parts of the central highlands and in some border areas is restricted.
Unexploded landmines are a hazard in some rural areas of central Vietnam.
Improper farming and production practices, as well as overall poor hygiene in food preparation, make food safety a concern. Exercise a high degree of caution, particularly when consuming street food and beverages containing ice cubes. Avoid drinking non-bottled water.
Never leave your food or drink unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Do not purchase liquor from street vendors, as the quality cannot be assured.
Hotel rooms and electronic communications may be monitored. Hotel staff require your passport in order to register it with local authorities. The staff may insist on keeping your passport until your departure, but there is no legal reason for them to do so. You may request the return of your passport once it has been registered.
Dial 113 to reach police, 114 for firefighters and 115 for ambulance.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Vietnamese authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Vietnam, which must be valid for at least one month beyond the expiry date of their visa. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to enter Vietnam. Visas should be obtained prior to arrival. Extensions can be obtained from the Vietnam Immigration Department in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City or, for a fee, from some local travel agencies and tour companies.
A visa may be issued on arrival in emergency situations. Contact the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for more information.
Vietnamese visas in expired Canadian passports are no longer valid. The visa needs to be transferred to the new passport.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Travellers must register with the local police upon arrival, even if staying with relatives. Hotel guests are automatically registered.
Dual citizenship is recognized in limited circumstances. Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Travellers entering the country are subject to a body temperature check and, in some cases, may be quarantined for medical observation if they show flu-like symptoms.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases, it can infect people.
Avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets including areas where poultry may be slaughtered. Avoid contact with birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against this disease.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Health-care services are below Canadian standards. Medical facilities and supplies are limited outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Serious medical problems may require evacuation.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict and include the death penalty.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and jail sentences.
Gambling outside of licensed casinos is illegal in Vietnam.
Photography of military installations and border crossings is prohibited.
Involvement in politics, possession of political or sexually explicit material, or involvement in an unsanctioned religious activity can result in detention. Participation in a public demonstration is generally not tolerated in Vietnam and can carry heavy penalties, including lengthy jail sentences.
Visitors are not allowed to invite Vietnamese nationals of the opposite sex into their hotel rooms to stay overnight. Visitors are allowed to stay with a Vietnamese family, providing they have obtained permission from local authorities. It is the responsibility of the Vietnamese host to register their foreign guests with local authorities.
Cash in excess of US$5,000, or the equivalent in any other foreign currency, must be declared upon arrival. Anyone arriving in the country with more than 300 grams of gold, including jewellery, gold bar and raw gold, must also make a declaration.
Vietnamese law restricts the export of antiques, but these laws are vague and unevenly enforced. If you purchase non-antique items of value, retain receipts and confirmation from shop owners and/or the Ministry of Culture and the Vietnam General Department of Customs to prevent seizure of your items upon departure.
You must hold a valid Vietnamese driver’s licence to drive a motor vehicle in Vietnam, including motorcycles of 50cc or more. You can apply for a Vietnamese driver’s licence at an office of the Department of Public Works and Transportation in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear a helmet.
The currency is the Vietnamese dong (VND). U.S. dollar traveller’s cheques cannot be exchanged outside major cities and tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels throughout the country, as well as at an increasing number of restaurants and shops. Automated banking machines are available throughout Vietnam.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to September in the north and south, and from October to December in central Vietnam. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides. Seasonal flooding occurs in October and November in central Vietnam. Flooding is common in and around Hanoi, particularly along the Red River, and in the Mekong River Delta regions in the south.
Typhoons usually occur between June and December and affect primarily central and northern Vietnam. These storms can result in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and can hamper the provision of essential services. Monitor local news and weather reports, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities. Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.
Hanoi - Embassy of Canada
Ho Chi Minh City - Consulate General of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Hanoi or the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, and follow the instructions. It is not possible to make collect calls from Vietnam. Most post offices have international telephone facilities. Cabins are equipped with a meter, and payment is made after the call. Internet telephones are now available at Internet cafés. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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