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Vietnam

If you’re travelling to Vietnam, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, we advise you to take normal precautions. 

Dengue fever

Vietnam is currently experiencing a high number of cases of dengue fever across the country, including in key tourist destinations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Nha Trang. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness. There are no medications which you can take to prevent dengue fever. Travellers are advised to take appropriate precautions to avoid mosquito bites, such as using insect repellents, covering up and using mosquito nets, and to seek early medical advice if they experience symptoms of the virus. Please consult your doctor or http://www.who.int/denguecontrol/faq/en/ for further information.

Avian Flu

Outbreaks of avian flu have recently been reported in Vietnam. The outbreak strains have been identified as H5N6 and H5N1. While transmission to humans is relatively rare, you can reduce your risk by avoiding live animal markets, poultry farms, and contact with domestic or wild birds, and ensuring meals containing poultry and eggs are properly cooked.

Zika Virus

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America, the Caribbean and other locations including Vietnam. Infection with Zika virus has been increasingly linked with a serious birth condition called microcephaly where the baby is born with an abnormally small head and/or brain damage. An increase in cases of a neurological illness (called Guillan Barre Syndrome) have also been reported in areas where Zika virus outbreaks have occurred. Irish Citizens are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and plan to travel to areas affected by the Zika Virus, you are advised to discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider and to consider postponing your travel to affected areas.

As the Zika virus can be passed in a man’s semen, men returning from a Zika-affected area who do not have any symptoms of Zika are advised to practice safe sex (by wearing a condom) for one month after return. Men who have developed symptoms that could be due to Zika virus infection (fever, headache, aches, pains, rash, itchy eyes) are advised to practice safe sex (by wearing a condom) for 6 months after return. This is precautionary advice that may be revised as more information becomes available.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates    
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Unrest

It is not advisable to publicly express strong political views or to take part in political demonstrations in Vietnam. Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational and stay away from military sites – taking photos of, or near, military or security installations, and some public buildings, may be prohibited.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Vietnam is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. 

Crime

Petty Crime is common in Vietnam, particularly in urban areas, you should take sensible precautions at all times and especially during the summer peak travel period;

  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport and original birth certificate (as well as travel insurance documents and other important documents) with family or friends at home;
  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together, leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place;
  • Be aware that bag snatching occurs frequently and there is a significant increase in theft in the lead up to local festivals;
  • Avoid placing bags in the front basket of bicycles;
  • Bag snatchers on motorbikes are also a problem;
  • When travelling by air, bus or train, stay vigilant against petty theft, particularly in busy rail and bus stations and in crowded airports.

Lost or Stolen Passports

If your passport is lost or stolen, report this to the Police immediately and obtain a Police Report. Irish Citizens should be aware that if this occurs, it will delay your travel plans considerably, and cost you money. Along with the time taken to arrange a new travel document, you will subsequently need to get a replacement visa and an exit visa from immigration and this can take at least three working days and may delay your onward travel plans considerably. Please be aware that the nearest Irish Embassy is in Hanoi.

Taxis

You should use licensed taxis after dark to minimise the risk of assault by cyclo or motorbike drivers.

Always use licensed taxis or pre-arranged hotel pick-ups when transferring from airports. Don’t accept offers of free transfers to hotels as these may be bogus.

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Vietnam, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Hanoi if you need help

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Vietnam, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles (this includes public transport) and inadequate lighting. Be aware that in the event of an accident, third parties involved are likely to have little or no insurance.

If you want to drive:

  • You will need to get a Vietnamese driving licence to drive a car or motorcycle from the Hanoi Department of Public Works and Transportation (telephone: 00 84 4 3843 5325) or the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Public Works and Transportation (telephone: 00 84 8 3829 0451 or 0452).
  • Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance


Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, particularly a motorbike, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Pedestrians

Pedestrians should take particular care when crossing roads in major cities.  Driving can be erratic and sometimes dangerous. Taxis are common but the standard of driving may be poor.

Motorbikes and scooters

Accidents involving motorbikes or scooters, often causing serious injury or death, are common. If you decide to rent or purchase a motorbike or scooter please take the same precautions as you would at home. These include wearing a helmet, observing speed limits and obeying the rules of the road.

Landmines

Unexploded mines and ordnance are still a risk on former battlefields, particularly in central Vietnam and along the border with Laos. Don’t stray from main routes in rural areas and check with your tour operator before travelling to affected regions.

Alcohol

Be aware of spiked drinks, particularly late at night in bars, and don’t leave food or drink unattended or accept food or drink from strangers.

Homemade alcohol may be contaminated with bacteria or with toxic chemicals from pesticides and should be avoided. 

Energy drinks

A number of energy drinks that are banned in Europe due to their high levels of stimulants are available in Vietnam. Many but not all carry health warnings. Consuming more than two of these drinks per day, on their own or with alcohol, can pose a serious health risk, particularly to people with pre-existing cardiac or other conditions.

Outdoor adventure sports

Before you take part in any outdoor or water-based sports or activities, such as kayaking, rock climbing, hang-gliding, etc., check that your travel insurance will cover you in the event of death or injury to yourself or a third party.  

You should also be aware that the health and safety requirements in Vietnam aren’t as stringent as in Ireland and are often neither observed nor enforced. This means the risk of a serious or fatal accident while taking part in these activities is much higher.

 

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Illegal drugs

You should avoid any involvement with drugs. Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including the death penalty, which is enforced in Vietnam. Illegal drugs are likely to have been tampered with or spiked.

Crime

Sex offences or fraud can result in long prison terms or a death sentence. Foreign visitors are not allowed to invite Vietnamese nationals into their hotel rooms.

Natural disasters and climate

Typhoons

The typhoon season in Central and Northern Vietnam normally runs from June to December. You should pay close attention to local and international weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Flooding

Storms, especially in the Central Region and Mekong Delta, often lead to heavy and dangerous flooding. The rainy season varies across the country but is usually from June to October. This can damage transport links and has left whole areas isolated, including border crossing points into Laos. Check the media, weather reports, transport services and with your tour operator before travelling into the interior of the country. 

Climbing

Accidents have occurred during mountain-climbing excursions in the north of the country. You’re advised to go with reputable guides.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens require a visa to visit Vietnam.

Irish tourists intending to stay less than 30 days in Vietnam can now apply for a single entry e-visa through the Vietnam Immigration Department at https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/.

Irish citizens travelling for purposes other than tourism, intending to stay longer than 30 days, or who require a multiple entry visa must apply through their nearest Vietnamese Embassy. Please ensure that you verify with the Vietnamese Embassy the duration for which your passport must be valid as this may vary according to the type of visa you require and the intended duration of stay. Generally, at least six months validity is required and you may be refused entry to Vietnam if your passport is close to expiry.

While it is possible to collect a visa on arrival in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang international airports, you must have applied for, and received, a visa approval letter before travel. If you are unable to prove that you have made the necessary visa arrangements, you may be denied boarding, or be deported at your own expense on arrival in Vietnam.

If you hold a temporary passport, please contact your nearest Vietnamese Embassy for advice before travelling as you may not be able to obtain a visa.

Although travellers may enter the Phu Quoc special zone without a visa for a stay of up to 15 days, please note that if you are intending to travel onwards to other parts of Vietnam, you must obtain a visa before travelling. Travellers arriving in Ho Chi Minh City or other domestic airports from Phu Quoc without the necessary visa may be detained by the immigration authorities.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for this country. The standard of health care is sufficient for treating minor injuries and performing simple operations in the major cities but if you need more complicated treatment you may need to be evacuated to another country. Please ensure that you have adequate health insurance to cover this eventuality.

Money

You should bring enough money for your stay. Euros and US dollars are usually easily changed into Vietnamese dong (VND). Credit cards are becoming more widely known, but outside the main centres you may find that cash is the only acceptable currency and you may find it difficult to cash travellers’ cheques. ATM distribution is still poor and limited to the major cities and tourist areas. However, you can transfer money to Vietnam by international money transfer companies. Foreign passport holders can exchange up to US$500 worth of Vietnamese dong back into US dollars on departure.