Before you go - Insurance

Health issues and the quality of medical facilities vary enormously depending on where and how you travel in Vietnam. Many of the major cities are now very well developed, although travel to rural areas can expose you to a variety of health risks and inadequate medical care.

      Travellers tend to worry abom contracting infectious diseases when in the tropics, but infections are a rare caof serious illness or death in travellers. Pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, and accidental injury (especially traffic accidents), account for most life-threatening problems.


Becoming ill in some way, however, is a relatively common thing. Fortunately most common illnesses can either be prevented with some common-sense behaviour or be treated easily with a well-stocked traveller's medical kit.


The following advice is a general guide only and does not replace the advice of a doctor trained in travel medicine.



Pack medications in their original, clearly labelled, containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to have a physician's letter documenting their medical necessity. If you have a heart con dition bring a copy of your ECG taken just prior to travelling.


If you happen to take any regular medication bring double your needs in case of loss or theft. In most Southeast Asian coun tries you can buy many medications over the counter without a doctor's prescription, but it can be difficult to find some of the newer drugs, particularly the latest anti-depressant drugs, blood pressure medica tions and contraceptive pills.


Even if you are fit and healthy, don't travel without health insurance - accidents do happen. Declare any existing medical conditions you have - the insurance company will check if your problem is pre-existing and will not cover you if it is undeclared. You may require extra cover for adventure activities such as rock climbing. If your health insurance doesn't cover you for medical expenses abroad, consider getting extra insurance-check LonelyPlanet.corn ( for more information. If you're uninsured, emergency evacuation is expensive; bills of over US$100,000 are not uncommon.


You should find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or if they reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. (Note that in many countries doctors expect payment in cash.) Some policies offer lower and higher medical-expense options; the higher ones are chiefly for countries that have extremely high medical costs, such as the USA.


You may prefer a policy that pays doctors or hospitals rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation. Some policies ask you to call back (reserve charges) to a centre in your home country where an immediate assenssment of your problem is made.



Health advisories

It’s usually a good idea to consult your government’s travel-health website before departure, if one is available:

Australia (

Canada (

New  Zealand (

UK (

US (




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