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Moving to Vietnam: Should You Be Wary of Any Health Hazards?

Settling in Vietnam: Urban vs. Rural Health Considerations

Moving to a new country can be an exhilarating yet intimidating experience, especially when it comes to health concerns. For expats considering a move to Vietnam, understanding the local health risks and how they compare to those in other countries is crucial. This guide aims to offer a balanced perspective, incorporating experiences from long-term expats to help you prepare for your new life in Vietnam, whether you plan to reside in bustling cities or explore remote areas.

Urban Living: Convenience and Modern Amenities

Most expats settle in Vietnam’s cities where modern amenities and luxuries are easily available. Supermarkets and street markets are common, offering a variety of local and Western food products, including pasteurized milk and other familiar comforts. As noted by one expat who lived in Vietnam for nearly two years, “you are no more likely to get sick in Vietnam than in any other country,” provided you take the usual precautions with food and water.

Urban water is generally treated and safe for use in cooking and bathing. However, for drinking, sticking to bottled water is advisable, especially if the water comes from a storage tank. As one expat suggests, buying larger bottles, such as 25-liter containers, is cost-effective and ensures a safer supply.

Rural Exploration: Rich in Culture, Higher in Risk

Venturing into rural areas offers a rich cultural experience, though it comes with increased health risks. It’s common for newcomers to experience mild stomach bugs as their bodies adjust to the local microbiome. While this is rarely serious, adopting a cautious approach to street food and untreated water can mitigate risks. Always opt for freshly cooked meals and bottled water when traveling outside major cities.

Common Health Risks in Vietnam

Air Quality and Allergies

In urban areas, air pollution can exacerbate asthma and allergies, manifesting as nasal drip or a scratchy throat. Wearing a mask while traveling in cities can help, as well as opting to spend time in the less polluted countryside.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

The risk of diseases like malaria and dengue fever is higher in rural and remote areas. No vaccines for dengue fever are available, making prevention crucial. Wear insect repellent during dawn and dusk, and consider anti-malarial medication if you plan to visit high-risk zones.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Vietnam’s tropical climate can lead to sunburn, dehydration, and heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. It’s vital to drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and seek shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Food and Water Safety

Traveller’s diarrhea and food-related illnesses are concerns for many newcomers. Eating at places with high customer turnover and avoiding ice in rural areas can help. If gastrointestinal issues do arise, staying hydrated and using rehydration salts are effective remedies.

Wildlife and Insect Bites

While exploring Vietnam’s natural landscapes, be cautious of critter bites and potential rabies exposure from wild or domestic animals. Protective clothing and vigilance are key when hiking or visiting natural parks.

Health Insurance Solutions for Expats in Vietnam

Navigating healthcare in a new country can be a challenge. Many expats benefit from international health insurance plans that provide comprehensive coverage and access to private clinics and hospitals, where English-speaking doctors are more common. Before moving, ensure that you have a reliable healthcare plan in place, and familiarize yourself with the nearest medical facilities to your new home.


insurance in Asia

Not only health insurance is different but most general insurance: accident, life, home, travel, office or even car insurance will be different than your past experiences.