Travel to Vietnam Advisory
This is an example of Travel to Vietnam Advisory for all foreign visitors
From Australia http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/vietnam
This advice has been reviewed and reissued. The overall level of the advice has not changed.
On this page:
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
We continue to receive reports that terrorists in South East Asia are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Internal conflict is rare in Vietnam, although some localised violent clashes between protesters and police have, in the past, resulted in a small number of casualties. You should avoid all public gatherings and demonstrations as they have the potential to turn violent. You should avoid taking photographs of demonstrations, the military or police as this may not be tolerated by the Vietnamese authorities.
We advise you to exercise caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety in Vietnam because of the risk of criminal activity. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.
Street crime and harassment occur, especially in larger cities. Aggravated theft and assault occur, particularly in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Sapa (particularly on the train to/from Lao Cai) and Cat Ba Island (near Ha Long Bay).
Petty theft, including bag-slashing, is also common in tourist areas, markets, on crowded trains, buses and at supermarkets.
Snatch-and-grab crimes against pedestrians by thieves on motorcycles have sometimes resulted in injury to victims.
Foreigners have been robbed and sexually assaulted after accepting spiked food and drinks. There have been reported break-ins to hotels, even while guests are in their rooms. You should take care to ensure your valuables are secure at all times.
Due to the risk of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.
Scams targeting tourists have been known to occur. There have been reported cases of tourists becoming victims of gambling and taxi scams. Use airport taxis or pre-arranged hotel transfer services from the airport. Check that any person holding a placard with your name on it knows your destination.
Traffic conditions throughout Vietnam are hazardous and road accidents, resulting in death or injury, are common. Driving standards and vehicle and road maintenance are generally poor. Australian tourists have suffered serious injuries from road accidents in recent years. Motorcycle and intercity bus travel have particularly high accident rates. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.
A valid Vietnamese driving license is required when operating vehicles in Vietnam, including motorcycles.
Streets are crowded in major cities and road rules are routinely ignored. Be very careful when crossing busy streets as traffic can appear from any direction.
Travellers should be aware that transport infrastructure in Vietnam can be in poor condition.
If you plan to visit the Long Tan Cross site in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, you should note that the site is located on non-public land and visitors are required to follow certain procedures to access the site. See the Embassy's website for further information.
Travel is restricted near military installations and in some parts of the Central Highlands and some border areas.
Unexploded landmines and ordnance are a continuing hazard in former battlefields, particularly in central Vietnam. Mine-free roads and paths are well marked.
Tour operators might not meet the safety standards expected in Australia, especially for adventure sports (such as mountain climbing) and for boat trips. Travellers should ask tour agents questions about the safety record and features of vessels and experience of crew before booking any trip.
Please refer to our travel bulletin for information about Aviation Safety and Security.
Flooding, flash flooding and landslides may occur during the rainy season (June-December).
Flooding is common in and around Hanoi, in Northern Vietnam and in the Mekong River Delta regions in the south. The Mekong River Commission website contains information on flood levels for the Mekong River region.
Typhoons are also common during this period. The areas most affected by typhoons are the coastal provinces of the North and Central Regions. However, typhoons in the south, though less frequent, still occur. If a typhoon does occur, travellers should follow the instructions of local authorities, monitor media and weather reports, and check with tour operators before travelling to affected areas. Please see our travel bulletin on Severe Weather for further information.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. Incidents of card swiping have occurred throughout Vietnam and you should keep your credit card in sight at all times.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras are tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
If your passport is lost or stolen in Vietnam, in addition to obtaining a new passport, you will also need to get your visa reissued. You must obtain a police report from the local police office. You will then need to submit the police report to Vietnamese immigration authorities together with a request for a new visa.
Failure to hold a valid visa in your passport may delay departure from Vietnam.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling Parents brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.
When you are in Vietnam, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for serious crime, such as rape, espionage and hijacking, include the death sentence.
Penalties for drug offences are severe. Under the Vietnamese penal code, a person caught in possession of even a small amount of heroin can be sentenced to death. There are over 20 Australians currently serving life sentences or facing the death penalty for drug trafficking offences. Vietnamese authorities have announced increased security and investigative measures to combat drug trafficking.
Photography of border crossings and military installations is prohibited and may result in arrest. You should also avoid taking photographs during demonstrations.
You could be detained if you venture too close to the border with China, Cambodia or Laos without prior written permission from the local authorities.
It is against the law to export antiques from Vietnam without a permit. The Ministry of Culture can provide further advice and any necessary permit.
Foreigners wishing to marry a Vietnamese citizen in Vietnam must seek formal approval from the Office of Justice in the province where the Vietnamese citizen is registered.
Gambling, except in government licensed casinos, is illegal in Vietnam. Anyone found to be in violation of this law is subject to steep fines and/or a severe prison sentence. Access to licensed casinos is restricted to holders of foreign passports.
Local laws prohibit possession of pornographic, non-state sanctioned political and religious material. Being caught in possession of this type of material will attract penalties, including fines and detention.
Foreign citizens suspected by local authorities to be involved in non-state sanctioned political or religious activities may be denied entry into Vietnam, detained, deported or prevented from departing Vietnam until authorities have completed investigations of their activities.
There has been an increase in incidents where local authorities have prevented the departure from Vietnam of foreigners involved in a commercial dispute by withholding their passport until the dispute is resolved.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 17 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in sexual activity with children under 16 while outside of Australia.
As of 1 July 2009, Vietnam recognises dual nationality in limited circumstances. Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Vietnamese dual nationals who are detained or arrested may be limited. We strongly recommend that you travel on your Australian passport at all times.
If you are an Australian/Vietnamese dual national, you may be subject to compulsory military service while in the country. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Vietnam before you travel.
Our brochure on Travel Information for Dual Nationals provides further information for dual nationals.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Vietnam for the most up to date information.
You must obtain a visa prior to arrival in Vietnam. People attempting to enter Vietnam without a valid visa are generally sent back to their last port of departure. You should review all visa conditions and carefully note any conditions listed on the immigration stamp which you will receive on arrival.
Your passport must have at least six months remaining validity at the time of arrival in Vietnam. If you lose your passport which contains your visa for Vietnam or the visa document issued by Vietnamese authorities, you will need to obtain an exit visa from a Vietnamese immigration office. Vietnamese authorities will not permit you to depart Vietnam until the exit visa is issued. Processing may take up to 4 working days and a fee is payable.
Make sure you keep your arrival/departure customs declaration form as you will need it when leaving the country. If lost, it can be replaced at exit ports, but may require payment of a fee.
All foreigners are required to register their place of residence with the local police within 24 hours of arrival. Foreigners staying with family or friends in a private home must comply with this requirement. Failure to do so could result in fines. If you are staying at a hotel, this is done as part of the normal check-in process and you will be required to provide your passport to the hotel for this purpose.
Foreign currency (including cash and travellers cheques) in excess of US$7000, cash exceeding Vietnamese Dong 15,000,000 and gold exceeding 300 grams must be declared at customs (with supporting documentation) upon arrival and departure. Excess currency and gold not declared may be confiscated at the port of entry/exit and the passenger arrested and/or fined.
Local authorities remain concerned about the spread of avian influenza and travellers may be required to undergo temperature screening on arrival in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Depending on the outcome of the tests, you may be required to undergo further medical examinations which could interrupt your travel plans.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 has spread throughout the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides useful information for individuals and travellers on its website. For further information and advice to Australians, including on possible quarantine measures overseas, see our travel bulletin on Pandemic (H1N1) 2009.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips on travelling with medicines and for staying healthy while travelling overseas.
The standard of medical facilities and care in Vietnam varies. Foreign private medical clinics are available in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but may not meet Australian standards. Medical facilities and care at most public hospitals, especially in areas outside Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, are poor and medical evacuation to a major centre may be required for even relatively minor operations. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care.
Air evacuation to Bangkok by air-ambulance from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City may be required in cases of serious illness or accident. This may cost between A$12,000 and A$35,000.
Hyperbaric chambers are located in Nha Trang, Quy Nhon and Vung Tau.
The mosquito-borne illness dengue fever is prevalent in Vietnam, particularly in the south. There has been an increase in the number of cases reported and deaths from dengue fever. The mosquito-borne illness malaria is also a risk in some remote mountainous areas of Vietnam. We recommend you take measures to avoid mosquito bites including using insect repellent at all times and that you ask your doctor about whether you need to take prophylaxis against malaria.
The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of North, South and South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea, and is prevalent in Vietnam. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use and is currently available in Australia. For further details please consult your travel health doctor.
Outbreaks of water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, rabies, typhoid, tuberculosis, and meningitis) occur from time to time. We encourage you to discuss your vaccination requirements with your doctor before travelling.
Acute watery diarrhoea and cholera occur in Vietnam, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time, particularly in the capital Hanoi and surrounding northern provinces. Careful preparation of food and good personal hygiene are strongly recommended. Medical attention should be sought if symptoms continue.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is common in Vietnam with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. In recent years, outbreaks of the disease have been reported in Ho Chi Minh City. In Asia, outbreaks of HFMD usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until August to October. It mostly affects children under the age of 10 years but adult cases (particularly young adults) are not unusual. The illness is characterised by fever as well as blisters and rashes on the hands, feet and buttocks. HFMD is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges and faeces of infected people. Normal hygiene precautions should be taken including careful and frequent hand washing.
We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals and to avoid ice cubes, raw and undercooked food and unpasteurised dairy products. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Avian influenza: The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world, including Vietnam. For a list of all these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Vietnam. The Department of Health and Ageing advises Australians who reside in Vietnam for an extended period to consider, as a precautionary measure, having access to influenza antiviral medicine for treatment. Long-term residents are at a greater risk of exposure to avian influenza over time. You should seek medical advice before taking antiviral medicines. Australians intending to travel to Vietnam for shorter periods are at much lower risk of infection but should discuss the risk of avian influenza with their doctor as part of their routine pre-travel health checks.
If the avian influenza virus mutates to a form where efficient human-to-human transmission occurs, it may spread quickly and local authorities could move quickly to impose restrictions on travel. Australian travellers and long-term residents in Vietnam should be prepared to take personal responsibility for their own safety and well-being, including deciding when to leave an affected area and ensuring they have appropriate contingency plans in place. Australians in Vietnam should monitor the travel advice and bulletin for updated information and advice, and ensure that their travel documents, including passports and visas for any non-Australian family members, are up to date in case they need to depart at short notice.
In Vietnam, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
If you are travelling to Vietnam, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.