Accidents and emergencies in Vietnam


Accidents happen. This has been a fact since the stone age and beyond, but that doesn’t mean you need to play rock, paper, scissors with your own wellbeing. Like anywhere else, Vietnam is prominent with certain types of danger, most notably on the road.

In the first half of 2019, more than 4,000 people were killed in Vietnam because of traffic accidents. The good news is that these numbers are lower than the previous year, implying that improvements are constantly in the works. Additionally, there are a few simple precautions you can take to ensure you don’t become roadkill yourself.

Accidents in Vietnam

This bathes deep within the realm of obvious but wear a helmet. As Vietnam is still a developing nation, road etiquette is dissimilar to what you are accustomed to back home. Life on the road is a little more dog-eat-dog here, and you do need to push for position. That doesn’t mean you need to be overly aggressive but do try to hold your ground. Always use your horn to get the attention of others but use it in short bursts. Long bursts are interpreted as arrogant and rude. Traffic in the major cities could be described as a kind of successful chaos. It seems unpredictable and disorganised, but it adds to the charm of Vietnam, and somehow it works too! Luckily, the major cities are usually too congested for anyone to reach dangerous speeds. Therefore an accident will most likely leave you with a few bumps and bruises, nothing more. However, take care if you’re heading out of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. Not all locals use their indicators so be prepared for unexpected turns. If you are not comfortable with the road culture here, it is best to take a taxi.

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Emergencies in Vietnam

Vietnam remains a low-threat country and is relatively safe to visit at any time of year. It is advisable to take note of the standard precautions during the monsoon seasons and when in doubt, do as the locals do. If you are ever feeling under the weather or if you have an accident, there are numerous international hospitals scattered throughout the country.

How to deal with accidents and emergencies

If you do have an accident, you should either call the emergency number 115 or get yourself to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. For bumps and bruises, public hospitals will be fine on a pay-as-you-go basis, but you will need a local Vietnamese person to help explain your problem. Be warned that international hospitals are expensive and it is strongly recommended that you take out an appropriate insurance policy. Seven Corners and Allianz are two highly reputable companies. Without insurance, your medical expenses could be an extremely bitter pill to swallow! In addition to this, be sure to get yourself vaccinated for Polio, Hepatitis and other nasties before coming to Vietnam.

Ensuring your wellbeing in Vietnam

In some Asian countries, the locals sometimes laugh as a means of levity during moments of embarrassment or misunderstanding. Don’t be offended if this happens while you are in a troublesome situation as it is nothing personal.

As with anywhere else, the best way of ensuring you are on the mend is to get plenty of rest. Keep yourself well hydrated with at least two litres of water per day and try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. An apple a day keeps the doctor away but make sure it is thoroughly washed first! If you are prescribed any medicine, do not deviate from the dosage instructions, and if you are wearing bandages, try to change them daily and keep the affected area as sterile as possible. The Vietnamese word for pharmacy is ‘tiem thuoc’ and they are ubiquitous in every city.

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