Vietnam is a wonderful place to live and to visit. Over the last few years, the popularity of Vietnam as a tourist destination continues to grow Many tourists want to go out to the countryside in North Vietnam to explore the mountains and other remote areas. But with all kinds of travel, there is a chance that you can get hurt or get ill during your trip.
If you get an illness or injury while traveling in North Vietnam you can go to a Government (Public) Hospital but you will find that the conditions of the hospital are not up to western standards of medical care. You should instead consider getting down to Hanoi to have a doctor in one of the Expat Medical clinics or hospitals check you out. If the Hanoi clinics or hospitals are not able to help you with your medical needs then you may need to go to another Southeast Asian country or go home.
What To Do If You Get an Illness or Injury In North Vietnam?
If you get hurt or ill while traveling in North Vietnam, the first thing you need to access is how serious it is and how badly hurt you are. Most areas of Vietnam will have a local hospital, but these hospitals are usually not at all up to the western medical standards. But if it is a simple issue they may still be able to help you.
For example, a friend of mine took a young Hmong girl into a local hospital in Lao Cai near Sapa as her leg was hurting her. The doctor diagnosed it as it was a leg infection and sent her home with antibiotics. Months later it did not get better so they went back again and they told her nothing was wrong. Finally, they took this young girl to Hanoi to one of the better hospitals and discovered she had bone cancer. Because it was not caught early enough the cancers had started to spread.
I have heard a lot of stories like this where the local government hospitals completely misdiagnose an illness or injury so that then the person who has the illness or injury then ends up in a very bad state or condition as they did not get the proper diagnoses in the first place.
In truth, this same thing can also happen in the west or in other hospitals, but many of these local hospitals just do not have the trained staff or equipment that some of the larger hospitals have. And in many cases, hygiene and other care are not up to the western standard.
Understanding the Vietnamese Government (Public) Hospitals.
I have been inside many of the Vietnamese Government (Public) Hospitals to visit people who are ill or sick. These hospitals are usually extremely crowded. If you choose or need to stay in a Vietnamese Government Hospital then here are a few things you need to aware of during your stay:
- Many patients in one room – There are usually many patients in one room. It is usually not just you and a roommate but it could be you and 6 or 8 other patients and all their relatives. In some cases, there may even be two patients on one bed as they are lacking beds. There are single rooms or rooms with fewer people in them, but those rooms are usually very hard to get as many people also want to have those rooms.
- Rooms are not divided necessary by disease or illness – If you broke your leg you could be put in a room with someone who has another disease. You will not necessarily all be in the same room with the same disease or injury. This means you may pick up a cold or bronchitis from your hospital roommate.
- The room many or many not have air-con – The room may or may not have air-con. If you are a foreigner chances are they will get you in a room with an air-con, but there is also a chance they can be full and you are in the hospital in the heat of the summer without any air-con or fan. Actually for many hospitals getting a room with air-con can be very difficult as there is such a limited number of rooms with air-con.
- Family members will stay the night in the room and sleep with the patient – Not only will you have other patients in the room but you will also have family members sleeping on the same bed as the patient. So the rooms can be extremely crowded.
- All kinds of food will be brought in – Vietnamese hospitals are not like you find the states or other places where you order off a menu and no other food is allowed or suppose to come in. Most of the time family members and friends will bring food in for the patients. The hospital has food for the patients but not for the family members. So there could be a ton of food and smells going on that you are not sure what they are.
- The nursing staff is non-existent or very limited – Do not expect to have a nurse come running every time you call. This is why the family members are there to help the patients as there is very limited or non-existent nursing staff.
- Bathrooms will be shared – You will be sharing a bathroom with a lot of people. It may or may not be in the room or it could be down the halls somewhere.
- English will be limited – The use of English will be very limited. So if you do not speak any Vietnamese it may be very difficult to even communicate with your doctor about your treatment.
If a government hospital sounds very dismal, well they can be. In truth many Vietnamese, if they have a choice, will go to a private hospital or clinic if one is available.
I had a friend who was hurt in a motorbike accident. She was in a lot of pain and was not sure where to go to find a doctor, so they asked a taxi driver to take them to a hospital. The driver took them to a large government hospital. The hospital took Xrays and told her that it was not serious all she had was some bruising and they gave her some painkillers, bandaged her up and sent her home.
A day later, she was in so much pain so she asked the hotel if there was another doctor she could see. The hotel sent her to the Hanoi-French Hosptial. Once there, more X-rays and tests were conducted and they found out she had two broken ribs, a broken back and a host of other injuries. She ended up staying over 2 weeks in the hospital as her injuries were so serious.
What To Do If You Get Hurt When You Are Traveling Outside Hanoi?
If you get hurt when you are traveling outside Hanoi there are a few steps you can take.
- Access how badly hurt you are: If I did something like break a wrist I would probably get to the local hospital and then have them wrap it up and stabilize it so that I could get back to Hanoi. The local hospitals should have Xray machines so they can take an Xray. When you pay for an Xray in Vietnam you can take the Xray with you. So I would get an Xray and then bring the Xray with me down to Hanoi to see a doctor here at one of the better private hospitals.
- Get down to Hanoi as soon as you can – Get down to Hanoi to see a doctor as soon as you can. When you are in Hanoi go to either the Raffles Clinic or Family Medical Plan Clinic (see the information about each clinic below). Or alternatively, go direct to either the Hanoi – French Hospital or Vin Mec Hospital (see address below)
You can read about medical care in Hanoi by checking out the blog. Guide to Emergency Medical Care in Hanoi Vietnam by clicking here.
Where to Find Good Medical Care in Hanoi, Vietnam?
Here is where you can find good medical care in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi has two clinics that most foreigners go to and two hospitals which also serve a lot of foreigners.
Medical Clinics Located in Hanoi:
There are two clinics located in Hanoi that most foreigners will go to get adequate medical care. The clinics are the Raffles Medical Clinic and the Family Health Plan Clinic.
Raffles Medical Clinic – 51 Xuân Diệu, Quảng An, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội 700000, Vietnam Tel: 02439340666 – 02436762222 (24/7 Emergency Care Email: [email protected]
The Raffles Medical Clinic use to be the SOS Clinic in Hanoi but changed to the Raffles group. It is located in the heart of Tay Ho, or the Westlake area of Hanoi. So if you are staying in that area or close to that area, it is quite easy to get the Raffles Medical Clinic.
Raffles is a Singapore based group, but they have offices throughout all of Asia. Besides their clinic in Hanoi, they also have clinics in Ho Chi Minh, and Vung Tau, Vietnam. They are usually open from 8 am to 8 pm every day, but they also provide support for 24 hours of emergency care.
Their doctors and nurses all speak English. Some of the doctors are foreign doctors, but most are Vietnamese. The Raffles Medical clinic is located behind the Syrena Center on Xuan Dieu Road. You can follow the signs to the Raffles Medical that will show you to go down the ramp and behind the Syrena Center to get to the Raffles Medical clinic. You can also show the security guards at the Syrena Center the address and name of the Raffles Medical clinic and they can point you in the right direction.
Family Medical Practice – Hanoi, 298 I Kim Ma Street, Van Phuc Compound, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: +84 24 3843 0748, Fax: +84 24 3846 1750,
Email: [email protected], Family Medical Practice Emergency Number: (024) 3843 0748 (24/7 Emergency Care)
The Family Medical Practice Clinic has been in Hanoi for many years and they have a very nice facility that is not too far from the DaeWoo Hotel or the Lotte Centre. The Family Medical Practice also has full-service clinics in Ho Chi Minh and Danang.
Their facility is a bit larger than the Raffles Medical clinic and they also have a lot more western doctors and specialists. I have gone to them to see some of their specialists and also to get my annual medical check-up. I found them to be very good and competent. Their normal operating hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. They give 24-hour emergency care.
Hospitals Located in Hanoi
There are two main hospitals in Hanoi that you should go to if you are hurt. The hospitals are the Hanoi- French Hosptial and the Vin Mec Hospital.
Hanoi – French Hospital, 01 Phuong Mai Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi, Vietnam, Emergency Hotline Hanoi- French Hospital: (84-24) 3574 1111, Hanoi-French Hosptial Tel: (84-24) 3577 1100, Email: [email protected]
The Hanoi- French Hospital has been established for quite some time and they have quite a few foreign and Vietnamese doctors, including many doctors that are French-trained. The hospital does a lot of operations and has many medical experts on site.
Vin Mec International Hospital – Hanoi, 458 Minh Khai, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi, Vietnam, Telephone – 0243 9743 556
Vin Mec International Hospital is one of the newest private hospitals in Hanoi. This hospital is new and has a lot of updated medical equipment. There are 4 VinMec International Hospitals in Vietnam, besides the one in Hanoi, there is Vin Mec hospitals in Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Nha Trang, Vietnam.
Like the Hanoi-French Hosptial, the VinMec International Hospital also has a mixture of some foreign and highly skilled Vietnamese doctors. Also, like the Hanoi- French Hospital, many of the Vietnamese doctors have been trained overseas.
What If Your Illness or Injury is Serious?
If you are seriously injured or ill you have a few options you should consider:
- Get back home to get the care you need. – As soon as you are able to travel, then get back home to see your own doctor and get the care you need. This way there would be no question about the quality of the medical care you are getting.
- Go to Thailand, Singapore or Hong Kong for your medical care. Many foreigners if they need to have specific tests or need better medical facilities will go to ‘Bangkok, Thailand, Singapore or Hong Kong. So if going home is not an option or the flight is too long for you to be able to handle returning home, then going to another one of these Asian countries maybe your best option.
If you get injured somewhere in North Vietnam, your best option is to try to get back to Hanoi as soon as possible to go to a clinic or hospital in Hanoi, If the Hosptial or Clinic in Hanoi is not able to give you the care that you need then you should either try to go home or go to Thailand, Singapore or Hong Kong or another country that can help you with your medical needs.
What are the most common diseases in Vietnam?
According to the Borgen Project the most common diseases in Vietnam are:
- Chikungunya – This disease is rare in American but it common in Vietnam. Due to Vietnam’s high humidity rate and mosquitoes, this disease is spread through mosquito bites. The symptoms are that you will get flu-like symptoms like fever, joint pain, fatigue, and nausea. This disease is rarely fatal.
- Rabies – Many dogs in Vietnam are not vaccinated against rabies and Vietnam has had over 900 deaths due to rabies in the last decade. Rabies is transferred to humans when bitten by a dog infected with the rabies virus. Anyone traveling to Vietnam or Southeast Asia should have their rabies vaccination. You can read our blog on Why you need a Rabies Shot Before Traveling to Southeast Asia, by clicking here.
- Japanese Encephalitis – The Japanese Encephalitis is a disease that is caused through the bite of a mosquito but unlike Chikungunya this disease can be deadly. Travelers to Vietnam for more than a month should get a Japanese Encephalitis vaccination,
- Typhoid Fever – Typhoid Fever is still common throughout Southeast Asia. It is spread through unclean food and water or through an infected person. Antibiotics and vaccinations are available to treat and prevent typhoid in Vietnam, but the best course of action is to eat at clean restaurants, wash your hands frequently and stay away from very unclean areas.
- Tuberculosis (TB) – Tuberculosis is one of the most common diseases in Vietnam and it is estimated that annually Vietnam has about 17,000 Tuberculosis deaths. Tuberculosis is most commonly contracted from people’s coughs, sneezes or even just a discussion and without treatment, tuberculosis can be fatal.
When traveling to Vietnam or even around Southeast Asia take precautions to prevent getting these common diseases.
Are Vietnamese people healthy?
Many Vietnamese are very healthy as the Vietnamese food diet is filled with a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Many Vietnamese also do not eat much sugar, or processed foods when compared to the western diet. But diabetes and some other diseases have increased in Vietnam over the years as people have continued to live a more sedentary life as compared to years past.
Anita L Hummel from A Bus On A Dusty Road