Fire and rescue services
According to the Vietnam tourism website, there were over 386,000 Australian visitors in Vietnam in 2018. Most visits are trouble-free. We set out below some information to help you prepare for your trip and stay safe.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Petty crime, street crime and harassment happen, especially in larger cities.
Bag slashing is common in tourist areas, at markets, on crowded trains and buses, and at supermarkets. It increases in the lead up to Vietnamese and Western holiday periods.
Thieves on motorcycles commit snatch-and-grab crimes against pedestrians. This happens often and sometimes results in injury.
Thieves steal valuables, such as jewellery, handbags, phones and cameras.
To protect your belongings:
Reports of groping and other sexual assault are rising.
Drink spiking occurs. Foreigners have been robbed and sexually assaulted after having spiked food and drinks. This happens at late-night establishments in major cities.
To protect yourself from drink spiking:
If you think your drink or a friend's drink has been spiked, get urgent medical attention.
If you're a victim of violent crime, especially sexual assault, get medical attention. There is a risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases in Vietnam.
Travellers have been robbed after withdrawing money from ATMs.
Break-ins to hotels and private homes are reported. This happens even while guests are in their rooms.
To protect yourself from robbery:
Report thefts straight away to the local police and hotel management.
Personal or commercial arguments sometimes lead to threats of physical violence or death.
If you're threatened with violence, report it to local police.
To avoid commercial disputes, have a clear agreement on what the expected level of service is.
Many travellers have become victims of credit and debit card, taxi and gambling scams.
Credit and debit card skimming is where card data is taken for use in fraudulent transactions. This happens throughout Vietnam.
Some Australians have lost 1000s of dollars after accepting invitations to private homes from friendly locals. Beware of rigged card games and other confidence tricks organised by criminals.
Gambling may break local laws, which also apply to travellers. See Laws.
To avoid credit and debit card scams:
At airports, use airport taxis, prearranged hotel transfer services or taxis from clearly marked taxi ranks with staff.
Check that any person holding a placard with your name on it knows where you are going.
Be careful of people who are overly friendly and invite you to their home.
If you're a victim of a gambling scam, report it to police.
Although rare, protests sometimes happen.
Don't take photos of demonstrations, the military or the police. Authorities may not tolerate this.
Some localised violent clashes between protesters and police have resulted in casualties.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This includes for adventure activities, such as mountain climbing and boat trips.
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Severe weather events can disrupt air, sea, road and rail transport, electricity and communications.
If there's a natural disaster:
Floods, flash floods, typhoons and severe weather are common during the rainy season, from June to December.
Flooding can lead to landslides.
Typhoons mostly affect the coastal areas of the north and central regions. Though less common, typhoons also happen in the south.
Monitor the media, and weather and flood level reports during the rainy season.
The Mekong River Commission gives information on flood levels for the Mekong River region.
If there's a flood, typhoon or severe weather:
Large, frequent earthquakes in the region make destructive tsunamis more likely.
Be alert to warnings. A tsunami can arrive within minutes of a nearby tremor or earthquake.
To receive tsunami alerts, register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.
Move immediately to high ground if advised by local authorities or if you:
Do not wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media.
If there's a tsunami or if a tsunami warning is current, check the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won’t pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Some addictive and psychotropic medicines are controlled.
If you plan to take medication, check if it's legal in Vietnam. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
Zika virus continues to be a risk.
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends you:
discuss any travel plans with your doctor
consider deferring non-essential travel to affected areas
Dengue is found, especially in the south. There's no vaccine or treatment.
Japanese encephalitis is also found. A vaccine is available in Australia.
Malaria is a risk in some remote mountainous areas.
To protect yourself from disease:
make sure your accommodation is insect proof
use insect repellent
wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
consider taking medicine to prevent malaria
get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel
Discuss your travel plans and other vaccination needs with your doctor before you travel.
Rabies is potentially fatal if you don't get vaccinated or receive quick treatment.
Rabies is found in infected dogs, monkeys, bats and other mammals.
Most reported cases are in the mountain areas of northern Vietnam. It's most commonly passed on through dog bites.
To reduce your risk of rabies, don't go near dogs and other mammals.
If you're bitten or scratched, seek medical help straight away.
HIV/AIDS is a risk.
Take precautions if you engage in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is common. Sometimes more serious outbreaks happen.
Outbreaks usually start in March or April and peak in May, but can continue until October.
HFMD mostly affects children under the age of 10 years. Adult cases, especially young adults, are not unusual.
The illness appears as a fever, 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.
To reduce the risk of getting or passing on HFMD, pay close attention to hygiene. Wash your hands well and often.
Outbreaks of conjunctivitis happen.
To protect yourself from conjunctivitis:
avoid close contact with anyone who is infected
wash your hands thoroughly and often
avoid exposure to infected eyes
Human cases of avian influenza or 'bird flu' are reported in Vietnam.
Acute watery diarrhoea and cholera occur.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases occur. These include:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids
avoid ice cubes
avoid uncooked and undercooked food, such as salads
Get urgent medical attention if you have a fever or diarrhoea or you suspect food poisoning.
Air pollution is present in major cities. Seek medical advice before you travel if particulate pollution is likely to affect you.
Drug use has been reported to cause psychotic episodes and hospitalisation.
If you use drugs in Vietnam, you face possible health and legal risks. See Local laws
The standard of medical facilities and care varies.
Foreign private medical clinics are available in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau and Da Nang. They may not meet Australian standards.
Medical facilities and care at most public hospitals are poor. This is especially true outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
You may need medical evacuation to a major centre, even for minor operations.
Doctors and hospitals expect payment before providing medical services, including for emergency care.
Some hospitals may talk with your travel insurance company to secure payment. Others may need up-front payment before they will start treating you.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to Bangkok or Singapore. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
There are hyperbaric chambers are in:
You may need to show a legalised birth certificate to be recognised as next of kin for medical consent purposes.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
There are strict security and investigative measures to stop drug trafficking.
Penalties for all types of drug offences, including those with small amounts of drugs, are severe. Many drug offences attract the death penalty or life in jail.
Marijuana in any form is illegal.
More than 30 Australians are serving sentences for drug offences. More have been arrested and are waiting for further investigation or trials.
Never carry parcels or luggage for others.
For information about carrying prescription medications into Vietnam, see Travel.
Foreigners who want to marry a Vietnamese citizen in Vietnam must get formal approval from the Department of Justice. This must be done in the province where the Vietnamese citizen is registered.
You also need a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) if you plan to marry in Vietnam.
Apply for a CNI through the:
You can also apply for the CNI from DFAT in Australia. Fees apply. The embassy or consulate of Vietnam in Australia needs to authenticate it. Only then will the Department of Justice in Vietnam recognise it.
Increased Australian business activity has resulted in a higher number of commercial disputes in recent years.
If you're thinking about entering into a contract, get professional legal advice.
If you're involved in a business or civil dispute, authorities could stop you from leaving Vietnam until you resolve the matter.
Disputes over alleged misrepresentation of working and living conditions for Australians working in Vietnam often happen. This is especially the case for people teaching English.
Before signing an employment contract or travelling to Vietnam for work, verify the true nature of the work you're offered.
Check for unacceptable employment conditions. For example, conditions for early termination may state that you surrender your right to a return air ticket. Your potential employer may also withhold your pay.
To safeguard your stay, also:
The Australian embassy or consulate-general can provide a limited range of notarial services for some documents needed for a work permit.
Never hand over your passport to your employer, even for safekeeping. Reputable businesses won't ask you to hand over your passport.
Make sure you keep a valid visa and work permit. If you don't, authorities will fine you and could detain you.
Penalties for serious crime, such as rape, espionage and hijacking, include the death penalty.
It's illegal to:
These activities may result in arrest and imprisonment.
Involvement in non-state sanctioned political or religious activities, including online activities, is also illegal. If authorities suspect you of involvement in these activities, they could stop you from entering the country, detain or deport you. Authorities could also stop you from leaving until they have completed their investigations.
It's illegal to export antiques without a permit. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Vietnamese) offers advice and necessary permits.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you’re overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Same-sex relationships are legal. However, social and cultural attitudes towards same-sex relationships can be conservative, especially in rural areas
Be discreet and take care not to offend.
Same-sex partners aren't legally protected or recognised.
Vietnam recognises dual nationality in limited situations.
If you're a dual citizen and you enter Vietnam on a Vietnamese passport, this limits the consular services we can give if you're arrested or detained. Vietnamese authorities may not tell us of your situation.
Always travel on your Australian passport.
Australian citizens must re-enter Australia on an Australian passport.
If you're a dual national, you may need to do compulsory military service in Vietnam.
Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Vietnam in Australia before you travel.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can’t help you.
To enter Vietnam, you must have either:
Learn more about visa requirement (Vietnamese).
Apply for an e-visa through the Vietnamese Government's e-visa portal.
You can also apply for a tourist visa through the Vietnamese embassy’s website.
Costs and processes differ between these 2 websites.
Make sure you enter your details correctly when applying or you may have to pay a second fee when you arrive.
Print a copy of your application and bring it with you.
For stays longer than 30 days, apply for a visa directly from the embassy or consulate of Vietnam.
Complete the visa application form (Vietnamese) online.
Print it and take it to the nearest embassy or consulate of Vietnam.
If you arrive in Vietnam with a written approval letter for a visa to be issued on arrival, you need to pay the fee in cash.
If your visa expires or is no longer valid, you'll face delays and fines when leaving.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Vietnam for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Travellers have been scammed by private online visa services and travel agents.
Only apply for your visa through the Government of Vietnam’s official website or offices.
If your spouse or parent is a Vietnamese national, you can apply for a visa exemption certificate.
The certificate is valid for 5 years and allows multiple entries into Vietnam for up to 6 months.
You can't change the status of your entry visa to any other visa type in Vietnam. For example, you can't change a tourist or spouse visa to a working visa.
To get a visa extension from the Vietnamese immigration authorities, your passport must have at least 6 months of validity left at the time of application. This includes extensions for overstaying your visa.
This requirement is subject to change.
Check with the nearest embassy or consulate of Vietnam for details.
If you are travelling with prescription medications, check the value and quantity restrictions on the import and export of prescription medicines with the nearest embassy or consulate of Vietnam.
Vietnam health screens all inbound travellers.
Authorities pay extra attention to people who arrive from countries affected by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). If you show symptoms of MERS-CoV or Zika virus on arrival, you may be quarantined.
All foreigners must register their place of residence with the local police within 24 hours of arrival.
The Australian embassy and consulate can't provide translation services to help with registration.
If you stay at a hotel, check that you'll be registered as part of the normal check-in process. They'll need your passport details.
Many hotels ask foreigners to leave their passport with hotel staff for registration purposes. It isn't a legal requirement for hotels to keep your passport for the time you stay there.
If you stay with family, friends or in another private residence, you need to register at the local police station. Use a translator if needed.
Local hosts need to pre-register foreign guests. If you stay in a private residence, make sure your host has followed this legal requirement.
Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND).
You must declare the following at customs when you arrive or leave:
If you carry more currency or gold than you declared, authorities could confiscate it. They could arrest or fine you.
These requirements may be subject to change. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Vietnam for details.
Credit cards are widely accepted throughout major cities in Vietnam.
ATMs are widespread in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
Check with your bank to confirm if your ATM card will work in Vietnam.
Card skimming happens throughout Vietnam. See Safety.
You may have trouble getting replacement ATM cards.
Many Australian banks don't have local or regional branches with English-speaking staff.
The Vietnamese postal services are generally unreliable. If you need a new card, consider using an international courier service. The Australian embassy or consulate can't help you with money while you wait for a new card. It can't act as a personal mail-holding service.
Travel is restricted:
The Vietnamese Government won't permit official Long Tan commemorations at the Long Tan Cross site in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.
Access to the site will remain open to small groups of people for private visits without media coverage. This may change at short notice.
Visitors to the site may not:
You must behave in a solemn manner, respecting the wishes of local communities.
Unexploded weapons and landmines are a danger in former battlefields, especially in central Vietnam and along the Laos border.
Mine-free roads and paths are well-marked.
If you visit former battlefields, stay on marked pathways.
You must have a valid Vietnamese driver's licence to drive in Vietnam. This includes for motorcycles of 50cc or more.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) issued in Australia is not recognised in Vietnam.
Authorities may fine you for driving without a valid licence.
You're 4 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in Vietnam than in Australia.
Traffic accidents often happen and attract large crowds.
If you're involved in an accident, you could face criminal charges. This is regardless of who's at fault. You may need to pay a large sum to the injured person or their family.
If you're not familiar with local conditions, avoid driving or riding a motorcycle.
Whether driving, riding or walking, be very careful when crossing busy streets. Traffic can appear from any direction.
The number of travellers involved in serious motorcycle accidents is increasing.
Check your travel insurance policy covers you when travelling by motorcycle.
Always wear a helmet that meets international safety standards.
Only ride motorcycles if you're:
Be careful using taxis hailed on the street.
Always choose a reputable and reliable taxi company. Make sure the taxi driver knows how to get to where you're going before you get in.
Check the meter is used. Leave the taxi if the driver tries to pick other passengers up.
If you book a taxi online or through an app, make sure the details of the vehicle and driver match those the company gives you.
Be careful of taxi scams. See Safety
Inter-city buses have a high accident rate.
Petty theft often happens on buses. See Safety.
Consider taking a train if possible. Rail travel is usually safe, but petty theft can happen.
Theft has been reported on sleeper trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai, Sapa.
When travelling by rail, keep the ticket stub as you need it when leaving the train station.
Boats, hydrofoils and ferries may not meet Australian safety standards.
Accidents on waterways happen. Vessels have sunk and people have died. This includes in Ha Long Bay.
Whenever you plan to travel by boat:
Piracy happens in coastal areas of Vietnam.
You need to show your luggage tags when leaving a Vietnamese airport. Keep your luggage receipt from your airline on you at all times.
By law, children under 14 years travelling alone on domestic flights must:
Contact the airline in advance to check what is needed for unaccompanied minors.
DFAT doesn’t provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Vietnam's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Emergency numbers in Vietnam are operated in Vietnamese only and may be unreliable. You may have a long wait before emergency services arrive.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Take a translator with you to report a crime to the police. Cases reported by foreigners may be accepted at the discretion of local police.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your travel provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can’t do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact the nearest embassy or consulate.
8 Dao Tan Street
Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: (+84 24) 3774 0100
Fax: (+84 24) 3774 0111
Facebook: Australia in Vietnam
20th Floor, Vincom Centre
47 Ly Tu Trong Street
Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone: (+84 28) 3521 8100
Fax: (+84 28) 3521 8101
Check the relevant website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.