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The face mask market in urban Vietnam has been expanding rapidly. Take a street tour and you will see that 8 out of 10 traffic participators wear face masks. What are the motivating forces behind this phenomenon, and are traveling with face masks necessary in Vietnam?
To answer the question of are traveling with face masks necessary in Vietnam, we should first refer back to its roots.
In the 2000s, the people who wear face masks are mostly those that want to avoid sunlight exposure. Vietnamese people love white skin, female and male. So our complete “protection” pack would include not only face masks but also jackets, gloves, helmets, socks, etc. This type of face mask is also pretty unique with colorful colors and is long enough to cover your neck.
This fashion is the signature look of our traffic culture
In present Vietnam, especially in Ho Chi Minh City where there is an estimated population of 9 million dwellers and 7.4 million motorbikes, poor air quality is the main reason why face mask is so prevalent. It’s almost impossible to breathe if you engage in traffic during peak hours (5-6 PM). Most people opt for medical or cloth masks.
Even when they're not on the motorbike, Vietnamese also wear face masks to protect themselves from pollutants on the streets
In some cases, young people wear masks as a fashion item.
The answer is yes if you plan on commuting in urban areas like Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi by bikes or motorbikes. But if you know you will be using taxis or Grab, we’d say skip it.
Now, note that the widely used medical masks can’t actually protect you. They don’t have the right filter, and there is limited proof of their efficacy against pollutants. They just help you breathe more comfortably. So you may want to consider purchasing Mr. Druk's AQ Blue, N95, or 3M disposable masks that are specifically designed to combat pollution.
Tip: Download the AirVisual app on your phone to check for air quality to plan your outdoor activities in cities in Vietnam and worldwide.
Disposable face masks are widely available at convenience stores and pharmacies in Vietnam at a very cheap price. Nonetheless, it is advisable to prepare standardized medical face masks before your travel as you'd be entering crowded places, namely the international airports. Here are some of our recommendations.
3M Particulate Respirator 8210, N95
BIELCOR B200 N95 Particulate Respirator
3M 8210 N95 Classic Disposable Particulate Cup Respirator
Hand sanitizer: Vietnam is the land of finger foods, not to mention you'll also be sitting down at a streetside shop for some Vietnamese dishes. Have a bottle of hand-sanitizer handy to explore the culinary land germ-free.
Alcohol wipes are also a great idea to get rid of bacteria.
Insect repellent: If you're traveling to rural areas in Vietnam, i.e. the Mekong Delta or the Northwest, insect repellent can protect you from unwanted mosquito and bug bites. A lotion formula repellent works best in the tropical climate.
Sunscreen: Because you don't want to risk getting a sunburn and spoil the fun on your travel. Prioritize a sunscreen spray if you're planning on a lot of outdoor activities, like camping, hiking, or motorbiking in Vietnam
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Vietnam is still a developing country with many aspects to improve on. We are still trying our best to fight environmental issues and projects on tackling the climate change issue in Vietnam. We hope air pollution won’t stop you from enjoying your trip to our marvelous country. We recommend you take measures to protect your health.
© Written by Chau Tran for itourvn.com | itourvn.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
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I traveled in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in December, and I agree that masks are needed to protect yourself from pollution and dust, particularly if you plan to walk around.