The health issue is a part of traveling safely. Vietnam is one of the developing countries in a tropical area with many chances of catching diseases. Before going to Vietnam, it is advised to see if there are any current epidemics in Vietnam like viral hemorrhagic fever, especially during hot and humid summer. You may also worry about the food and drink safety in Vietnam. Read our guide on Vietnam water to know about the safety of using tap water in Vietnam.
Contamination of water is still a challenge for the government. The water has a high level of E. Coli, ammonia, and arsenic that can affect your health on a different level. Even the bottled water that is manufactured by shady and unlicensed water firms have a certain amount of contamination; these factories were shut down in a row when the government inspected their manufacturing places. The water supply, sewerage, and waste treatment in urban and rural areas are controlled by many organizations from the state government to local authorities, agricultural cooperatives, and private enterprises. The state government still holds substantial responsibilities for those activities, but the division between organizations makes it hard for quality control, operation, and maintenance. Many problems are the results of that.
In rural areas, people have less access to pipe water systems. They mostly use groundwater or even river water for cooking, bathing, and cleaning. Because of the poor operation and management, during the dry season, there could be water shortages as well, even in major cities. Inadequate treatment and purifying processes have made water in Vietnam have a high level of chlorine (sometimes, above the required standard) and thus the smell.
Most Vietnamese don’t drink water directly from the tap because they don’t trust the tap water quality, even in urban areas. Some people also go to the extent that they installed water filters and purifiers in their homes to make sure they don’t drink contaminated water.
Water and food from street vendors are other problems to your health. Street vendors usually have a small budget so they will use water from a cheap supplier and thus the water is not suitable for your stomach. If your stomach gets upset easily, it is best to avoid street vendors that you find not hygienic.
No, do not drink tap water in Vietnam under any circumstances.
It is highly recommended that you always boil the water before drinking to avoid travelers' diarrhea. It should be safe to bring the water to boiling point for about one minute. However, if you are in rural areas, where old water pipes may contaminate the water supply, it is best to use bottled water for drinking, cooking, and rinsing.
A bottle of water costs only about VND 10,000. It is best to buy one from supermarkets, convenience stores or at your hotels. Before drinking, check the seal and the bottle for signs of damage or opening; you should only drink from one with a proper seal.
In the urban area, yes. Rinsing or brushing your teeth with tap water in Vietnam is fine, as long as you don’t swallow a significant amount of it.
In the rural areas, maybe no. If you have bottled water or boiled water available, use them.
In the urban, yes. In the rural areas, maybe no.
If you find the water, for example in the streams, canals or pools and tubs are not treated well - have a smell, weird color, weird objects, it is best to avoid swimming or bathing in there. You may get skin irritation problems.
Yes and no.
Yes, if you know that the water source to make the ice is safe enough to drink, boiled or bottled. If it is tap water, you should avoid using ice. Many stores try to save money by doing this, so read the reviews about food safety before eating at any restaurant.
For information about Food Safety in Vietnam in general, do check out our guides!
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Many factors can cause travelers' diarrhea, but it usually comes from consuming contaminated food and water. Make sure to follow the above drink/food safety tips in Vietnam. However, if you, unfortunately, get travelers' diarrhea, you can check out the below tips to deal with it.
For more details and tips, you can check out an article from the NY Times.
Usually, in each hospital, they will have their pharmacies, located near the gates or on the ground floor. You should go to hospitals for a check-up if there are any signs of diarrhea. Get to the hospital as early as possible because you may have to wait in a long line. Check-up hours: 7 AM - 4 PM (Mon-Fri), after that you may be charged an out-of-office-hour fee.
Read more about the Healthcare System in Vietnam
Hospital for Tropical Diseases (BENH VIEN BENH NHIET DOI)
Address: 190 Ben Ham Tu, Ward 1, District 5, HCMC
Tel: (028) 3923 5804
Saigon General Hospital (BENH VIEN DA KHOA SAI GON)
Address: 125 Le Loi, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, HCMC
Tel: (028) 3829 1711
Thong Nhat Hospital (BENH VIEN THONG NHAT)
Address: 1 Ly Thuong Kiet, Ward 7, District Tan Binh, HCMC
Tel: (028) 3864 2142
Bach Mai Hospital (BENH VIEN BACH MAI)
Address: 78 Giai Phong, Phuong Mai Ward, Dong Da, Hanoi
Tel: (024) 3869 3731
Friendship Hospital (BENH VIEN HUU NGHI)
Address: 1 Tran Khanh Du, Bach Dang District, Hanoi
Tel: (024) 3972 2232
Vietnam-Germany Hospital (BENH VIEN VIET-DUC)
Address: 40 Trang Thi, Hang Bong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Tel: (024) 3825 3531
Medicare and Phuc An Khang
Or protect yourself when traveling Vietnam with travel insurance
Tap water in Vietnam is safe or not depends on where they are provided and what purposes you use it for. In urban areas, it is safe to use for bathing, cleaning, rinsing, and cooking, which means you have to boil it before drinking it. In rural areas, it is safer to use boiled or bottled water. Some advice that you need to remember: 1) check the water quality before consuming/using it, 2) avoid food and drink that you find poorly processed and unhygienic, 3) stay hydrated and make up for the minerals you lose when having diarrhea, and 4) go to the hospitals for check-up and buy medicine at their pharmacies. Follow these rules to keep yourself healthy safe when traveling in Vietnam.
For other safety tips in Vietnam, check out our other blogs:
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Exactly. Tap water in Vienam is standart QCVN 02, can not drink direct.
We have experience in water purity. we know.
This post is an absolute must-read for international travelers. Thats why we ask all our readers to visit your blog before planning for international travels to vietnam .
I would like to add that filters would work in most cases, but if you want protection against viruses as well, you would have to opt for purifiers
Yes, I think that the tap water is not as safe as it looks, unless it has been boiled. Using tap water has bad effects on your teeth. We should use water filter to avoid approaching hazardous impurities like sediments, rusts, bacteria, virus, residual chlorine, or other heavy metals.