By global standards Vietnam is a safe place to live for foreigners — violent crime is relatively low and the sluggish traffic makes high-speed collisions rare. But accidents and medical emergencies, ranging from severe food poisoning and heart attacks to motorbike/ road accidents and bar fights, can happen to anybody.

Almost everyone who has been in a medical emergency wishes that they had done something differently: namely preparation. The following five simple tips are worth remembering and may help you should the unexpected occur.


Tip #1 — Know Your Numbers


The thing that often stalls medical treatment and notification of family is simply that the information isn’t available. So it’s worthwhile storing emergency numbers for family and anyone else involved with your household, as well as your insurance details and preferred hospital address in all of your family phones. International SOS even has a smartphone app, ensuring all your personal information is just one click away.


Tip #2 — Know Where to Go


Plan which hospital or clinic you’ll go to in case of an emergency, and have it written down in Vietnamese to avoid confusion. If you do have to call an ambulance, you may be expected to pay for the ride to the hospital in cash. This is particularly the case with local ambulance providers, so keep a few million VND in cash at home at all times.


Tip #3 — Treat Chronic Conditions


Many medical emergencies result from missing medication or poor control of medical problems like diabetes or asthma. Make sure that you have a regular check-up for any chronic condition and have enough medication, especially when travelling.


You should also be aware that not all medication is available in Vietnam due to different regulations. Consider bringing enough medication from your home country or speak to your doctors or pharmacists about starting on a locally-available alternative.


And if you do start feeling ill, symptoms should be treated early in order to avoid complications.


Tip #4 — Learn CPR


Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but it’s simple to learn and could save a life. And while you’re at it, have anyone involved in your household learn it as well. I would also recommend having first aid kits at home to deal with minor conditions.


Tip # 5 — Build a Support Network


Expats living in Vietnam may lack a strong support network — meaning a person you can count on when push comes to shove. It certainly helps to have a local friend or colleague you know will help out (especially if you don’t speak Vietnamese) on speed dial in case you find yourself in a local hospital.


Save These Numbers, Save a Life


Police: 113


Fire: 114


Ambulance: 115


International SOS Hanoi Clinic: (04) 3934 0666


International SOS Ho Chi Minh City Clinic: (08) 38298520


International SOS Vung Tau Clinic: (06) 4385 8776


Dr. Herve Mangon is Chief Medical Officer at International SOS Hanoi Clinic. International SOS is located in Hanoi, Saigon and Vung Tau — for more information, go to

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.Basic HTML code is allowed.

Online Partners