The simple rule is don’t drink tap water in Vietnam, with the exception of a few top hotels which now offer filtered water, and never drink river water. It’s wise also to avoid ice in your drinks except, again, in top hotels and other trustworthy places. Contaminated water is a major cause of sickness due to the presence of pathogenic organisms: bacteria, viruses and cysts. These micro-organisms cause ailments and diseases such as diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, typhoid, cholera, dysentery, poliomyelitis, hepatitis A and giardia – and can be present even when water looks clean and safe to drink.

Fortunately there are plenty of alternative drinks around: hot tea is always on offer, while cheap, bottled water and carbonated drinks are widely available. When buying bottled water check the seal is unbroken and the water is clear, as bottles are occasionally refilled from the tap. Tap water in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is chlorinated and most travellers use it for brushing their teeth without problem, but this is not recommended in rural areas, where water is often untreated. Particular care should be taken anywhere where there is flooding as raw sewage may be washed into the water system.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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Vietnam features

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The 20 best beaches in Vietnam

The 20 best beaches in Vietnam

With more than 2000 miles of coastline, Vietnam brims with secluded coves, white sands and waters fit for snorkelling. For days spent basking on sun-baked str…

22 Sep 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

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Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Situated at the northern and southern extremes of this long, thin country, Vietnam’s two main cities lie more than one thousand kilometres apart. Southern …

22 Aug 2017 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
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