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Top Hotels
Golden Halong
Hung Thang Tourism Area, Bai Chay Ward, Halong, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 640.000 VND ~ $32.00
Hidden Charm
No 22D Tuan Chau Ward, Halong City, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 600.000 VND ~ $30.00
Saigon Halong Hotel
Ha Long city, Halong Road, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 1.100.000 VND ~ $55.00
Sapphire Hotel
32A-34 Bui Thi Xuan Street, District 1 - Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Price from: 1.040.000 VND ~ $52.00
Top Cruises
Signature Cruise Halong
Tuan Chau, Halong City, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 3.300.000 VND ~ $165.00
V'spirit Cruise Halong
Tuan Chau, Halong City, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 2.400.000 VND ~ $120.00
La Marguerite Cruise Mekong
Saigon Harbour
Price from: 27.200.000 VND ~ $1,360.00
Dragon Pearl Junk Halong Bay
Halong bay, Halong city, Quang Ninh
Price from: 2.240.000 VND ~ $112.00
Top Tours
Emeraude Cruise 2 days 1 night
Halong Bay, Halong city, white sandy Beach, Amazing cave, Kayaking in Halong Bay
Price from: 2.440.000 VND ~ $122.00
Phoenix Cruises 2 days
Halong Bay, Halong city, white sandy Beach, Amazing cave, Kayaking in Halong Bay
Price from: 1.980.000 VND ~ $99.00
Nha Trang - Buon Me Thuot - Don Village
Don village, Elephant, Dray Sap waterfall, Dray Nu waterfall, Buon Me Thuot, Ancient wooden house- on- stilts, tomb of the King of elephant
Price from: 3.360.000 VND ~ $168.00
Vietnam Classic Tours 9 days
Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa village, Hue, Danang, Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Cu Chi, Mekong delta
Price from: 27.300.000 VND ~ $1,365.00

Health

HEALTH

Travel health depends on your predeparture preparations, your daily health care while travelling and how you handle any medical problem that does develop. While the potential dangers can seem quite frightening, in reality few travelers experience anything more than an upset stomach.

         The significant improved in Vietnam’s economy has brought with it some major improvements in public health. In the past, people were frequently malnourished and therefore highly prone to disease – this is not such a huge problem anymore. In addition to this, immunization program are helping to stop the spread of disease.

         Rural areas can still be a problem; although foreigners with cold, hard cash will receive the best treatment available, even bars of gold cannot buy you blood tests and x-rays when the local health clinic doesn’t even have a thermometer or any aspirin. If you become seriously ill in rural Vietnam, get to HCMC or Hanoi as quickly as you can. If you need any type of surgery or other extensive treatment, don’t hesitate to fly to Bangkok, Hong Kong or another reasonably developed country as soon as possible.

         You can buy plenty of dangerous drugs across the counter in Vietnam without a prescription, but you should exercise restraint. Some drugs, such as steroids, make you feel great and then kill you, especially if you have an infection. Remember that drugs may not be of the same strength as in other countries, or may have deteriorated due to age or poor storage conditions. Checks the expiry dates on any medicines you buy. Chinese shops often sell herbal medicines imported from China.

         If you need special medication then take it with you.

         The addresses and telephone numbers of the best medical facilities in Vietnam can be found under the Information section of the Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi chapters. These are the only two cities where you are likely to find health facilities that come close to meeting developed-country standards.

Predeparture Planning

Immunisations Plan ahead for getting your vaccinations: some of them require more than one injection, while others should not be given together. Note that some should not be given during pregnancy or to people with allergies – discuss this with your doctor.

         It is recommended that you seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel. Be aware that there is often a greater risk of disease with children and during pregnancy. For more details about the diseases them-selves, see the individual diseases entries later in this section. Although there are currently no mandatory vaccinations for travelers to Vietnam, it is best to carry proof of your vaccinations.

         For information on current immunization recommendations for Vietnam, contact the international team of doctors at the Family Medical Practice (hfmedprac.kot@fmail.vnn.vn; www.doctorkot.com) in Hanoi and HCMC. They cannot provide the latest on vaccinations, malaria and dengue fever status (in real time), and often general medical advice regarding Vietnam.

         Discuss your requirements with your doctor, but vaccinations you should consider for this trip include the following:

-          Cholera

-          Diphtheria & tetanus

-          Hepatitis A

-          Japanese B encephalitis

-          Polio

-          Rabies

-          Tuberculosis

-          Yellow fever

Malaria Medication

Antimalarial drugs don’t prevent infection, but kill the malaria parasites during their development and significantly reduce the risk of becoming very ill or dying. Expert advice on medication should be sought, as there are many factors to consider, including: the area to be visited; risk of exposure to malaria-carrying mosquitoes; side effects of the medication; your medical history, age and whether you are pregnant. Travellers to isolated areas in high-risk regions such as Camau and Bac Lieu provinces and the rural south may like to carry a treatment dose of medication for use if symptoms occur.

Health Insurance

Make sure you have adequate health insurance; see Travel Insurance in the Visas & Documents section earlier in this chapter.

Travel Health Guides

Lonely Planet’s Healthy Travel Asia is a handy pocket size and packed with useful information on pretrip planning, emergency first aid, immunization and disease, plus what to do if you get sick on the road.

         Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children includes advice on travel health for younger children. There are also some excellent travel-health websites on the Internet. Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) has links to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Other Preparations

Make sure you’ve health before you start travelling. If you are going on a long trip make sure your teeth are OK. If you wear glasses take a spare pair and your prescription with you. If you require a particular medication, take an adequate supply because of the packaging showing the generic name rather than the brand, which will make getting replacements easier. It’s a good idea to have a legible prescription or letter from your doctor to show that you can legally use the medication to void any problems.

Basic Rules

Food There is an old colonial adage which says ‘If you can cook it, boil or peel it you can eat it …otherwise forget it. ‘Vegetables and fruit should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Beware of ice cream sold in the street or anywhere it might have melted and been refrozen; if there’s any doubt (eg, a power cut in the last day or two), steer well clear.

         Shellfish, such a mussels, oysters and clams, should be avoided, as well as under-cooked meat, particularly in the form of mince. Steaming does not make shellfish safe for eating.

         If a place looks clean and well run and the vendor also looks clean and healthy, then the food is probably safe. In general, places that are packed with travelers or locals will be fine, while empty restaurants may be questionable. The food in busy restaurant is cooked and eaten quite quickly, with little standing around and probably without being reheated.

Water The number one rule is careful of the water. Ice can be particularly risky; if you don’t know for certain that the water is safe, assume the worst. Reputable brands of bottled water or soft drinks are generally fine, although in some places bottles may be refilled with tap water. Only use water from containers with a serrated seal – not tops or corks. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if water may have been added. Milk should be treated with suspicion as it is often unpasteurized, though boiled milk is fine if it is kept hygienically. Tea or coffee should also be OK, since the water should have been boiled.

         The simplest way of purifying water is to boil it thoroughly. Vigorous boiling should be satisfactory; however, at high altitude water boils at a temperature, so germs are less likely to be killed. Make sure you boil it for longer in these environments.

         Consider purchasing a water filter for a long trip. There are two main kinds of filter. Total filters take out all parasites, bacteria and viruses and make water safe to drink. They are often expensive, but they can be more cost effective than buying bottled water. Simple filters, (which can even be a nylon mesh bag), take out dirt and larger foreign bodies from the water so that chemical solutions work much more effectively; if water is dirty, chemical solutions may not work at all.

         It’s very important when buying a filter to read the specifications, so that you know exactly what it removes from the water and what it doesn’t. Simple filtering will not remove all dangerous organisms, so if you cannot boil water, it should be treated chemically. Chlorine tablets will kill many pathogens, but not some parasites, such as giardia and amoebic cysts. Iodine is more effective in purifying water and is available in tablet form. Follow the directions carefully and remember that too much iodine can be harmful.

Medical Problems & Treatment

Self-diagnosis and treatment can be risky, so you should always seek medical help. An embassy, consulate or hotel can usually recommend a local doctor or clinic. Although we do give drug dosages in this section, they are for emergency use only. Correct diagnosis from a qualified physician is vital. In this section we have used the generic names for medications – check with a pharmacist for brands available locally.

         Note that antibiotics should ideally be administered only under medical super-vision. Take only the recommended dose at the prescribed intervals and use the whole course, even if the illness seems to be cured earlier. Stop immediately if there are any serious reactions and don’t use the anti-biotic at all if you are unsure that have the correct one. Some people are allergic to commonly prescribed antibiotics such as penicillin; carry this information (eg, on a bracelet) when traveling.

Environmental Hazards

Heat Exhaustion Dehydration and salt deficiency cause heat exhaustion. Take time to acclimatize to high temperatures, drink sufficient liquids and do not do anything too physically demanding.

         Salt deficiency is characterised by fatigue lethargy, headaches, giddiness and muscle cramps; salt tablets may help, but adding extra salt to your food is better.

         Anhidrotic heat exhaustion is a rare form of heat exhaustion that is caused by an in-ability to sweat. It tends to affect people who have been in a hot climate for some time, rather than newcomers. It can progress to heatstroke. Treatment involves removal to a cooler climate.

Heatstroke This serious, occasionally fatal condition can occur if the body’s heat-regulating mechanism breaks down and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Long, continuous periods of exposure to high temperatures and insufficient fluids can leave you vulnerable to heatstroke.

         The symptoms are feeling unwell, not sweating very much (or at all) and a high body temperature (390C to 410C or 1020F to 1060F). Where sweating has ceased, the skin becomes flushed and red. Severe, throbbing headaches and lack of coordination will also occur, and the sufferer may be confused or aggressive. Eventually the sufferer will become delirious or convulse. Hospital-isation is essential, but in the interim get victims out of the sun, remove their clothing cover them with a wet sheet or towel and then fan continually. Give fluids if they are conscious.

Jet Lag When a person flies across more than three time zones (each time zone usually represent a one-hour time difference), jet lag is experienced. It occurs because many of the human body’s functions (such as temperature, pulse rate and emptying of the bladder and bowels) are regulated by internal 24-hour cycles. When we travel long distances rapidly, our bodies take time to adjust to the ‘new time’ of our destination, and we may experience fatigue, disorientation, insomnia, anxiety, impaired concentration and loss of appetite. These effects will usually be gone within three days of arrival, but to minimize the impact of jet lag.

· Rest for a couple of days prior to departure.

· Try to select flight schedules that minimize sleep deprivation; arriving late in the day means you can go to sleep soon after you arrive. For very long flights, try to organize a stopover.

· Avoid excessive eating (which bloats the stomach) and alcohol (which cause dehydration) during the flight. Instead, drink plenty of noncarbonated, nonalcoholic drinks such as fruit juice or water.

· Avoid smoking.

· Make yourself comfortable by wearing loose-fitting clothes and perhaps bringing an eye mask and ear plugs to help you sleep.

· Try to sleep at the appropriate time for the time zone you are travelling to.

Motion Sickness Eating lightly before and during a trip will reduce your chances of getting motion sickness. If you are prone to it, try to find a place that minimizes movement: near the wing on aircraft; close to midship on boats; near the centre on buses. Fresh air usually helps; reading and cigarette smoke don’t. Commercial motion-sickness preparations, which can cause drowsiness, have to be taken before the trip commences. Ginger (available in capsule from) and peppermint (including mint-flavoured sweets) are natural preventatives.

Prickly Heat Excessive perspiration, trapped under the skin, can cause an itchy rash called prickly heat. It usually strikes people who have just arrived in a hot climate. Keeping cool, bathing often, drying the skin and using a mild talcum or prickly heat powder, or resorting to the sanctuary of air-con may help.

Sunburn In the tropics, the desert or at high altitude your skin can burn surprisingly quickly, even through cloud. Use a sunscreen, a hat, and a barrier cream for your nose and lips. Calamine lotion or a commercial after-sun preparation are both good for mild sunburn. Protect your eyes with good quality sunglasses, particularly if you will be near water, sand or snow.

Infectious Diseases

Diarrhea Simple things like a change of water, food or climate can all cause a mild bout of diarrhea, but a few rushed toilet trips with no other symptoms is not indicative of a major problem.

         Dehydration is the main danger with any diarrhea, particularly in children or the elderly, where dehydration can occur quite quickly. Under all circumstances, fluid replacement is the most important thing to remember. Weak black tea with a little sugar, soda water, or soft drinks allowed to go flat and diluted 50% with clean water are all good for this. With severe diarrhea, a rehydration salts (ORS) are very useful; add them to boiled or bottled water. In an emergency, make up a solution of six teaspoons of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt to a litre of boiled or bottled water. You need to drink at least the same volume of fluid that you are losing in bowel movements and vomiting. Urine is the best guide to the adequacy of replacement – if you have small amounts of concentrated urine, you need to drink more. Keep drinking small a mounts often. Stick to a bland diet as you recover.

         Gut-paralysing drugs such as loperamide or diphenoxylate can be used to bring relief from the symptoms, although they don’t really cure the problem. Only use these drugs if you do not have access to toilets or if you must travel. Note that these drugs are not recommended for children under 12 years.

         In certain situations antibiotics may be required: diarrhea with blood or mucus (dysentery), any diarrhea with fever, profuse watery diarrhea, persistent diarrhea not improving after 48 hours and severe diarrhea. These suggest a more serious cause of diarrhea, and in these situations gut-paralysing drugs should be avoided.

         In these situations, a stool test may be necessary to diagnose what bug is causing your diarrhea, so you should seek medical help urgently. Where this is not possible, the recommended drugs for bacterial diarrhea (the most likely cause of severe diarrhea in travelers) are norfloxacin (400mg twice daily for three days) or ciprofloxacin (500mg twice daily for five days). These are not recommended for children or pregnant women. The drug of choice for children is co-trimoxazole with dosage dependent on weight. A five-day course is given. Ampi-cillin or amoxicillin may be given during pregnancy, but medical care is necessary.

         Two other cause of persistent diarrhea in travelers are giardiasis and amoebic dysentery. Giardiasis is caused by a common parasite, Giardia lamblia. Symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, a bloated stomach, watery,

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