Health and safety
International clinics in Hanoi offer the highest quality care but also cost more. Local hospitals are not quite up to the standards of Thailand, Hong Kong, or Singapore, but they are decent and often employ doctors who have been trained overseas, typically in France.
Temperatures in Hanoi can get extremely hot, with average daytime temperatures in late spring and summer exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit —drink plenty of water and use common sense to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Sunscreen is also highly recommended. Dengue fever is a real risk in Vietnam; if not taking a prophylaxis, make sure to use mosquito repellent.
Hanoi is a generally safe city, and a little common sense should keep you out of harm’s way. Traffic accidents are not uncommon in Vietnam’s cities and towns—take care crossing the street. Pickpockets and thieves are an issue—keep an eye on personal belongings especially in public and avoid ostentatious displays of wealth. Bar areas can be less safe late at night compared to other parts of Hanoi.
Vietnamese usually will not initiate conflicts with foreign visitors, but if challenged they may resort to violence as a means for solving an argument. As an Asian tonal language, Vietnamese can sound aggressive to Western ears—keep in mind that someone might sound like they’re angry when they’re not. On the whole, the Vietnamese are usually friendly to visitors, though many see no problem whatsoever in charging foreigners more for goods or services. There is no foolproof way to avoid being overcharged from time to time. Make sure that prices are as clear as possible before making a purchase, and ride only in taxis with meters. When booking a tour, clarify what’s included in the price.
ATMs—many in international banks—are easy to find throughout Hanoi. U.S. dollars are the preferred currency of exchange, but other major currencies are easy to change at banks, exchange kiosks, and hotels.
Vendors or small businesses in the countryside surrounding Hanoi will frequently not have change for a 500,000d note (a common denomination issued at ATMs). Make sure you have plenty of small change on hand. Credit card transactions often involve additional surcharges, usually around 3%.