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Vietnam Threats to Safety and Security

The information below has been excerpted from the following: 1) the US Department of State's "International Travel" website (travel.state.gov/travel/), 2) the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's "Smartraveller" website (www.smartraveller.gov.au), and 3) the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's "Foreign Travel Advice" website (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/). Additional information is available from these sources. World Trade Press annually assesses the information presented on this page.

Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Travel Advice

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

Internal conflict is rare in Vietnam, although some localised violent clashes between protesters and police have, in the past, resulted in a small number of casualties. You should avoid all public gatherings and demonstrations as they have the potential to turn violent. You should avoid taking photographs of demonstrations, the military or police, as this may not be tolerated by the Vietnamese authorities.

United Kingdom: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Foreign Travel Advice

Local travel

Travel is restricted near military installations and some areas of Vietnam are fairly inaccessible. Don’t stray off main routes in rural areas and check with your tour operator before setting off. There have been mountain climbing accidents in the north of Vietnam. Follow safety guidelines and procedures and make sure you are supervised by a reputable guide.

Undertake any leisure activities which include firearms at your own risk and make sure you are supervised by a reputable guide. There have been reports of hearing loss from those close to these activities.

Unexploded mines and ordnance are a continuing hazard in former battlefields, particularly in central Vietnam and along the Laos Border, formerly traversed by the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Mined areas are often unmarked.

Political situation

Vietnam has a single party political system, which does not welcome dissent. Internal conflict is rare, although there are occasional violent clashes between protestors and police.

Consular assistance

Providing prompt consular assistance is difficult outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City because of poorly developed infrastructure. Some places are a flight away with only 1 daily flight.

United States: Department of State International Travel Information

The Government of Vietnam may not allow or authorize you to travel to certain areas of Vietnam deemed sensitive. These travel limitations may also hinder the ability of the U.S. Government to provide assistance to you in those areas. U.S. citizens have been detained after traveling in areas close to the Vietnamese borders with China, Cambodia, and Laos. These areas are not always marked, and there are no warnings about prohibited travel. You should avoid such areas unless you obtain written permission in advance from local authorities. You should check with travel agencies before going to border areas to see if you need to obtain a travel permit issued by local authorities.

Tourists who visit Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh and want to spend the night on a boat should take caution. A boat sinking accident in Feb 2011 resulted in the deaths of 12 people, including 2 U.S. citizens, and revealed weaknesses in the management of some boat companies. You should consider taking overnight tours only with large, reputable companies. Smaller companies operating poorly equipped and managed boats may offer cheap prices, but can lead to unsafe tours.  

At any time, you should avoid large gatherings, such as those forming at the scene of traffic accidents, which can become violent with little or no warning.

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts  as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and become a fan of the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our SmartTraveler app, available for the iPhone and Android market.

You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Take some time before travel to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.

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