First of all the main problem is the consumption of possibly dirty or undercooked food. This can in- clude salad, sugarcane juice AND unclean ice.
Though the nastiest of bugs which can give you a visit to the hellish place we mentioned before should be reserved for the types of bacteria that can be found in undercooked or old meats such as prawns, chicken and pork.
Some things to beware of in Vietnam :
Some dishes in Vietnam that we need to be careful of are Pho, especially on the street where running water isn't available for cleaning the dishes and chopsticks. One suggestion is that you bring your own disposable chopsticks when you eat.
Some suggestions from those living here:
+ Drink beer and soft drink in bottles or cans, avoid drinking the ice, as it isn't treated or transported well. Only in Western or 5 star places,or renowned fast-food places, is the water and ice usually treated properly for drinking. If you do drink ice, best that it is the round ice that us aussies can get for our bbq’s from the servo Ice fridges. Or Ice that has come from an icemaker, cubes of ice: these will tend to be of better quality water, and also less handled by unhygienic hands. Please be aware of crushed ice that is delivered and bought by vendors as giant blocks at which they will then crush or smash themselves. /basically meaning more handling of the ice. If you see how the ice is stored in giant pilons in the market, you will know what we mean.
Your beer may sometimes be served non chilled and servied with a tube shaped iceblock. If you can get “bia ướp lạnh” beer that has been chilled, then of course that is the better option.
+ Salad that hasn't been cleaned properly, if in doubt, leave it out. But still make sure you get some fruit and veggies into you. unfortunately a over cautious traveller who used travelan before EVERY MEAL and did not eat ANY fruit and veggies became seriously contipated, the other extreme.
+ Sugar cane juice. The outside of the cane is very dirty and causes many problems for foreigners. Best to order in shops or restaurants where the storage and handling is of higher standards.
+ Buffets are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Particularly seafood, such as oysters and prawns that have been sitting around for a while should be avoided.
Still, no matter how careful you are, it is always possible to get sick, even in your own country. Many travellers carry a backup antibiotic or Imodium in their trusty travel kit.
On our first trip to VN before we moved there we took Travelan with us. it is available over the counter in Australia. While we lived there, we just learnt where we could eat, and where we shouldn’t eat.
Eat where others Eat
If you see a group of people eating at a place, you can guess that, l- maybe the food is good and 2- the food is being made fresh and hasn't been sitting around too long
Careful with Shellfish and Oysters
Oysters and clams eat by filtering water through their bodies and contain bacteria from the ocean, for this reason they are famous for making peoplesick. Any doubt as to their freshness or cleanli- ness should make us stay clear, or at least eat them cooked, not raw!
Take some of your own hand cleaner with you and wet-wipes, as usual, wash hands after handling the money, because some locals may not be so hygienic, especially in rural areas of Vietnam
Where to buy Medicine, Hygiene items?
There are many chemists to buy quality medicine cheaply. Any Nhà Thuốc is a pharmacy and you should be able to get you medicines there. You can freely buy antibiotics or probiotics for your stomach. In thes epaces you can also purchase handwipes and cleaner.
Of course we must be careful, however most people have no problems.
One regular Vietnam traveller, Gailmo, has this experience: “I guess I have been lucky so far. But I do some things that may help keep my system stable. I eat tons of yogurt each day. Usually some for breakfast and for daily snacks. I think this helps. I also wash my hands and carry some “portable” chopsticks that I know are clean. I also only eat at locations where LOTS OF PEOPLE are eating. I figure heavy turn-over of food and people gives me an edge, and I’ve never been sick here in Vietnam”
You don’t want to miss out on a1 the delicious foods and good times going out with your friends, so you shouldn’t be too worried. Surely 1 part of enjoying a trip is also trying the new cuisines. Using some com- mon sense and suggestions will help you a lot withavoiding this problem.
So, please, be aware, without being too scared, and enjoy your trip.
This article was featured in a travel magazine in Vietnam and written by David Kelly.
David worked as a travel writer for the Korean tourism magazine Let’s Go Trip, a magazine published for the Korean tourist industry of Vietnam.