One of the main appeals of Vietnam in general, and Saigon in particular, is that there are very few health risks for people who use common sense. Nevertheless, for peace of mind, we recommend that you take out health insurance to cover any eventuality.
Saigon health risks: The greatest health dangers for people from non-tropical climates are heat-related illnesses such as exhaustion and dehydration. For this reason it pays to pace your exploration of the city, and take plenty of breaks for a cool drink or an ice cream (fortunately there are inviting cafes all over the city).
Saigon health risks: If you are not familiar with the Vietnamese climate or Vietnamese cuisine, it’s very likely that you will experience a brief bout of diarrhoea during your stay. There is no need to panic about this as the body will usually right itself if you rest and take plenty of liquids. If the condition persists, track down a pharmacy where you’ll be able to find a course of antibiotics; prescriptions are not necessary.
Saigon health risks: Mosquitoes can be very annoying in the morning and evening, so protect yourself with spray and make sure your hotel room has mosquito meshing on the windows. Malaria is not usually a problem in Saigon but dengue fever is a nasty disease that is very prevalent so try not to get bitten.
Saigon health risks: Though the tap water generally looks clean, it’s not a good idea to drink it as it may contain undesirable bugs. In any case, cheap bottled water is available everywhere, as well as a wide variety of canned drinks, so stick to those instead.
Saigon health risks: Vietnam has been one of the countries worst affected by Avian flu during the last decade, and while there have been no incidences for some time, a recurrence is possible. During previous outbreaks, chicken and eggs have been banned from being sold in markets, so don’t be surprised if these items disappear from menus for a while.
Saigon health risks: Another minor risk lies in the fresh vegetables and herbs that accompany just about any Vietnamese meal and are served in a central bowl. If you doubt they have been thoroughly washed then it may be best to ignore them, tempting as they are.