What Hospital Should I Go to in Saigon?

By: Molly Headley

Our Healthcare Experts in Ho Chi Minh City

best hospital in VietnamImage source: City Pass Guide

On the left: Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong, Chief Medical Officer of Victoria Healthcare as well as a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology
In the centre: Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon, Legal Representative and CEO of FV Hospital
On the right: Dr Nicolas Lagüe, Medical Director - General and Tropical Medicine - CMI (Centre Médical International)

Life is sweet in Ho Chi Minh City until something happens like an illness or an emergency that throws us into a panic. What hospital to go to? What doctor should I see? How can I pay for this?

Rather than jumping onto the expat forums to try to find answers to these hard questions, we asked these three experts to weigh in on where to go and what to do when every moment counts.

The Best Local and International Hospitals in Saigon for Emergencies

Where Do I Go if I Have an Accident (Motorbike or Other)?

FV Hospital; Cho Ray or Vinmec - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

The short answer is that you should go to the hospital that is closest to you in the event of an emergency and let them refer you if need be. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Dengue Fever, Malaria or another Tropical Disease?

For hospitalizations: FVH; Cho Ray; Vinmec; Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy University.

For consultations: CMI; FMP (Family Medical Practice); Raffles - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Go to a clinic nearby your home if it is out-patient. However, if you need to be hospitalised Vinmec in District 1 or FV in District 7 have good services. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Surgery?

It depends on the type of surgery but FVH, Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy University are good choices - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Medical University; FV; VinMec International Hospital are all good for that. Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

*Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong also noted that in the case of stroke, patients should go to 115 Hospital or any other hospital nearby. Patients must have Embo Thrombosis therapy within four to six hours.

The Best Local and International Hospitals in Saigon for Chronic Illnesses

Heart Disease?

Heart Institute (D10); Cardiology Hospital Tam Duc (D10); FVH (D10, they have an interventional room for few months); Vinmec hospital - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

For Hypertension you should find a doctor near your home to monitor you regularly. In the case of a heart attack, the University Medical Hospital can do an emergency assist. Victoria Healthcare has a CT scan for heart attacks and can do an emergency assist but does not deal with thombolism. FMP in D1 and D2 do not have ECG machines, so they cannot diagnose a heart attack. If the patient needs to be admitted, they can go to Medical University or Tam Duc Cardiology Hospital because they can do a cardiac catheterization there. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Diabetes?

FVH; Cho Ray; Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy University - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Any Clinic of international standards. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

The Best Local and International Hospitals in Saigon for Diagnostic Medicine

best hospitalImage source: flanderstoday.eu

MRI?

I recommend Dr Pierre Jaillot at FVH for a closed MRI or Vinmec has two open MRI machines - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

It depends on the case. For example, for pediatrics sedation is necessary to do an MRI. Pediatrics Hospital 1 and 2 are good choices. Vietnam Singapore Clinic on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai has an MRI machine for adult patients in D1. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Internal Medicine?

FVH; FMP; CMI for some cases. - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Victoria Healthcare. I am the GI specialist there. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

The Best Local and International Hospitals in Saigon for Children and Women’s Health

best hospitalImage source: FV Hospital

Where do I go for Pediatrics?

For Consultations: CMI; FMP/ For Hospitalisations or other: FVH; Cho Ray; VinMec. - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

For Consultations: Victoria Healthcare / For Hospitalisations or other: FV; VinMec; City Children’s Hospital - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Gynecology and Maternity?

Gynecology: CMI; FVH; Hanh Phuc Hospital / Pregnancy: Hanh Phuc Hospital; CMI; FVH - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Gynecology: Victoria Healthcare / Maternity: Hanh Phuc; International OB-GY hospital; Từ Dũ Hospital -Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

The Best Local and International Hospitals in Saigon for Dental and Dermatology

best hospitalImage source: adwonline.ae

Dermatology?

FVH; Stanford Skin Center - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FV Hospital - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Victoria Healthcare - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Plastic or Reconstructive Surgery?

FVH - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FVH- Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Not much experience but FVH is a good choice. -Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Dental?

Starlight; Maple Healthcare (Australian clinic); FVH- Dr Nicolas Lagüe

FVH- Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

West Coast for dental; Victoria Healthcare also does dental surgery. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Get Good Healthcare in Saigon as a Foreigner

When would you advise a patient to seek care outside of Vietnam?

When we cannot treat the disease in Vietnam. Question is too large. It depends on the disease. In the case of cancer, FV Hospital is a good place to start. But the patient might need an medevac or to go back to their country of origin. - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

On rare occasions, we do refer patients to Singapore for certain eye conditions that require complex surgery that we cannot perform at FV. Some very high-risk pregnancies are also referred to Singapore (especially when surgery on the newborn is foreseen). - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

We don’t usually refer the patient outside of Vietnam if it is an emergency. We will admit the patient and make a detailed review then decide if we need to refer the patient elsewhere. Some patients require a very high standard of service. It is not for the quality of treatment but for the service that they request to go overseas. Sometimes I send my patients with early cancer overseas for minimally invasive treatment. Usually,I refer them to Parkgroup in Singapore or National University Medical (NUH) in Singapore. I worked in Singapore before I came to Vietnam, so usually I refer my patients to a specific doctor not to a hospital. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

What advice would you give to foreigners seeking healthcare in Vietnam?

Check on internet forums for advice. Check on consulate websites for recommandations. - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

Honestly, if they want quality and serenity they should come to FV - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

First, to make sure they have insurance that covers outpatient. Second, they should choose a clinic that they know and try to find a regular family doctor that can give them advice whenever something happens. It is important to have someone that you can call if you need advice and a referral. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

What hospitals are only open to Vietnamese nationals (not foreigners)?

The new policy is to start opening departments to foreigners. We should see more Vietnamese hospitals such as Cho Ray, Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy University, Heart Institute and Hospital Tam Duc, completely opening their doors to foreigners soon. - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

I don’t know of any hospital that is restricted to Vietnamese. - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Every district has their own hospital called a District hospital and there they don’t like to take in foreigners because they have limited space and experience. In an emergency, they will stabilise the foreign patient and then refer them to another hospital. These hospitals are required to receive all patients but then they try to refer foreign patients to another hospital. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

What hospitals can foreigners go to that are less expensive than an international hospital?

Cho Ray (but not always); Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy University - Dr Nicolas Lagüe

All public hospitals are cheaper than the private ones. Second-tier hospitals like Hoan My or Anh Sinh are cheaper that first-tier hospitals like FV, VinMec or City International. - Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon

Saigon International Ob-Gyn Hospital is actually a local hospital but of very high quality; Van Hanh Hospital is good and is a good choice for foreigners. Some new hospitals have opened such as Hospital Tan Hung, which has quite a big facility in D7. Often the problem with foreigners going to local hospitals is that the doctors can’t speak much English. The facilities are good but it’s easier if you can speak Vietnamese. - Dr Nguyen Vinh Tuong

Ho Chi Minh City Emergency Numbers

Ho Chi Minh City Emergency Numbers

Police

113

Fire

114

Ambulance

115

The Ultimate Guide to Clinics and Hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City

District 1 and Binh Thanh

International Clinics and Hospitals

Columbia Asia International Clinic - Saigon

8 Alexandre De Rhodes, Ben Nghe, District 1

+84 (28) 3823 8888

7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Columbia Asiana Gia Dinh Clinic

1 No Trang Long, Binh Thanh District

+84 (28) 3803 0678

Open 24 hours

HANH PHUC International Medical Building

97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St, District 1

Tel: 19006765 or

+84 (28) 3925 9797

Call center: 19006765

Mon-Fri: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat: 8 a.m.-12 p.m.

HCMC Family Medical Practice

34 Le Duan St., District 1

+84 (28) 3822 7848

Open 24 hours

Stamford Skin Centre

99 Suong Nguyet Anh, District 1

+84 (28) 3925 1990

Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sat: 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Sun: Closed

Victoria Healthcare

20-20BIS-22 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Dakao Ward, District 1

+84 (28) 3910 4545

Hotline: 19006576 (after business hours)

Mon-Sat: 7a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sun: 7 a.m. - noon

Vinmec International Hospital

208 Nguyen Huu Canh, Ward 22, Binh Thanh D.

+84 (28) 3622 1166

Open 24 hours

Westcoast International Dental Clinic

17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, District 1

+84 (28) 3825 6999

Mon - Fri: 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sat - Sun: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Local Clinics and Hospitals (Minimum English Spoken. Best for patients who speak Vietnamese)

City Children’s Hospital 2

14 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe, District 1

+84 (28) 3829 5723

Open 24 hours

Ho Chi Minh City Medicine University Hospital

221B Hoang Van Thu, Ward 8, Phu Nhuan D.

+84 (28) 3844 2756

+84 (28) 3846 8938

 

Pediatrics Hospital 2

14 Ly Tu Trong St, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1

+84 (28) 3829 8385

Open 24 hours

Saigon General Hospital



125 Le Loi, District 1

+84 (28) 3829 2071

+84 (28)3829 1711

7 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Saigon International Ob-Gyn Hospital

63 Bui Thi Xuan, District 1

+84 (28) 3925 3619

+84 (28)3925 3625

 

District 2

International Clinics and Hospitals

Family Medical Practice (FMP)

95 Thao Dien, District 2

+84 (28) 3744 2000

Mon - Fri : 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sat : 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Sun : Closed

Starlight Dental Clinic

24 Thao Dien, District 2

+84 (28) 6282 8822

Mon - Sat: 8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Sun: Closed

Victoria Healthcare

*Coming Soon

 

 

Westcoast International Dental Clinic

27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Thao Dien, District 2

+84 (28) 3519 1777

Mon - Fri: 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sat - Sun: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

District 3 and Phu Nhuan

International Clinics and Hospitals

Centre Medical International (CMI)

30 Pham Ngoc Thach, District 3

+84 (28) 3827 2367

+84 (28) 3827 2366

7:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Maple Healthcare (Chiropractic, Dental, Skincare)

107B Truong Dinh,Ward 6, District 3

+84 (28) 3930 0498

Mon - Fri: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Sat: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Sun: Closed

Phòng Khám Ung Bướu Vietnam Singapore Clinic

97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Pham Ngu Lao, District 3

+84 (28) 3925 1155

Monday - Saturday

8 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Raffles Medical Ho Chi Minh

167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, District 3

+84 (28) 3824 0777

Open 24 hours

Starlight Dental Clinic

2 Bis International Square , Ward 6, District 3

+84 (28) 3822 6222

Mon - Sat: 8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Sun: Closed

Victoria Healthcare

135A Nguyen Van Troi Street, Phu Nhuan District

+84 (28) 3910 4545

Hotline: 19006576 (after business hours)

Mon-Sat: 7a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sun: 7 a.m. - noon

Local Clinics and Hospitals (Minimum English Spoken. Best for patients who speak Vietnamese)

An Sinh

10 Tran Huy Lieu, W.12, Phu Nhuan D.

+84 (28) 3845 7777

Open 24 hours

Hoan My Saigon Hospital

60-60A Phan Xich Long, W.1, Phu Nhuan D.

+84 (28) 3990 2468

Mon - Sat: 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Sun: 6:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Traditional Medicine Hospital

179 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ward 7, D.3

+84 (28) 3932 6579

Mon - Fri : 8 a.m. - 11:30 p.m./ 1p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Sun: Closed

District 4 and 5

Local Clinics and Hospitals (Minimum English Spoken. Best for patients who speak Vietnamese)

An Binh hospital

146 An Binh St., District 5

+84 (28) 3923 4260

Open 24 hours

Cho Ray

201B Nguyen Chi Thanh, District 5

+84 (28) 3855 4137



Open 24 hours

Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy University

215 - 217 Hong Bang, District 5

+84 (28) 3856 6154

Mon - Fri: 6:30am - 4:30pm

Sat: 6:30am - 11:30am

Sun: Closed

Hospital for Tropical diseases

764 Vo Van Kiet, District 5

+84 (28) 3923 5804

+84 (28) 3923 8704

Open 24 hours

Mental hospital of Ho Chi Minh City

766 Vo Van Kiet, District 5

+84 (28) 3923 4675

Mo- Fri: 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. / 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Sat: 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Sun: Closed

Medical University Hospital Campus 2

201 Nguyen Chi Thanh, District 5

+84 (28) 3955 5548

Mon - Fri: 6am - 5pm

Sat: 6am - 12pm

Sun: Closed

Pham Ngoc Thach hospital

120 Hong Bang, District 5



+84 (28) 3855 0207

Open 24 hours

Traditional Medicine Hospital - Branch 2

218K Tran Hung Dao B, District 5

+84 (28) 3950 9891

Mon - Fri: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Sat: 8 a.m. - 11 a.m.

District 7

International Clinics and Hospitals

Careplus International Clinics (Associate of Singapore Medical Group)

Level 2, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien street, Phu My Hung, District 7

Free Hotline: 1800 6116

Online Booking: www.careplusvn.com

Facebook

Mon - Fri: 8am - 8pm

Sat: 8am - 5pm

Sun: 8am - 12pm (Pediatric services only)

Franco-Vietnamese hospital (FVH)

6 Nguyen Luong Bang St, Tan Phu Ward, District 7

+84 (28) 5411 3333

Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm

Sat: 8am - 12pm

Sun: Closed

Victoria Healthcare

Broadway D Building, 152 Nguyen Luong Bang Street, District 7

+84 (28) 3910 4545

Hotline: 19006576 (after business hours)

Mon-Sat: 7a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sun: 7 a.m. - noon

Local Clinics and Hospitals (Minimum English Spoken. Best for patients who speak Vietnamese)

Cardiology Tam Duc Heart Hospital

4 Nguyen Luong Bang, Tan Phu, District 7

+84 (28) 5411 0025

Open 24 hours

Hospital Tan Hung

871 Tran Xuan Soan, Tan Hung, D.7

+84 (28) 3776 0648

Mon - Fri: 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Sat: 7 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Sun: Closed

District 10 and Other Districts

International Clinics and Hospitals

Careplus International Clinics (Associate of Singapore Medical Group)

107 Tan Hai Street, Ward 13, Tan Binh District ( Next to Etown)

Free Hotline: 1800 6116

Online Booking: www.careplusvn.com

Facebook

Mon - Fri: 8am - 8pm

Sat: 8am - 5pm

Sun: 8am - 12pm (Pediatric services only)

Local Clinics and Hospitals (Minimum English Spoken. Best for patients who speak Vietnamese)

115 People’s Hospital

527 Su Van Hanh, W.12, District 10

+84 (28) 3865 4249

Open 24 hours

Heart Institute

86/4 Thanh Thai, District 10

+84 (28) 3865 1586

Mon - Fri: 7:30am - 6pm

Pediatrics Hospital 1

341 Su Van Hanh St., Ward 10, District 10

+84 (28) 3927 1119

Mon - Fri: 7am - 7:30pm

Thong Nhat hospital

1 Ly Thuong Kiet St., Ward 7, Tan Binh District

+84 (28) 3864 2141

Open 24 hours

Van Hanh Hospital

781/B1 Alley 781 Le Hong Phong, District 10

+84 (28) 3863 2553

Everyday from 7 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

City Children’s Hospital

15 Vo Tran Chi, Tan Kien, Binh Chanh District

+84 (28) 2253 6688

Open 24 hours

Hanh Phuc

18 Binh Duong Boulevard, Thuan An District, Binh Duong Province

19006765 or

(84) (0274) 3636068



Open 24 hours

Anh Minh Hospital

15-16 Phan Van Tri, Go Vap district

+84 (28) 39894989

7a.m. - 11:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Banner Image source: japantimes.co.jp


Dental Treatment in HCMC: An Overview

By: City Pass Guide

Foreign dentists are attracted to practising in Vietnam due to its embrace of the latest dental technology in addition to the low-stress lifestyle and warm climate. This, of course, is good for expatriates because not only are you likely to find a dentist who speaks your native language, but the service will be much cheaper than you would ever pay in your native country.


Facility at Dental Arts of Saigon

These prices can range anywhere from 30-50% below those in Europe, Australia or North America. Services at clinics around city include filling cavities, implants, surgery and orthodontics (mostly well done by international standards) for both children and adults. Full-mouth reconstruction is possible. Due to the wide range of capabilities and state-of-the-art technologies already available, though in limited supply, dental tourism is on the rise in Vietnam.

What about dental treatment cost?

Below is a typical range of prices for dental treatments in HCMC:

Type of CareVietnamese Chain ClinicStarlight Dental ClinicSmile Dental ClinicDental Arts of Saigon
Teeth cleaning From VND250,000-600,000 From VND600,000-VND1.2M From VND884,000-VND2.2M From VND850,000-VND1.9M
Teeth whitening VND4M at clinic, VND1.5M-2M for home whitening products From VND4M-6M (home bleaching, office bleaching or combine) VND2.2M-3.3M Around VND6.5M at clinic
Filling From VND300,000-800,000 From VND700,000-VND2.5M From VND774,000-VND2M From VND2.1M-5.5M
Teeth whitening VND4M at clinic, VND1.5M-2M for home whitening products From VND4M-6M (home bleaching, office bleaching or combine) VND2.2M-3.3M Around VND6.5M at clinic
Ceramic crown (price depends on material) From VND4.5M-5M From VND6.5M-13.5M From VND7.7M-13.2M From VND13M-VND19M
Implant From VND20M-30M Over VND50M N/A From VND34M-43M
Braces From VND38M-VND65M From VND40M-65M From VND22M-77.3M From VND32M (Orthodontic treatment, painless without braces)

Header photo by: Shutterstock


Does Society Want Us to be Healthy?

By: Patrick Gaveau

There are many things to consider in regards to why the world is so sick.

Do we question how we are being taught to behave, eat and drink? Can we trust what we have always been taught? May we die sooner than expected, and who is to blame?

Is our diet connected to the fact that puberty is arriving sooner than ever in our youth? How many species on earth eat more than one food at the same time? Although these are disturbing questions to ponder, finding answers would certainly help us make better dietary decisions.

What about digestion? Is our digestive system built to process a sizeable array of foods at the same time, and is it capable of getting all the nutritional elements being absorbed simultaneously? Would eating only one food at a time be a better solution for health and our general well-being?

Photo by Pixabay

Investigating some of these concepts and applying them to the way we live can lead us to a path of improved mental and physical health. Begin to educate yourself and act accordingly. Be free from the medical, pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries and live the life that you were born to live.

“You are what you eat.”

Whoever phrased that was damn right. Absorption of lousy substances is a central reason why so many people are often sick. It is also most likely the main reason why hospitals and doctors are so overwhelmed. Why do you think pharmacies line up one after the other? Simply because most of us choose to take a pill to fix our symptoms rapidly, instead of changing our habits to resolve the essence of the health problems we face.

“It is excellent for business, but terrible for our health.”

Now, force is to recognise that this does not seem like such a bad thing for many. Healthcare Business International recently reported that the industry will grow a minimum of 6% yearly in developed countries, and a shocking 11% in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, healthcare now accounts for almost 10% of global GDP.

“This makes healthcare one of the largest industries in the world.”

It is insane to have to admit it, but we do allow, in most cases, our respective diseases to grow within us day after day. We often procrastinate seeking medical treatment. Most remain unaware of the long-term consequences of their actions. Health problems actually often start on day one, and continue until our imminent death. Day after day, we infect our bodies with all sorts of daily doses of dreadful elements found in processed foods we commonly eat.

“Nature gave us all we need to feed ourselves, but capitalism believed it could do better.”

Photo by Pixabay

Unfortunately, not much of what is available in supermarkets is “clean”, or elsewhere for that matter. The level of substandard substances most of us purchase and digest daily is unreal. However, our bodies are built to be very adaptive, and are actually quite strong. The irreversible consequences attached to poor food and drink consumption that most have, often occur at a later stage in our lives. And this is, at least for me and many others, the central cause of humanities’ health troubles. And yes, we are individually and collectively responsible. Are we letting ourselves be manipulated by the economical and political interests that choose to support such proliferation of products and medicine? I think we can certainly say so.

“By doing so little to change our habits, we simply kill ourselves, slowly but surely.”

We’ve all been told, many times presumably, how bad too much sugar, drugs, coffee, milk, alcohol, tobacco, red meat or bad fat intake can be for our health. What have you done about it? Does anyone know the long list of chemical ingredients found in our foods that we shall avoid to protect our health? Shall schools begin to educate our children early on so that in due time, society may evolve and grow vigorously and consciously?

“Do we really care to inform ourselves to protect our health?”

Trust is that most of us would simply say, we all have to die of something sooner or later! We’re having a good time now, so why change that? In reality, too few are capable of facing the truth. Knowing it, and doing something about it, is actually a very challenging experience, often filled with pain and sorrow.

“We seek human love, comfort and security, even it if it leads off a cliff.”

Now, how we choose to live is our choice. My family is trying to influence our lifestyle so that we may live a better life. Of course, mother nature may choose otherwise at any time, a fact that is part of life and a risk we must accept. If you want to understand more about how we have all been misled, and what we shall do about it, review the tough questions above and enlighten yourself with your own research.


Staying Healthy When Dining Out

By: Nat Paolone

With such a variety of enticing food options coercing our palates into gluttony, eating healthy outside your home proves quite challenging.

Looking at the menu, densely packed with highly caloric, over-sized portions (which we have become accustomed to in our modern world) we succumb and gorge. Busy lifestyles and poor choices while eating out often lead to further weight gain. Let’s have a look at how we can better deal with this and make better choices at the restaurant.

Societal Pressure

Socio-economics definitely influence our food choices both in selecting a restaurant/cafe and what we decide to order. We like to “fit in,” and eat what our friends munch on.

We’ve all heard too often from friends and family, “Oh come on, just eat it! You only live once, it won’t kill you…” Seemingly when you choose to eat healthy, you may become the outcast among your friends. This compounds matters as striving for acceptance is human nature.

Why all the talk of sociological factors when we just want healthy eating tips? Because the challenge is largely psychological and habitual. Most of it is really common sense but unfortunately eating substandard food has simply become socially accepted.

Right then, let’s get into making some better nutritional choices.

Photo by Pixabay

Local Food Suggestions

Vietnamese grilled fish and meats are ideal dishes, as well as soups and hot pots. Many Japanese and Korean restaurants around Saigon have solid, healthy choices in contrast to the majority of most Western menus offered throughout the city.

Next time you enjoy your favourite pho or bun bo, ask for less noodles in order to maximise your healthy diet. In regards to MSG, well, you know what it is, and we must accept that it’s nearly unavoidable when eating out in HCMC. Goi cuon (chicken spring roll), goi xoai (mango salad) and ca nuong la chuoi (grilled fish with banana leaf) are a few healthy Vietnamese options.

Photo by Pixabay

Indian food doesn’t have to be heavy. Go for the tandoor chicken breast or lamb as long as you make sure to request it with no butter or cream. Choosing brown rice over naan is also another way to manoeuvre around the fattening dishes lingering at your table. When eating Italian, skip the primi and go straight for secondi.

Sugar and excess carbs are fundamentally problematic. Lower these and increase the veggies and proteins. For all the lovely vegetarians, choose protein rich beans and legumes. This is a challenge in Vietnam as most vegetarian restaurants do not include beans on the menu. Sure tofu is good, but this protein packed veggie has a long history of nutritional controversy.

Portion size is paramount. Share a pizza instead of having a whole one, as so many of us are carb junkies consuming these saccharides voraciously, reducing portions is the goal.

How Unhealthy is Alcohol?

Alcohol! The ultimate socially accepted evil. What? Nothing wrong with a few glasses of wine paired with your meal you say? Well, not exactly. Regarding weight gain, alcohol is more than a double whammy. This potion is broken down into acetate, which your body will use first for energy before anything else you eat or drink. Alcohol is metabolised, fat oxidation stops, weight gain may occur and slowed metabolism may result.

Photo by Stephen Bentsen

An average glass of wine has 150 calories, and beer has about the same. People who drink alcohol with a meal often eat up to 30% more food, and considering the culture of pairing food and drink in HCMC, this may cause a problem for many.

Juices and Sodas

Photo by Lavanya Kumara Krishnan

Fruit juices are commonly thought to be a healthier choice over soda. Studies show that the effects on our bodies are virtually the same. According to a recent publication in the Nutrition journal, fruit juice has a fructose concentration of about 45.5 grams per litre, slightly less than the average of 50 grams per litre for sodas.

"The human body isn't designed to process [fructose] at such high levels. Fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat, which increases risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” says Michael Goran, Director of Childhood Obesity Center in Southern California.

Essentially sodas and fruit juices should be avoided altogether. Eat fresh fruit instead, which includes fibre, slowing down absorption of sugars and allowing the normal metabolism of fructose. As an alternative, drink lots of local fruit smoothies (like avocado) but without condensed milk or sugar. Try an avocado smoothie for healthy fats.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” - Mark Twain


Pollution, Water and Disease in Saigon: What You Should Know

By: City Pass Guide

We are all in danger of the negative effects of air pollution, water contamination, unclean food, worms and tropical diseases in HCMC. I sat down with Dr. Nicolas Lagüe from Centre Medical International to learn how we can manage to avoid these health problems.

Air Pollution

It’s no secret that there are substantial pollution problems in Vietnam. However, just how dangerous the air is, and exactly what effects it has on our health can be difficult to decipher. The main parts of the body that are affected by air pollution are the nose, throat, ears and lungs. Whether you are on a motorbike, in your car, walking or in your apartment, exposure to air pollution in HCMC is nearly unavoidable, and we need to make a personal choice if living here is worth the risk, especially considering how difficult it is to evaluate the related dangers.

Photo via Pixabay

The air contains toxic particles and nanoparticles, which can come from a variety of sources. One interesting fact I learned from Dr. Lagüe was that the non-exhaust particles, like the iron, copper and barium that are released during the breaking of a car or motorbike, produce significant nanoparticles. This fact, combined with the high concentration of exhaust emissions, make stopping at red lights a prime hotspot for heavy toxic air. According to the expert himself, the best way to protect yourself, outside of not living in the city, is to wear a proper mask. For this, you will need to spend the money and get a thick carbon cloth mask (FFP3 class) which will help filter out the bigger pollutants in the air.

Although driving a car exposes you to slightly less toxicity than when you are on a motorbike, it is still not enough to make a significant difference. In regards to your home, location is key. The further from the busy areas the less pollution there is, and the higher up your apartment the better. Therefore, if air quality is a major concern for you, try to find a flat on the highest floor possible. The closer to the ground your apartment is, the more exposure it receives.

Drinking Water Contamination

Everyone knows the first rule of thumb when living in most developing countries - don’t ever drink the tap water! It contains dangerous levels of nitrates and iron, not to mention a variety of other unsafe chemicals. The best way to ensure you are taking in the cleanest drinking water is to stick to mineral water. Alba is the name of one local company that is producing high quality bottled mineral water that contains an impressive amount of bicarbonates.

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Bicarbonates are great for balancing the body’s gastric acidity levels and are also highly effective in preventing dental cavities. Not only is mineral water a sound alternative to many of the questionable drinking water sources available, but its health benefits are scientifically backed and heavily researched throughout the world. Another suggestion is to constantly switch the brands of mineral water that you drink due to the fact that each brand is comprised of different levels of electrolytes. A regular rotation like this is good for the body, and helps you maintain a healthy level of energy.

Food, Worms and Bacteria

Statistically, Vietnam does have a lower quality of food than most countries, which can result in an array of digestive problems, amongst other health related issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. However, the main concern lies in regards to bacteria and worms, and these are real threats that every resident needs to be taking precautions against. Let’s make it known that there are numerous varieties of worms and parasites out there and they are very easy to acquire. You might have worms and not even show any symptoms. Dr. Lagüe highly recommends that everyone living here take Zentel every six months. This is readily found at pharmacies all over town and is highly effective in expelling any worms that you may have. Worms and other parasites can lead to other more complicated issues if left untreated, like schistosomiasis, a condition that can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, a bloody stool or much worse.

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In regards to food, the number one cautionary measure to take is with vegetables, as they can very easily harvest bacteria. Just by touching the outer skin of contaminated vegetables, larvae can be transferred into your body. It is suggested that any vegetables you buy need to be thoroughly washed while wearing gloves. Meat is another cause of concern, but also a debatable topic. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, and each individual can have different levels of immunity to different bacteria. Although it’s an undisputed fact that unrefrigerated meat increases the chances of bacterial contamination, doctors often disagree on how dangerous it is to consume it. Consumers should do their best to buy quality meat that is within their budget. Annam Gourmet is one trusted shop that sells quality meat that has been properly stored, and it’s a notable place to buy safer products. I’ve interviewed doctors that passionately advised against eating any street food under any circumstance, while others have said it’s perfectly fine to indulge once in awhile. Either way, it’s best to know your body and act accordingly.

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Tropical Diseases in Vietnam

The best way to avoid many tropical diseases is to get vaccinated before you come to Vietnam. As many of the symptoms crisscross each other, it is often very difficult to identify what exactly you might have. Vietnam also has limited medical technology, which can make diagnostic processes more difficult. If you feel any strange symptoms like fatigue or joint pain as a result of a suspected insect bite, seek a medical expert immediately to get some blood work. Hydration and proper rest are crucial during this time.

Some of the most prevalent tropical diseases in Vietnam are Dengue Fever and Zika Virus. The danger with these viruses is that their symptoms vary and there is not much technology available in Vietnam to give proper blood tests. Do your best to wear mosquito repellent, especially outside of the city limits, where the number of mosquitos increases. There are several types of mosquitos which can carry dangerous tropical diseases, and many cannot withstand the pollution of the city. However, once you leave the city limits, and the pollution levels are lower, there is a substantially higher risk of exposure. As a whole, it’s next to impossible to control if you are bitten by a mosquito or not. The best thing you can do is to be aware of the symptoms of Dengue and Zika, and if you experience them do not procrastinate seeking treatment.


Best & Worst Hospital Stories

By: Aleksandr Smechov

We asked our fans on social media to come up with best and worst medical related stories. They certainly didn’t disappoint, some of these are quite hilarious. Most are also very informative.

Anonymous

Last year I had a motorbike accident and broke my collar bone. My orthopaedic surgeon from Family Medical Practice performed my operation at FV Hospital, and all went well. Of course, as in the U.S. they wanted assurance of payment, and charged my credit card prior to admission for the projected cost of my hospital stay, plus fees associated with my surgery.

Steve B

A friend went to a local hospital. Because of insomnia, she got prescribed a strong neuroleptic and a strong antidepressant. Now she has insomnia because of the side effects of these strong drugs, and she’ll need months or even years to lower the use of or stop these medications. I would say, never visit a local hospital unless you have a prior diagnosis.

Kevin Wortz

I have been here 10 years. I have had many treatments: a hernia in the groin area repaired (Columbia Asia International Clinic by Dr. Vinh); new lenses in both eyes (had multifocals for 27 years, went to Symphony International Eye Clinic); and a left shoulder supraspinatus tendon reattached (An Sinh Hospital). When I had a left rotator cuff repaired I went to FV Hospital, where the boss wanted me to stay four nights for more money, yet his surgeon said only one night; this op was conducted by Dr. Nguyen Trong Anh, the best orthopaedic guy around). I’ve also just had a malignant growth cut out of my head at Van Hanh Hospital and will have a new left hip soon. I didn't go to Cho Ray or some of the shitty cattle yards which pretend to be hospitals, but I chose much better, far cheaper hospitals with highly qualified surgeons and specialists. Medical care here, in my experience, has been far better than I have received in the past in Oz.

Anonymous

I cannot believe that a hospital would not only be filthy, with no soap or many other necessities, but also have no food. While I was in for pneumonia, I almost starved to death! There was no bedpan, we had to buy one, no bedding, bring your own and wash it yourself. But the best part was when I asked for water. I was told to call my family to bring me some. My family is in New York. The first night the room filled up with (I counted) 32 family members of other patients. They moved in, slept everywhere, yelled all night, got in fights, smoked and were all oblivious to the fact that sick people were trying to get rest! A total nightmare! When I got good and fed up and checked out the attendant rammed my foot with a floor cleaner and cracked my toe. The doctor put on a terrible cast that didn't fit and had a lumpy bottom I couldn't stand on and had such sharp edges, it cut my foot open when I tried to walk! I had to have it removed due to pain and bleeding.

Charlie Wallace

After getting a confirmation that I probably have appendicitis, I got in a taxi to Columbia hospital on the other side of the city. I slapped the stack of scans and test results down in front of the night staff along with my health insurance card. The receptionist rang the “emergency” number on the back of the card. But the lady on the other end refused to confirm that I will be covered. The total cost would come to some VND75 million (about $3,362). For them to admit me without confirmed insurance cover, they’d need a deposit of VND15 million, an amount I wasn’t even close to having. I didn’t have my passport to use as a deposit either, since I already used it as a deposit with a different hospital in exchange for one of the crucial scans. I grabbed the phone and poured hot liquid contempt down the line. “Look, this is an emergency. My appendix has decided it wants to kill me and doesn’t give a damn about your office hours. If I wait, I could die. Do you understand that?” The night staff wrest the receiver away before I could start swearing, and to their great credit slowly managed to convey the urgency of the situation. At about 4:30 a.m. I finally get the green light, and by 5:30 a.m. I was in a hairnet and operating gown.

Natalia ludina

Nicolas Dupaux at CMI is the best osteopath in HCMC. He took 30 minutes to reduce my back pain when I spent two hours in ITO without any effect. The diagnosis was opposite. And even the medicine proposed was different. So for foreigners the foreign hospitals are much better and with expected result. Never want to try a local one again.

Arash Rouhani

I went to Ngoc Minh clinic because it was close to my office. Despite not even being here for a year I took on the language challenge and got everything done using Vietnamese. I felt everything was okay!

Anonymous

Without insurance, Saigon can be a surprisingly expensive place to get injured. I should know after having three crashes in eight days. The first was an unavoidable collision with a wall after a lunatic motorbike driver swerved me off the road: I bruised my thigh but was otherwise more or less OK. The second was a skin-shredding balancing-act that tore a lot of skin off my sandaled foot. I went to the Centre Medical International (CMI) on Han Thuyen where they cleaned my wounds and gave me professional instruction on how to look after them. The charge of VND800,000 seemed reasonable considering the level of care I received.

Third crash: I hit a pothole on the poorly maintained road after the Thu Thiem bridge. I felt like I had broken my leg so decided it was hospital time. Following the advice of various expats, I went to the French-Vietnamese Hospital (FV) in District 7. For around VND3 million they took an x-ray, performed an ultrasound and treated me expertly from start to finish. I couldn’t walk for three weeks or so and were it not for my wife, I would’ve suffered massively. The moral of the story: drive slowly, expect the worst and be married to someone who is willing to bring you supplies like an angel.


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