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Ho Chi Minh City

Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

HCMC is the most theft-ridden city in Vietnam; don’t become a statistic. Be especially careful along the Saigon riverfront, where motorbike ‘cowboys’ operate.

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One of the more common rip-offs in HCMC involves cyclo drivers demanding exorbitant sums at the end of a tour.

Rather than hopping blithely into the seat when the driver smilingly says, ‘Price up to you, ’ clearly negotiate a fair price up front (consider 100, 000/200, 000d for a half-day/full-day tour). If more than one person is travelling make sure you’re negotiating the price for both and not a per-passenger fee. It sometimes pays to sketch out numbers and pictures with pen and paper so all parties agree. Unfortunately, ‘misunderstandings’ do happen; unless the cyclo driver has pedalled you to the 21 districts of HCMC, US$25 is not the going rate.

That said, don’t just assume the driver is trying to bamboozle you. It’s a tough living, especially as the city government tries to phase out the cyclos entirely. If you’ve had a particularly great guide and ride, tip generously.

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While you're there

Medical services

Cho Ray Hospital (855 4137; fax 855 7267; 201 ÐL Nguyen Chi Thanh, District 5; consultations from US$4; 24hr) One of the largest medical facilities in Vietnam, with 1000 beds and a section for foreigners on the 10th floor; about a third of the 200 doctors speak English.

Emergency Centre (829 2071; 125 ÐL Le Loi; 24hr) Has doctors that speak English and French.

FV Hospital (Franco-Vietnamese Hospital; 411 3333; www.fvhospital.com; 6 Ð Nguyen Luong Bang, Tan Phu Ward, District 7; 24hr) French-, Vietnamese- and English-speaking physicians; superb care and equipment.

Grand Dentistry (821 9446; 24hr emergency 0903-647 156; Sun Wah Tower, 115 Ð Nguyen Hue) Dental care, emergencies and surgeries.

HCMC Family Medical Practice (822 7848, 24hr emergency 0913-234 911; www.vietnammedicalpractice.com; Diamond Plaza, 34 ÐL Le Duan; consultations from US$50; 24hr) Run by the well-respected Dr Rafi Kot.

International Medical Centre (827 2366; 24hr emergency 865 4025; fac@hcm.vnn.vn; 1 Ð Han Thuyen; consultations US$40-80; 24hr) A nonprofit organisation billing itself as the least expensive Western health-care centre in the country; has English-speaking French doctors.

International SOS (829 8424, 24hr emergency 829 8520; www.internationalsos.com; 65 Ð Nguyen Du; consultations US$55-70; 24hr) Has an international team of doctors speaking English, French, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Maple Dental Clinic (820 1999; 72 Ð Vo Thi Sau; 8am-8pm Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm Sat) Dental care (including emergencies) by experienced English-speaking dentists.

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