Pet-Friendly Hotel in Vietnam?

17 03 2011
Where to go with pets
“We’re goin’ for a ride!”


I’ll give you a quick answer, NO! As of now, there are no official pet-friendly hotels in Vietnam. But off the record, there are a number that will allow pets to stay if you can get someone to negotiate for you in Vietnamese. But before you start imagining yourself poolside at the Nam Hai or the Sofitels with Fifi, I have to let you know, all the 5-star hotels have a seriously strict NO DOGS, NO PETS allowed policy. Instead, look for the 2-star motels or any kind of backpacker establishment as a possible option. However, there IS one resort I know of in Vietnam who has a discreet pet-sort-of-friendly policy. It is a well-kept secret by many pet-owners in Hanoi. It is called the Van Chai Resort and it is about 170km (2.5-3 hours) outside of Hanoi. Pet Friendly Van Chai Click Here. The Resort is located on Sam Son beach, a private beachside sanctuary complete with indoor and outdoor pools, spa, and acres of well-maintained tropical gardens. Our three dogs got their first taste of freedom after a year of being on a leash in Hanoi. Van Chai is the PERFECT place to stay with your pets and a great escape from the pollution and mayhem of Hanoi.

Chillin poolside

We'd like 3 Liver-Daiquiris please!


Our dogs were over the moon at being able to run around the premise freely. At first they didn’t know what to do or where to go, they were so used to being leashed during their walks. I must stress that we went during the off-season, mid January, so it seemed like we were the only guests at the resort. Consequently, we were able to let our dogs run amok and explore to their heart’s content. Not sure, the management would be too thrilled to see dogs poolside during the peak season, with other guests lying around.

Van Chai Pet Friendly

"How's this pose? Did you get the boat in the background?"


With so much private beachfront, there was so much space for the dogs to explore and sniff around.  The hotel staff was also very friendly. However, it’s not the nicest beach, I’ve ever seen. Don’t expect a stunning seascape! The ocean is quite wild and the water is a chocolate brown color. The beach was dotted with broken shells and washed up “junk” yet it was a peaceful retreat after living in Hanoi. I am sure as the country continues to develop and pets become more popular, more hotels will consider changing their no pet policy to a pet-friendly one. As of now, the best place to go is Van Chai Resort, but please remember to pick up after your dogs so everyone can enjoy a clean, poop-free environment!

Van Chai beach and Nhopa

"I thought you said we're going to Miami Beach!"

"I'm going to pretend I don't notice you trying to do the peace sign behind my head!"

"I really dig this place because.... SQUIRREL!!!!!"

Van Chai and the Dogs

"Tam Biet Van Chai Resort! It was fun, although you should stock the mini-bar with bones instead of chocolate!!"



2 03 2011
District 10- Pet Market

DO NOT BUY pet from District 10



Looking to buy a pure-breed dog or cat? Avoid District 10 in Ho Chi Minh City at ALL costs! 90% of pets bought at this market end up dead. Why? Uneducated and greedy breeders simply looking for a quick profit. Puppies and kittens are NOT vaccinated, not given water and left in the sun all day. Animals that appear to be sick are given shots of steroid to boost their activity level (steroid suppresses immune systems, making it much easier for animals to contract an illness). Those puppies and kittens that are too ill to be sold are thrown into a plastic bag and dumped in the trash. When veterinarian, Dr. Nghia of Saigon Pet approached breeders in D10 with an affordable vaccine program they cursed and chased him away. The stench of ignorance and greed at this pet market is greater than the waste product of the animals.


As I walked among the wire cages, set out under Saigon’s blazing sun, I couldn’t help but notice how weak and sick the puppies appeared. When I bent down for closer inspection, the breeder jabbed the puppy with a stick to make it seem more alert. When a potential buyer inquired after a small Dalmatian in the cage, the breeder grabbed the dog by one leg and lifted the yelping puppy from its wire prison. There seems to be little one can do to stop the suffering and pain these animals endure. Aside from not buying and fueling the demand for these pets, there is little recourse. ARC Vietnam is currently looking into the matter to see what they can do to help. Initial thinking is to offer vaccines for a lower cost. Currently, basic combo vaccines start at 300,000 ($15USD). A puppy at 400,000 ($20USD). Clearly, vaccinations cut into the breeder’s bottom-line.


Not only is D10 a deplorable pet market, but a market to find stolen pets. On approach, I was asked if I wanted to buy a pet or if I was looking for a kidnapped pet. I played along and said I was looking for Lucy, my white-long haired Turkish Angora. I described the cat in great detail. A woman sitting nearby quickly jumped up from her plastic chair and said, “yes we have. we found your cat in Thao Dien!” The woman disappeared for about twenty minutes and returned with a white-haired cat. “Here your cat!” What she didn’t know is that I do not own cats. Her ruse was pathetic. I wondered who the cat truly belonged to! Sadly, as Vietnam continues to emerge and grow, so will the demand for pets. Irresponsible and abhorrent breeders will continue treating animals in a disgusting and inhumane manner if nothing is done to stop. Government support of ARC’s education and low-cost vaccine initiatives might be the only thing that will change these death row dog and cat breeders.

Dying Puppies in District 10

Dying Puppies in D10 Pet Market

Sick and dying kittens

Dying kittens in D10 Pet Market, HCMC

The Best Veterinarians in Vietnam?

15 02 2011


Dr. Nghia with client


Did you know that anyone can become a licensed veterinarian in Vietnam in only 6 short months! In other countries, it takes anywhere from 5-8 years to become a certified, licensed veterinarian. But in Vietnam anyone can start practicing in a very short time. Sure, the Universities offer 2-5 year programs but many take the easy and shorter route to becoming an “animal doctor”. In addition to the short time it can take to receive a “diploma”, not one course at the Universities focus on teaching health and treatment of small breed animals (i.e., dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, etc.). All courses are geared to teaching large animal care, those animals found on farms. The main focus of the schools is to teach animal husbandry, the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock. Students walk away knowing how to neuter, raise and slaughter livestock.


The frightening reality is that these students turned vets are using the same practice and medicine to treat small animals. The philosophy: Same-same. As a result, many small breed animals have been misdiagnosed and also overdosed. There is a growing number of cases especially in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where small pets are killed due to the lack of knowledge of the vet. Imagine using the same dose of medicine you would use for a cow that you would use on a fox terrier. Or worse, using a medicine designed ONLY for large breed animals. Tragic Example Click Here The motivation for becoming a veterinarian in Vietnam is vastly different then other countries. When asked, why do you want to become a veterinarian, 90% of the students respond, “because of the money” or “because it is an easy science”. Only 10% respond, “because I love animals”. When looking for a veterinarian for your pet in Vietnam, here are some simple guidelines to follow:


Nowadays it is easy to get information on a vet by doing a Google search. Just type in the vet’s name or clinic’s name and see what people are saying about that person or place. Is it good? Is it bad? Check out Facebook. Does the vet have a Fan Page? Or is the vet affiliated with any animal rescue programs? In addition, visit Expat forums like So Saigon or The New Hanoian and read the reviews people have posted on a particular vet or clinic. Beware of Vet Posting Lastly, ask your neighbors who may have pets, word of mouth is usually quite reliable.

2. IS YOUR VET CERTIFIED FOR SMALL BREED ANIMALS?? Many students bypass the rigorous entrance exams in Vietnam by paying a fee to get into the program. Aside from this fact, if these veterinarians only studied in Vietnam you can be quite certain that their knowledge only covers large breed animals. Vets like Dr. Nghia are teaching students at Nong Lam University about small breed animal care but he is an exception to the rule! Ask your veterinarian about his/her qualification. Has he/she only studied in Vietnam? Vets have known to lie about their qualifications stating they studied abroad like in France. Questioned again, they’ll change their answer and say Japan or Germany. Be wary!! It is easy to fake a diploma here or state that you have oversea experience. But the result of this duplicity is catching up to certain vets as the number of pet fatalities is increasing and word is spreading through online forums, blogs and Facebook status updates.

3. CONCERN FOR THE ANIMAL. A friend of mine in Miami told me that she chose her vet because he always greeted her dog first when she went to his office. Simple though that is, it meant a lot to her that he did that. But don’t be taken in simply by a good bedside manner if your instincts tell you that something is not right. Will your vet’s advice always center on the well-being of the animal?

4. WILLINGNESS TO LISTEN TO, ANSWER QUESTIONS AND TO COMMUNICATE EASILY. As someone who is new to taking care of a pet, you want to feel able to ask your vet anything and have her give you just the right amount of information to help you do your job.

5. LOVE OF ANIMALS. Surprisingly, many people choose to become vets not because they love animals, but simply as a way of making a living. Does your vet have animals at home? Is he/she warm and comfortable around your animals when you bring them to the clinic? Does your vet sponsor or promote any animal rescue groups like A.R.C. Vietnam, Animals Asia, Primate Center? Ask. Ask. Ask.