Iced coffee safe in Vietnam

Jan 7th, 2009, 07:08 PM
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Iced coffee safe in Vietnam

I've seen several mentions of drinking iced coffee in Vietnam. Is the ice safe to drink there?? What has been your experience? Anyone get sick? Any way to ensure it is safe? Only drink ice in 4 star hotels?

In Delhi the waiter in a 5 star hotel served my drink with ice even though I had requested no ice. Given it was a 5 star hotel, I scooped out the ice right away but then drank it anyway. I got really sick that night.

cmlong is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:13 PM
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imo, no....cold coffee yes, but no ice for me.....
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:24 PM
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In general, I don't use ice in VN. The ice is safe only if you know that it was made from purified water.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:34 PM
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I've drunk iced coffee in Thailand and was wondering about Vietnam.

My understanding is that "most" ice in Bangkok restaurants and coffee chains is made with purified water, but yes, it's a risk.

I'm also wondering if there is a way to tell. Like if the ice is obviously out of a machine (if the cubes look like cylinders for example) is it most likely purified?
Kristina is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:39 PM
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Each person is different, both mentally - in the risks they're willing to take - and physically - their susceptibility to infections, etc. I've traveled all over Southeast Asia and India, and drank lots of iced coffee (it's sort of my job). I have gotten sick on rare occasions, but there's not a single incidence where ice was the culprit, or even a suspect. Bugs can live on almost anything. Why single out ice?
MichaelBKK is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:51 PM
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Kristina, most ice in Bangkok is made from purified water. The commercially made ice is cylindrical and has a hole in the middle. Under no circumstances would I drink anything with crushed ice.

Michael, the reason ice gets singled out is because the tap water in most of SEA is not potable. Thus, ice or drinks made from such water or produce washed in it can and do become contaminated. Water, whether from brushing your teeth with tap water or from ice or contaminated produce is perhaps the most common way of contracting bacterial or viral GI "bugs."
Kathie is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 10:07 PM
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I'd be just as concerned about the milk.

When I travel I rarely drink milk, I realise - somewhere locked in my brain is faded information about milk being suspect. [Not from chain food places, but in the country - as in fresh milk. You know, that stuff that comes out of cows.]

Am I correct here? Or am I confusing dangerous ice-cream with milk?
dogster is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 02:36 AM
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Stick with beer.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 03:15 AM
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The idea that the cylindrical ice is "better" or more likely "safe" is complete nonsense, IMO. You can buy ice machines that make the cylindrical stuff or machines to make the flakes. What matters is the water used to make the ice.

And that's my point: It's very hard to prepare any food or drink without water. Thinking you'll be safe by avoiding ice is, I think, foolish.

But I'm not a nurse.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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I have drinks everyday with ice in HCMC. Have I gotten sick? No. Will you? Not sure.

Bisbeee is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 05:25 AM
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I wouldn't even GO to vietnam if I couldn't drink iced coffee.

I don't buy it off the street, only in restaurants. Maybe that's why it's never bothered me. Or perhaps I've just been lucky.

The milk is condensed and comes from a can, the ice is the concern, probably not so much the milk.
offwego is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 05:33 AM
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I drink my coffee black with no ice in Vietnam - they'll make it that way if you ask. But that's the way I like it - I drink it that way in Vietnamese restaurants at home.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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Dogster, you are quite right about milk - especially in India.

Michael, the distinction I was making in the crushed vs. cylndrical ice was the commercially made vs hacked off a block of ice - which has typically not been made from purified water.

Also, some of the stomach "bugs" that people get are simply from unfamiliar flora and fauna (as opposed to disease-causing agents like Hep A or typhoid or e coli), so the visitor might get GI problems while a local might not.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 07:23 AM
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so you see there are many different opinions...why not be safe...drink iced coffee at home and forgo it during this vacation...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 03:22 PM
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All of these precautions should also apply to street vendor food. Not the best hygiene practiced there. Yes there are people that eat the food and nothing happens to them- so its really up to you how much risk you want to take.
BillT is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 01:31 PM
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I drank the cofee with ice in Vietnam and I was fine. Keep in mind that you need to only do this in the high end cafe where they use purified water for the ice. They normally have expats and viet kieu (foreign Viets) so they will normally accomodate this. I had it at Cafe Sao (Star Cafe) in D1 in Saigon and it was ok.
stylchick15 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 02:22 PM
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I do drink iced coffee in Vietnam, but I will just share with you what their practice was at a bar/restaurant we went in on the road to Mui Ne, just outside Phan Thiet. Please note that this is the only time (thankfully) that we have ever seen this done!
This was an open bar/restaurant with lots of tables for 4 -8 people. Most people had iced drinks of some kind, either beer or lemon water, cola etc. To make sure that your drinks always remained as cold as possible one young woman went from table to table with like an ice bucket and tongs. Her job was to make sure you always had plenty of ice in your drink. This sounds like great service and on a very hot day in Vietnam actually sounds very nice. However, when she went to a table she would ask who wanted ice, when someone did she would then use the tongs to take the small "old piece" of ice out of their drink and drop it into her ice bucket, she would then take a large piece of ice from the bucket and put that in the drink - swopping old for a newer, bigger piece of ice! At first we couldn't believe what we saw - but thankfully we noticed before she asked us if we wanted to "swop"! People in the place were generally very happy they were getting more ice. It was fascinating and unforgetable and fortunately, as I say, we did not see anywhere else do this nor ever have since!
janev is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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I'd be more concerned if they used powdered milk vs. real.
Mango7 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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I won't get ice-coffee from convenience stores in Thailand anymore based on 2 thngs.
1 was seeing the person with a dirty old cloth wiping out the inside of the coffee dispenser from a just as diry bowl, that really turned me off.
The other was noting that if you left an unfinished one for a day the remains 'come alive'.
After that - that was it - I like ice coffee but only when we make it at home now !
JamesA is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 07:11 AM
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Hey James. If you go to the right places you can enjoy still enjoy them. There's a place on an upper floor of MBK that's part of a mini-food court(not the main one). I can drink about three of those in one sitting!!
Mango7 is offline  

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