Moving to Vietnam
Vietnam has thousands of kilometres of beautiful beaches on its eastern border, shares its northern perimeter with China and, to the west, has a mountainous borderline shared with both Laos and Cambodia.
The northern city of Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital, a fast-changing city filled with new developments, beautiful lakes, bustling streets, restaurants and tens of thousands of motorbikes. Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon) in the south is Vietnam’s most important economic hub. Expats moving there can expect to find skyscrapers, malls and modern restaurants alongside old French-colonial architecture. Cyclos, smart cars, taxicabs and millions of motorbikes own the streets.
Transport in Vietnam can sometimes be as tricky, beginning with the crucial challenge of crossing a busy road during the perpetual rush-hour. There is a rail network which links the north and the south; a number of bus companies targeting tourists also run along the coast of the country making multiple stops along the way. Within the cities the most common form of transportation is the motorbike. However, taxis are cheap and some expats choose to hire a car and driver to manoeuvre them through the eternally bustling city streets. Vietnam has inexpensive flights connecting it to the rest of the region as well as cheap internal flights between north, central and south Vietnam.
Banks in Vietnam are familiar with Western faces. International transfers are hassle free and some banks allow you to have a US Dollar account rather than one in Vietnamese currency. Politically, Vietnam is a socialist republic but this does not impact the everyday life of expats. In order not to offend your Vietnamese hosts it is an unspoken rule that the Vietnam War is not spoken about.
Generally, Vietnam has only two seasons, the wet season (November – April) and the dry season (May – October). But, because Vietnam is such a long and narrow country with very different latitudes the temperatures do vary a great deal between north and south and between mountainous and coastal regions.
As an Asian Tiger economy, expats will find that Vietnam is a meeting point between the everyday bustle of city life and the laidback charm of a country sure of its place in today’s society. With a war-torn history starting from colonisation and culminating in the Vietnam War; Vietnam has a diverse range of living standards. However, expats relocating to Vietnam will find most of the comforts they are used to from home and they will soon learn that this is a country with a great deal to offer.
Vietnam will tantalise the senses - and overload them at times. It is a unique nexus of French, Chinese and South East Asian cultures and its cuisine is no exception. With hot soups, crispy wontons, tasty noodles and potent coffee, expats will soon find themselves eager to try their hand at cooking some of the popular dishes from this delicious country. There are numerous Western restaurants, vibrant nightlife spots and an active art scene – ensuring that expats moving to Vietnam will find that work is merely something which takes place in between a multitude of social arrangements.