Expats moving to Vietnam are in for an adventure on many levels. This Southeast Asian country has thousands of kilometres of beautiful beaches on its eastern border, a number of beautiful islands, and a vast hilly and mountainous inland.
A popular expat destination, Vietnam offers an ideal combination of good earning potential and high quality of life. The country also has a fast-growing economy, a thriving art scene, stunning landscapes, and arguably the best food in Asia.
Living in Vietnam as an expat
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 to Ho Chi Min City can expect skyscrapers, malls and modern restaurants alongside old French-colonial architecture.
Vietnam is a meeting point between the everyday bustle of city life and the laid-back charm of a country secure in its place in today’s society. Vietnam will tantalise the senses, possibly overloading them at times – though an island escape is always just a short plane hop or ferry ride away. Numerous Western restaurants, vibrant nightlife spots and an active art scene ensure that expats moving to Vietnam will find that work is merely something that takes place in between a multitude of social arrangements.
Cost of living in Vietnam
The cost of living in Vietnam is one of the country's biggest drawcards. Everything from accommodation, transport and groceries is relatively affordable, depending on the lifestyle an expat chooses to live. Naturally, luxury housing and Western food will set expats back far more than standard accommodation and local cuisine. One of the biggest costs expats will have to budget for is health insurance, and for those with children, tuition fees.
Expat families and children in Vietnam
Expats moving to Vietnam with children will be pleased to know that there are numerous international schools located throughout the country that cater specifically to the needs of foreign children. These schools generally offer an excellent standard of teaching and allow their students to take part in a host of extra-curricular activities.
The standard of healthcare in Vietnam is highly variable. As the standard of public healthcare facilities is largely not on par with those in most Western countries, expats and their families are advised to invest in a fully comprehensive health insurance policy that entitles them to treatment at private hospitals. Private hospitals in Vietnam typically provide a better standard of care and are usually staffed by doctors from across the globe. Expat parents will also have plenty to see and do with their little ones during their weekend breaks, thanks to the myriad of outdoor activities and historical sites Vietnam has to offer.
Climate in Vietnam
The weather in Vietnam is fantastically warm and beautiful throughout the year. The only drawback is the humidity, which can reach upward of 80 percent. The monsoon season brings heavy rains and humidity, otherwise, there is little rainfall in the country.
With a war-torn history from colonisation to the Vietnam War, the country has a diverse range of living standards, but 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.
Population: More than 98 million
Capital city: Hanoi
Neighbouring countries: Vietnam is bordered by China to the north and Cambodia and Laos to the west.
Geography: Vietnam is a long, narrow S-shaped country on the eastern Indo-China Peninsula. Most of its landscape is mountainous and densely forested.
Political system: Single-party socialist state
Major religions: Vietnamese folk religion and Buddhism
Main languages: Vietnamese (official), Chinese, some English and French
Time: GMT +7
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz. Plugs in Vietnam are generally the two flat-pin or two round-pin types, but some rectangular three-pin plugs are also supported.
Money: The Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the official currency, and it’s divided into 10 hào. The US Dollar (USD) is often used for large amounts. Although credit cards are accepted in major centres, Vietnam remains a largely cash-based society.
International dialling code: +84
Internet domain: .vn
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side. Motorbikes and bicycles are two of the most popular modes of transport among the locals. Expats often find driving to be risky in Vietnam and avoid driving their own vehicle, especially in the bigger cities, where it’s possible to get around quite easily with public transport.
Emergency numbers: 113 (police), 115 (ambulance), 114 (fire). Emergency services are extremely limited in rural areas.
►Unsure what to expect of life in Vietnam? Read Culture Shock in Vietnam
"Vietnam is still developing and there are still a lot of possibilities to do something here". Caroline Nguyen, a French expat, moved to Vietnam with her family when she was young. Having lived in Vietnam for over a decade, she shares her experiences here.
"A good way to make friends is to practise sport and join existing teams". Spanish expat Javier has lived in Vietnam since 2006, after relocating with his family for his job. He shares his experience here.
Are you an expat living in Vietnam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vietnam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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