Living in Vietnam
Large cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh have websites which offer great housing listings or inexpensive hotels. You can search for information beforehand. If you are not going to stay in Vietnam for long, you may want to look for accommodation in hotels, hostels, etc. Try the following website for information related to cheap hotels in big cities http://www.timkiem.khachsangiare.com
For those who have a longer plan, you may want somewhere more stable. In this case you may think of renting or sharing a house or an apartment. In order to rent an apartment you will need to supply a deposit, a copy of your passport, work visa and address of employer. By law, landlords have to report this information to the government when renting property to a foreigner. A deposit of two months' rent is usually required and some landlords have been known to ask for payment for the full rental period beforehand, however, this is not the norm and can be risky.
Utilities such as electricity, water, garbage collection, apartment services should come to roughly 500.000 VND (30 USD) per month, but it can be arranged for this to be included in your monthly rent. Apartments are normally furnished with a television, cooker, and basic furniture. There are a number of local providers for Internet access and satellite/ cable TV. The area in which you are renting as well as the number of rooms in an apartment will impact the price. In Ho Chi Minh City monthly rent ranges from 500 USD to 1500 USD for 1/2/3 bedroom apartments. Rooms in shared houses will obviously be a lot cheaper. Rental prices in Hanoi range from 350 USD upwards, with 1500 USD usually securing you a-four-floor mansion in the popular Tay Ho district.
In big cities in Vietnam, transportation comes in many forms. For inner-city trips, you may choose to use public transports like bus which is very cheap and convenient, available every 10 minute. However, it tends to be very crowed during peak hours and not very comfortable. Moreover, if you decide to go by bus, make sure you know which one to get on by paying attention to the number on each bus. For more information on bus schedule, please visit this website http://www.hanoibus.com/
Metered taxis are also easily available in Vietnam and are one of the major means of transportation in Vietnam for visitors. Taxis are not only safe but are speedy mode of transportation in Vietnam, with its price ranging from 10.000VND/kilometer upwards.
Some reliable taxi brand:
Mai Linh Taxi: 04.3822.2666/ 04.3822.2555/04.3861.6161
Taxi Hanoi: 04.3853.5353
Taxi ABC: 04.3719.1919
Taxi My Dinh: 04.3833.3888
Another popular option is “xe ôm” or “motorcycle taxis,” which is available on every street corner. The price can be negotiated but usually it is much cheaper than going by taxi, about half price. If you see a man sitting on his motorbike with the sign “XE OM” hanging in front, he is definitely the driver. You may tell him where you want to go and he will tell you how much he charges. You can negotiate with him until you reach a reasonable price. However, in order to do so, you need to know some basic Vietnamese or preferably a Vietnamese friend to do the bargaining for you.
Besides, cars, bicycles and motorbikes are also available on rental basis to travel around. However, check to see whether the driving license you obtain from your country enables you to drive car or motorbike in Vietnam. The following websites may help you find where to rent a car/motorbike: http://xedulichhanoi.com
Keeping in touch with friends and family back home is relatively easy and inexpensive through a number of ways: Internet, cell phones, international dialing or post.
It is simple enough to get Internet access in Vietnam either through a service provider (Dial-up or ADSL) or at a post office or an Internet café (mainly found in the more touristy areas). The Vietnamese government is still wary of the effects of the free flow of information, thus certain topics or sites like Facebook are fire-walled from time to time. If you have a smart phone which allows you access the Internet, you can use free Wifi in most public places like cafes, restaurants, pubs, etc.
· Cell phones
Setting up a cellular telephone is incredibly easy in Vietnam. Vietnam uses cell phones using the SIM Card system. In order to get a SIM card all it takes is going to the local convenience store and buying a SIM card for your cell phone. The Vietnam SIM card provides a simple, convenient, and affordable way for any traveler to make and receive calls while abroad.
The prepaid SIM card for Vietnam is a practical option for using your existing world phone as a prepaid Vietnam cell phone while you’re in the country. You’ll enjoy the benefit of SMS text messaging, voicemail, a local cell phone number in Vietnam, and FREE incoming calls. The prepaid feature gives you complete control over your costs, and with low domestic and international calling rates, having a cell phone in Vietnam is affordable for all. Access to customer service from your Vietnam cellular phone is available 24 hour a day, so you will always have assistance with any unexpected issues or questions about your calls. No yearly contract, monthly charges, or credit check is involved.
Choosing the correct service provider is important as some only allow prepaid customers to make international calls whereas others will also allow you to receive international calls as well. Viettel and Mobiphone are popular and quality service providers.
· International dialling
You can also buy a prepaid card for international calling and follow the instruction on the card. Making a phone call in this way requires you have a fix phone. The cost is of course lower than that when using a cell phone.
Vietnam has a trustworthy postal service. In case you want to send or receive package from your family, you can use postal services. As long as you have an address in Vietnam, your family can send package to you. After renting a place to live, ask your landlord to give you the address in Vietnamese. Keep it for postal purpose but also in case of getting lost. Sending a parcel back home means you have to go to the post office.And you’d better go with a Vietnamese friend because the staff won’t speak English.
The banking system in Vietnam is up-to-date and efficient. ATMs are widely available as is Internet banking and most banks have at least one English-speaking service representative. Many foreigners choose to bank with HSBC and ANZ, while Vietcombank, Techcombank, BIDV or Argibank are also more and more popular. All banks offer different packages so it is best to research which package best suits your needs. Most banks have English brochures outlining their services. TeachinVietnam help guide you to open a Techcombank (Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint- stock Bank). Techcombank is available with bank transfer, electronics payments and account balances checking, visa credit cards services, you will have your Techcombank card after 10 working days application.
The most popular way of payment in Vietnam is cash. Most day-to-day purchases are made with cash. Though credit cards – debit cards are now more popular and can be used in shopping malls, big shopping centers, many small businesses do not accept them.
Traveller checks and Personal checks are not common in Vietnam. Most businesses refuse to accept them as a form of payment. Another concern for foreigners is where foreign currency can be exchanged. You can do so in a bank or at jewelry shop. It is often more complicated to do so in a bank, since you have to prove the source of your money. Here are the addresses of some realiable banks:
And some other reliable private companies where you can exchange money:
· Công ty vàng bạc Quốc Trung: 27-29 Hà Trung
· Công ty vàng bạc Bảo Tín Minh Châu: 29 Trần Nhân Tông
The local currency is the dong and comes in different denominations from 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 to 500,000 notes. The current exchange rate fluctuates around 21.000 VND for 1 USD.
If you want to get a Work permit in Vietnam, you should undergo a medical examination (performed either in your country or in Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh city when you arrive in Vietnam). You (and any accompanying family members) should consider immunization against typhoid, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pre-rabies (a series of 3 injections), hepatitis A, and hepatitis B and Japanese encephalitis (a series of 3 injections). We suggest you contact a doctor on arrival to determine an immunization schedule which you personally wish to follow and begin the injections.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Like most countries in Asia, sexually transmitted diseases are common and precautions should be taken. AIDS is on the increase and condom should be used. It’s obviously wise to avoid casual sexual encounters in Vietnam, not only because of health reasons, but also because many prostitutes and their pimps are adept pickpockets.
General health tips
The most common and the most serious medical problems faced by expatriates living in Asia are the same medical problems that are faced anywhere else in the world including your home country. Some illnesses can be avoided by following simple rules:
- Keep a high standard of personal hygiene.
- Drink boiled or bottled water, do not drink from tap.
- Do not eat raw vegetables and seafood, particularly from restaurants where hygiene is questionable or if you are allergic.
- Peel fruit to avoid contamination from skin.
- Food vendors on the streets are very popular but you also need to check if it is something suitable for you.
- Be careful with sun and tropical heat. European skin will get sunburnt very quickly on a hot day even if the sky is overcast, therefore, reputable high UV protection lotions and cream are essential. Drink plenty of fluids (2-3 litres), wear loose comfortable clothes, wear a hat, use sunglasses and sunscreen and of course, don’t stay out in the sun too long.
- Cooked foods are safest to eat. Avoid undercooked meat and shellfish. Any salad vegetables which are eaten raw, or fruit which you don’t intend to peel, should be washed thoroughly. Some people soak raw produce for 20 minutes in a solution of potassium permanganate or Milton. Potassium Permanganate is easy to find in Vietnam and inexpensive to buy. It is sold locally in supermarkets. To be effective, the water must be a light pinkish purple. After sterilizing, rinse vegetables in clean (not tap) water. In addition to the above precautions it is advisable to take a prophylactic worming medication every 3-6 months. Speak to your doctor about taking any drugs to ensure you are informed about any interactions with other medications you may be taking, or other adverse side effects. Worming medication is available for purchase in Hanoi city. The brand often recommended is called Zentel.
General Tummy Troubles
The term, general tummy troubles does not sound very scientific or medical but is one most commonly seen in medical clinics here. “Gas” abdominal cramps, mild or occasional nausea, poor appetite, loose bowel movements and a general unpleasant feeling are the usual symptoms. This is not uncommon in people who are fairly new to overseas life and is not unique to Vietnam. See your doctor to rule out infections or parasite infestation, but generally the passage of time and management of your diet will help.
Stress and culture shock
Living overseas can be a stressful experience even to people who have already made careful decisions and preparation for the transition. And many will suffer from culture shock since it is a very common experience when one comes to live in a strange culture, suddenly separated from familiar things. According to Brown, D.H.,culture shock is a mental illness, and true of much mental illness, the victim usually does not know he is afflicted, he finds that he is irritable, depressed and probably annoyed by the lack of attention shown to him.
Thus, avoiding stress and culture shock may start from recognizing the initial symptoms. Are you beginning to get angry readily for little or no reason? Are you drinking, eating or smoking excessively– a lot more than usual? Have you lost the ability to concentrate? Are you finding it difficult to sleep when this was not a problem before? Are you withdrawing from society, spending long hours/days/evenings in your room in a “safe haven”? Are you feeling depressed and tend to cry unaccountably? If you have some of those symptoms, it is likely that you are suffering from stress, leading to potential culture shock. Here are some simple ways to relieve stress, therefore, avoid culture shock:
- Being well aware of cross-cultural differences and potential areas for culture shock, such as topics, relationships, roles, nonverbal behavior, values, beliefs, perceptions, customs, traditions, taboos, communication styles, etc..
- Being well aware that cultures are equal but different.
- Being objective: avoiding judgment of the target culture on the basis of your culture’s values.
- Being constructively critical and receptive to the “new” and the “unknown”.
- Being patient, tolerant, sensitive and observative.
- Asking good questions.
- Talking up and talking on the bright side of things if and when possible.
Medical facilities in Ha noi City are not the same as those encountered in the developed world, but facilities with provision for foreigners do exist, and there are practicing foreign doctors resident here. The following is a list of some of these:
1. Hanoi Family Practice
A1 Van Phuc, Suite 109-112
2. AEA International Clinic
31 Hai Ba Trung
3. AEA International Services
(Emergency medical evacuation)
4. International SOS
31 Hai Ba Trung
Tel: (844) 3934 0555
Fax: (844) 3934 0556
Hanoi Clinic: (844) 3934 0666
5. Viet Duc Hospital
40 Trang Thi Street
Tel: (844) 3828-9852
Fax: (844) 3824-8308
6. Hanoi French Hospital
Phuong Mai Road, Dong Da
Tel: (844) 3574 0740
Fax: (844) 3869 8443
Most drugs are available over the counter. Look for “Nha Thuoc” (pharmacy). Check the condition of the packaging, expiry dates and the storage conditions of all medicines before purchasing, as effectiveness may be reduced from poor storage conditions or expired dates. International SOS, the Family Medical Practice and Columbia Clinic also have dispensing pharmacies but these tend to be a bit more expensive.
Traditional medicine shops
Traditional Vietnamese medicine e.g., herbs, animal products etc. some packaged herbal remedies Various shops in Hang Can street, Hang Ngang, Hang Dao (Old Quarter)
Vietnamese culture, rituals and numerous festivals cover the major facets of entertainment in Vietnam. Vietnamese people have a festival or two to celebrate every month and the celebrations are full of colors, fun, music and dance which form an integral part in Vietnamese culture. Some of the most entertaining festivals in Vietnam are the Tet Nguyen Dan (the New Year Eve in Vietnam), Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival, and the Tet Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival), Vietnam among many others.
However the Vietnam entertainment scene is not only about the festivals. Cinemas, music and nightlife play an equal part in the entertainment scene in Vietnam. Cinemas in Vietnam have changed their flavor with the changing political and social circumstances in Vietnam. Films on Vietnam are a common feature in the international film scene. International films are also shown in all cinemas in Vietnam. Vietnam also has a lively culture for music which is a popular source of entertainment. Pop music in nightclubs in Vietnam is a popular feature. Nightlife in Vietnam thrives in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. These are popular places for entertainment among the youth for their karaoke music and dance music. With the popularity of nightclubs on a high, the number of western nightclubs is also increasing in number. When compared to the other developing countries it can be seen that the
Vietnam nightlife is quite safe. For a ravishing nightlife in Vietnam, locals generally frequent the various bars, pubs, clubs and karaoke bars, which play both English and Vietnamese music. There are many bars in the country which have been specially designed to cater to the tourists. Many of the popular nightclubs in Vietnam are in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. There are some which offer live music as well and some of the bars offer games of pool also. Casinos though illegal for Vietnamese, are very popular among tourists.
Shopping in Vietnam is a fun and interesting experience, and guarantees good bargains to those who know what to look for. It is true to say that you can find nearly anything in Vietnam. Markets vary from high class shopping malls, supermarkets to bustling open market, galleries, boutiques and street stalls. It is not recommended that you buy imported, famous branded products such as clothing, perfume or electronics in Vietnam as tax makes these items more costly than neighboring countries. In terms of shopping for tourists, Vietnam is most famous for its handicrafts, war souvenirs, authentic hand-made clothing, art, antiques and gems.
Another interesting thing is to enjoy and discover Vietnamese cuisines. Vietnamese restaurants serve you with mainly three regional cuisines from North, South and Central Vietnam. North Vietnamese food is usually simple and is less spicy as compared to the South Vietnamese food and has a Chinese flavor about it. On the other hand central Vietnamese food is more spicy. For Vietnamese, cooking is more like an art. No meal in Vietnam is complete without the tray of herbs and use of fresh vegetables. Almost every meal is complimented with sliced cucumbers, hot peppers, coriander, bean threads, a little basil or mint etc. There are also various restaurants in Vietnam that serve you with wide variety of cuisine from across the globe.
Besides, coffee shops and bars are other options where you can spend a nice time relishing the tasty food and a nice drink. Café Z, Café Lam, Le Marina are some of the famous restaurants in Vietnam.
Captivating natural beauty, tranquil villages, serene lakes, ancient pagodas, beautiful lakes and more, Vietnam is a place that bounds to attract tourists from all over the world. Hence, when you have more time, you may want to visit Vietnam popular destinations. There are a number of places that you should see during your stay in Vietnam, for instance, Sa Pa, Cat Ba, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Hoi An, Hue, Phan Thiet, Phu Quoc, Vung Tau, etc.
In general, you will hardly get bored in Vietnam with so many things to do and see. Try some of those things in your free time, and enjoy your stay.
Living expenses in Vietnam will range depending on your lifestyle. Many foreigners manage to enjoy an upbeat existence without spending a fortune. The largest expenditure in your monthly budget will be in the areas of housing, schooling and western foodstuffs. Travel, phone and Internet costs remain low. This means if you are living on your own, you would expect a monthly cost of about 7 to 10 million VND, which equals to roughly 350 to 500USD. And the cost for a nuclear family will fall in 14 to 20 million VND (700 to 1,000USD).
When shopping in Hanoi you will notice that different streets sell similar goods, for example there will be a “shoe street,” followed by a “stuffed toys street” and a “TV and audio visual street”. This system comes from ancient Vietnam when traders would set up their businesses close to their competition in order to cluster all similar services in one area. Today, it means that shoppers are able to go to one area for all their shopping and they can compare prices easily and bargain knowledgeably. There are also numerous malls and shopping plazas constantly being built or added to in larger cities.
You will find cheap electrical goods, particularly in the markets. However, many of these are inferior copies made in China. Shopping at department stores and malls is one way to ensure that you‟re buying the real thing; unfortunately this also means that you will be paying a lot more than you would expect to pay in the region.
Vietnam is a food-lovers paradise. Not only are there many western restaurants to choose from, but there are also a range of local restaurants, food stalls and street vendors that cook up amazing fare while you wait. Sticking to western food and western restaurants will burn a hole in your wallet as many of the food items or ingredients are imported and the government levies a tax on these goods. Eating Vietnamese food is cheap, tasty and definitely something to memorize back home. You may refer to the General information of Vietnam for details of various cuisines in three different regions
of Vietnam. The cost of a coffee from a Western style coffee restaurant is about 5USD, while a Vietnamese coffee will cost less than 1USD on the street. Fruit and vegetables from the supermarket are a little more expensive than those bought in the marketplace.
Supermarkets tend to stock Vietnamese, Thais and French brand names. Haircuts are cheap with a male cut costing less than 10USD and women can expect to pay between 10USD and 20USD. There are also numerous facial and massage salons, where you can enjoy a nice massage. But check for reliable ones, it’s usually safer to go to a big spa for good service.
Eating out will cost each of you about 8USD to 15USD if you choose a Vietnamese restaurant whereas a Western restaurant’s prices will start at 15 USD and range upwards. There are some top quality western restaurants in Vietnam ensuring that foreigners never miss familiar meals from back home, but the price is pretty high. Most foreigners soon develop a liking for Vietnamese food, especially street food which is cheap and tasty. Vietnamese coffee (less than 1USD) and the famous Vietnamese beer, “bia hoi‟ (also less than 1USD) are also incredibly cheap and make for a good evenings out with friends.
Embassy – Consulates in Vietnam
New Zealand Embassy Ha Noi, Viet Nam
Add: Level 5, 63 Ly Thai To Street Ha Noi, Viet Nam
Telephone: +84 4 3824 1481
Fax: +84 4 3824 1480
Embassy of Cambodia in Hanoi Vietnam
Add: 71A, Tran Hung Dao St. Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: (844) 942 4789 / 942 4788
Fax: (844) 942 3225
Embassy of Canada in Hanoi, Vietnam
Add: 31 Hung Vuong Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: +84 (4) 734 5000
Fax: +84 (4) 734 5049
Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam
Add: 46 Hoang Dieu Road
Phone: + 844 8453736
Fax: + 844 8232826
Embassy of France in Hanoi, Vietnam
Add: 57 Tran Hung Dao - Hanoi
Phone:  (4) 944 57 00
Fax:  (4) 944 57 17
Embassy of Japan in Vietnam
Add: 27 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Consulate of the People's Democratic Republic of Laos
Add: 40 Quang Trung Street, Hanoi ,Vietnam
Phone: (+84-4) 8252588
Fax: (+84-4) 8228414
Embassy of Thailand in Vietnam
Add: Royal Thai Embassy 63-65 Hoang Dieu Street, Hanoi
Phone: (84-4) 823-5092 to 93
Fax: (84-4) 823-5088, 733-1326
There are also representative offices for the following countries in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: Algeria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, Israel, Myanmar, the Philippines and Yugoslavia…
17A Hàng Đồng, Hang Bo ward, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
99B Vọng Hà, Hoan Kiem, Hà Nội
D42 TT18 New Urban Area Van Quan, Hà Nội
56 Ma may st, HàNội
61 Cua Bac street, Ba Đình, Hà Nội
35 Hàng Lược, quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi
If you have specific questions about living in Vietnam or useful tips to share with us, please don't hesitate to visit our Forum and add a new thread!