Category: Vietnam Q & A

What’s it like living in Vietnam?

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What’s it like living in Vietnam?

1. Making friends is easy

The Vietnamese, young and old, are always eager to welcome foreigners. Sit in a local street-side restaurant, and someone will start talking to you. Half the country are learning English, and the Vietnamese are keen to practice.

Stay in a guesthouse, and you’ll find the owners take excellent care of you. Make friends, and you’ll discover first-hand that nothing is too much. Vietnamese hospitality is second-to-none.

2. Hoodies have different meanings

Despite the thermometer hovering in the 30s constantly, the Vietnamese wear jeans, hoodies and sometimes winter jackets. Pretty much everyone driving a motorbike has a surgical face mask. In the first few days, this feels somewhat daunting. In the West, we often see those who cover their faces as potential criminals.

Not in Vietnam. The clothes protect against the extreme UV rays from the sun. People wear masks to stop themselves breathing in the clouds of pollution. After living in Vietnam for a few months, most Westerners wear face masks. Some of the long-term expats even wear their jumpers when it’s close to 40°C/ 100°F.

3. Vietnam is an affordable destination to live and travel

Travelling in Vietnam is about as budget-friendly as it gets. Backpackers who are planning a trip to Vietnam can often stretch their daily expenses for food, accommodation and activities to less than $30 or $40 (USD) a day.

Stay longer, and you’ll find you can cut this cost of living even further. For example, you decide to live in one of the cities such as Ho Chi Minh, and rent an apartment somewhere like the popular Masteri Thao Dien building, you’ll find that your daily costs come down to $15-$20, while still enjoying a very high standard of living!

You can buy bottles of local beer for as little as a dollar a bottle. Glasses of craft beer cost more, but still a fraction of the price back home. A delicious meal in a family-owned restaurant usually comes to less than $5 with a drink.

The further you get from the big cities, the cheaper the cost of living.

Location independent travellers often love Vietnam because they get more value for their money. Discover how much it really costs to travel long-term, and how to thrive on less than it costs to live at home.

4. Vietnam is a noisy place

Vietnam develops at a lightning pace. Old buildings get demolished and replaced daily. One new house finishes and the neighbour starts renovating. Districts transform from a blanket of tiny homes to four-storied buildings in the space of a year.

Apartment blocks mushroom out across the skyline interspersed with hundreds of cranes. Millions of motorbikes honk their way through the streets, especially in Hoi Chi Minh and Hanoi’s Old Quarter – which is a must-visit on any Hanoi itinerary. You’re probably going to face much more noise than back at home. Learn to deal with it.

Bring earplugs.

5. The country has a thriving expat community

Although there are lots of travellers enjoying 10 days in Vietnam or less, there are also plenty of expats.

English teachers, location independent travellers and long-term backpackers call Vietnam home. You’ll rub shoulder with expats from around the world, and make friends with the locals.

Many of the older expats head to Da Nang and Hoi An in Central Vietnam. Younger travellers often stick to the big cities. You can find dozens of online groups to meet other expats and travellers. Otherwise, go for a craft beer and see half the bar full of Brits, Aussies and Americans.

If you want to spend more time in Vietnam, find out how you can travel forever here. Spoiler alert: This is a proven way to go from 9-5 worker to traveller earning an income in less than a year.

6. Forget the concept of privacy when living in Vietnam

If you want to spend time alone, Vietnam isn’t the place to live. Locals approach foreigners all the time. Sometimes it’s out of curiosity and other times to practice their English. You might be eating a meal, and a local will come over and talk to you. Or you’ll instantly get invited to a group when you’re having a beer.

7. The Vietnamese are a forgiving group

A few short decades ago, Vietnam was in a bloody war with the United States. Today, they welcome foreigners into their
country with open arms. Speaking to older expats from the United States and Australia, they reveal their insecurities. But after arriving the warmth and hospitability overshadows the horrors of the war that many Vietnamese lived through.

Rather than bitterness, the older Vietnamese share their stories. The younger generation born after the conflict embrace Western culture.

If you want to learn more about the war, head to Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City. Or follow the Ho Chi Minh trail through Central Vietnam.

You’ll find museums and relics dedicated to the conflict in major cities.

8. Be patient with the queue jumpers

It’s unthinkable to jump the line in some countries, especially the UK. Not in Vietnam. Huddling is more popular as everyone jostles to get first. In Vietnam, this is normal. Always have an open mind and give yourself a dose of patience before living or travelling in Vietnam. Otherwise, you’ll end up pulling out your hair in frustration. You’re in their country. Learn to be patient.

9. Expect delicious food

Vietnamese cuisine is available in most major cities around the world. You can order a steaming bowl of Pho in Prague or get Goi Cuon (Vietnamese-style spring rolls) in Paris.

Step off the plane in Vietnam, and you’ll instantly feel overwhelmed by the choices available. Family-owned restaurants serve dishes using recipes passed from their parents and grandparents.

Street vendors push heavy carts selling everything from banh mi (Vietnamese-style baguette) to iced-coffee to tropical fruits.

Head to the more upscale restaurants and order all sorts of fancy delicacies, and check out some of the amazing vegan restaurants in Vietnam if you’re plant-based (check them out if you’re not as well, they’re really good)!

10. Always have an open mind after moving to Vietnam

The biggest piece of wisdom I can share about living in Vietnam is to have an open mind. Back home, you might pride yourself on this. But Vietnam will test you. Things don’t always go right, and you’re almost guaranteed to face challenges and setbacks. From facing minor road accidents to visa complications to three-day funeral parties lasting until 6:00 am.

Other times you’ll watch people drive like their on a kamikaze mission or pack their motorbike so high it looks like a house on two wheels. Have an open mind, embrace the experience and chaos, and you’ll fall in love with Vietnam.

**I will provide more details and updates if you vote up my answer. Motivate me!**

I think this question really depends on where in Vietnam. Also, it depends on what you are doing here.

To keep it simple (for me), I’ll spread this question across several categories. Also I will provide links for more information as well.

Here a short list of common housing lifestyles found in Ho Chi Minh City:

You share a house with other people (usually fellow expats).

Sometimes you’ll find people posting online for vacant rooms. There are plenty of people that rent out whole houses or apartments and fill the unused parts with other people. Expats and locals rent out. In terms of cost…you’re looking at $150 for budget or about $300-500 for something nicer. This is a recommended way to start off because you’re around people that know the place and you can meet more people easily. Also you don’t have to worry about buying (and getting rid of) furniture.

You rent out a small- or medium-sized house.

This is more tricky to find. Usually people living like this have been here for awhile…or are planning on living here for a long time. Might be suitable if you have family as well. I lived in a 80 sqm house in District 3 (Hai Ba Trung) that was only $250 in rent. Unless you want to pay a lot more, it’s recommended that you use local websites to find “good value” housing opportunities. Note that they require more effort to keep clean and secure.

You rent out a large-sized house.

You’re paid well or have a lot of money to spend. Links found in #2 do apply here. Good houses can be found for over $500 and many are able to find something nice at the $800-$1,000 range. If you want a villa, be prepared to spend several thousand in rent. In the handful of cases, married couples (no kids) live like this. Usually they operate their own companies or do remote work with western companies.

Your company generously provides you excellent housing.

Very common to find for top-level people working in large multinational companies. They are commonly found in the Saigon Pearl or in a villa (e.g., District 2 or 7). They will even throw in a driver and car for you.

You rent out a room from a long-term mom and pop hotel.

Similar to #1. Another popular way for people to start off. Quality can vary depending on price, but you should expect very good quality over $500.

Here is a short list of common job and hobby lifestyles found in Ho Chi Minh City:




Large company sent you here

Remote worker and startups


Volunteer or NGO

Here is a short list of what people like to do here for fun in Ho Chi Minh City:


Panty chase the other (or same) gender

Travel around

Meet and greet

Or do nothing because it’s fucking hot outside…or it’s raining

What are some common characteristics of wealthy people in Vietnam? How do they dress if they want to be perceived as wealthy by locals?

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Q: What are some common characteristics of wealthy people in Vietnam? How do they dress if they want to be perceived as wealthy by locals?


I cannot speak for all poor Vietnamese. I came from a poor family, so let me tell you how do we live.

I’m from Hai Phong, a city in the northern region of Vietnam. My family lived in the countryside, near the sea. My parents raised shrimp and crab for living, it used to be good and provide us a comfortable life, but things gradually became worse because of environmental issues, we had to grow rice, raise pigs, chickens, and work as part-time construction workers beside the shrimp and crab farming industry.

My parents wake up early, around 4–5 AM, and also go to bed early, 8–9 PM. For breakfast, we have rice and left over food from the dinner before. Nothing special for lunch and dinner, every meals must have vegetables or vegetable soup ( I think this is typical for Vietnamese ). We use both gas and wood stove for cooking. We have dogs as guards.

So basically, we can supply food ourselves, except for dairy products – it’s quite luxury to our standards, we just need money for school, to buy a motorbike, or to build/maintain our house.

The situation is the same for our neighborhood, when things went too bad, we sold a piece of our land to pay the debt. The children are sent to school for the hope of a better future and they’d support their parents when they have jobs.

As I am writing this, I don’t know what is the difference between the poor and the rich, I only know the poor life.

Now I have a job, live far away from my parents and I am also poor, just in a different way with my parents. I am an engineer, have an okay life with my salary. I support my parents by covering my bother’s school fee and monthly expense, so I do not have much for myself. I do not have a motorbike, I commute by public bus. Rarely travel, go to watch movies, eat out in KFC, restaurants, etc. For clothes, I have a limit for the price and always try to buy sale off products, etc. As I get used to this poor life, and to have a job a an engineer is a dream came true to me, I am okay with this life.

I hope this answer is helpful.

Thank you for requesting an answer from me. It’s a chance for me to look back our lives and think about where we are.