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What's it like living in Vietnam?

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Life is normal and neutral, for a better quality of living, many things need to be improved, but as a developing country, Vietnam is doing a very good job to maintain the status quo livelihood interest of the people, pros and cons are implied, downside is that the poor are unfortunately becoming helpless during this pandemic lockdown, you just got to admit that.

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I believe so, I have been traveling there for almost twenty years and found the people to be very nice and enjoyable. I have studied the people and have in many cases help to teach English and have helped the poor and worked with Charity groups with the local doctors and many volunteers. Teaching at a blind school opened my eyes as to what can be done for them to enjoy your assistance. Also helping those groups of minority groups in the central highlands. I could go on and on but I am sure you must know what love I have for Vietnam.

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Life's good for a hard working upright citizen

Work start at 8 or 8 30 and end at 16 30 or 17 00 for your average citizen. Your salary is barely enough to cover all needs and food is bountiful , is cheap and delicious.

There are many place to enjoy the weekend and afterwork party for those who work for foreign company ( late into 9pm mostly).

Beers are drank like water while enjoying a warm hot pot. After that is an after party of karaoke sing it all while ogling the girls( lol)

Girls are pretty , beautiful ones are common and are very sweet unless you get on their bad side. Feast for the eyes is easy to find as girls are very fashionable and quite daring for an asian.

They are natural beauty with little plastic surgery and many do gyms to have hot body.

Unless you are in a city , nature is everywhere. The field of rice scenary is breathtaking , the mountains and rivers are abundant of nature's gifts.

Man made tourist site is numerous , but best is natural beauty

Bad parts : censorship of news and media is annoying, but not bad,petty crimes are everywhere and drug addicts roam around on slum and less wealthy parts.

Traffic on land is crazy , ppl dont uphold laws unless there are a police patrol around, you have to get yourself the driver attention in order not to get wrecked.

The girls in ninja suit ( you read that right : blackglass,wear mask, full hood on, a windcoat + sun dress to the ankle, full gear like a ninja) are the worst, They have limited vision, readily assume its other's fault when collision occur and never listen to reason.

People are highly competitive and hardworking , but slack off the nearer work the work hour end. They try hard to get enough, but never for more.

They also are very friendly and helpful, just dont get on their bad side.

Malaria is everywhere , as are mouses , cockroaches , insectoids and mosquitos. If you are in VN, learn to deal with it.

Another part is the harshness of nature's wrath on farmers, fishers and foresters folks who has to dance in her palms. Natural disasters occur yearly and leave thousands empty handed.

In short , life's good , despite few inconvenience and the bad etiquette that result from ineffective education problem.

I love my country , my life here.

If i write about it it will be too long, so just a short summary.

Edit 1 : From the comments , some say that my answer do not paint the whole picture and yes that is so. After all , im only 1 human within 90 million Vietnamese. Your circumstances are all different from mine. Life is not fair , it was never fair in the first place. I fail university 1 year , graduate bottom of my class , with only english being my core strength. Guess what ? I still make it pass selection test for ATC training for Phu Quoc Airport. It is just how you view your circumstances. I am not a fan of victim mentality oh because of this because of that. Life is good when you stop chasing after whoever you admire and chase after what you really need in life.

And define talent ? I have met many dubious so called talented worker. Talented people never actively sell themselves , most of them are rather quiet. So if you think you are talented , think again. You are talented ? cool , but i can pick a hundred more CV just like you , so why should i choose you ? So gotta love life for giving you challenges and experiences that you are proud to overcome ( not sad to whine about ).

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It depends a lot on what you mean by good and where you are living to compare with:

Price: Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries to live. Housing rent can starts from 100$ for a small room ( no furniture; electricity and water, gas … bills not included ) although most foreigners can not find this price. Pertro is under 1$. Beer is about half an dollar for local brand in super market and 1$ in some shop for 330ml bottle. Eating out is rather doesn’t cost too much more than self-cooking.

Life style: easy to live but unorganized. Vietnamese is friendly to foreigners ( Sad to say, as I know, not so welcoming to black people ) and cheerful, easy-going. But Vietnamese’s friendliness sometimes is too much that it can turn out to be annoying. Some might feel violated privacy. Vietnamese does not really follow rules and punctuality.

Traffic: dangerous and not quite so effective. Vietnamese drives carelessly and doesn’t obey rules. Traffic jam is everyday business at rush hour. Public transportation is cheap but not so convenient ( time-consuming and bad route plan ). But the service is getting better.

Safety: In my opinion, serious crime ( murder, rape … ) is not rare. on the other hand; stealing, fighting, fraud are common. Food and air are not clean and even contaminated.

Weather: vary along north to south. But in general, it is hot and humid.

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These days, how one lives is becoming more similar. This is true in Vietnam as well. As has always been true most places, the visitor’s attitude is the real key. Respect the locals and they will tend to respect you.

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I lived in Saigon (HCMC) for 3 years (2015 -2018), working in the F&B sector.

It is a beautiful city riddled with unspoken rules, and extremely high crime rate.

The people there are warm and my friendships were genuine. They’ve extended warm hospitality to me, and genuinely made the effort for friendship.

The food there is good and diverse, and relatively cheap when I was on an expat salary.

My only gripe was the crime there. I was robbed twice and cheated on multiple taxi scams. You’d need a trusted local to navigate you around for the first few months, if you plan to live there. There are areas in the city to avoid, such as District 3 which is “gangsters” paradise - I was robbed there. It could be a seemingly calm scenario but always be on your guard as thieves are plenty and they will track your movements and strike when you least expect it.

I lived in the north too, on extended periods, and feel safer there. The north and south seem like different countries, to be honest. They often have a stereotype that the southeners are warmer and the northeners are cold but I did not observe that. I did observe on many occasions that the northeners are more direct, and do not beat around the bush. It’s more laid back in the south, noticeably in the time they start work, and their night life.

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Depends on your gender and whether you wear posh clothes. In Vietnam, your human worth is only as big as is the brand of the clothes you are wearing that day.

Generally service people are mostly polite, people who get to know you and become your friends can be very nice obviously. But as for people who work in the same building and the like, there is more and more hate towards foreigners.

As for work customs, there is no such thing as lean business. If you aren’t dressing posh, people expect you have no money and are therefore worthless as a human being and deserve to be punished.

Strange, groupthink-obsessed culture.

(I lived in HCMC between 2016 and 2020.)

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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.

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It only is if you think that it is. Objectively all of us like some things, dislike some things and have no real opinion about some things, people and places. I’m currently living in Central Florida and for me it’s not a happy place to be. My best Vietnamese friends are farmers in Khanh Hoa Province. I miss them and their whole family very much which is one of the reasons that I would much rather live there than in the US. Less than an hour’s plane ride away is Ho Chi Minh City but it’s someplace I feel totally differentr about Vietnam does have it’s problems but life for most Vietnamese is far better than it was 50 years ago and will probably keep improving. By the way various people judge, it is certainly a far more pleasant place to live than a great many other countries by the way most people would judge.


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Let me swipe off some misconception from Westerners first:

Vietnam are poor and people do farming: No. That’s not true. We are a developing nation, yet we have already escaped poverty and enjoy acceptable life standard. Not a rich state as Japan or Korea but definitely nowhere near as outdated and impoverished as many might imagine.

Vietnamese are reigned under totalitarian government: Not quite so. We have First Amendment Rights limited and 2nd Amendment Rights deprived. Concept of net neutrality or protest simply do not exist in our country. However, it’s not that bad since it prevents public division, which eventually guarantees social stability as a whole. We never worry about terrorism or gun massacre by a mentally ill individual. I would say Vietnam is a very safe country. No war, no terrorist. We put economic development and education in priority.

Ok as a youngster, I’ll describe my country from the viewpoint of a young people. Bear in mind that it does not reflect the experience of everybody, but hope it still helps. Vietnamese youth is incredibly smart and much more open-minded than previous generations. We know the status of our country (unlike N.Korea), and try to learn good ideals from Western nations. A big number of young people support feminist movement, LGBT community, etc. AND WE ARE NOT RACISTS. Racial tension is never a part of our culture. So again, if you are the minority, it’s safe and actually comfortable to live in urban area of Vietnam. In terms of rural areas, there still a lot of prejudices but we are changing and heading for better future for all.

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