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English Language Centers Facing Shortages | Editorial.

Vietnams English industry is suffering from lack of good teachers and poor administration.

Why Do Some Centers have Staff Shortages?

You could be forgiven for thinking that in Vietnam we are still in the throws of lockdown because of the lack of ESL teachers in language centers. Surely they didn’t all pack up and went home during the pandemic?

Some independent education experts speculated that the recent problem affecting English language schools in Vietnam may be caused by the institutions’ delayed response to changes in the preferred teaching strategies of today’s students.

Independent specialists debated that while modern trends in foreign language learning are growing both in Vietnam and around the world, many Vietnamese English language centers appear to have fallen behind because they cannot adapt to the new waves of change.

Higher Costs Hitting Home.

The Apax Leaders affair, ( They were once well respected and have been around for roughly five years), is one of the most recent scandals involving an English language school.

The current situation highlights a number of issues that many other English-speaking locations are facing in the post-pandemic age. That is higher costs, especially office rent, and little increase in tuition fees from the students and parents.

A center’s rent could be hundreds of millions of dong (100 million dong is approximately $4,200 US), and the majority of landlords are unwilling to lower their rate. Also, the global market is searching for native foreign English teachers, but they are hard to come by as many have gone home during the pandemic and found other jobs. Money Conversion by “XE-Money Converter

Language School Closures.

Overall I would estimate that between 40% to 60 % of language schools have either closed or dramatically reduced their size. Many have stopped renting high-priced offices and moved to cheaper ones. They also used smaller spaces instead of large properties to save money. A lot of this happened while still passing on the higher charges in fees, understandably illegal.

Some companies share their offices with partners. They keep only some parts for teaching and sublet the rest for purposes other than teaching, although this is also not allowed by law.

Additionally, many married immigrants have established “schools” inside their homes that can significantly undercut such businesses with higher prices.

While other schools, like Apax, are allegedly going through “re-opening procedures,” it is unclear whether they will actually reopen. Will it be another case of “take the money and run”?

A Shortage Of Qualified English Teachers.

I have been living and working in Vietnam as an EFL teacher for the last 15 years and I have never seen it this bad before. The pandemic drove people out of the country and the non-slackening of visa or immigration rules has made Vietnam to be a less friendly entry point than some other countries.

Add to that the closures and fly-by-night practices of some schools and you have severely dented the reputation of many language schools in Vietnam.

There are a lot of online communities and Facebook groups that have seen continued publishing of unfulfilled jobs. This has led a lot of the English Centers to lower their standards and accept people with rudimentary English language skills. It is almost like stepping back 15 years to the less controlled environment that was still current then.

It is common to see 20 or 30 jobs for a teacher that can’t be filled. The English teachers who remain get bombarded with calls and offers to teach. At one stage I was getting 10 calls a week for different job offers. however, the offers all tend to be around the same hourly rate, more than likely due to the points raised here.

It’s Time to Relax Administrative procedures.

The need for foreign teachers has grown in the post-pandemic era in line with the rise in student enrollment, although there are significant administrative roadblocks.

Obtaining a work permit for a foreign national is currently quite challenging. This makes it difficult for many language schools to afford to hire enough foreign instructors. And the teachers that are coming through are from countries that were not in favor (For English Teachers) before. Like the Philippines and South Africa.

Regarding this situation, authorities should adopt flexible policies and expedite procedures. In this way, the teacher shortage issue might be quickly resolved.

Money or Education.

Vietnamese language schools frequently place more of an emphasis on business than on education. Quite frequently, I would witness parents barging into the centers and lamenting the abject failure of their child’s external exam. A consequence of the school’s policy of forcing students—whether or not they are prepared—through “the system.”

They 9The schools) simply want to increase the number of centers as soon as possible to achieve expansion. They spend money on marketing and increasing sales to attract as many learners as possible. The parents don’t see the rows of telemarketers calling potential students.

For most Vietnamese, if a school looks good with nice chairs, televisions, and all the latest equipment, it must be good. They don’t necessarily see the poor quality of the teachers behind the scenes.

Additionally, they open additional locations with the majority of their earnings. Therefore, it is uncertain whether they have qualified teachers, the ability to provide services, and the financial management skills to effectively manage for the future.

The Need for Change.

After the epidemic, learning habits shifted globally and in Vietnam, but many Vietnamese English centers do not appear to be adjusting to these changes.

Modern students do not fit the mold of traditional classes held in large, spacious venues.

These conventional approaches are too expensive, and the benefits they provide are not adequate compensation. According to what I have observed, this has caused a significant disparity between the investment and the enrollment of students during the post-pandemic period.

During the coronavirus epidemic, many students discovered the possibility to learn online and stopped attending traditional classes. And it was successful because it cut down on the students’ typically time-constrained commute time.

Final Thoughts.

For students of all ages, online courses have been made available in Vietnam by a number of significant English education providers, including the British Council and others.

Centers can choose how many online and offline units to offer based on the time that classes are offered, but they cannot continue to offer entirely offline courses as they do at the moment. With the combination of teachings, the schools will be able to return to the right side of the ledger book and, ideally, prioritize student instruction over monetary gains.

For English centers, it is now vital to integrate online and offline courses since otherwise, failing schools will keep opening and shutting all the time.

For more editorial content read “Marty Hoares” ” Vietnams ESL Sector, a Series of Disappointments


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

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How to engage your EFL students | English in the classroom.

TPR at work in the classroom

Engage your students.

A good teacher should always find new ways to engage the student. Looking for new content and activities for the classroom needn’t be difficult or a chore. There is a wealth of ideas and activities that can be gleaned from the internet alone. Then there are other resources like class books, flashcards, YouTube sites, and teacher forums.

A young student in Vietnam.

A. Classroom tactics.

Almost every EFL teacher has encountered this situation: a class of pupils that are uninterested in what is going on in the classroom, regardless of how hard you worked on the lesson plan. Student involvement is a goal we all aspire for, but we also know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving it, whether we teach online or in person.

Each class has its own strengths, dynamics, expectations, and outcomes. Fortunately, we can utilize the tactics listed below to encourage involvement without appearing to be overly pushy.

Oxford University provides some excellent training videos to help you in the classroom as well, and they can be accessed via Oxford Seminars, How to motivate your students and be a better ESL teacher.

Do a warm-up activity.

A quick warm-up exercise allows you to learn about your pupils’ interests and respond favorably in order to form bonds. Everyone enjoys talking about their passions, so why not allow students to communicate with us and one other through their shared interests?

Five warm-up activities

1. The A to Z Game.

Give students a theme, for example, food, animals, countries, etc. Write the letters A to Z on the board. Teams of students must race to write a suitable word next to each letter on the board.

You can also do this without the students running around. Split the class into at least two groups. I have found the students love competing against one another. Especially a boy vs girl challenge.

You can say the alphabet and the chosen student has to give the answer. For example, A- apple, B- banana, etc.

Or you can choose a student from each team to say the alphabet in tandem. ( Penalty points apply if they get it wrong )

2. Draw what I say.

This is a great game for the listening skill. I draw a simple picture and get the students to copy what I am doing without showing the image. I will talk the students through what the picture is about.

For example, I might say draw a line in the middle of the page and on top of that line draw a house with 4 windows and 1 door. To the left of the house draw 6 flowers. In the sky draw the Sun and 3 clouds in the top left-hand corner.

You will need to pre-teach, top left-hand corner, middle of the page, and other keywords as well. This is a great test of their vocabulary skills and prepositions of place vocabulary as well.

At the end of this activity the students will have drawn some very strange stuff, so play it up and have fun with the results

.3. The memory game.

In this activity, the students need to listen closely and add on extra phrases. I normally start the game by saying something like; ” I am going on holiday and taking a camera.

Then each student adds on something else they can take while repeating everything already said. e.g. I am going on a holiday and taking a camera and a bag. Etc.

Again I split the class into two groups and do this activity several times. You can also allow the students to write down the things taken, but don’t slow down the game.

4. Charades.

Students take turns acting out a word that you offer and their classmates try to guess what it is. This is an excellent way to review vocabulary from a prior session or try out a new word.

You can play this as a team activity as well. Put 2 chairs facing forward and choose a student from each team to sit in them. Then behind their backs write a word on the board and the teams have to try to get the chosen person to say that word.

Repeat the process by changing the students who sit in the chairs. This is a lot of fun and the students enjoy this activity.

Young students especially become engrossed in this activity, and they frequently try very hard to act out the meaning of the word.

5. Hangman.

This popular filler can also be a fantastic way to begin a class with beginners who are still unfamiliar with the alphabet. Simply write a freshly taught word on the board ( In dash format ) and have the children guess a letter.

Choose a topic, let’s say food, and tell the class what the topic is and choose a word for the game. Let’s say “Grape”

On the board draw 5 dashes that correspond with the number of letters. I this case 5 _ _ _ _ _. Now the students take it, in turn, to fill in the word, the first group to guess the word wins the points.

When doing a warm-up activity consider the following;

Keep it simple and age-relevant.

A good warm-up activity should cover these points.

  • Simple to comprehend and implement.
  • Easy to execute, in the sense that they require little to no preparation.
  • Appropriate for the age and grade level.
  • Efficient use of time.
  • Attractive and intriguing and fun.
  • Getting to the point of the lesson or the target language
  • To encourage student participation and confidence, use familiar vocabulary.

B. Total Physical Response and gestures.

Teachers and students do not have to be passive during the learning. Try to generate answers by urging them to raise their hand if they have a question or give a thumbs up if they enjoy something.

Students are more involved if they feel the teacher is having fun. So introduce T.P.R into the classroom. T.P.R involves using body language to help students understand a word or phrase.

An example of this is, brush your teeth then doing the action of brushing your teeth. This is a particularly useful technique for teaching younger students.

Learners in an online classroom can answer in a similar fashion by using emoticons or a group board to write on or even in a chat pod

You can find out more about teaching styles and Total Physical Response on my older blog. “Teaching English Abroad”

C. Praise your students.

Praise has a direct impact on students’ perceptions of success and failure. Many pupils assume that their teachers’ assessments of their abilities are the only ones that matter. This isn’t always the case, though. Even an average student may learn to excel with the right direction and perseverance.

It is critical that teachers recognize their incredible potential to influence their students’ ideas. If a teacher can make kids believe in themselves, they will be able to attain new heights and explore new horizons.

To be useful, positive comments must be specific and related to the outcome being discussed. “Great job” is nice, but “I loved how well-structured your argument was” is even better and gives your students a clear path to follow in order to achieve a better outcome.

D. No negative comments.

There is nothing more demoralizing for a student to be told they are lazy and not doing well in the classroom. Try to find out the reason for their apparent laziness or learning difficulties.

It may well be they are helping their family out in the shop after school and not getting to bed until midnight. Even the truly lazy student can be turned around with words of encouragement and praise.

Students who have received effective praise are not afraid of failure or setbacks. These are seen as stepping stones to achievement by them. They see setbacks as opportunities to develop new skills and expand their knowledge. To them, the method or manner by which they failed becomes one of the methods by which they succeed.

E. Create a positive atmosphere.

A pleasant learning environment is one in which each student feels accepted, at ease, respected, and capable of expressing themselves.

It’s crucial to be receptive to what pupils say, and as a teacher, you should constantly remember to set the tone. So, when a student talks, wait for them to finish; praise them when they give a viewpoint, and act appropriately when they show their feelings.

This is probably easier in an online context, as non-verbal reactions on camera can be used to build and reinforce bonds between students.

If there is only one thing you take away from this article, it should be, have FUN in the classroom. You will enjoy teaching more and the student will enjoy learning much more.

Conclusion

There are many things to think about when trying to engage students whether in the classroom or online, and these are but a few ideas. I hope it has provoked some thought about how you will engage your next class.

What is your favorite strategy to engage your students in the learning process? What have I left out?

Who am I and what do I do?

I am an EFL teacher who has been living in Vietnam for 15 years and now have my own school. . I also do teacher placements in Vietnam. If you want to look at my school click on the YouTube button below.

My School in Vietnam

Life in Vietnam can be both fun and challenging, it depends on you how much you wish to enjoy it. But there are some big cultural differences. Those that can accept that do well, those that don’t, not so well.

I hope you enjoyed this brief read.

Stephen

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.



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What is it like living in Vietnam as an Ex-Pat?

Vietnam has grown in popularity and it is now widely acknowledged as a safe place for ex-pats to live and work. The pleasant weather, inexpensive cost of living, vibrant culture, and gradual improvements in Vietnam’s infrastructure all attract ex-pats. 

These are some of my thoughts and experiences about living in Vietnam for the past 15 years.

My experiences living in Vietnam.

When I first arrived at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city the first thing I noticed was the smell. The locals smelled different, and that is because they do not eat so much beef and have a more mixed diet.

And I was told later that it is the same for Vietnamese. The Vietnamese can smell the meat coming out of foreigners pores.

That was more than 15 years ago. When I first came it was after the breakup of my first marriage, and I wanted to see a completely different culture.

The first time was a 3 week holiday and I  traveled from Hanoi to Halong Bay then onto Da Nang, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and then Ho Chi Minh city. it was during this time I fell in love with the country.

                                                           You can find out more about Vietnam here.

A brief return home.

I returned home and immediately decided to get a Tesol degree so I could teach English in Vietnam. That was the start.

Returning to Vietnam I secured a teaching job promptly after a mishap in Hanoi. I had been offered a job in Hanoi where it was said to be close to the city. 

My introduction to Vietnam

I flew up to Hanoi and was met at the airport by the school owner, who then drove me around for ages under the pretext of buying books. Just when it was getting dark he took me to his school and my promised accommodation.

The school was 2 hours from the capital and in the country. My accommodation was an unairconditioned room with a hole in the wall. it was a rather sleepless night battling the mosquitos. 

Two days later I packed my bags and headed to Ho Chi Minh city. I arrived in HCMC and got a job in the first week. 

This is when I knew I would be in for some very interesting experiences.

The next few years. 

The next few years went in a blur of working, meeting new friends, and having a great time. I established myself as a well-liked and known teacher and worked in various schools. I even spent 9 months working in Pleiku in the highlands of Vietnam.

During holidays I also traveled to Cambodia and Thailand. It is very cheap to travel around South East Asia and I made the most of it.

Outside my house in GoVap, HCMC. My photo.

Fast forward to today.

I am now living in Go Vap in ho Chi Minh city. A district that does not have a lot of foreigners in it. I have some amazing stories and have been on some incredible adventures. 

But quite often it is the unexpected things that take your breath away. For example, coming home one night I ran into this outside my house. My neighbors were celebrating TET with a dragon dance. 

The dragon dance originated in China about 2,500 years ago. The Vietnamese dragon dance is not just seen as a dance. It is a form of displaying martial arts, as the performers should be Kung Fu masters. 

Without the Kung Fu component, it would be seen as just a soulless puppet performance.

TET holiday

Tet is the big holiday of the year with a lot of activities and things to do. If you have only been in Vietnam for a short time it may seem boring because most activities are done at the home.

Tet Nguyên Dán, more usually abbreviated to Tet, is Vietnam’s most prominent and well-known holiday and festival. The name Tet Nguyên Dán means “Feast of the First Morning” in Sino-Vietnamese.

The dates of Lunar New Year vary from year to year, although it usually falls in late January or early February. Tet Holiday is considered the perfect time for family members to return home and gather together.  

For Vietnamese the Tet Holiday is an opportunity to relax and enjoy life after a long year of hard labor; as a result, people forget about their problems and concentrate on the festivities. They will also spend time shopping and visiting pagodas and temples during this time.

Tet is a time to relax, eat and enjoy life. And shop. district 1 in HCMC. My photo.

Pagodas and temples.

It is the sights, sounds, and smells that make Vietnam such an amazing place to visit. Often at night, you will hear the monks chanting when you are safely tucked up in bed. They will be up early and stay awake late and it is enchanting to listen to as you drift off to sleep.

Buddhism in Vietnam 

Buddhism, mostly of the Mahayana branch, is the most widely practiced religion in Vietnam. The exact date of Buddhism’s entrance to Vietnam is unknown. 

However, it is most likely around the year 200 of the Christian era. It arrived by northern routes from Central Asia and southern routes from India.

Types of Buddhism in Vietnam

Taoism, Chinese spirituality, and the indigenous Vietnamese religion all have a symbiotic relationship with Vietnamese Buddhism. 

The three Mahayana School of Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Vajrayana, are the most popular among Buddhists in Vietnam.

Pure Land Buddhism  ( Amidism ) and Zen Buddhism have taken over Buddhist life in Vietnam. Pure Zen was largely followed by monks and nuns, whereas Pure Land Buddhism was chosen by the general public.

You will see monks walking down the street wearing no shoes and yes. it is still a common sight in the outlying districts. 

My local Buddhist monastery. My photo.

What do I do now?

I now have my own school and am married to a Vietnamese lady. We have been teaching online as Vietnam has been quite badly affected by Covid. I also do teacher placements in Vietnam. If you want to look at my school click on the YouTube button below. 

My School in Vietnam

Life in Vietnam can be both fun and challenging, it depends on you how much you wish to enjoy it. But there are some big cultural differences. Those that can accept that do well, those that don’t, not so well.

I hope you enjoyed this brief read.

Stephen

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

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How to help your child learn English at home.

Why you should teach your child English at home.

Helping your child learn English at home.

With schools closed due to the Corona virus, parents all over the world are wondering how they can help their children learn English at home. Sure, teachers are teaching online, but as parents, we can do a lot more.

When instructors and parents collaborate, children have a better chance of succeeding in school. Every interaction you have with your child during the day can be used to help them develop their English skills.

Here are some ideas to help home study.

Have fun.

We have a lot of duties as busy parents. It’s all about finding the appropriate balance when it comes to teaching or leading the learning process at home.

Teachers in schools must plan timetables and lessons for the entire class. You have more freedom to focus on your child’s preferred interests and activities when you learn at home. You can consider what will be most beneficial to your child.

Learners of all ages achieve more when they enjoy and find their work engaging and meaningful. Don’t be frightened to have a good time!

Try new things.

There are a lot of online resources to help, so do not be scared to try different things. You have English learning apps, websites, English rhymes, and songs to name a few. To find out how your child likes to learn and what things do they enjoy.

Children’s picture books

For young children learning English, this method can open them to a whole new realm of learning. It can be difficult to select the correct books, but it is critical to recognize the advantages of having this one-on-one relationship with your child.

Picture books give parents and children a compelling incentive to change from their native language to English. The predefined text of a picture book is a very valuable prop for parents who perform poorly in English.

Flashcards.

Flashcards can be a very useful tool. Especially for the beginner or younger learner. Teaching individual worlds is an important part of the learning process and flashcards provide pictures along with the words and pictures.

Rather than a boring home lesson you can make it fun by turning learning into a game. For example, You can buy 2 sets of the same flashcards and play a memory-based game.

Place the flashcards face down and your child has to remember where the 2 that are the same were placed. Laugh and learn will also instill a desire from your child to learn.

==> Using flashcards to teach English <==

Rhymes and songs

Repeating rhymes and songs is a fun method of learning new vocabulary in English. You can create a collection of songs that your child can listen to over and over to become comfortable with keywords.

==> Rhymes and songs to learn English <==

Apps that help your child learn English

Improve your child’s English skills with these entertaining and educational applications! These games, podcasts, videos, and quizzes are designed for kids of all ages and will help them learn English at home or on the go. You can learn more about them by clicking here.

==> Apps for children to learn English <==

Comics, TV, and video games.

Who doesn’t love cartoons, comics, and playing online games.? Okay, not everyone. But a lot of children do. And if you can get your child to read comics, watch cartoons and play games in English, they will learn faster.

Find what they enjoy doing and try to get them to do it in English. The cartoon network in English is a great tool for home learning.

Word searches and other games

Word searches can be a great tool as long as they are not overused. They can be used as a reward for a lesson well done.

However, as a stand-alone tool, it is questionable. It certainly helps with word recognition if used in the right way. Find a word search that relates to the topic you are teaching and the words you have taught.

There are online word search makers that you can use to specifically target the words taught in your childs lesson.

Things to think about.

What does your child like to do in his or her spare time? Drawing? going outside to play? comics? Do they enjoy reading stories? Dancing? indoor games or puzzles?

Make an effort to engage in some of their favorite activities in English.

Is your child more active at different times of the day? Do they like the mornings or the afternoons? What do they do after learning? Do they want something to eat? Choose the perfect moment to tackle the most difficult tasks!

What is your child’s preferred method of absorbing information? Is it possible to teach off-the-cuff during these times? Make a list of what works best for them.

Do you want your child to be able to make their own decisions about their education? Or do they prefer to make decisions with you? Always remember to ask them for their opinions and to encourage them as they build their own study skills.

Can I help if I don’t speak English?

Yes! Encouragement and praise are the finest ways to provide the best support for your child. This boosts your child’s self-esteem and belief in their own abilities.

Encourage children when they take charge of their own education and congratulate them on their efforts

You could even give your youngster the task of teaching English to a member of your family. Did you know that one of the most effective methods to learn is to teach someone else? You could even ask that they teach you.

Conclusion.

Whatever you do, make it fun. Your child will love you all the more for you taking the time out of your day to spend with them.

To develop the love of learning in your child will mean they will want to learn and they will increase any learning skill quicker.

Remember the first skill in learning any language is the listening skill, so the more they listen to English, the faster they will learn.

And be patient, learning anything takes time. And learning a language is one of the most difficult things to do. But small steps now will lead to big leaps in the future.

Who am I?

I am an EFL ( English as a Foreign Language ) teacher who owns a school in Vietnam. I have been here for 15 years and experienced most teaching situations.

From teaching in state schools with 50 plus students to a class to one on one private lessons. I have taught in English centers both good and bad, and the bad decided me to open my own school.

You can check out my school in Vietnam below by hitting on the YouTube button.

My school in Vietnam

 

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

TET Festival in Vietnam. (Year of the Cat)

Tet is a wonderful time of year to get to know your Vietnamese friends and their family. Make the most of this time to learn about the culture.

Tet in Asia 2023.

The Lunar New Year is observed in many Asian nations from late January to mid-February. The world’s largest yearly human migration occurs over the holiday as hundreds of millions of people travel back to their homes, paralyzing the global economy and creating crazy traffic jams.

China.

The Lunar New Year is the only time of year in China when the entire nation gathers for a family reunion at once. The government estimates that approximately three billion journeys will be made during the 15 days of celebration.

South Korea.

Except for a few years when they alternate by a day, the Chinese New Year and South Korea’s Seollal coincide for the most part. Three days are often spent celebrating the holiday, including the day before and the day following. On New Year’s Eve, Koreans remain up till the wee hours because, according to local myth, if you don’t, your eyebrows will turn white and you’ll age more quickly than usual.

Bhutan.

The longest night of the year, the winter solstice was originally the day on which Bhutan celebrated the New Year or Losar. However, the nation later synchronized with the Tibetan calendar thanks to Buddhism and began to observe Losar in February, as did Mongolia and Tibet. As it was the day when people gave their yearly offering of grains to the monk Ngawang Namgyal, the religious figure who brought Bhutan together.

Mongolia.

The Mongolian word for the new year is Tsagaan Sar, which means “White Moon.” During the festival, Mongols used to wear only white clothing, ride white horses, and consume only dairy products. The country’s nomadic herders celebrate the New Year as the arrival of spring after the long and difficult winter. A month before the festival, families must clean their homes, fix any broken items, make food for the feast, and either purchase or make new traditional clothing to wear on the big day.

Laos.

In Laos, the New Year begins much later—in mid-April—than in other Asian nations. The start of the monsoon season coincides with the hottest time of the year. Water is the most prominent element of their New Year celebrations, perhaps as a result of this. Young people participate in water fights with each other on the first day of the year to wash away any negative karma. This happens after pouring water on their elders, and Buddhist monks and requesting blessings of long life and peace.

Vietnam New Year 2023.

You will already see from the brief descriptions above that the main focus of TET is the coming together of family and friends to celebrate this time of year. A lot of time, effort, and money go into Tet and there are some very important traditions to do.

As well as things you should do there are also things that should not be done. For example, before the holidays begin the house gets a thorough cleaning. However, you should not sweep anything out the front door because your money will go along with the dirt. It will be swept out the door and you will have a bad year financially.

The Year of the Cat in Vietnam.

My Vietnamese zodiacal sign is the dog. And as the animal sign for 2023 is the cat, I am unsure as to what this means for me in this coming year. My wife, Nga, has already told me that this year is not an auspicious year for me. I enter this year with trepidation, what will happen to me?

The year of the cat lasts from January 22nd, 2023 through to February 9th, 2024. And the cat is the 4th sign in the Vietnamese zodiac.

Vietnamese New Year (Tet) is based on their lunisolar calendar that gives a varying date in January/February that Tet will fall upon. Each Lunar New Year marks the start of a new zodiac sign year, as shown below.

Tet Festivities.

Even while the public holiday only lasts six days, local festivities last roughly 20 days, starting on “Minor New Year” or “Kitchen God Day” (January 14 in 2023) and ending with Tet Nguyen Tieu, or the “First Full Moon of the Year” (February 5th, 2023).

Visiting someone’s home on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), doing ancestor worship, exchanging New Year’s greetings, presenting lucky money to youngsters and the elderly, and visiting friends, family, and neighbors are just a few of the customs and traditions that are observed during Tet.

Tet is a time for family get-togethers. Vietnamese people visit their families and temples during Tet. This is the time of year to look forward to a better new year and forget about the problems of the previous one.

Vietnamese people, like those in other Asian nations, think that the colors red and yellow would bring good fortune, which may be why these hues are so prevalent during the Lunar New Year (And also the flag). People consider what they do on the dawn of Tet will determine their fate for the whole year, hence people always smile and behave as nicely as they can in the hope of a better year.

Tet and Family.

During Tet, most Vietnamese people visit their families. Some people go back to their hometown to catch up with family and friends.
Some people go back to their hometown to catch up with family and friends.

All Vietnamese celebrate Tet, although each region and faith has its own customs and traditions.

Tet can be divided into three parts in the three Vietnamese regions.

These parts are called Tất Niên (Before New Year’s Eve), Giao Thừa (New Year’s Eve), and Tân Niên (the New Year, and they stand for the preparations leading up to Tet, Tet eve, and the days of and following Tet, respectively. All of these customs are to celebrate Tet in Vietnam.

Tet Traditions and Customs.

According to Vietnamese custom, if a family experiences good fortune on the first day of the lunar New Year, the entire following year will also be fortunate.

A family’s fate for the entire year is determined by the very first visitor they have in the new year. A person with high morality, success, and “good standing” is fortunate; yet, the contrary is viewed as unfavorable.

Sweeping is discouraged during Tet because it represents throwing good fortune or money out the door or window.

The second day of Tet is often allocated for friends, whilst the first day is for family. Nevertheless, this is not strictly followed. The third day was traditionally reserved for teachers.

Visiting Pagodas and Temples During Tet.

A pagoda visit is customarily advised during Tet. The practice is referred to as “Lễ Chùa” – in which “lễ” denotes paying homage to Buddha and the deities represented in pagodas and temples and visiting them.

Despite their busy schedules during Tet, all Vietnamese make an effort to visit their local pagoda and make well their wishes for the upcoming year.

Tet and Flowers in Vietnam.

Wherever you go on the lead-up to get you will see flowers. They will be in the local markets, on the side of the road, and totally filling your local park.

Unless you have spent time in Vietnam during Tet you will have no concept of the number of flowers that are on show everywhere in the lead-up to Tet.

The Vietnamese decorate their homes during this festive time with a variety of flowers and plants. Chrysanthemums, marigolds, Mao Ga flowers, paper flowers, and lavender are a few examples of what is used.

Even if it’s not yet common, some people showcase orchids and roses nowadays. Additionally, three plant species—peach flower, ochna integerrima, and marumi kumquat—are synonymous with Tet and should be present during Tet celebrations.

Mao Ga Flowers.

Look at “Tuoi Tre News”, the English newspaper from Vietnam for more information about “Flower Street” and the beautiful display of TET flowers for 2023.

Tet and Food in Vietnam.

There are quite a few different types of food on offer over Tet. However, it sometimes feels that “Pork and Eggs” are the main source of sustenance during this period. During my first Tet, I really enjoyed this standby. However, after 3 or 4 Tets and visiting numerous families where they would dish up “Pork and Eggs”, “Pork and Eggs”, “Pork and Eggs” “Pork and Eggs”, “Pork and Eggs”, “Pork and Eggs” repeatedly like a lost wandering Turkey after a New Years Eve, you start to wonder if your taste buds have gone crazy.

It is quite honestly delicious. Nice juicy chunks of braised pork belly with coconut milk and eggs – a fatty, sensuous melt-in-your-mouth delight – and it can be eaten with pickled vegetables for an orgasm-in-the-mouth moment.

Traditional Tet Foods.

Families and friends get together to commemorate this occasion with one another through a range of customs and activities, like gift-giving and cooking traditional foods, as we have already covered.

Gift baskets for Tet are stuffed with sweets including candy, fruits, and traditional Vietnamese cakes. Additionally, there are delicacies like Xôi, Bánh Chung, and Bánh tét.

This is a holiday where food plays a significant and symbolic role. For many people, the celebration would not be complete without festive appetizers.

This is also why in the Vietnamese language, Tết is not celebrated but rather “eaten”. And, oh boy, there is a huge selection of different foods you can enjoy.

Here is a post about => Vietnamese street food <= that may help you understand the importance of food within Vietnamese culture.

Do’s and Dont’s about Tet in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, there are several traditions that specify what should and should not be done at certain times. You should follow these guidelines, especially if you have been welcomed into a Vietnamese family’s home during Tet.

  • Do enjoy yourself and have fun with these beautiful people in this wonderful country.
  • Do prepare “lucky money” for younger children and older citizens to express good wishes. These should be given with both hands and normally only in small denominations. If you are going to someone’s home over yet check if they have children so you can prepare the “lucky money” in advance.
  • Do exchange gifts during Tet, especially if you have a business arrangement. The most popular gifts are sweets like cookies, chocolates, fruit baskets, wine, soft beverages, and other goodies. In most cases, individuals can get a gift set from the store that includes a variety of foods. Use this chance to strengthen your relationships with any Vietnamese business partners you may have.
  • Do buy new clothes before Tet as you wish to look as good as possible over these holidays. Also, smile and turn that frown upside down.
  • Do pay back any outstanding debts. This is the time of year to clear the slate and be fresh for the new year.

And don’t.

  • Don’t swear, argue or be rude over Tet. Do not talk about death, or swear and argue. We should be bringing no conflict or bad thoughts into the new year. We need to calm down and be peaceful.
  • Don’t commit cruelty to animals. This is the time of year you can set animals free. Birds are the most typical animal released during Tet festivities. Because of this, during the Tet holidays, birds are sold in pagodas. This idea derives from Buddhism, which holds that individuals will experience luck if they do good things for others.
  • Don’t sweep the house or empty the bins. Especially on the first day of the new year, sweeping the home or emptying the garbage will cause all of your luck and money to leave your home. So, remember to do this. Tet is not the time to drop things on the floor and dirty the place and it is best when visiting someone to ask before you do anything significant.
  • Don’t wear black or white clothes as they symbolize death and are commonly worn at funerals. Colorful clothes are recommended.

Final Thoughts.

Vietnam, the country and its people are, for the most part, beautiful people and Tet is a great time to get to know them and their families.

You want to try to get to be invited to someone’s “hometown” and see how they live and enjoy themselves. Tet otherwise can be extremely boring as most people have left the city and it can be difficult to find a good restaurant open or a lot of services open as well.

I remember one Tet before I knew many people and it was difficult to find anything (Outside of the tourist and pricey areas) or anywhere to buy food and other services.

It is a good idea to stock up your fridge (if you are an ex-pat) and have phone cards or other day-to-day needs covered before Tet happens.

However this is a great time to relax but because everyone else is holidaying at the same time, it is pricey and crowded.

Stephen.


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There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Surviving Vietnam

Whether in Vietnam for a holiday or to work these tips will make your stay a bit easier.

Tips for Living in Vietnam.

I have been living and working in Vietnam for over 15 years and these few tips will help you in your daily life in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a beautiful country with some truly wonderful people and fantastic landscape. For example, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its emerald waters and limestone islands covered in rainforests. If you wish to find out more about Halong Bay visit my article on “Holidays in Halong Bay“.

My top 10 tips.

1. When entering someone’s home, remove your footwear. Vietnamese are very neat and clean and it is expected for all to remove their outside shoes at the doorway.

2. Like a lot of Asia, patting or touching someone’s head is seen as rude. The younger generation doesn’t care so much about this, but it is better to be discrete and not do it.

3. Do NOT put toilet paper in the toilet. You will find a basket or bin (Yucky) next to the toilet, put it there. Even after a wipe. The pipes in Vietnam are not big enough for paper. There is normally a water gun ( bidet, foreigners call it a bum gun ) next to the toilet, do NOT drink the water. This is to wash your bottom and other parts.

4. Do not drink tap water unless you are staying in a 5-star hotel. Otherwise, you will get sick. You can brush your teeth, cook, and use it for washing dishes in most urban areas. However, I would recommend using bottled water or boiling the tap water for several minutes before use. It is better to be more cautious in rural areas though and boil or use bottled water in all cases.

5. Please do not put boiling or very hot water down the kitchen sink. Most houses have thin plastic pipes and not metal, and they will dissolve in contact with boiling water. (and there will be water all over the floor) Then you have to go to the hardware store and try to find the correct pipes. Haha, I can laugh now, but it was not fun when it happened.

6. Drinking beer is a BIG part of Vietnamese culture and is used to relax after work. Quite often you will see the workers out having a good time, and where are the wives? But please do not vomit or fall asleep at the table, that is what the toilet is for. Also, be prepared to have ice in your beer, it keeps it cold and waters it down. A good idea if you end up drinking 15 beers. Be careful of the ice, although it is much better now than when I first arrived in Vietnam. I was out having a few drinks with my Vietnamese co-workers when I saw firsthand a waiter scooping ice out of the urinals for a customer. Lol, be nice to the waiters. What I do like though is that food and beer go hand in hand, so you are always eating and drinking at the same time.

7. This tip I should have put this as number one. Before you come to Vietnam, please leave any preconceived ideas at home. Please remember that Vietnam is run by and for the Vietnamese and if we can understand that our life will be much easier. If you wish to delve deeper into this, please look at my blog, “Living in Vietnam

8. If you invite someone for coffee or lunch, dinner, etc, you pay.

It was common that if you had bought a new “toy” like a motorbike or another expensive “toy”, then friends and neighbors would be invited for drinks. This is certainly not as common these days.

9. Don’t be mean. It is OK to bargain, but when I see foreigners quibbling over $1.00 it makes me angry. That is the Vietnamese merchants profit and while $1.00 is not much for us, it is for the Vietnamese. Also, when haggling, be polite.

Do not get angry. Sometimes not easy but if you get angry……you lose. You lose your dignity, and it turns your day into something less pleasant.

10. Vietnam uses phone cards to top up their credit on their mobile phones. It is not difficult to do, but you may want to ask the shopkeeper to add it to your phone the first time or two. Obviously, you can not add this to any phone you have brought with you (Unless you have transferred it to a local carrier like Mobifone or Vinaphone). Be aware you only get 3 attempts to add credit to your phone. If you make a mistake and use up your 3 attempts, you will lose your money.

Final Thoughts.

Whether you come to Vietnam for a holiday or an extended stay including work, you will have a great time as long as you remember we are a guest in this wonderful country and things are quite often done differently than what they are at home. You can read more about etiquette in Vietnam in an older post here.

Learning a few phrases will go a long way in opening the doors of friendship. Even if you get the phrases wrong, you will be appreciated for making the attempt. My preference is the “Mondly” app to help learn a few phrases and you can find the link on the right-hand side of this article.


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There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Living in Vietnam.

Enjoying the Vietnamese Lifestyle.

What I want to write about today is a bit different from what I normally write about. But, it is one of the most important topics if you want to work or live in Vietnam for an extended period of time.

This article is not so much about what you can find in Vietnam or even what you should bring. But, it is about what you should leave at home.

Ethnocentrism and the Uneasy Traveller

According to the Oxford Dictionary “Ethnocentrism” is the ” evaluation of other cultures according to the preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of our own culture”

Before heading into the topic of a foreign teacher being fired (And what sparked this article) and the debate as to whether he should have been fired or not, I want to cover more on “moral codes” and what makes up “ethnocentricism”

Moral Codes and Cultural Differences.

Moral codes are a set of rules that show how a person should treat others and behave within society. They are learned through interactions with others in society by picking up behavioral standards within your cultural area.

Our moral codes are heavily dependent upon our culture. All these codes may cover aspects of our lives from how we act, how we dress, and how we treat others.

There are some moral codes that are regularly found throughout the world. These would be “though shall not kill” or “treat others as we would like to be treated”

However, each culture has its own idea as to what is right or wrong. These other aspects of moral codes are a direct reflection of the ethical thinking of that area.

Cultural Insensitivity in the Workplace.

I have been living and working in Vietnam for 16 years and I have seen a truckload of cultural insensitivity from both foreigners and Vietnamese. However, the thing to remember is that Vietnam is run by and for the Vietnamese and if we can understand that our life will be much easier.

I have often seen new foreign English teachers come to Vietnam with preconceived ideas telling the Vietnamese teachers how English should be taught. While some of the topics raised by the new teacher may be valid, they should take their time to find out how things are done. Losing “face” is still quite a big thing in Vietnam.

I remember talking to someone very high up in Sacom bank and we were discussing how banks (Being a capitalist entity) survived and thrived in Vietnam and how they dealt with the Government. The gentleman I was talking to gave me an example of how an idea that the bank has is introduced to the government.

First off the idea is planted within the government, at a lower “rank”, and allowed to percolate up to the top. Then a meeting between the bank and the government is organized during which the bank praises the government for its forward-thinking idea.

I’m not saying this is how teaching is, but it gives you some idea about the different approaches that need to be taken.

The Firing of a Foreign Teacher.

There was an incident very recently involving a foreign teacher, a security guard, students, and a Vietnamese teacher.

If it wasn’t so serious it would sound like the start of a bad joke. To start at the end, a foreign teacher was fired after a “scuffle” with a 65 year old security guard. The security guard was checking the names of students who were allowed to leave after the 4th lesson of the day.

At the school above, the 11th graders were allowed to leave as long as their names were on the guards’ list. The guard also checked the name tags of the students who were eligible to leave.

One of the 11th graders was wearing a jacket so the security guard could not see her name. When the security guard asked her to remove her jacket she refused and the guard started yelling at her. This is when the foreign teacher stepped in and pushed the guard over.

The “scuffle” then broke out after the guard was pushed over. Because of the violent acts carried out by both the teacher and guard the school board got together to discuss what should happen next.

The foreign teacher was allowed to continue teaching while the decision was being made about what was to be done with all parties. The head of the English department then asked the foreign teacher to refrain from posting anything on social media.

This seemingly didn’t go down well with the teacher who then started kicking the “teachers’ room” door and yelling at the head of the English Department. He was obviously fired at this stage. But to add one more piece of ludicrousness, the teacher then went onto social media and tried to get the students to defame the school. Trying to incite the students to rebellion.

Who does this guy think he is? he obviously has no regard for any other foreign teachers in Vietnam. Surprisingly there were some who supported this teacher. I did not see the whole story and did not get to talk to anyone firsthand about this, but I think just pushing the 65-year-old over would be grounds enough for dismissal alone. What do you think?

Final Thoughts.

If and when you come to Vietnam, please leave your preconceived ideas at home. We are guests in this lovely country and yes there are things that are different and they may not sit easily with us. However, if you can adapt to this culture (and there is not that much you need to adapt) you will have the time of your life.

Also, remember there are other foreigners and teachers who live here and we get “tarred by the same brush” if we do anything wrong. Vietnam is a very tolerant country, however, it doesn’t take much to influence the Vietnamese that we are insensitive to others feelings.

Thank you.

Stephen


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

 

Common Health Problems for the EFL Teacher.

Health Problems in the Classroom.

Keeping one’s physical health together when teaching in the classroom and online is important, especially when doing remote instruction via a computer. But as a teacher, it’s crucial to look after your mental health as well. You will benefit from this as well as improve your teaching and student outcomes.

Being a teacher is such a demanding job. A teacher is continuously “on the go,” and if they are not careful, the students can quickly sap your energy on a regular basis. Many teachers feel exhausted and drained when they return home. Not physically fatigued, but mentally spent. A person will eventually start to feel mentally exhausted and “hit the wall”. As a result of this, you will undoubtedly be affected outside of the classroom as well.

Being an EFL or ESL teacher in a foreign country can also leave you open to feelings of “aloneness” and wondering how you can cope. Often there is no support structure in place and this can lead to harmful substance abuse situations.

Common Educator Health Problems.

Teachers are generally held in high regard because of the challenging work they do.

They have the responsibility of assisting students in learning and helping with intellectual development, from young children to adults and they are expected to adhere to rigid lesson plans. On top of that, they are not necessarily paid the greatest salary.

It may be necessary for them to attend class even though they are feeling under the weather, then stay up late to prepare for their upcoming class of students. All this contributes to various physical health problems and there are some health issues that are more likely to emerge in teachers.

Here are a few of the most prevalent physical health issues that instructors encounter.

Due to the physical demands of the profession, educators deal with a wide range of medical conditions, from back discomfort to vocal demands from speaking in large noisy classrooms and eye strain from the amount of reading done.

Most physical health problems can be solved by fixing the problems with the school administrators or dealing directly with doctors and related problems.

However, today we are going to be looking at stress and the problems related to protecting your mental health. And what we can do as individual teachers to help alleviate these problems, especially as ESL teachers.

Trying to Maintain Mental Health in the ESL Classroom.

The answer isn’t as straightforward as “taking a break” (although it can help momentarily), in my opinion, you should match your daily actions with your emotional beliefs. Make sure your actions and the topics you cover in your teaching are consistent with your beliefs.

The simple reality that many teachers are tearing out their hair because their ideals about teaching and learning don’t align with their teaching environment can cause a lot of mental tension and misery.

You only need to look at what is happening in the U.S.A at the moment with mass resignations reverberating throughout the teaching profession to understand the depths of despair in the education industry.  

More Options.

It can be challenging to seek the support you need to maintain your mental health when mixed with a culture of self-sacrifice and external pressures.

Without assistance, continuing is unsustainable, and eventually, something will break. This can make it difficult for you to manage your day-to-day workload at work, necessitating time off for treatment, and more.

How to avoid problems or relieve symptoms:

You have alternatives to handle pressures at work, depending on how severe they are for you. You can get the tools to handle this through talk therapy, support groups with other educators, mental wellness applications, and the usage of perks like an employee assistance program if these are available.

However, as I mentioned before, when you are in a foreign country with a lack of resources you will be struggling to find any type of support structure. Added to that, if you are in a country that has a large “party scene” you may find some teachers start abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism. This is something that should be avoided at all costs.

Simple Solutions.

There are some simple measures you can take that will help insulate you from some of the worse conditions of living in a foreign country where you may or may not be feeling homesick.

Before you leave for your new life in the country of your dreams check out the Facebook groups you can join and look for other activities you can do as well. At the same time, get your ideal lifestyle and employment worked out! It’s not as difficult as it may seem to select a work abroad program, especially if you prepare prior to traveling.

Another thing you may wish to do is to put together a selection of photos of friends and family to remind you of your support groups if and when you need them.

Surrounding yourself with things and people that remind you of home will help you to settle into your new country and new job more easily.

Join Clubs.

Most large cities in Vietnam have a good selection of clubs and groups that you can join and make friendships with people who have similar interests.

Learning the local language will not only help you develop new friendships it will also open new doors of understanding within your new country. 

After living in Vietnam for more than 15 years, the people I see who survive and thrive are those who immerse themselves in the culture and develop a strong network of friends.

For example, Expats in HCMC are an English-speaking community in Vietnam and are one of many groups available.

Final Words.

With the post-effects of covid still trickling through and with Christmas on the horizon I wanted to make people aware that it is OK to feel a bit down at times. 

You can do a few things that will help you cope if you are having problems. Remember you are not in it alone and there are a lot of people who can help, and not just professionally. It is just as important to be able to sit down with friends and discuss how you are feeling.

Christmas can be a time when you feel alone and isolated, so if you are feeling like that, I urge you to reach out and get in contact with someone to talk with. I am also here if you need a good listener.

Spending your first Christmas away from family can present its own challenges and there are always people available to talk to. Don’t try to cope with any problems alone. As cliched as it sounds, a problem shared is a problem lessened.

 



Stephen


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.


Vietnams Ministry of Education Bans IELTS Exams.

IELTS suspended from the Vietnamese classroom.

Students fly overseas to take IELTS exams after indefinite suspension in Vietnam” was the headline from VN Express International, an English language newspaper catering to all English speakers in Vietnam.

IELTS is an English proficiency exam that is used to assess students’ ability in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is commonly used by students in Vietnam to enter foreign schools and universities to further their education. And it is also being commonly used to enter Vietnamese Universities at an increasing rate as well.

To find out more about the course details you can look at IELTS.org.

One Students Ordeal.

To give you an understanding of how this has upset the students who have been studying this, here is one persons ordeal.

A young lady had her test canceled by the British Council ( One of 2 bodies that can conduct tests in Vietnam) because of the MOETs ruling to stop tests. She was scheduled to take this test as a final prerequisite for applying to a Canadian college. She lost her fee with the British Council and on top of that paid out an additional sum to fly to Thailand to take her test there. The additional costs were obviously an added burden but she needed her IELTS score asap so the visa to Canada could be arranged.

Following the abrupt postponement in Vietnam, this young lady is one of the hundreds of Vietnamese students who intend to fly abroad to take IELTS tests.

Why has MOET Suspended IELTS Exams?

The British Council and IDP, according to the MOET, failed to obtain their approval documents, and the tests were improperly managed. And for that reason, the testing was abruptly stopped. The British Council and the IDP are the 2 bodies in Vietnam authorized to conduct these tests in Vietnam.

Poorly Planned

The government directive requiring organizations to obtain updated authorization from the education ministry to conduct foreign language exams was issued in June 2018, according to Ho Quang Huy, chief of the Legal Document Inspection Department at the Ministry of Justice.

He attributed the lack of information to the education ministry and claimed that earlier statements from the department would have allowed companies more time to submit their paperwork.

Students who had started to submit their admission documents to study abroad have experienced significant difficulties as a result of the IELTS exam postponement attributed the lack of communication to the ministry of education.

Is This The Only Reason?

There have been other reasons suggested as well as the above for the abrupt termination or suspension of IELTS testing.

Online Scammers and Leaked IELTS papers.

The only two IELTS testing organizations in Vietnam, the British Council and IDP, caution applicants against falling for online con artists who sell “genuine” exam papers.

IELTS test papers containing answers that were claimed to be “genuine” have cost “candidates” millions of dong. As more and more colleges prioritize IELTS as a requirement for admission, the demand for the credential is surging.

IELTS was just a requirement for admission to a small number of colleges in 2017. But when more than 30 colleges added it to the admissions process last year, the number went up.

Many con artists claim that the day before the examination, candidates will receive the “genuine” test paper. The money quickly vanished after the “applicant” pays for the “genuine” test paper.

Test Too Difficult for Vietnamese English Teachers.

It has been discussed by some “foreign” teachers that now that Vietnamese English teachers must sit and pass the test for their jobs, the content has been found to be too difficult for them. With some people going even further in their responses. Albeit this is not necessarily the opinion of this website.


Editorial Comment by Marty Hoare.

We can all be certain of one thing. This IELTS drama is more complicated than what we are seeing in the news.

Without providing a reason, the BC has abruptly stopped all IELTS exams till further notice.

The local media alerts us to problems with the exam itself the very next minute.

It’s rather safe to presume that the BC and MOET have gotten into a battle over something.

I wonder if the requirements and evaluation of the IELTS have anything to do with that.

I also wonder if it has anything to do with the terrible results of the most recent IELTS tests that Vietnamese English teachers had to take and pass.

The likelihood that the abhorrent and embarrassing results of the English Vietnamese teacher testing for MOET, and the local education sector more broadly, has caused this fight.


Promises for a Quick Fix.

On Saturday, the education ministry declared that in the upcoming days, it will give IELTS and TOEFL approval priority over all other foreign language competence exams.

According to the Ministry of Education and Training, the choice was made to remove obstacles for candidates who want to sit for these tests. In order to get ministry approval to resume the testing, it has asked pertinent units to finish papers.

The postponement, according to the education ministry, was caused by organizations not finishing their approval documents and improper management of exam quality. If all of the required documentation is submitted, the approval procedure should take about 20 days, according to deputy education minister Nguyen Huu Do.

Let us hope that whatever the issue that started this, it will be resolved quickly so there are no more problems for the students affected.


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There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here

Best Gifts for an ESL Teacher

Thhis year let’s ask for the stars and we might hit the moon anyway. Tired of books for Christmas, let’s ask for laptops and see what happens.

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Associates Program

What You Wanted and What You Got.

We have all woken up on Christmas day at some stage and been totally underwhelmed by what we received. When you were wishing for a new bicycle and ended up with a pair of socks.

And it always started with the advent calendar. All the other kids were getting metal whistles and cool gifts and you ended up with a plastic “dummy”.

This Christmas is about Karma and will right some of the wrongs you have been dealt with over the years.

The Gifts You Always Wanted.

Here are some suggestions for gifts that are MUCH better than gift cards or socks if you have an English teacher on your gift list.

Alternatively, if you ARE an English teacher, you can leave this list open on your laptop for your students to “inadvertently” find. Or go and treat yourself. Isn’t it time you upgraded your laptop and added some speakers to play in the class?

There will be no judgments from this teacher.

Books, The teachers’ choice.

Teaching is a stressful profession, and reading for enjoyment can help you decompress by transporting you into a different world. This is why teachers adore books.

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction if it is a captivating read you can be transported through time and space to a place where you can escape and explore.

Books are a teacher’s and student’s choice.

The World Book Company.

Since 1915, the World Book Corporation has dedicated itself to producing accurate, impartial, and trustworthy products that have regularly been rated as the finest in the education industry by teachers, librarians, and families.

The complete World Book Encyclopedia is the most recent and up-to-date print and online encyclopedia available thanks to the work of thousands of specialists.

From the 2017 World Book Encyclopedia’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative edition to intriguing new titles like Enigmas of History, Building Blocks of Science: Life Science, and Endangered Animals of the World, the titles cover a variety of topics and age groups.

There are various advertising campaigns every month, and they offer free shipping to consumers in the United States and Canada. You’ll come across information that will enlighten and enrich you.

The World Book company has everything from sports-related books to encyclopedias. A teacher’s dream and delight await all who hearken upon this voyage.

Or divest yourself of pretense of unselfishness and throw your head back and scream for your laptop.

Laptops for Legendary Teachers who Create.

And books are great, but let’s get real. These babies are for the hardworking teacher who crafts his lessons from scratch and demands the best. So if you want to reward yourself, These come strongly recommended.

Are you already dreaming of i9 Laptops? The Real Dream.

Asus Zenbook.

Maybe a bit of ASUS will spice things up for you…You can just watch or be part of the action for less than US$2,000.000.

 

Asus New Features.

There are a few features that make this laptop a standout and stand apart laptop. This laptop includes a secondary 3.5-inch OLED display on the lid in addition to the primary display in its usual location. This display may show various animations, notifications, battery life, date and time, and user-customizable text.

This laptop’s compliance with US Space System Command Standards (SMC-S-016A) and resistance to vibrations and extremely low or high temperatures are its other unique features. This device’s durability meets MIL-STD-810H specifications for toughness.

The ASUS ZenBook’s internal processor, the Intel Core i9-12900H, has 14 cores and 20 threads. The laptop’s integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics are available for graphics. A 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD and 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM are added to the potent processor.

It lacks a number pad because of size and space limitations. However, it does have a virtual number pad. It comes with 2 Thunderbolt 4 connections, a USB Type-A port, an HDMI and headphone jack, and an SD card reader.

A USB Type-A to RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet converter from Asus is also included in the box.

The ASUS ZenBook is currently available for purchase. The laptop costs $1,999 and has a metallic Titanium color. Words and numbers aside, it is ready for some heavy duty processing work


Apple Pro M2. Dream No. Two or No. One?

M1 or M2, 14″ or 16″

The M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and M2 versions of those models have already been released, and their successors might not be too far away. Here is all the information you require for the upcoming release.

Despite rumors that the new laptops would be released soon, the prediction that the MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and Max CPU s would arrive in the fall of 2022 has been crushed.

New Macs are often introduced by Apple in November.

Next year will bring new Macs. Apple’s upcoming lineup of Macs “probably won’t ship until early next year,” according to Gurman. Gurman anticipates the first half of March 2023 as the timeframe.

Pricing.

The prices for the current models are as follows. Despite some significant price increases, we don’t foresee any significant changes in the U.S. With the M2 makeover, Apple increased the cost of the base MacBook Air by $200, or 20 percent.


Final Thoughts.

Despite or maybe because everyone seems so serious this year, I have put together a couple of things that I would love to receive under the Christmas tree.

Sometimes Santa is better when he tries to be worse. They say “karma” is a b****. Well, this year I’m up for it and I hope you are too. My ‘karmic” balance involves a couple of hi-end laptops and I hope this can go somewhere in bringing a bit of balance in your life.

If these don’t tickle your fancy, send me an email and Include your righteous response with a plethora of your perfect presents. And I will see what Santa can do to provide some Santa treats.


Author: Stephen. Editor

Editor to VietnamESL, Kool Affiliate, and recently acquired Gardening-Guru, Stephen has worked in small business for the last twenty years. He has clocked up many hours, days weeks, and years in growing small businesses into large healthy ones.

 Stephen’s career highlights include establishing and running two English schools in H.C.M.C Vietnam. Conducting training for native English Teachers in Pleiku for the Ministry of Education of Vietnam (M.O.E).

And now helps people with their own dreams who wish to teach in Vietnam or live the nomadic lifestyle of the laptop warrior.


 

Free Alphabet Video for ESL Teachers in Vietnam.

Is Teaching The Alphabet still Relevant?

In my opinion, a big fat yes. Just like a well-constructed house needs “good foundations”, an ESL student needs good linguistic foundations’ for their second language.

In addition to learning to identify and name the letters both in and out of order, students also need to learn the sounds that go with each letter.

Start with the fundamentals. Don’t try to teach each of the 26 letters at once. Simply practice 5–6 letters at a time, giving your students a chance to see, hear, and interact with each letter in different ways.

The ABC’s should be taught through a range of strategies and materials because children learn via all of their senses, even if the books are excellent, don’t just rely on them. Learn the letters by using ABC blocks, coloring sheets, ABC mats, or even play dough or in this case video. Mixing up the lesson will make it more interesting.

The most important piece of advice is to enjoy yourself. Make learning with you fun for your students by turning it into a game. You can read some more material about this in my previous post;

“Is Learning The Alphabet Still Important For ESL Students ?”

And Here Is a Copy Of the Front Page of My English/Vietnamese Alphabet. If you wish a PowerPoint copy sent to you please leave a message in the comments. Thank you.

English Alphabet for Vietnamese.

All of our students strive to sound as natural or as close to a native speaker as they can. The alphabet is a fantastic subject to study and master! They must thoroughly understand and be aware of the letter sounds. A fantastic technique to advance those fundamental abilities is to be able to follow the letters while listening to a native speaker.

One of the reasons I created this alphabetical English/Vietnamese video is because of this. It is currently in MP4 format, but if you’d prefer a PowerPoint version, tell me your email address and I’ll send it to you as soon as I can.

Or, you may wish to view it via YouTube.

YouTube Logo


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Travel and Live Safe in Vietnam

This will provide information about traveling safely in Vietnam today.

How to be safe in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a relatively safe country when compared to many others in the world today. It often amuses me when I talk to old friends or relatives who fear that Vietnam is 100% corrupt and similar to living in the “wild west” during the cowboy era.

However, Vietnam is ranked 57th out of 163 nations for safety in the 2019 Global Peace Index, much ahead of the United States, which is ranked 114th.

Currently, violent crime is uncommon in Vietnam. The biggest dangers are being overcharged by a street vendor or taxi driver, getting into an accident, or crossing a busy road and being hit.

Pickpocketing and snatch theft are prevalent forms of petty crime in Vietnam, especially at and around train stations, seaports, and airports. Traveling alone in isolated locations after dark might be dangerous, especially for foreigners.

Yes, there are places you should avoid and places to be wary of. But overall you should not let the worry of anything terrible happening to you, outweigh the amazing experiences you can and will find in Vietnam.

Don’t lock yourself away in your 4 or 5-star hotel when you come to Vietnam as you will miss out on a lot of incredible experiences. Here are several tips and some general advice to make your next stay stress free and safe.

Safety Tips for travelers in Vietnam.

Petty Crime.

1) Theft. Carry your passport, travelers’ checks, and other valuables in a hidden money belt. Tourists are targets for robbers (who might be your fellow travelers). Use a safe, if you have one, and don’t leave anything valuable lying around in your room. Do not leave anything valuable in your safe if a smaller hotel. I have heard stories of missing items from safes in less than scrupulous hotels.

Also, make sure your doors and windows are locked when you leave and at night when you sleep. Keep some small change in a separate pocket so you are not opening your wallet all the time. Vietnam is the land of opportunistic crime.

Snatch and grab is more prevalent than it should be. Mainly because of tourists being lax in security. If taking photos, make use of the camera straps. If you are staying in a good hotel make use of the hotel safe and store your passports etc with the concierge.

2) Snatch and Grab. It’s advisable to avoid being flamboyant on the street; avoid wearing eye-catching jewelry and dazzling watches, attempt to withdraw cash covertly, and pay extra attention in crowds and on public transportation. When it’s most susceptible, such as just before departure, during lunch breaks, and when you arrive at your destination, keep an eye on your pack if it’s on top of the bus. Either cable-lock your bag or tuck it under the bottom bench seat on trains to keep it hidden from view.

It’s advised to avoid accepting food or drink from someone you don’t know and trust because it has been claimed that travelers have been poisoned and subsequently robbed. Keep a tight hold on your bags and avoid dangling costly sunglasses or cameras from your neck. But if you do become a target, it’s better to let go than to take the chance of being dragged into the traffic and getting hurt badly.

3) Women Travelers. In general, it is safe for women to travel alone in Vietnam. The odds of coming into any threatening behavior are really minimal; the majority of Vietnamese will simply be interested as to why you are traveling alone. That being said, it still pays to use common sense care, especially late at night when fewer people are out on the streets.

You should also avoid riding xe-om (motorbike taxis); instead, use a taxi—metered cabs are typically thought to be the safest. There have been a few complaints of cab drivers’ molestation, however, they are uncommon. It is a good idea to have the local “grab” phone numbers downloaded onto your phone when you arrive in Vietnam.

Get your Grab download here

4) LGBTQ and Safety. Although socially conservative in some respects, Vietnamese people are surprisingly accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll be alright if you refrain from heterosexual conduct and public demonstrations of affection. Same-sex relationships are not prohibited by law in Vietnam.

I used to live in the same street as two gay men and they were accepted unequivocally by all their neighbors. One of the men’s ex-wife’s lived with them in the same house. How that worked, I don’t know, but outside the house, everything was “peachy” You will not get the same degree of “hate crime” that can be seen in some western countries.

Health.

5) Covid. For entry into Vietnam, you no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination certificate. There can be variations in airline criteria. If you get COVID-19 in Vietnam, you must isolate yourself, and if you are a close contact, you must carefully check your health. Public health measures ( and mask use) are in place, however, they vary by province and are subject to sudden change.

Your ability to travel and receive necessary services could be affected by certain actions. Pay attention to what local authorities advise. Keep an eye on your local Embassy’s social media accounts for important information. The situation with covid has improved greatly because of the rigorous enforcement of the Government and while you should still wear your mask it has become much safer.

6) Water. Avoid drinking tap water, as you will get sick. This includes brushing your teeth. Most of the 4 and 5-star hotels will have their own water source, however, no matter where I am I still rely on bottled water.

If you are invited to someone’s house, do not pour boiling water into the sink. Most of the pipes are made of plastic and you will be left extremely embarrassed when boiling water starts flowing across your new friends’ floor.

Traffic.

7 ). Crossing the Street. The traffic in Vietnam takes a lot of getting used to, and there are times when you think you will never make it walking to the other side of the street. Do not think that pedestrian crossings or “walk” signs are to make life for the pedestrian easy.

Motorbikes and cars will not stop for pedestrians and your “walk” sign or pedestrian crossing means nothing to the Vietnamese driver. They will not stop, no matter what you are gesticulating or saying at the top of your lungs. However, they may be laughing.

At first glance, it could seem dangerous to cross the street in Vietnam. Motorbikes and cars don’t stop for pedestrians, but they do adjust and try to avoid hitting you. Here’s the trick: once you start crossing the street, don’t pause and second-guess yourself; maintain a moderate, steady pace. Do keep an eye out for any bike riders who might be using their phone more than watching out for you.

There is safety and comfort in numbers, so if you can’t bring yourself to take that first step on your alone, wait until there are other people prepared to cross and join the group. I’ve been a resident of Vietnam for 15 years, and I’ve never been in an accident. As I have said before, Vietnamese are very kind and you may have someone offer an arm to help you cross the street.

8 ) Driving a Motorcycle. If you’ve made the decision to remain in Vietnam and find employment, you’ll probably choose to buy or rent a motorcycle. Risks come with driving in Vietnam, particularly on congested roadways. The city traffic is crazy, but if you take the time to study the road rules—and they are there—you’re unlikely to get into more than the occasional low-speed collisions. . You can ride a 50cc motorcycle without a license, but it is preferable to take the time to familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws. Electric cycles are becoming more popular, but I personally dislike them as they make no sound you can find yourself in the lap of a pedestrian who wasn’t paying attention.

I don’t need a pickle, all I need is a motorcycle. Racing Bike.

My personal preference for a motorcycle is something around the 150cc mark. The roads are so busy that you will not have the opportunity to go fast. This size also accommodates my weight and gives enough “zip” when you need it. Yamaha verse Honda is a topic that can be debated by the locals, seemingly for hours. And the best way to choose which is for you is to rent until you are ready to buy.

The weather is hot in Vietnam but this is no reason to not dress safely for riding. At the very least, please wear a helmet ( Mandatory by law ) and cover your feet and wear long trousers and a jacket. Most people who come to live in Vietnam who end up owning a motorcycle will be in an accident sooner or later.

Get your Vietnamese driver’s license. International driver’s licenses are not accepted here, whatever you hear. It is not difficult and you can organize an interpreter to help translate. I only had to do the practical, as I had completed my theory in my home country.

Hustles and Scams and Beggars.

9 ) Hustles and Scams. There seem to be fewer hustles and scams around at the moment, and that may have something to do with the government trying to raise the level of foreign tourists coming into the country. But they still exist and these are the most common ones.

Getting short-changed on your bill. This is the most common one to be aware of and the one that is most easily fixed. It doesn’t take much to learn the native currency which is the “dong”. After converting your money to dong you will no doubt become an instant “dong” millionaire. The exchange rate for one US dollar is 23,712 dong. To be an instant “dong” millionaire you only need $45.00 US. To stop being scammed install a money converter ( I use XE) or work put roughly the conversion rates on each purchase. After a while, you know that $1.00 works out to be about 20,000 dong.

Download your XE Money converter.

And get used to the look of each denomination. A 20,000 dong note can, in the dark, look similar to a 500,000 dong note.

Taxis. These have become much less normal than before. After entering a taxi please make sure that they turn on the meter. I have heard many stories about people being charged huge amounts for short trips. And I too was ripped off when I first came to Vietnam, even though the meter was on. The driver said 500,000 when it should have been only 50,000 dong.

Just being aware of the conversion rate will nip these little scams in the bud.

The latest scam I almost got caught up in was going to Thailand, and it was at the Thailand end. Someone took my luggage off the conveyer belt and had surrounded it with their own luggage. I guess they hoped that I would give up looking and then they would walk out of the airport with my stuff. The ground staff was quite helpful but it was by me looking that my luggage was found. Be aware of your luggage and try to get to the baggage terminal as quickly as possible after your plane lands.

With most scams and hustles you can easily avoid being the victim by being aware of your surroundings and taking precautions whenever necessary.

Whether you decide to give money to a beggar is up to you, but there are a lot of scams wrapped up in this. I have seen young babies being passed around from “mother” to ‘mother” to endlessly parade around the foreigner while the “mother” says “baby hungry”.

I have seen beggars dragging themselves down the street only to have a “miracle” happen and they can suddenly walk again with your cash. I am not saying every beggar is a liar, but it is very hard to pick. And if you do wish to donate it is far better to choose a credible organization like Vietnam Red Cross.

Natural Disasters.

10). Although Vietnam is not prone to earthquakes, volcanoes, or wildfires, low-lying areas can be impacted by torrential monsoonal rains and rare typhoons. Although the infrastructure in the cities where ex-pats are likely to reside is sufficient to prevent catastrophic floods, large storms frequently cause temporary road closures, toppled trees, and broken electric lines.

Flooding that occurs in Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City may not be resolved for several days. When picking a spot to live in these places, it is best to take into account sites less prone to flooding. There is something very annoying about having to push your motorcycle the last 100 meters through local floods until you arrive home.

Photography.

11). When taking any photos it is always polite to ask before you start shooting anything. How would you feel if someone pushed a camera in your face and started taking photos without even a “please”

Not every photo should be taken, Although you can take pictures of the majority of things in Vietnam, there are a few things you should never take pictures of.

Anything associated with the military is included in this. Don’t even consider photographing the Vietnamese military since you can get fined heavily or worse. Refrain from taking photos of key locations and military installations, such as border areas, military camps, bridges, airports, navy dockyards, and even train stations. Anyone caught snapping photos near these locations runs the danger of having their camera’s memory card confiscated or receiving a fine.

Normally you will see signs where you can’t take photos, but if there are no signs still be cautious. If it has anything to do with the military, do not take the shot.

Also, do not take any photos from your flight when flying over Vietnam, and do not take any photos of “Ho Chi Minhs” mausoleum. If in doubt, ask.

Undetonated Bombs.

12). If you are traveling in the center of Vietnam and are walking outside be aware there are still a lot of unexploded bombs around. My Son, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, is still surrounded by many unexploded bombs. However, if you keep on the well-laid-out paths you will have no problems.

A number of local farmers, metal scavengers, or children are killed or maimed each year in the once-called “Demilitarized Zone,” where unexploded munitions from previous battles are still a concern.

Because so many landmines and bombs are still present and unexploded, problems continue to arise.

So, no matter where you are, stay on well-traveled paths and avoid touching any shells or partially buried metal objects.

Final Thoughts.

Vietnamese people are generally very law-abiding, and Vietnam has a comparatively low crime rate. Petty crime happens but violent crime is rare. In the large cities, there is some thievery. In some rural areas, there is also some banditry, illegal drug use, and insurgency activity. In general, violent crime does not target foreigners. If they are and the culprits are apprehended, they face serious punishment.

Police and other authorities don’t bother foreigners much unless you have done something wrong or are requesting help.

Southeast Asia is known for having one of the lowest crime rates, and Vietnam is no exception. In Vietnam, drug use and prostitution are both widespread. Ho Chi Minh City has a problem with petty crime that is mostly opportunistic, but in general, crime in Vietnam does not harm tourists or foreigners. Criminals who involve or target foreigners face harsh penalties and normally do not bother them.

Relax and enjoy your stay and by using the above advice you will make sure your stay is event free with only the good times remembered.

You may wish to also look at “Is Vietnam Safe to Travel

And also “Etiquette in Vietnam


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

 

Holidays in Halong Bay

When you are in Vietnam, make sure you visit one of the 7 wonders of the world. Halong Bay is captivating and this will help you decide what to do.

Holiday in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

You have time off from your busy schedule. Whether a teacher on holiday or a tourist traveling around Vietnam, you can not miss Halong Bay. This is a “bucket list” must-do travel experience. Mind-blowing scenery awaits you when you visit Halong Bay.

Being recognized as one of the top 7 natural wonders of the world, Halong Bay is a UNESCO natural world heritage site situated in Vietnam. It is famous for its clear water and limestone islands. The bay also has caves that are said to be the most beautiful in the world, some of which you can swim inside.

The bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, which separates Vietnam from China. The bay has about 1000 limestone islands and some of them have been turned into resorts and hotels. Visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, biking, and hiking on these islands.

The bay’s name comes from the vernacular “hào long” which means “where there are caves”. Halong Bay has about 2000 limestone karsts and islands, many of which are still uninhabited today. These 1,900 large and small limestone islands cover an area of 1,553 square kilometers and they have many vivid shapes that make them a photographers dream.

Then

Halong Bay Formation.

The seascape, which has towering limestone formations and emerald lakes, dates back more than 500 million years. Contrary to popular belief, the bay was not formed by volcanic activity but rather by plate movement or tectonic action.

The present-day Ha Long Bay is the outcome of long-term geological evolution that was impacted by numerous variables. Halong Bay has undergone extraordinary historical development in addition to 500 million years of geological evolution.

Tens of thousands of years ago, according to historical research surveys, prehistoric humans lived in this region. And in more recent history Vietnamese sailors used it as a shelter from storms in the Gulf of Tonkin in the 17th century.

And Now.

The development of Ha Long tourism is further aided by the sophisticated transportation infrastructure. Ha Long has experienced exceptionally rapid economic expansion throughout time. A high level is invested synchronously in the infrastructure and facility system. As a result, when you visit Ha Long, it will undoubtedly satisfy all of your needs in terms of recreation, shopping, dining, etc.

The first-class provincial city of Quang Ninh Province and well-known as a tourism haven in the Northern area is Ha Long, which is around 180 kilometers from Hanoi. Halong Vietnam used to draw millions of domestic and foreign tourists each year because of its advantageous position (Next to Halong Bay). Covid made a dent in those numbers and improved them by reducing the number of tourists. However, in my opinion, this is going to change shortly, so you should act early to benefit from excellent prices and fewer tourists.

Times to Visit.

Ha Long’s climate varies from month to month, and each season has its own unique characteristics. You should carefully examine the weather forecast before setting off on your journey because of this. You can choose from the following times to travel to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam:

From April to June: This is the best time for you to take a Ha Long tour to escape the stress of everyday life. Right now, it’s nice and mainly sunny outside. As a result, it is perfect for sightseeing or spending time in the sun at some gorgeous beaches with your family and friends.

The busiest time of year is from June to August when plenty of families bring their kids to this city for the summer. As a result, both the demand for travel and the cost of accommodations and services rise. So, if you want to travel cheaply, you need to establish a particular plan in advance.

From late November to Tet Holiday (around February): This is when Ha Long Bay in Vietnam often receives a significant influx of foreign visitors. It is comparatively less congested than during the peak season, giving you more personal space to enjoy Ha Long tourism to its fullest.

On and Off the Path.

There is a whole range of different things you can do and this along with some “booking.com” information will help you plan that dream holiday. You can add things that take you off the path and show you a bit more of how the locals live and also add the “must-see” destinations that are normally mainstream.

Stay on a Junk.

You might not be aware of the wide range of choices while booking a hotel in Halong Bay.

Of course, you can stay at a conventional hotel, but if you’d prefer something different, you can also spend the night on a boat.

There are a lot of boats that double as hotels, and you can pick from big cruise ships to little, old-fashioned junks. It has been about 20 years since I last stayed on a “Junk” while sailing around Halong bay. And when I say Junk, I mean a palatial boat with my room totally laid out with Jade walling and all the modern conveniences you would expect in a 5-star hotel. And this was 20 years ago.

So if you want a full-on one-of-a-kind hotel experience in Halong Bay staring at the stars from the boat’s deck while dozing off to the sounds of the waves, This is it.

Lan Ha Bay

Due to the popularity of Halong Bay as a tourist attraction in Vietnam, many of the islands get congested during the summer months.

In light of this, you might wish to visit Lan Ha Bay if you want to explore a more sedate area of the surrounding islands.

There are many activities available on the island, such as swimming, rock climbing, and sea kayaking. And the island alone is well noted for its white sandy beaches.

If you want to witness a piece of history, don’t miss this because it is one of Vietnam’s oldest floating residential neighborhoods.

Ban Sen Island.

The place to go if you’re seeking adventure is Ban Sen Island.

This island in Halong Bay is one of the less popular ones and is covered in dense vegetation.

Take a ferry from Cai Rong to Quan Lan to get here, and then start your hike from there.

There are several guides in the area who can show you the frequently unmarked paths and regale you with tales of the island’s flora and fauna.

Visit Hospital Cave.

If you like recent history you may wish to visit hospital Cave, it served as a covert medical facility during the Vietnam War as it was hidden from view and bombing.

It was constructed between 1963 and 1965 and utilized by leaders of the Viet Cong as well. It is around 10 kilometers from Cat Ba Town and was still in use in 1975.

A tour guide will take you around the 17 rooms spread across three stories, and you can even visit the operation area in addition to the cinema and swimming pool.

Rent a Sea Plane.

Consider booking a seaplane tour if you want to splurge out and explore Halong Bay from above.

There is no better way to view the karst formations that are famous in this region of Vietnam than from the air.

The seaplane rides in Halong Bay will lift you 300 meters above the water and allow you to fly over a number of noteworthy locations, including Dau Go Cave, Tuan Chau Island, and many others.

Kayaking at Monkey island.

If you want to take a boat tour in Halong Bay, Monkey Island, also known as Cat Dua in Vietnamese, is a terrific location.

A lovely private beach is available here, where you can spend your time tanning on the white sand or swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters. This is a great place to relax or do something more adventurous.

If you’re feeling brave, you can also go sea kayaking here or trek the entire length of the island because there are so many beautiful trails that take you through the thick vegetation.

And so much more.

Halong Bay is a must-stop area when you visit Vietnam or if you are working here and have never visited. There is something for everyone and more for you to do than I can write about. Here are just some of the other things you can do as well.

  • Explore Me Cung Cave
  • Travel to Monkey Island
  • Travel to the shrine at Virgin Cave
  • Hike around Cat Ba National Park
  • Check out Fighting Cocks Island
  • Go night squid fishing
  • Visit Lan Ha Bay
  • Shop at Cat Ba Island Market
  • Dine on a seafood barbecue
  • Travel to Dau Be Island
  • Tour Cannon Fort
  • Go cliff walking at Cat Co 3
  • Hike on Ban Sen Island
  • Sleep on a boat
  • Shop at Bai Chay Market
  • Visit Hospital Cave
  • Grab a drink at the bia hoi stalls
  • Take a sea plane
  • Go kayaking around the karst formations

Final Thoughts.

I have lived and traveled extensively throughout Vietnam over the last 15 years. Ans Halong bay is one of my favorite places in Vietnam for its magnificent otherworldly scenery. It is a photographers delight and you will be amazed at the opportunities you will get.

After traveling extensively around Vietnam, booking.com has never caused any problems for me and I have used it for all my travel arrangements.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.