What to bring to Ho Chi Minh City.

I think I am ready, but I am not sure. Somebody please help. What is a Xe-Om? Do I give money to the Buddhist Monks?

So you have everything organized and you are going to Vietnam. You have either been sponsored by a school to start teaching in Vietnam or the latest “covid” travel ban and lock down has been lifted. Either way, you are “on the way” to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. You might be thinking ” what should I take”. I have gotten my health check, police check (If you have been in HCMC for longer than 6 months you should do that here) and done my training. I also have all my paperwork notarized. So..what have I forgotten?

Money and Credit/Debit cards.

The amount of cash you bring is dependent on a job waiting for you or not. And if you have done all your paperwork and training.(However with the training there are two major benefits of doing it in Vietnam, 1. They can help you a job, 2.the training is geared towards teaching in Vietnam).

How much is enough? If you have everything done you could survive on $1,500.00 – $2,000.00. This may sound like too much for some people but it will give you enough for accommodation, food and travel to and from work. Personally I would feel uncomfortable in bringing so little and my comfort level starts at $5,000.00. A credit card is a healthy option but don’t go crazy on clubs or pubs. (OMG, I sound like my parents).

You may be waiting for six weeks until your first pay hits your bank account. (You will need help in setting up your bank account and the school may assist you). It is common for the agencies who act as recruiters and management of teachers to pay monthly. Then you may have to wait for 10 – 15 days for your funds to go into your account. ( Short term money market anyone).

So make sure you have enough to last 6 – 7 weeks. My advice would be to stay in a cheap hotel or something like the “Saigon workers club” ( Cheap boarding house in Go Vap district originally run by a foreigner) until you have a couple of pays under your belt. Work travel is incredibly cheap and a 30 minute Xe-Om (motorbike taxi) or Grab ride will only be $2.00 – $4.00.

Some people may say I am over-estimating the amount of money you need to bring but It is safer to have too much than too little. If you do run short of money and have to contact family or friends, the time it takes to get money from home may not leave you in a happy place.

Additional Services

You may or may not need some extra help when you land. If you do need help I can provide personalized pick up from the Airport (Ho Chi Minh City / Tan Son Nhat International Airport only) And also arrange one or two nights cheap and safe accommodation in district 1 ( Tell me your budget, but look at about $25.00 to $30.00 per night. Along with this an introduction to English Teacher Trainers and recruitment agencies and schools (All known by myself and visa versa) can be provided.

It’s the little things that matter and having a sim card (and mobile phone if needed) and introduction to your own Xe-Om ( motorbike taxi driver who can speak English) or Grab set up on your phone along with a money conversion app. can be helpful.

I have to cover my costs ( remember I am more interested in finding teachers) and time. Cost of this service is $150.00 to $250.00 depending on type of accommodation. Cost does not include smartphone. Contact me on stephenhey1@gmail.com if you wish to discuss further.

ESL Teacher training / TESOL, TEFL or CELTA

There are millions of people worldwide who dont speak English but want to. The ability to teach English is a great career boost and also a meaningful contribution to the lives of others.Students everywhere want to start their journey into learning English. And by doing the training, whether its TESOL (Teaching English to Students of other Languages), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), or CELTA ( Certificate in English Teaching Language to Adults)  you can help them achieve their goals.
ESL teachers instruct students whose first language isn’t English in reading, writing and conversing effectively. These teachers approach English skills from a real-life perspective, often focusing on conversational and job-related communication skills. They can help students function in an environment built upon the English language, or they may work abroad to introduce students to English. Travel may be required, and teachers might need an abundance of patience when working with students who may become frustrated when trying to learn an unfamiliar language.

There is an abundance of schools providing training which can be either on-line or face to face. The length of the course and cost depends on which type of training you do and the company or school you choose. A two to four week course or 120 hours is common. This will cover your basic English teaching license and if you want to add on more units (e.g. English for business, English for tourism) or even do an ESL Diploma, you may take up to six months.

You may decide to do your course in your home country or do it in Vietnam. There are pro’s and con’s to both approaches. but if you decide to do the training in Vietnam the course is directly related to this market and schools will help you find a job.

I recommend two schools that have different approaches to training both of which I have found to be very professional.

Australian International TESOL.

Australian International TESOL provide a multitude of professional International TESOL training and certification courses, Teaching Assistant training courses, professional International ESL specification upgrades and business and industry specific career ESL education upgrades. AIT TESOL’s intensive courses are renown for their International ESL methodologies, practical ESL implementation, ESL consulting and career opportunities throughout Vietnam and selected Asian destinations.

AIT TESOL offer:
– International TESOL Certification
– Industry Specific upgrade electives
– AIT TESOL Professional Diploma
– Teaching Assistant training courses

AIT TESOL courses are available at multiple locations across Vietnam and now available online!

Visit AIT TESOL and start your TESOL journey today!


World Tesol Academy

A TESOL/TEFL certificate is an essential qualification required by most schools when hiring English language (ESL) teachers.

Through this qualification course, you’ll learn the foundational skills needed to become an English language teacher. This includes an essential understanding of how the English language is structured, along with a range of classroom management skills and language teaching techniques.

By the end of the course you’ll earn your TESOL/TEFL qualification and gain a set of skills that can be used to teach English overseas and online.

Victoria’s story:

“A great course for the price. I’m too busy for going to a class and I need a recognized TESOL certificate for my online teaching work.” 
I’ve recently learned about online teaching and decided to give it a try.  After some researching I found that I would need a “TESOL” or “TEFL” certificate to get employed by one of the big companies. The biggest companies are based in China and the law there says that you need a recognized certificate to teach.

The course took me about 10 days to finish and I completed it using my Ipad. As I was most interested in online teaching (at least for the time being) I found the online teaching module toe be particularly interesting.


On Line Teaching


If you wish to teach from the comfort of your home you may consider on line teaching. You can either organize your own classes or tutor one on one. Zoom conferencing is an exceptional tool for this purpose.

Google meet is also awesome. It gives you 1 hour free teaching time. I have run over time by 15 minutes and still have not been kicked out of the conference call.

Or you may wish to use an online agency. There are a lot of choices in this market with China being the largest market. The pay rates range from lower than face to face teaching and higher, but the upside is you don’t have any traveling time and you can teach from anywhere in the world.

The only thing to remember is you have to allow for the time difference of the country you are teaching in. Your salary will be put into your PayPal or Payoneer account.

Magic Ears, VIPKID, EF Education First, Skimatalk, Preply and GoGoKid. are some of the the better schools available.

Magic Ears – Teach English Online to Chinese Students

Magic Ears is currently the top choice for ESL teachers from the USA and Canada. Founded in 2017, this company is a great option for English teachers.

The platform connects teachers with Chinese students aged 4 – 12. Lesson planning, marking homework and spekaing with the students’ parents is all dealt with by Magic Ears — you’re simply there to teach!

Classes are 25 mintue’s long, and you can earn up to $26 per hour.

Pros to Teach English Online With Magic Ears:

  • It’s a high-paying position at up to $26 per hour
  • You can work remotely from anywhere in the world
  • No Bachelor’s Degree is required, but you must be actively working on obtaining your certificate
  • Magic Ears offers a TEFL for just $20 (not transferrable to other online English teaching jobs)
  • Set your own schedule (but open at least 30 “peak hour” slots within your first 30 days)
  • Classes are 4-on-1 which is easier to manage than a larger group
  • Magic Ears creates the lesson plans for you
  • Application and interview procedure is easy
  • Use their teaching platform — no need to download any apps or programs
  • You don’t need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese
  • Salaries are paid via PayPal
  • There’s an engaging community on Facebook and assistance is available

Cons to Teaching English Online With Magic Ears:

  • Only Canadians and Americans can apply
  • Time change issues if you aren’t living in Asia


For more information about teaching on line and teachers tool , please visit

my website..

Tech Tools for the classroom

Teach Easy.

To make your life easier in the classroom (Public schools) it is advisable to have some tools available to help.


Classroom sizes in Vietnam are pretty big. You can walk into a class of 50 students every day. If you are not prepared you will be exhausted by days end. You need help to project your voice.

What do I need?

First off a wireless headset with a blue tooth connection to a speaker will save your voice after a day in the classroom.

I currently use an “Aporo”  wireless headset and Sony 30 watt speaker (XB32). As well as this I run all my audio recordings through Google drive on my cell phone.

Any good wireless headset and speaker will work. I recommend you try before you teach.

My cell phone is also connected via blue tooth to the Sony speaker. I have pre-saved all my audio recordings to my cell phone and pre-program the tracks I need for the lessons ahead.

I also use a mini projector for any visual presentations and display it on a wall in the classroom. Or I use a whiteboard or a rollout screen. I also have the audio output of the projector connected to the Sony speaker.

If you want to make your classroom experience more exciting and easier for you, invest in your future.

Here are a couple of items that may help.

I hope this helps. Also, have a look at my other posts, they might even help you.

 How to teach English in Vietnam. – Teaching ESL in Vietnam 2021 (vietnamesl.com) 

Any comments are gratefully accepted and always answered.

Any or all affiliate links on this website may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something on these links I may 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.

ESL in the classroom.

The main areas of employment and teaching are in either privately or company owned schools’ ( such as VUS, ILA and a host of others) or in the public schools’. Primary or secondary schools’ will be what I am focusing on but you still have the option of Universities.

In this section I will be covering schools’, the classroom, salary expectations, recruitment and things that will make your job easier. Most of the following information is from personal experience from other teachers and myself. ( Teachers who have been in the industry for a long time).

Schools and Class sizes.

The government or public schools’ I will talk about are the primary and secondary schools’. A lot of teachers like to work in the public schools’ because they work normal hours. The hours are normally 7am to 4.30pm with a 2-hour lunch/nap break through the hottest part of the day. This is a guide only and your hours may be different to the above. Most teachers don’t work the whole day and your schedule may be morning or afternoons or a mixture of both. To work at these schools’ you will need to find a recruitment agency ( Such as Power English) or work in a privately owned school that has a contract with one of the schools’. There are a lot of recruitment agencies and their professionalism can range from non-existent to excellent. As a new teacher to Vietnam you can find a wealth of information on Facebook with groups like FETV (Foreign English Teachers in Vietnam) and English Teachers in Vietnam both of which offer good advice and feedback.

Be wary, some schools’ and recruitment agencies are not that strong in their H. R skills. In the worst instances, some smaller schools’ have been known to quickly disappear along with your monthly salary. Fortunately this does not happen as frequently as it did in the past. One of the first pieces of advice I received was to have 2 or 3 different jobs to protect you from the above. If one school closed along with your salary you would be OK financially because of the other 2 schools’. Thanks to stricter guidelines and controls this has become a rare occurrence. Generally the longer the school or recruitment agency has been around and the better the reputation the less likely anything untoward will happen.

Class sizes in public schools’ tend to be a lot higher than “western” classrooms. You should expect class sizes to be 40 – 50 students on average. There are exceptions and you will come across smaller class sizes in public schools’ especially in more affluent areas. Along with the number of students the actual size of the class can be larger than you may expect. I would suggest investing in a microphone and speaker so you don’t lose your voice while teaching. I personally recommend a wireless blue tooth headset that connects to a speaker with an output of around 30 watts. My preference is an Aporo headset with a Sony blue tooth speaker. I have this connected to my mobile phone and run all my audio through Google drive. I can thus prepare everything before class and know it will work. This gives me the freedom to walk around the classroom and being heard by everyone and not straining my voice. Most of the schools’ do provide some equipment but I prefer to use my own because of set up time and the hit or miss scenario of whether the provided equipment actually works. You can quickly lose the attention of the students if you spend 10 – 15 minutes of your lesson setting up the schools’ equipment. Large class sizes mean the attention span of the students can be short and the noise levels can be high.

I have a mini projector for my visual needs. ( more on the classroom equipment later).

The private and company owned schools’ are well resourced and perhaps apart from bringing your own “Flash cards’ ( A5 size cards that shows a picture of a word to be learnt) you will probably not need to bring any of your own equipment. Also, the class sizes are a lot smaller which means you are in a more Teacher and student friendly environment. Class sizes are normally around the 10 – 15 people level but can be more or less. The “private” schools’ are normally well provided for and can have computers, DVD’s, CD players, overhead projectors and microphones depending on the level of commitment of the owners. While it is good to have these resources it is without a doubt the skills of the teacher that make it an effective class. The other major difference between public and private schools’ are the teaching times. The hours for a private school are in the evening, Mondays to Fridays, 5.30pm – 7pm and 7.30pm – 9pm. (Some classes can be 2 hours long) and Saturdays and Sundays. These being 8am – 9.30am and 10am – 11.30am in the morning. Afternoon classes 3.30pm – 5.00pm and evening classes 5.30pm – 7pm and 7.30pm – 8pm. Each school can have different hours for teaching as laid down by the school owners or managers. There can be different levels of resources for the teacher but as standard most schools’ have course books and flashcards. As a teacher in either a public or private school you will be expected to follow a course curriculum.

Books, Schools and class curriculum

Whether you work for VUS, ILA or the British International school Vietnam or a public school or one of the many other schools’ or kindergartens you will be expected to follow a curriculum. Most schools’ will want you to teach about 2 pages per lesson. This is where your skills and techniques will come into play. One of the standard books of old ( and still being used) is Family and Friends 1,2,3, etc. When you first start, and look at the 2 pages you are asked to teach, you may well think… How am I going to make these 2 pages last for 2 hours, let alone 15 minutes. When you first start teaching it is advisable to have a range of material in your bag. Educational games are a lifesaver that will help you fill in the time as well as being important to the lesson. I am a firm believer in the laugh and learn style of teaching. If you make the lesson entertaining and fun the students will remember the content. If the lesson is boring the content will go in one ear and out the other. Young children, 4-6 year old, love coloring and there is a lot of material on the web that can help. education.com/worksheets, english4-kids.com, bogglesworld.com, worksheetfun.com, firstpalette and a lot of others provide free resources to the busy teacher.

For the older children you can provide handouts that are lesson related. They can be for work or fun. A great website for these students is englishworksheets.com. And you will, over time, learn a lot of games that are helpful in teaching and learning. You have games like “stop the bus’, English charades, ABC animals, food,countries etc. ( A -apple, b – banana, c – candy etc), hangman and the list goes on and on. You will get to the stage where you can walk into any class and be able to teach at least one lesson off the cuff.

Adults, especially those who pay the fees themselves, are arguably the easiest students to teach as they are the most motivated to learn. Kindergartens are also a rewarding area for teaching if you like young learners. They also have the least time for a lesson because of the childrens attention span. Lessons run for 30 minutes and you must be able to break the lesson down into 3-4 minute time slots to keep the attention of young learners.

Every age group and skill level brings its rewards and challenges. If I was to go through and list everything my website would be bigger than “War and Peace”

In all of these classes you will have a T.A (teachers assistant). Some can be helpful, some not so much. They are generally provided to keep the students in order, however you should be able to do this by yourself. You must have the overall authority in the classroom and keeping firm control of the classroom is paramount in being respected and giving a good lesson. Classrooms should be fun but the students must know the boundaries. A good teacher will find the techniques to running a successful class.

Salary expectations and recruitment

All salaries are negotiable but the average salary is around the 400,000 dong to 550,000 dong range for a native English speaker (N.E.S). Salaries legally have to be quoted in Vietnamese dong but these prices are equal to $17.20 to $23.65. Salaries can be lower or higher and can come with other benefits that will be offered or negotiated at the interview.

Facebook and Facebook groups are a great way to find a job. Word of mouth and introductions are also another great way to gain employment. I would love to know how many jobs have been gotten over a few drinks in bars and clubs. One service I can provide is introduction to schools’ and recruitment agencies if it is required.


I have attempted to cover as much as possible in this section but undoubtedly have missed one or two things. This website is a work in progress, so please continue to come back. Introduce yourself, make friends with myself and others. And, most importantly, I wish you a bright future as an English teacher.

Teaching English Abroad in Vietnam

There are certain ways that will make it easier for both the teacher to teach and the student to learn English as a second language. This will help you to understand more about teaching English in a foreign country.

How do students learn

Before we move into teaching styles and the methodology of teaching it is a good idea to reflect on how languages are learnt. If you can think when a baby is born it does not come forth into the world with a full range of vocabulary.

He or she spends the first years of life listening and absorbing the fundamentals of the language.

The first skill learnt is the Listening skill which is the foundation of all the other skills. ( I can quite often guess the nationality of the teacher because of the pronunciation of the student).

This is, arguably, the most important skill. The second skill in learning order is the speaking skill. Once the child has heard enough sounds, he or she will start putting together words and then phrases and sentences. The third and fourth skills are reading and writing and are higher learning skills.

And similarly to a baby learning a language this can be an effective guide in teaching English to an ESL (English as a second language) student. however, we do not have years to teach in the same way and time frame that a baby has to learn its native language.

Integrating the four skills can develop communicative competence because it focuses on the realistic communication, which is the main pursuit of teaching and learning in modern society

Teaching styles.   

You will ultimately find your own teaching style and classroom techniques as you develop as a teacher. some recognized styles of teaching T.P.R (Total physical response), The communicative approach, meaningful learning, and the old-fashioned rote learning. Most teachers will cherry-pick from the below teaching techniques to suit themselves.

You can find out more about teaching styles at the ” Australian Christian College

Total Physical Response.

T.P.R is a language acquisition method developed by psychology expert, Professor James Asher. TPR uses a combination of language and physical actions to engage students in the language learning process.

Total Physical Response has a lot of benefits, particularly for beginners and young learners.

  • The pairing of movement with language is innately associated with effective learning
  • Students actively use both the left and right sides of their brains
  • It works with both small and large groups
  • It sharpens students’ listening skills
  • Students are not required to speak until they are ready to, therefore creating a “safe zone” that greatly lowers inhibitions and stress
  • Students will appreciate the change of pace and potential for humor.
  • Kinaesthetic learners (who respond well to physical activities) and visual learners (who learn best with visual cues) will get a lot out of TPR.

The Communicative approach.

Teaching through language. A strong concentration on listening. It emphasizes interaction as both the means and ultimate goal of the study.

The communicative approach is based on the idea that learning a language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used, and this will allow them to learn to use the language.


Practicing question forms by asking learners to find out personal information about their colleagues is an example of the communicative approach, as it involves meaningful communication.

In the classroom

Classroom activities guided by the communicative approach are characterized by trying to produce meaningful and real communication, at all levels. As a result, there may be more emphasis on skills than systems, lessons are more learner-centered, and there may be some use of authentic materials.

Meaningful Learning

The concept or theory of meaningful learning is that learned information is completely understood and can now be used to make connections with other previously known knowledge, aiding in further understanding. Meaningful learning is often contrasted with rote learning, a method in which information is memorized sometimes without elements of understanding our relation to other objects or situations. Meaningful learning is to feel that all the pieces of a concept, idea, theory, formulae, or argument fit together.


Meaningful learning helps students achieve success in the classroom by:

  • Encouraging understanding, not memorization
  • Encouraging active learning techniques
  • Focusing on the outcome of the learning process
  • Relating new information to prior knowledge


The challenges associated with meaningful learning include:

  • Takes longer to achieve
  • Should be tailored for different types of learners

Some students may face challenges with meaningful learning, as it requires building off previous knowledge. This is where dedicated teachers and tutors can help ensure students understand concepts so that meaningful learning can continue to happen.

Rote Learning

Rote learning is a more traditional form of teaching. It is based on repetition until the students remember the words and phrases. Rote learning is defined as the memorization of information based on repetition.


There are some benefits of Rote Learning, including:

  • Ability to quickly recall basic facts
  • Helps develop foundational knowledge


The drawbacks of learning by memorization include:

  • Can be repetitive
  • Easy to lose focus
  • Doesn’t allow for a deeper understanding of a subject
  • Doesn’t encourage the use of social skills
  • No connection between new and previous knowledge
  • May result in a wrong impression or understanding a concept

While being able to quickly recall pieces of information is helpful, to understand information on a deeper level students must use a different method of learning.

It’s your move.

Students have different levels of interest and ability and learn in different ways. Auditory, kinesthetic, visual, etc. But if students “laugh and learn” the subject matter is more easily absorbed and retained.

There are many different ways of teaching and you will find the way that is most suitable and effective for yourself. One of the best ways to test if you are being effective is the engagement of the students.

When you are doing your teacher training you should be introduced to these different styles and hopefully given the chance to practice them. Just like anything, your teaching style and techniques will be perfected with practice.

Teaching On-Line / Schools that want teachers

Look at this post about schools that are looking for online teachers. On-Line Schools.

I also do placement of ESL teachers across 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.

How to teach English in Vietnam.

Huge growth in business and tourism have joined to make Vietnam one of the largest job markets for teaching English in the world.

After fifteen years of living and teaching in Vietnam I can provide you with a wealth of knowledge if you wish to teach in Vietnam.

I do this for two reasons. The first is I hope you can find a job that you will love and secondly I have a small school and I am always on the lookout for new teachers.

How to get paid to teach English.

Ho Chi Minh City is arguably the largest job market for teaching English in Vietnam. Low costs of living ( furnished apartments from $300 to $600 per month US$) can mean teachers in Vietnam can save the equivalent of $500 to $700 US$ per month all while enjoying a vibrant, exciting culture and amazing nightlife.

I am going to walk you through the things you will need, from teaching, finding a job, my experiences, day to day living and the pros’ and cons’ of life in Vietnam. I will also drill down into classroom activities, styles of teaching, classroom activities and sizes and job opportunities.

I will provide contacts for arranging visas and teacher training and how to get your motorbike license. I will try to cover as much as I can to make your trip to Ho Chi Minh City as easy as possible.

Things you need before you teach.

Some things you must provide to you future employer can be started to be gathered in your home country. You must provide a police check. This can be done at your local police station. This will show you have a clean criminal record and have not been arrested.

I got this quite easily from the country I was living in which was Australia. I waited for 7 working days and it was provided to me on an official Police letterhead stating my full name, address and passport number.

You will also have to provide a health check to show you are able to teach. You can do this in Vietnam but you may have communication problems with any non-English speaking staff. I organized mine with my local Doctor in my home country and this was satisfactory for my employer.

Although once I was employed, my employer, arranged to have me re-checked in Vietnam. (At their expense).

Degree or Non Degree. While a number of people will tell you can not teach without a degree, it is possible. If you need specialized help in this area please leave contact details in the comments section.

However, a degree in any subject is becoming essential. The degree does not have to be education related ( although it helps find a better paying job) and I have seen some very strange degrees shown.

So dust off your degree in surfing and prepare to become a teacher. In these days of COVID some schools and agencies are more willing to bend the rules than others.

I am offering no judgment call on degree or non-degree N.E.S ( Native English Speaker) but only providing current information on employment opportunities. With all your paperwork please arrange for notarized copies and also bring your originals.

I will talk about Visa costs, Work permits and training TESOL, TEFL, CELTA etc) as well as motorbike license costs within this post.

The Professional Engish Teacher.

What else do you need to maximize your income potential. Please bring suitable work attire. As I mentioned before, Vietnam can be quite traditional and teachers are expected to follow a dress code applicable to their role.

I am still surprised at the “new” teacher who is dressed in jeans and T-Shirt asking for a pay rise in an interview situation. I have been on the receiving end of this. Remember, we are in Vietnam and a lot of the labor laws are not at work here.

Trousers, short sleeve shirts and shoes with socks are deemed acceptable. There is no need to wear a tie or jacket.

If you have tattoos please try to cover them up in both the interview and classroom. As silly as this all sounds, if you are in an interview situation, this will give you an edge in getting the job you want.

It is Wet and Warm

Ho Chi Minh City has two seasons. Hot and wet and hot. So bring clothes that work around the seasons. You can buy cheap clothes in Vietnam but if you are a “big” size you may have difficulties in finding something that fits.

I now get my own clothes and shoes made at prices that are less than normal off the rack prices. It is hot in H.C.M.C., so bring clothes that will help you feel comfortable until you acclimatize.

Even though it is now much better, when I first came to Vietnam it was difficult to find underwear that was not too tight. So, throw in a couple of extra pair until you find a shop or department store that caters to your size.

Work Permits, Visa costs and Other Paperwork.

Work permits, Visa costs, Teacher training costs and License costs.

In this section I will give you a breakdown in costs and some contacts that I have personally used and found to be reliable.

The currency of Vietnam is the dong and everything I quote will be in either the Dong or in US$. Currently 100,000 dong is equivalent to $4.30 US.

As a rule of thumb take off 4 zeros and halve what is left. That will give you a quick ( although not 100% accurate) conversion rate between the dong and US$. A good idea is to download a currency conversion app for your phone called ‘Xe”

Vietnam Visa.

To get into Vietnam you will need a visa. These are broken down into Tourist or Business visa’s. I strongly recommend doing the business visa as that is what you will need to be able to work in Vietnam.

Also, go for the six-month visa as you do not wish to disrupt your teaching time by doing a “visa run” to another country. A reputable company called Vietnam-visa has offices in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and can help with all your visa needs from Visa on arrival to visa extensions and provide a wealth of information.

Below are the costs for a Visa, 1 to 6 months for single or multiple entries. You will see both tourist or business visas for one or over three people. Tourist Visa

1 pax. 2 pax. 3+ pax stamp fees 1 month single entry $21.00 $18.25 $17.25 $25.00

3 month single entry $34.00 $30.25 $28.25 $25.00

1 month multiple entries $26.00 $23.25 $22.25 $50.00

3 month multiple entries $54.00 $52.25 $46.75 $50.00

Business Visa

1 pax. 2 pax. 3+ pax stamp fees 1 month single entry $119.00 $114.00 $108.00 $25.00

3 month single entry $140.00 $133.00 $126.00 $25.00

1 month multiple entries $119.00 $114.00 $108.00 $50.00

3 month multiple entries $146.00 $139.00 $135.00 $50.00

6 month multiple entries $361.00 $344.00 $333.00 $95.00

Vietnam-visa has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam-visa Vietnam- visa 6th floor, Win Home building, 23rd floor, vinacomex Tower. No. 9 Hoa Cau. Pham Hung road Ward 7, Phu Nhuan District, Me Tri Ho Chi Minh City Tu Liem Hanoi

Phone number; +84 946 583 583 Ms Chloe Nguyen ( Nguyen pronounced Wing)

Work Permits.

One of the other pieces of paper you will need is a work permit, if you want to be legal. Your school will help you obtain a work permit and they may pay half or the full amount.

Technically if you are married to a Vietnamese person you do not need a work permit, however this is not well-known and you will probably be forced into getting a work permit.

There are a number of private enterprises that can help with this but It is best to let the school handle this. I have heard some horror stories of fake work permits and early exits from Vietnam.

If you wish to teach English in Vietnam for longer than three months it is a legal requirement to have a work permit.

Тhе rеquіrеmеntѕ fоr bеіng grаntеd а Vіеtnаm wоrk реrmіt vаrу dереndіng оn thе ѕресіfіс rоlе but thе gеnеrаl rеquіrеmеntѕ аrе аѕ fоllоwѕ:

Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn іѕ аt lеаѕt 18 уеаrѕ оf аgе;

Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn hаѕ quаlіfісаtіоnѕ аnd оссuраtіоnаl ѕkіllѕ whісh аrе ѕuіtаblе tо thе wоrk rеquіrеmеntѕ;

Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn іѕ іn gооd еnоugh hеаlth tо ѕаtіѕfу thе јоb rеquіrеmеntѕ;

Тhе fоrеіgn сіtіzеn іѕ nоt а сrіmіnаl оr hаѕ bееn рrоѕесutеd fоr сrіmіnаl lіаbіlіtу іn ассоrdаnсе wіth thе lаw оf Vіеtnаm аnd fоrеіgn lаwѕ

Rеquіrеmеntѕ fоr Еnglіѕh Теасhеrѕ

Еnglіѕh Теасhеrѕ dо nоt nееd tо hаvе рrіоr tеасhіng ехреrіеnсе tо bе еlіgіblе fоr а wоrk реrmіt аѕ lоng аѕ thеу hаvе аt lеаѕt а Васhеlоr’ѕ dеgrее іn аnу dіѕсірlіnе аѕ wеll аѕ а tеасhіng сеrtіfісаtе (ТЕFL, СЕLТА, TESOL еtс.). Теасhеrѕ whо dо nоt роѕѕеѕѕ а dеgrее саn ѕtіll bе еlіgіblе fоr а wоrk реrmіt рrоvіdеd thеу hаvе 3 уеаrѕ оf dосumеntеd tеасhіng ехреrіеnсе аѕ wеll аѕ а tеасhіng сеrtіfісаtе.

Wе аrе аwаrе thаt mаnу ехраtѕ wаѕ аblе tо gеt а wоrk реrmіt wіthоut а Васhеlоr’ѕ dеgrее. Тhе fее іѕ аbоut 3х hіghеr thаn uѕuаl, ѕіnсе уоu аrе bаѕісаllу brіbіng уоur wау аrоund іt. Wе dоn’t rесоmmеnd thіѕ but іf уоu tаkе thіѕ раth, rеmеmbеr thаt уоu аnd уоur еmрlоуеr аrе tаkіng thе rіѕk.

1 х Сrіmіnаl Rесоrd Сhесk (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd)

Іѕѕuеd wіthіn thе lаѕt 6 mоnthѕ

Frоm hоmе соuntrу ОR а Vіеtnаmеѕе оnе іf уоu hаvе bееn іn Vіеtnаm fоr 6+ mоnthѕ

1 х Dеgrее (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd)

1 х Неаlth Сhесk Сеrtіfісаtе

Іѕѕuеd wіthіn thе lаѕt 6 mоnthѕ

2 х Соlоurеd рhоtосоріеѕ оf уоur раѕѕроrt (іnсludіng уоur Вuѕіnеѕѕ Vіѕа)

2 х Рhоtоgrарhѕ (4х6сm) tаkеn оn а whіtе bасkgrоund wіthоut glаѕѕеѕ

1 х ТЕFL/TESOL/CELTA Теасhіng Сеrtіfісаtе (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd) – уоu саn gеt сеrtіfіеd оnlіnе оr gеt сеrtіfіеd оnсе уоu аrе іn Vіеtnаm

Оnlу fоr tеасhіng јоbѕ

1 х Lеttеr(ѕ) соnfіrmіng 3 уеаrѕ оf rеlеvаnt wоrk ехреrіеnсе іѕѕuеd bу fоrmеr еmрlоуеr(ѕ) (lеgаlіzеd/nоtаrіzеd + trаnѕlаtеd + сеrtіfіеd)

Fees can range from $50.00US for a U.S. A citizen up to $500.00US for a South African.

Drivers License.

After you have been in Vietnam for a while and have become used to the chaotic traffic you may wish to obtain your own drivers license. You can either transfer your existing license or resit the test entirely. I chose the second option which turned out to be very easy and remarkably cheap, less than 500,000 dong. Approximately $24.00US.

However, if you wish to transfer your original license, these are the steps you need to take.

First, get the following together:

  1. Official translation of your Driving License (2 copies) from your home country (you must find an official translator for your language with notary powers to do this – your Embassy/Consulate should be able to inform you, for some language you might be able to do it at the People’s Committee on 47, Le Duan in District 1, HCMC)
  2. Notarized copy of your Driving License translation (2 copies) which has to be done at the Department of Justice of Ho Chi Minh City) – some official translators may do the two above steps for you, but the important thing is to get the stamp from the Department of Justice on your Driving License’s translation
  3. 2 copies of your Passport (first page, visa/resident card, and entry stamp) – simple black & white copies
  4. Filled in form from the Transit Authority (Download here) or get it at the Department of Transport when applying
  5. Original Resident card (if applicable)
  6. Original Driving License from your home country, and your old Vietnam Driving License in case of renewal
  7. Original Passport

Then, go to the Department of Transport (the driving license holder needs to be present) – for Ho Chi Minh City the address is Sở Giao thông vận tải, 252 Lý Chính Thắng, Phường 9, District 3, HCMC located in the end of the alley – it can be difficult to find,

Once there, go straight into the building (1st floor).

  • The security guard can point you in the right direction (they usually know what foreigners are there for)
  • At the counter, present all the documents listed above – the officer will certify that all is in order
  • If you forgot to copy some documents, you can find copy shops nearby
  • When handing all the documents, you will have to pay 135,000 VND for the application fee
  • You will then be asked to sit by a wall and they will take your photo on the spot
  • Note that at this point your Vietnamese driving license will only reflect the types of vehicles stated in your original driving license from your home country

This means that if you have a B1 (car) driving license in your home country, but not an A class (motorbike up to 175cc ), you will still need to add it later to your Vietnamese license. For the motorbike license, you just have to pass a practical exam (you will be excused from the theoretical part, which is considered by the Vietnamese as proven by the driving license you are converting now).

After everything is done, you will get a confirmation form stating your name, your license type, and the completion date for the conversion (usually after 10 working days).

  • You will be directed to a little table in the corner of the room where a Post officer will ask you to fill in your preferred address to receive your Vietnam driving license
  • Fill in your postal details and pay 30,000 VND to receive it directly, or you can come back in person to collect it
  • They will inform you of the exact date the courier will come to your stated address – you can put your office address, and give the receipt to someone else to collect it)
  • The officer will give you a receipt which you will have to hand to the courier that will come to deliver your Vietnam driving license

Total Issuing Cost for your Vietnam Driving License: 200,000 VND (for the translation/notarization) + 135,000 VND(application fee) + 30,000 VND (postal fee) = 365,000 VND.

Ready for the next steps? You’re almost there!

Now use your converted license to get your Vietnamese license.

(not needed if your original driving license already had it – and you don’t have to take the theoretical exam in any case)

Warning, the following steps will be harder to do without speaking Vietnamese or without the help of a Vietnamese friend.

Get the documents below:

  1. 04 photos [3x4cm] with blue background for the driving center
  2. 01 photo (any size, any background) for the health check
  3. Copy of your Passport (1 copy, first page, visa/resident card, and entry stamp)
  4. Filled in form (available on the spot at the driving center)
  5. Health check results
  6. Original Vietnam Driving License
  7. Original Passport
  8. Original Resident Card (if applicable)

Your first step will be to have a health check to show you are able to drive.

There are only 3 certified hospitals in HCMC (if you live in another city you can get the list of certified hospitals at your local driving center) to get it done:

  • An Sinh Hospital, 10 Trần Huy Liệu, Phường 12, Phú Nhuận, Hồ Chí Minh (google map link) – cost around 1,5M VND.
  • Binh Thanh Hospital, 112AB Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Phường 1, Bình Thạnh, Hồ Chí Minh (google map link) – cost around 600,000 VND
  • Giao Thong Van Tai Hospital, 136 Cách Mạng Tháng Tám, Phường 12, Quận 10, Hồ Chí Minh (google map link) – cost around 185,000 VND.

The health check fee is from 185,000 VND to over 1M VND, depending on the hospital.

You don’t need to schedule a visit and can just show up directly but you might need to wait on busy days.

You should wear formal clothes (long pants, no shorts) and avoid drinking (too much) alcohol the day before, as they will test your urine and your breath for alcohol.

Bring along your original passport and a photo to apply for the health check, just follow the steps and get the results.

This part will definitely be easier with a Vietnamese friend.

Then, go to the driving center – for HCMC it is located at Vocational Colleges 7, Trường cao đẳng nghề số 7, 51/2 Thành Thái, Phường 14, District 10, HCMC

Once there, you will be given a form to fill in your personal information.

  • With your health check approved in hand, go back to the front office where they will inform you of the available exam schedules and ask you to choose one
  • You will be asked to pay the license issuing fee
  • They will give you a receipt which serves as your exam registration
  • They will return all original documents to you straight away
  • On the exam date (can be any day – mine was booked for 7 AM), go back to the same place with your exam registration receipt in hand
  • Bring also your original Passport, Vietnam Driving License, and Resident Card
  • The exam takes around 15 minutes and is a just a basic route that you need to complete (roundabout, narrow path, driving over bumps, that’s it) – the motorbike is provided
  • Note that you cannot use your own bike, and have to use their bike – a semi-automatic old motorbike. You should definitely practice a few times beforehand. You can just show up at the driving center any day from 7:30 am to 5 pm, and rent a test bike for 50,000 VND for 30min practice (the office is located at the entrance gate)
  • Results are announced as soon as you completed the test
  • You will then sign the issuance form
  • 10 working days later, they will issue a new Vietnam driving license for you for both car and motorbike

Total Fees:

– License issuing fee: 135.000 VND

– Exam fee: 90.000 VND

– Health Check fee: 70.000 VND

And if you prefer to avoid the hassle and time spent on getting a driving license, we recommend the agency IzyViet that can take care of everything for you. International licenses are not valid in Vietnam and if you drive without a license you probably won’t be covered by health insurance.

Well this takes care of the back end stuff.

Time for the classroom.


About Steve


Hi, welcome to Teaching ESL in Vietnam 2021. The site where you can find information about teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. What to expect in the classroom and what it is like to live and work in one of the most vibrant cities in South East Asia.

The main aim of this website is to help you decide if teaching in HCMC, Vietnam is for you and how to get a job and make money as quickly as possible.

My House in Vietnam


My name is Steve and I have been living and teaching in Vietnam for fifteen years and now have my own school. I would like to help others to achieve their dream of teaching abroad while avoiding the pitfalls. Both my parents were teachers, my brother is a teacher and my daughter is a teacher. So it must be in the blood.

I have been living and teaching in Vietnam for the last fifteen years and have had some amazing experiences and met some fantastic people. The one thing I always wished for was one place to go to where I could find the information that would help me progress as a teacher and avoid some traps.

I would like to tell you a little more about me that may help you understand what motivates me. The first and most important thing is I am married to a wonderful Vietnamese lady and we have two children, Bao and Ngoc. We live in an extended family that includes nieces, nephews, and grandparents.

When I first met Nga she and I had great problems communicating which led to confusion and arguments. So I was motivated to both learn Vietnamese and teach her English. That’s where it started. As cliched as it sounds, I teach English to help people understand one another and avoid conflict.

I believe one of the major roads to conflict is the lack of understanding between different cultures. However, I am also fully aware that there must be some reward for the time taken to provide this opportunity to the students.

Hopefully, this website can provide at least a starting place to answer questions about teaching in Vietnam.

When I first arrived in Vietnam I wasted a lot of time finding my way around and there was no central source of information. So I have decided to give back a bit of my time in trying to help others.


I would like to help others mainly so they can enjoy the same lifestyle I have led over the last fifteen years. I see people knocking themselves out in jobs they don’t like. And I think we all deserve to be happy. There is no greater feeling than going to work and loving what you do.

To create the opportunity for someone who may be socially disadvantaged by teaching them English ( So they can get a better life) and be paid for it is nothing less than amazing. So if I can help you become a great teacher and improve others’ lives in the process I will be happy.


The goal of my site is to help you help others. If I can provide enough information that helps you decide if you want to become a motivated and amazing kick-ass teacher I will be happy that I have helped start your journey. If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best, and remember a good teacher can change your life.

I also do a side hustle with Wealthy Affiliate

Steve Hey



An Overview of Vietnam

An overview of the culture in Vietnam.

The culture of Vietnam is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia. Vietnamese culture is rich and diverse and was heavily influenced by Chinese culture due to 1,000 years of Chinese rule.

To help you understand the Vietnamese it helps to know a little about the culture. In Vietnamese culture, kinship plays an important role in society. While western culture is known for its individualism, Vietnamese culture places value on the roles of the family. It is still not uncommon to find three or four generations living under one roof.

Another example of the traditional values of Vietnamese culture are that weddings are still one of the most important traditions. The value of family is a very important aspect of Vietnamese life.

There are plenty of on-line sites and books that deal with Vietnamese culture if you wish to delve deeper into this area.

Also, as a brief guide, Vietnam stretches along the coastline of the South China Sea with borders to China in its north, Laos in the northeast and center and Cambodia in the southwest. It occupies approximately 127,243 square miles (329,560 square kilometers) which is about the same size as New Mexico.

There are about 90 million Vietnamese in this are with about 9 million living in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese is the official language however a lot of Vietnamese also speak English. It is a very good idea to try to master the basics of Vietnamese as you will be shown much respect for attempting the language.

When meeting, a handshake or a small bow of the head is and appropriate form of greeting. Business cards (passed with two hands) is a valuable tool in making acquaintances. If you are given a business card, take the time to read it before putting it in your pocket.

Even though it is becoming old-fashioned, it is still wise not to point the soles of your feet towards any “household shrines” Also when summoning someone, make sure the fingers are pointed downwards not upright. Even though these will not cause any major offense it will show to your guests that you have taken the time to learn and understand some culture.

Loss of face is still important to most Vietnamese so try to be discreet and respectful if you have a problem. You might be seething with a feeling of injustice but screaming and shouting will not help. If you have a problem try to resolve it in private.

Ho Chi Minh city and places to visit.


The largest city (formerly known as Saigon) is H.C.M.C and one of the most dynamic and engaging cities in South east Asia. HCMC represents the new young energetic nation that has left the wars and conflicts behind it. Vietnam has boasted one of the fastest rates of economic growth in the world.

Cities like HCMC and Hanoi are abundant with modern vehicles, upscale clothing shops, excellent restaurants and grand shopping malls. It also has endless construction that runs hand in hand with ancient pagodas and old French architecture.

HCMC was originally built as part of the Khmer civilization based in what is now Cambodia and today you will find millions of motorbikes swerving past old French villas and modern skyscrapers like the Bitexco tower.

If you come to live and teach in HCMC you might also wish to explore these amazing highlights.

1) Benh Thanh market; Dig out your bargaining skills and barter with the locals for anything from fresh flowers, cheap clothes,and souvenirs. There are also a number of places you can eat so you can make a day of shopping and enjoying the local cuisine.

2) Reunification Palace; The ex-home of the President of the Republic of Vietnam. It has been converted into a museum and is frozen in time in 1975. Close your eyes and you can hear the tank knocking down the fates and storming the Palace.

3) The War Remnants Museum; A fascinating museum that documents the struggles, injustices and brutality of war. You will find a modern museum with a large selection of old weapons and equipment along with a very humanistic approach to the American / Vietnamese war.

4) District 1 and Dong Khoi. From high tea to getting high is the difference between the backpackers’ area of Bui Vien to the 5 star hotels of Dong Khoi and its surrounds.

5) District 1,2,3,7 and 10 are where you will find a lot of ex-pats who live in HCMC. However, we are now spreading out to all districts and provinces.

take the time to find out a bit more about the etiquette of Vietnam here. Etiquette in Vietnam – Be Nice – Teaching ESL in Vietnam 2021 (vietnamesl.com)