How to Travel and Work Abroad in Vietnam

That Perfect Asian Experience.

Vietnam is a country that’s still relatively unknown to many tourists. It is a country of adventure, culture, and beauty. It’s the perfect destination for anyone who wants to explore Asia without the hassle of flying all the way to China or India. And yet it still borders China, Laos, and Cambodia if you get the urge to cross borders and discover the differences.

It offers many different types of tourism, from the mountains and beaches to foodies heaven. You can start your day in Vietnam over a steaming bowl of Pho before wading through the markets with the locals who are buying their daily supplies. Almost every district has one major market or “cho” where the local inhabitants do their food shopping for the day. A bustling, shoulder-rubbing experience that proves people have forgotten about Covid perhaps more than they should have.

Work or Play in Vietnam.

Or are you planning to do a bit of both? Vietnam, like a lot of Asia, has become a hot spot for backpackers who beef up their travel funds by teaching English. However, things have changed, and not just because of the pandemic. Even prior to the lockdown there was a push by the Government to get better-qualified teachers into the Vietnamese Education system.

And now with the doors slowly creaking or in some cases cast aside quickly, open, there are many deals on offer for both the dedicated traveler, part-time tourist, digital nomad, or ESL teacher to take advantage of.

But first things first, let us look at the safety factor of traveling around this slightly pungent country. Has covid been entirely eradicated and what are the new visa and covid regulations.

The New Visa and Covid Regulations.

While Covid has not been eradicated it is under control with new cases dropping to under 100 in many localities on May 21, with a total of 1,457 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours from 4 pm May 20 to 4 pm May 21, according to the Ministry of Health ( Vietnam ).

On the streets, it is now common to see a lot if not most people walking around without masks, but that depends on what district you are in and if you are in a business building or not. People are becoming much more tolerant of others not wearing masks. Maybe it is complacency, but I do feel safer than I did 9 months ago.

The Visa Process.

The visa process can be confusing if you are not sure what you need to do and when. The best way to avoid any problems is by getting your visa before you go on your trip. You will also need a valid passport with at least six months left before it expires

There are some countries that have visa exemptions, and these countries are. From  Vietnam visas.

Chile90 daysFor tourist visas only
Panama90 daysFor tourist visas only
Cambodia30 days 
Indonesia30 days 
Kyrgyzstan30 days 
Laos30 days 
Malaysia30 days 
Singapore30 days 
Thailand30 days 
Philippines21 days 
Brunei14 days 
Myanmar14 days 
Belarus15 days· The 30-day interval between 02 stays with visa exemption has been removed in accordance with the new law on entry, exit, transit, and residence of foreigners in Vietnam which takes effect on July 1, 2020.
Denmark15 days
Finland15 days
France15 days
Germany15 days
Italy15 days
Japan15 days
Norway15 days
Russia15 days
South Korea15 days
Spain15 days
Sweden15 days
United Kingdom (Not applicable to BNO)15 days

These are the Countries requiring Visas.

If you are coming to work as an ESL teacher you will need a business visa.

CountriesTourist visaBusiness visaVisa on arrival
FranceNot required (15 days)Not required (15 days)Eligible
GermanyNot required (15 days)Not required (15 days)Eligible
Hong KongRequiredRequiredEligible
JapanNot required (15 days)Not required (15 days)Eligible
New ZealandRequiredRequiredEligible
SingaporeNot required (30 days)Not required (30 days)Eligible
South AfricaRequiredRequiredEligible
South KoreaNot required (15 days)Not required (15 days)Eligible
ThailandNot required (30 days)Not required (30 days)Eligible
United Arab EmiratesRequiredRequiredEligible
United KingdomNot required (15 days)Not required (15 days)Eligible
United StatesRequiredRequiredEligible

The following is a short, clear checklist of documents required for a Vietnam visa application. It applies to those who are not exempted from Vietnam visas.

Documents required for getting a Vietnam visa include:

1. Passport: valid for at least 6 months following your arrival date to Vietnam and have at least 2 blank pages for immigration stamps. A temporary passport maybe not accepted.

2. Visa Approval Letter: required if you want to get a Vietnam visa on arrival at Vietnam international airports.

3. Photo: two (2) passport-sized photos (4×6 cm) and must be taken recently without glass-wear.

4. Visa application form: Immigration entry and exit application form for Vietnam visa on arrival.

5. Vietnam Visa Stamping Fee: paid in cash upon arrival (for Vietnam visa on arrival)


  • Travelers who transit through Vietnam airport should check the airlines for Vietnam visa requirements;
  • Travelers directly visiting Phu Quoc Island, either by boat or airplane from a country other than Vietnam, and staying for less than 30 days are not required to have a Vietnam visa.
  • In case you are granted visa-free access to Vietnam, you just need a passport with at least 6 months of validity following your date of entry into Vietnam.
  • The visa approval letter is valid at the airport only. So if travelers enter Vietnam by land or cruise, they can apply for a Vietnam visa via the local embassy.

Source; Vietnam Visa.

The Best Destinations in Vietnam.

From Hanoi in the north to Phu Quoc island in the south of Vietnam, you will be inspired and enthralled every step of the way. It has become common practice for tourists to travel from South to North, although in my opinion, I think going from North to South is better.

There are many sights and places you can stop off and see and I will cover some of these. But I will show you how you can organize your own holiday and stop off at some more obscure places. Do not think you will get to see all of Vietnam in 4 weeks. I have been here 15 years and still discovering new places in this amazing country.

Three Regions.

Vietnam is typically classified into 3 regions. The North, Central, and the South. Each of these regions has its own climate and with coastal influences and Mountainous regions you can break these down again into sub-climates.

To find out more about when the best time to come, click on “Is Vietnams rainy Season a bad time to visit?”

The Cities of Vietnam.

The ten biggest cities of Vietnam population-wise are listed below, however, in my opinion, not all are equally deserving of your time. And there are some smaller cities and regional centers that are well worth a visit for various reasons.

RankBiggest Cities in VietnamPopulation
1Ho Chi Minh City8,244,400
2Ha Noi7,379,300
3Hai Phong1,946,000
4Can Tho1,238,300
5Bien Hoa1,104,495
6Da Nang1,007,700
7Vung Tau450,000
8Nha Trang392,279
9Buon Ma Thuot340,000


Depending on the length of time you have would define your choice in what you see. The cities I would make an effort to see would be;

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the most developed and the most bustling seemingly dis-organized city, yet it all comes together in a perfect mix of food, nightlife, and shopping. Although Saigon is not rich in natural resources, it has a wide range of street food and nightlife activities to choose from. If you can drag yourself away from the beaches or mountains, you will have a ball.

If you want to learn something new, there are a number of museums and galleries distributed across the city that you may visit while also seeing the city.


It is always worth visiting the capital city of any country and when I was in Hanoi a few years ago staying in the French Quarter the architecture amazed me. There was a saying in Vietnam, Same same but different and it would apply here perfectly.

There are never-ending streets that crisscross and take you from back lanes, through markets, moving from silk street to funeral street. Cotton street to chicken street. Appliance street to noodle street. And then a “bia hoi” stall where you can relax with locals on plastic stools slurping down. 25-cent beers and restoring some semblance of sanity to your day.


The best time to visit the imperial city is in March. Hue has a reputation for great cuisine, which dates back to when it was Vietnam’s capital and its imperial courts were brimming with refined fare.

Hue is also known for its lush streets lined with mossy pagodas, art déco palaces, and vibrant marketplaces. The Perfume River runs through the entire picture, providing a relaxed rhythm that the rest of the city is pleased to follow. A slightly calmer and more easygoing city to visit.


March to May and September to October are the best times to visit Da Nang. Personally, I prefer Nha Trang to Da Nang but chose Da Nang as it is close to Hoi An and My Son Sanctuary.

Da Nang is a coastal sea paradise. It has some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches around which are hardly ever busy. It is worth the time taken to stop over with spectacular mountain temples, nice bars and restaurants.

You can also take a motorbike and go for a road trip around Son Tra Peninsula, then set out to conquer the Hai Van Pass or simply walk the majestic Golden Bridge.

Da Nang represents “boom time” in Vietnam and it has become a gleaming, modern tourist magnet, complete with condos, theme parks, and brand-new resorts. But the city’s earlier charm is still present, including laid-back, friendly locals and incredible street eats.

Hoi An

November to February is tourist season in Hoi An and it won’t be long until it becomes a tourist mecca all year round again.

Hoi An, also known as the Ancient Town, boasts hundreds of years of cultural exchange between China, Japan, and Vietnam. This small town will captivate you with its bustling lifestyle and historic architecture.

The speed and quality with which you can have garments created and shipped are still extraordinary but they are no longer as inexpensive as they once were.

Hoi An is also known for its wonderful cafes and restaurants, many of which have tranquil views. Even for a local, the town’s specialties are one-of-a-kind, and choosing between the delicious meals will be difficult.

My Son Sanctuary

During the 4th to 13th century, a unique culture came to Vietnam from India. Commonly referred to as “Champa culture” the remaining temples, in various states of decay, are well worth a visit. And you can easily spend a day walking around the ruins of the once political and religious capital of the Champa kingdom.

You will also get some fantastic photo opportunities. Find out more about “My Son at UNESCO



I have to add at least one city from the more mountainous regions and I would choose Dalat.

Dalat is a small city in Vietnam’s Central Highlands surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, calm lakes, pine forests, and lush agriculture. The area’s 4,900-foot elevation ensures pleasant spring-like weather all year.

It’s dubbed as “the Flower City,” and you’ll see flowers almost everywhere—on practically every street and in every city park. Outside of town, flower fields spread for miles, bursting with the vibrant colors of lilies, chrysanthemums, and roses.

There is a population of just over 400,000. And the lifestyle is much more relaxed and the weather more accommodating in this “Little Paris of Vietnam”.

There are so many more places to see in Vietnam that I could continue to write for another 2 days and still not cover everything. But as a start, whether you are here as a tourist, digital nomad or ESL teacher there is a lot to do.

Getting Around Vietnam.

Ever since I arrived in Vietnam there is only one booking agency I have used for my trips in Vietnam and around Asia. And that company is Booking dot com.

I have used them for short trips from Ho Chi Minh city to Vung Tau and also longer trips to Thailand. I have never had any problems in 15 years and strongly recommend them.

Yes, I make a commission from them but this does not influence the rate that you pay, also I sometimes get discounts because of my relationship with booking dot Com which I pass along to my readers.

So, if you would like to see what discounts you can get from, whom I believe, are the best in the industry, please click on the booking dot com logo.

Travel Advisors

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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.

Is Learning the Alphabet Still Important for ESL Students?

The Importance of the ABC.

Do you still think teaching the alphabet is worthwhile or just an excuse to fill in time in the classroom? Do you get sick of hearing the sing-song of the young students attempted at the ABC and then appalled when they can’t say it without singing?

I think the ABC is like the foundations of a house, if you have bad foundations your house is not structurally sound and it is the same for your younger and older students. Why is it important, let me explain.

Why is it important?

What is the alphabet, and why should our students learn it? The alphabet is nothing more than a set of letters and sounds. . The ABCs are the foundations of language exactly like the foundations of a house give the structural integrity to the whole house.

Our students must be able to recognize each letter, both in sequence and out of order, as well as the sounds associated with every letter, in order to become literate. Once your student has such understanding, he or she is well on their way to learning to read and write.

So, if we agree that learning the ABC’s and teaching the ABC’s are still important, how can we as teachers teach the alphabet effectively?

How to Teach The ABC’s.

This can be either a fun activity for your students or turn into one of the most boring lessons ever depending on your approach or teaching style.

Teachers can engage students in a variety of activities to help them learn the alphabet. Some of this learning may happen as a result of life experiences, things you know that can be fun and passed onto your students. Specific alphabet resources, such as puzzles and matching games, might provide additional learning opportunities.

Children will appreciate using specialized alphabet materials if they are simply one aspect of a larger literacy curriculum because they will know which experiences in the world they relate to. Children find learning the alphabet dull and useless only when it is taught in a restricted, linear,’skills-first’ manner.

This can happen, for example, if the teaching methodology consists of studying one letter each week for the entire school year, or writing one letter on a workbook page repeatedly each day. However, there is no necessity to learn the letters in this manner. These days, there are so many alternatives and better ways to do it.

Lessons for Teaching the Alphabet.

Students must learn to recognize and name the letters, both in and out of sequence, as well as the sounds associated with each letter, as the alphabet is the cornerstone of literacy.

Begin with the basics. Don’t attempt to teach all 26 letters at the same time. Simply do 5-6 letters at a time, allowing your pupils to see, hear, and experience the letter in a variety of ways.

Remember that children learn via all of their senses, so while books can be great, teach the ABCs using a variety of tactics and materials. Use ABC blocks, coloring pages, ABC mats, and even play dough to learn the alphabet.

The most crucial piece of advice is to have fun with it. Make it a game for your students, and they’ll enjoy learning with you.

Alphabet Teaching Resources.

As teachers, we are spoilt with the ever-increasing amount of resources we can use to teach the alphabet. In my 15 years of teaching ESL in Vietnam, there have never been so many different tools we can use. Mixing it up and making it fun is the name of the game. Here are a few of the many tools you can use. From apps to coloring pages, online games, PowerPoint, and a plethora of other tools, here are some of my favorites.


ABC Kids.

Children will enjoy learning phonics and the alphabet with ABC Kids, a free phonics and alphabet app. It includes a series of tracing games designed to help children recognize letter shapes, link them with phonic sounds, and apply their alphabet knowledge in entertaining matching activities.

By just following the arrows with their finger, any young student can learn English and the English alphabet. As kids complete tracing games, they can even “win” stickers and toys.

Online Games

British Council.

The British Council website has so much to offer, not just the alphabet. Here you can make your own flashcards or worksheets, listen to songs and so much more. A wonderful site put together by teaching professionals.

Websites for Worksheets.

LanternFish/ Bogglesworld.

One of my all-time favorites that I keep coming back to, even after 15 years I find things on this site that are new to me. Again, it offers so much more than your basic worksheets. Well worth a look and definitely a useful site.

These are just a few of the many websites and apps that you can use to keep your students interested and excited about learning. You can also look here at “Online Teachers Tools” for more ideas.

Teaching the Alphabet in the Classroom.

Before teaching the alphabet consider the age of the student. You would not teach adults the same way as teaching young learners. Teaching adults is in some ways easier as the motivation to learn has already been established by the student, otherwise they would not be in the classroom. Teaching adults is mainly making sure that the pronunciation is correct as I put the onus on learning the alphabet onto the adult student.

However with your younger student you must create the reason for learning and that reason will be “fun”. We have to make the learning experience fun and exciting for the students.

Also remember the attention span of the younger student is not very long so you need to have sets of, approximately, 10 minute maximum activities.

Techniques I Use to Teach the ABC.

For the very young student, kindergarten or pre-school, I will use as one tool an animal ABC song that you can find on YouTube. The Animal ABC Song.



Flashcards are another “oldie but goodie” tool to use. With flashcards, you can play a myriad of games. From placing them face down and getting students to find the correct letter. A flashcard version of the old ‘memory game

To make it more exciting place your students in teams. Boys verse girls always works well. Then place no more than 10 cards face down and call out one letter. Lets say you are using A to J, then you may call out A for example. Then each team has alternate turns in trying to find that letter. A point is scored for each letter “found”

You can also “tweak” this game by adding 2 sets of flashcards and the participants must match A with A, B with B etc. Be aware that this version can take longer so adjust your lesson times accordingly. Scoring remains the same.

4 Corners

A very simple game where you choose 4 flashcards or 4 letters in this case and place them in the corners of the room. You then call out 1 letter, and the last student to touch the card or stand within a set boundary must sit down and are “out” of the game.

You need a good size room and should be able to clear the floor of all chairs etc. This is a fast paced game and watch out that the students don’t push or accidentally hurt one another.

Guess the Card

Similar to the memory game, but rather than placing the cards face down you hold them against your chest. You can make this a lot of fun by kidding with the students as to what you have or not in your hand.

ABC animal/ ABC food/ ABC Country.

I use this not so much as a teaching tool but more as a task for remembering and introducing new words for the higher grades and older learners. By this I mean 10 to 12-year-olds.

Once again, I will split the class into 2 groups and points will be scored only when a student gets the answer wrong. For example, if A team gets the answer wrong, B team will collect the point.

If you try to give a point for all correct answers your back will be towards the class for far too long.

So if you choose ABC food, the teams must alternate in their answers with the correct responses being A- apple, B-banana, C- coconut, etc. I also put a time limit of 3 seconds for the answer and penalize any shout-outs.

I don’t prompt the alphabet and each person on the team must be able to both recite their ABC’s and find the correct name of food, animal, or country for their answer.

The students have a lot of fun with this game and it has become very popular and is a great way to get the students to remember their ABC’s.

ABC Listen and Write.

Two teams and points scored on the accuracy of the listening and writing skills.

All you need for this game is a sheet of paper for each student and a whiteboard the students can copy their work to.

The students are given a sheet of paper, preferably pre-drawn, with numbers from 1 to 7 in the corresponding columns. (as shown). The teacher then reads out any letter from A to Z and the students must copy in the correct column.

You might say, number 1 letter S, number 2 letter X, number 3 letter B, number 4 letter P, and so on. Once both teams ( As individuals) have written down all the letters from 1 to 7 you will choose one person to copy the letters to the board. They will get one point for each correct letter.

I have played this game with children as young as 7 who picked up the rules very quickly. You will need to do one game as an example first so your students understand.

This is a great listening skills game and it also reinforces letter recognition. You will find this helps students recognize some of the similar-sounding letters like P’s and B’s and S’s and X’s.

A popular game with great listening skill outcomes for the students.


There are so many ways you can teach the alphabet to make it interesting and fun. The above are only a few ways that I use for my students. Some of the best games are those you make up yourself. Never be scared to try something new because your students will respond positively to something that is fun.

And for the younger student change your activities frequently so they don’t get bored. It is a terrible feeling if you look around and see your students yawning.

And who am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for 15 years and have my own school as well as placing students into private and public schools around Vietnam.

If you wish you can look at my Alphabet video by clicking on the YouTube button below. And if you wish to support my website, subscribe to my YouTube channel. It doesn’t cost you anything. Thanks.

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