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.


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.


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.


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.


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 “” 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, 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.

Vietnam Visa and Travel Information

this is about getting Visas for Vietnam. It covers tourists but is mainly for English teachers.

Vietnam Visas for ESL and EFL Teachers.

So why is now the opportune time to look at your visa and resident details? Well for one it is the start of a new semester and doing it now before the schools are running at full steam, makes sense. The latest updates seem to be around trying to woo foreign tourists back into Vietnam.

March 15th Updates.

The Vietnam Government on Tuesday (March 15, 2022) agreed to resume its unilateral visa exemption policy for citizens from 13 countries as Vietnam seeks to reopen inbound tourism after nearly two years of closure.

Citizens from Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. will be allowed to visit Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa regardless of passport type and entry purpose.

The Vietnam Government also announced to resume other pre-pandemic immigration procedures for foreigners and overseas Vietnamese.

Contact Phone Numbers.

Before I start flooding you with information about visas, I will provide a list of contact details and phone numbers that will help you get your questions answered.

1. Address:

+ In Hanoi: No. 44 – 46 Trần Phú street, Ba Đình ward, Hanoi, Vietnam. Phone: (+84) 4 38257941.

Related procedures: Renew visa, Extend visa, issue Temporary Resident Card for foreign citizens staying Vietnam.

+ In Ho Chi Minh: 254 Nguyễn Trãi street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. Phone: (+84) 8 9201701

Related procedures: Renew visa, Extend visa, issue Temporary Resident Card for foreign citizens staying in Southern Of Vietnam and provinces of Mekong Delta.

+ In Danang: No. 7 Trần Quý Cáp street, Đà Nẵng city, Quảng Nam province, Vietnam. Phone: (84) 07511.823383

Related procedures: Renew visa, Extend visa, issue Temporary Resident Card for foreign citizens staying in Center and Central Highlands of Vietnam.

2. Phone Number:

+ Number (+84) 4 8264026: ask for entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam; repatriation of Vietnam citizens residing abroad.

+ Number (+84) 4 8260922: ask for the exit and entry of citizens of Vietnam.

+ Number (+84) 4 9345609: ask for the sanctioning of administrative violations in the field of Immigration.

+ Number (+84) 4 8257941: ask for the exit and entry procedure at the border and other related issues in fields of Immigration.

Types of Visa.

Popular types of Vietnam visas: In total there are 20 different types of visas, with the below being the most popular.

  • Tourist visa (DL)
  • Business visa (DN)
  • Student/internship visa (DH)
  • Working visa (LĐ)

A1 is granted for official members who are invited guests of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam or Congress, President, Government and equal guest of Minister, Deputy, President or vice president’s people committee of province or centrally run cities combination with those relatives or assistants coming with them.

A2 is granted for those who are members or representations of foreign governments and those relatives or assistant entering with them.

A3 is used for those who enter into Vietnam to work with foreign commissions or are invited by foreign commissions.

B1 is used for those who enter into Vietnam to work with the People’s Supreme inspectorate, the Supreme people’s court, ministries, and equal ministries, government agencies, the people’s committee of a province, central cities, and central agencies of people’s organizations, union or public.

B2 is granted for those who enter Vietnam to process investment projects accepted by Vietnam-authorized organizations.

B3 is granted for foreigners who co-operate with Vietnam enterprises

B4 is used for those who are staff working in foreign authorized offices, branches of culture-economic organizations or other fields, and non-government foreign organizations whose branches are located in Vietnam.

C1 is granted to those who enter into Vietnam for tourist purposes.

C2 is granted for those who want to enter into Vietnam with other purposes that are different from the above purpose.

D is used for those who haven’t been sponsored by Vietnam commissions, organizations, or other individuals.

Note: D visa category which is not more than 15 days validity. The Other visas are more than 30 days validity.

Visa Stamping Fee.

The fee you have to pay on arrival is called the “Visa Stamping Fee” and must be paid in cash at the “Landing Visa Counter” at the airport you arrive.

25 USD/person for less than 90 days single entry

50 USD/person from 30 days to less than 90 days multiple entries visa

95 USD/person from 90 days to less than 180 days multiple entries visa

135 USD/person for 1-year multiple entries visa

Are You Confused Yet?

If you wish to come to Vietnam to teach, this is the best advice I can give you.

There are 2 main options if you want to be a teacher or conduct business in Vietnam. These include.

Arriving on a Tourist Visa. ( Or an E-Visa on arrival)

Arriving on a Business Visa. (Sponsorship letter needed for business visa)

Look here at Vietnam-e-visa dot org to find out more information.

You can enter Vietnam on a tourist or business Visa, which a lot of future ESL teachers do. You can organize this via a Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country or you can apply online. Here is a sample of each ( Do not use these as they are samples only)

A lot of teachers then organize jobs (if not done before) and will negotiate with the schools to do the work permit and other documentation needed or arrange for a private business to do it for them. Please be careful as there are some less than scrupulous businesses around.

It is a good idea to join a Facebook group like Vietnam Visa advice who will guide you in the right direction. If you join these forums you will get advice to the latest “visa runs” or runs to the border to get new visas.

More Paperwork.

Vietnam is a country that loves its paperwork and there is a lot more for you to do before you can walk inside the classroom. For a start, you will need work permits and doctors certificates along with a police record check from your home country.

Now we are opening up again after covid, there will be a strong need for ESL/EFL Teachers. To stay ahead of the pack and get recruited first I would make sure I have all my documents available.

Look at my past post about what extra paperwork to bring to Vietnam here at “How to teach English in Vietnam

Visa and covid rules.

All destinations in Vietnam are open and self-isolation is not necessary. The main ideas of the new rules are entry requires a visa and travel insurance. The minimum level of insurance is $10,000 of medical insurance that covers covid-19 treatment.

The simple entry standards also include that the covid-19 app (available on Apple or Google Play), is required if visiting any Vietnamese establishments.

Visitors are asked to self-monitor for 10 days following admission and should contact the closest medical facility if they see any COVID-19 symptoms.

Sanitation, social isolation, and surgical masks are always necessary. Children under two are permitted outside with an adult. And teachers are advised to wear masks in the classroom.

Final Thoughts.

This is a very brief overview of a forever-changing and challenging set of rules to comply with. While it is not overly complicated,( unless you have a temporary Resident card), it can become extremely annoying having to forever (or feels like it) deal with visas.


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 be an ESL Teacher.

This will give you some things to think about if you want to become an ESL teacher.

So You Want To Be an ESL Teacher.

This is not the sort of career that you sit down when you are 12 o 13 and think, wow, I want to be an ESL teacher. But for whatever reason you have chosen to be an ESL teacher, this will show you how it can be done.

There are a few different ways you can become an ESL teacher as not all schools and not all countries demand that you have a University degree. And even those that require a degree can be pretty flexible in their approach to what degree is relevant. I have seen people with degrees in non-related topics that are accepted for a teaching job.

However, I will give you what is considered by most countries as needed for this position. And I will also show some alternatives to the traditional approach.

What is The Job About?

Being an ESL or EFL teacher can be an immensely satisfying job, but don’t expect the salary to be extraordinary. ( I will talk more about salaries soon.) ESL or English as a Second Language or EFL, or English as a Foreign Language are the acronyms you will become most used to seeing.

Teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) assist non-native English speakers in learning to speak, read, understand, and write the language. They may work at language academies, public or private schools, or out of their homes or the homes of their students, giving private lessons.

ESL Teachers Responsibilities.

The objective of an ESL instructor is to instruct and guide pupils who are learning English as a second language. ESL instructors frequently employ a real-world setting to help their students better understand the language’s intricacies. When interacting with pupils from other cultures.

ESL teachers need to be flexible, inventive, and attentive to the expected cultural variations. Teachers of English as a second language frequently serve as mentors, counselors, and liaisons for families and students who are just settling into a new location.

All grade levels (K–12) of students may be served by ESL teachers in the public school system. They frequently remove ESL students from the regular classroom and place them in a separate space where they can work with them in small groups or one-on-one to develop their English abilities. These small groups may include English language learners of various ages and grade levels who all require assistance with their language skills, depending on the size of the school.

This does not always happen. I have been in classes with 50 students that learn on a regular basis with limited resources. If nothing else, ESL teachers need to be flexible and able to think on their feet. It can be one of the most mentally challenging jobs out there. But when you have had a great day, you will feel like a “rock n roll” star.

But do not think all students who wish to learn English as a second language are K-12 or learn only through a private schooling system. As different as the student and their needs are, there are different ways to teach the student for their skill levels and age.

Who Will You Be Teaching?

One, amongst many, things I enjoy about teaching ESL is that after a while you can have a better choice of who you wish to teach. Depending on which schooling system and country you teach in will determine who you teach.

Let’s look at a few alternatives. First, if you are teaching in a public school system for children you can expect to be teaching K-12 and everything that comes with it. The good and the not-so-good, depending on your outlook. Teaching younger children can be extremely rewarding but should be mixed up with games and a lesson plan that takes into account a reduced attention span for learning. Read more about “How to teach ESL to Kids

If you are teaching older children or teenagers in the public school system your approach will be different again. And you will also have a different curriculum if you are teaching in an academy. But teenagers need to be taught differently from children and adults. You can read more here. “How to Teach ESL To Teenagers”

And, age group-wise, adults will normally be taught in a private school or a private lesson situation. Some companies will also arrange for lessons to be conducted in-house or at a place that is suitable for everyone. I have even rented out rooms in coffee shops that can be used as a temporary classroom. You can read more about teaching adults here at “How to teach ESL to Adults.”

While you can change throughout your career as an ESL teacher, it is a lot better if you choose the age groups that you wish to teach first. But try a few lessons with each age group first. Because what you believe may happen in the classroom is probably different from what you will experience. Remember, a good teacher is a happy teacher.

What Qualifications Do You Need?

The 1990s and thereabouts have gone and so has the more laid-back approach to teaching ESL and EFL. In the days when you could jump off a plane in a foreign country, like Thailand or Vietnam, and start teaching English the following week have long gone.

These days most countries have a more stringent approach. But there are still some places that are open to a less rigorous educational background. Some of the Asian destinations are prime examples.

Ideally, you will have a 4-year bachelor’s degree that is teaching or linguistic focused. When you start applying for positions make sure you have transcripted copies of your degree ( and your other paperwork) as you do not wish to hand over any originals.

On top of your degree, you will need an English Teacher license. You will find most Universities are more than willing to provide a course that will give you an English teacher’s License. At the end of the day, employers will not differentiate between a university or private course.

Udemy, as per my side banner, provides TEFL teacher training courses. You can also find a little more information here in my post “ESL Teacher Training”

The advice I would give here is to look online at the country you have chosen to teach in and see what teacher training is offered. Only because most teacher training schools will have contacts with schools within their own country that may make getting a job easier and quicker

What can I make?

Most information as soon as it is posted is out of date. And when it comes to salaries it is, in my opinion, doubly so. However, I have used some information provided by The International TEFL academy to give you a quick rule of thumb.

I have been teaching in Vietnam now for 15 years and have 2 English schools. I have worked in private companies and public schools and have taught all levels of students.

Source; International TEFL Academy.

The amount that is shown here is an indication only of what you can make. If you are ambitious and have a passion for teaching your business will be exponentially better than the figures shown. Likewise, if you hate teaching and do minimum work your salary may be less. You can find more salary information here about “ESL salaries

Final Thoughts.

Teaching English overseas is a truly wonderful way to see the world and find out what people are like in their own country. The job itself is both challenging and rewarding. Without trying to sound cliched, you will be pulling your hair out one day and cursing your choice of jobs. The next day when things click you will feel like that rock star I talked about before.

Yes, you can make a great living if you are prepared to adjust to a different lifestyle and work while others are partying. And you will meet some great people. Teaching EFL in another country may mean that your new friends come and go. A lot of teachers use teaching EFL as a passport to travel the world, so while you meet a lot of new people, old friends become scarcer and scarcer.

In my opinion, the lifestyle of an ESL teacher is extremely rewarding and the positive input that you give to your students’ lives is second to none.


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.

Are ESL Teachers in Demand in Vietnam?

There is a strong demand for Native and Non Native English teachers in Vietnam. The new school semester is about to begin.

Taking my students to the zoo in Ho Chi Minh City

The Effects of Covid on ESL.

As livelihoods were snatched by the Covid-19 pandemic, many foreign teachers ran online classes at cheap rates to survive, while others left Vietnam.

After living in Vietnam for 15 years and being married, my options were somewhat limited. I had been teaching in both public schools and had my own students. Covid kicked me in the proverbial teeth. Schools and language centers were shut down and I, like many, had to teach online to survive.

Others, left for their home countries ( Some, never to return) or battened down waiting for the lockdown to cease. Some gave up the teaching profession as they refused to be vaccinated.

ESL Teaching Pre-Covid.

In a country that was among the world’s nine countries that pay the highest salaries to ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, who could earn up to $2,000 and more per month, many ex-pat teachers were then in a distressing situation.I had one friend who ran out of money and ended up walking the streets for a week. (He had no computer so could not teach on-line.)

As English is compulsory from sixth grade across Vietnam and in large cities like Hanoi and HCMC, many primary schools opt for English programs for students and demand high proficiency. And because of these Government directives, the ESL industry had thrived in Vietnam in recent years, with jobs offering high salaries available all year round.

But the year-long pandemic and prolonged lockdown changed the table. Over the last few months, the tables have changed again.

ESL Teachers in Demand.

Vietnam has kicked off the constraints of Covid and the government is back pushing English in public schools again. Tourism and the rumored relocation of some major businesses from China ( Apple, Samsung, and LG) to Vietnam are behind this.

It implies that if locals speak English, the country will be able to draw in more tourists, businesses from other countries, jobs for the locals, and competitive economic growth

Іf уоu vіѕіt аnу eхраt Fасеbооk grоuрѕ оr ѕіmрlу Gооglіng tеасhіng Еnglіѕh іn Vіеtnаm, іt wіll ѕurеlу оvеrwhеlm уоu wіth the plethora of јоb оffеrѕ. Whеthеr уоu dесіdе tо lіvе іn Наnоі оr Но Сhі Міnh Сіtу (Ѕаіgоn), оr еvеn іn ѕmаllеr сіtіеѕ lіkе Dа Nаng, оr Nhа Тrаng, уоu саn gеt уоurѕеlf а јоb еаѕіlу.

The Good, The Bad and…

Тhеrе аrе lоаdѕ оf рrіvаtе Еnglіѕh сеntrеѕ аnd рublіс ѕсhооlѕ thаt аrе dеѕреrаtе tо gеt thеіr hаndѕ оn а fоrеіgn tеасhеr.

Ноwеvеr, thеrе аrе а fеw uglу truthѕ уоu nееd tо knоw аnd рrераrе уоurѕеlf.

Most schools play by the book and get people with the right qualifications. That is everything from police and health clearance forms up to a University degree, however, there are a few that won’t care so much about your qualifications but more about your accent and the color of your skin. Or to clarify that, the whiteness of your skin.

The Ugly.

Racism is quite the norm when it comes to ESL teachers and it always makes me sad when I see a perfectly qualified black African teacher placed 2nd over an unqualified white backpacker.

Nоn-nаtіvе English speakers who are not native speakers will face a bigger challenge in finding the job they are looking for, but it is still possible. If you are well qualified, you should look into larger companies and international schools because they are more professional and interested in your qualifications than the color of your skin.

ESL Teacher Pay in Vietnam.

It is generally advertised that the pay rates for ESL teachers in Vietnam can range anywhere between $1200 – $ 1800 U.S. or $2,000 – $2,400.U.S. depending on whether you have just started or whether you are qualified with a few years of experience. And what levels have you taught before etc.

After working and having my own school in Vietnam for the last 15 years it still appears that those advertising they still haven’t worked out an easy way to show pay rates for foreigners.

An hourly rate works best for those schools that are more upfront about their pay scales. Then when the teachers weekly hourly schedule is worked out then you know exactly what you are earning.

Normal Pay Rate.

The normal pay rate is between $18.00 to $30.00.per hour with each class running for about 1.5 hours.

There are 2 types of teaching for ESL, and that is the public system or Government schools that generally pay less and are daytime hours, Monday to Friday. And then the private schools or academies that run in the evenings and the weekends.

Obviously depending on where you are in Vietnam will have an effect on the pay scales.

You will find out some more about the education system in Vietnam here at……….

The Vietnam Education System and ESL | Stephen (

Native and Non-Native Speakers.

Native English speakers are deemed to be those who have passports from the U.S.A, England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with South Africa coming somewhere in between the Philippines and the U.S.A. But generally, any Europeans will be seen as Non-Native speakers. And similar to the Filipinos they will be paid at a lesser rate.

For example, if a “native speaker” was being paid at 450,000 dong per hour the non-native speaker would be paid around the 370,000dong rate. n.b. All pay rates should be quoted in Vietnam dong ( Even though it is not) by government decree.

My Daughter-in-law back to school in 2022

School Holidays

Vietnamese students often attend school for only half of the six-day school week, which starts on Monday and ends on Saturday. However my daughter-in-law attends an International school and only goes 5 days a week, but full time. And she has just finished her close on 3 month holiday. Generally, private or international schools have a five-week summer break in July and August.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the academic year normally lasts from September to May. While a typical school day only lasts for half a day, the school week starts on Monday and finishes on Saturday. The 15th of June marks the end of the academic year. The summer break lasts from June 16 to August 7.

Desperate Recruiting Measures.

After 3 months at home, the students and especially the parents are ready for public schools to start again. And even though there has been “Summer-school” everyone is ready to start a full-time curriculum again. And there is now a pent-up demand for teachers for the next semester.

So from now until the schools start again, there will be a big drive for teachers for public schools. This is often filled not only by the schools but also recruitment agencies who are desperate to get people on board. And when people are desperate, corners will be cut. The enforcement of University degrees and even English teaching licenses may well take a back seat until vacancies are filled.

Where to Find a Job.

Vietnam loves Facebook, and so do the recruiters. There are a large number of Facebook groups you can join or you can work via “Teacher Placements” to find a position for you. Whichever you feel most comfortable with.

Here is a small list of Facebook groups for jobs.

Foreign English Teachers Vietnam.

Below are some links that can help with your teaching.

How to teach ESL to Kids.

How to teach ESL to Teenagers

How to teach ESL to Adults.

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 Escape the Heat in Dalat Vietnam.

Cooling off in Delightful Dalat.

It is somewhat ironic to hear people in The United States, Europe, and England talking about the heat and looking for ways to cool off. And here I am in Vietnam about to write about going to Dalat to cool off from the hot weather of Ho Chi Minh City.

Dalat is a beautiful city that is well loved by both locals and tourists alike. Dalat or ‘Da Lat” as the Vietnamese say is the city of flowers, the city of love, and strikingly beautiful. But above all else, it has a lovely moderate temperature because it is situated In Lâm Đồng Province in southern Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

It is centered around a lake and golf course and surrounded by hills, pine forests, lakes, and waterfalls. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its distinctive temperate climate, Đà Lạt was developed as a resort by the French in the early 1900s, and many reminders of its colonial heritage remain.

Đà Lạt was chosen as a site for a city for the same reason it remains popular today. It is a cool alternative to a hot Vietnam climate. The population of full time residents in 2022 reached 321,000 with 300 of those being ex-pats. Add into that a yearly influx of tourists at around the 1,172,000 (In 2017 which has probably dropped because of the pandemic) and you have a busy little town.

The Dalat Climate.

As stated, one of the main reasons Da Lat is so popular with natives and non-natives the temperate climate. A favorite Vietnamese saying is when talking about the Fresh air. If the air was any fresher you could use it instead of any “pick-up” lines.

Dalat is bordered by a big, lush pine forest, which, along with the city’s year-round cold temperate environment, gives the impression that you are in the middle of Europe. Even on the hottest days, the average temperature seldom rises above 24 or 26 degrees Celsius due to the moderate climate. Additionally, Dalat is fortunate in that the temperature rarely drops below 10 degrees Celsius in the Winter months..

The Christmas months are the dryer months with May to October being the months that attract the rain. What a lovely way to spend Christmas either alone or with others. Cool and dry.

A Brief History of Dalat.

At 3:30 pm on June 21, 1893, after a long expedition in the Southeast region, Dr. Yersin set foot on the Lang Biang Plateau to change a wasteland into a wonderland. Dr. Yersin was a Swiss man with French nationality who had been tasked by the French authorities of the time to explore the Central Highlands and reach the Lang Biang plateau. He played a significant role in Dalat’s history by helping to turn it into a well-known city that is now listed in many nations’ encyclopedias.

Origin of the name, Da Lat.

Dalat’s name originated from the words ‘Da Lach’ which is pronounced in the language of the Lach people. One of the three different tribes belonging to the K’ho system that share the northern regions of Lam Dong province.

The Lach people live from the base of Lang Biang Mountain to (the now) Dalat city, occupying land around Xuan Huong Lake area where a small stream flows. In the language of K’ho, Da or Dak means water, river or stream; Lach (Lat) is the name of the tribe of the ethnic K’ho. So Da Lach is the stream of Lach people.

Alternative Origins of the Name.

The first five characters of the Latin phrase “DAT ALLIIS LAETITIUM ALLIIS TEMPERRIEM,” means “giving this person the joy and giving the other the coolness”.are claimed to have been chosen by the “French founders” for this lovely city. And if you take the first letter of each word you get “Dalat”.

Whatever you chose for the origins of the name Da Lat the one thing you can say is true is that it is beautiful.

Getting There.

Da Lat is a bit less than 5,000 feet above sea level in the southern parts of the central highlands. If you are traveling from Ho Chi Minh City by car it will take you about 6- 8 hours. Thankfully you have flights from Ho Chi Minh City, Vinh, Da Nang, and Hanoi. The flight time from HCMC to Dalat is less than 1 hour and about $33.00 USD. There are also bus sleepers you can take which are very cheap and get you there refreshed for around $5.00 to $6.00. . However, if you are tall the sleeping compartment may be a bit short for you.

Getting Around.

A motorbike taxi, or XE OM as they are known, is one of the simplest methods to move around Dalat. These guys can be seen on most local corners. Remember that they are independent contractors and not employees of a taxi business, so be sure to haggle the price beforehand and have the right amount of cash on hand because they never seem to have change. There are also taxis and grabs available. The local taxis are “Lam Dong”, “Red Star”, “Thang Loi”, “Quoc Te” and, my favorite, “Mai Linh”

Taxi Tips.

One of the more frequent gripes I hear is about the “entrepreneurial ship” of the taxi drivers. These things don’t happen all the time, but enough to be annoying. Some Vietnamese think all foreigners are rich. 

If you are looking for a hotel to stay in, don’t take a taxi to find a hotel room.

If you are only going for a short trip, wait until you are moving to tell the driver the destination. A lot of drivers dislike doing short trips.

If you are looking for a one-day tour, hire a car not a taxi for the whole day.

Make sure the meter is turned on, then there are no excuses for additional charges. And to avoid taking the “scenic route” turn on Google maps on your phone so the driver sees what you are doing.

But please don’t be rude about it. And if you like the drivers attitude and service, get his phone number so you can call him directly for further hiring and give a tip for the same reasons. 20,000 dong is less than $1.00 and would be appreciated by the driver.

Things To See in Dalat.

Da lat has been called Vietnams vegetable garden and provides anything from avocados, plums, peaches, and an endless string of local ethnic fruits. However, if you come at the right time the bursts of color from orchids, roses, azaleas, camellias, and carnations will captivate you.

The Most Memorable Moments of Dalat

Flower festival

The National Flower Festival is held every 2 years since 2005 in Dalat and it attracts people from all over the world.

If you are lucky enough to visit during the National Flower Festival, I would definitely put this at the top of the list.

Lakes and Waterfalls

Dalat is famous for its beautiful lakes, waterfalls and pine forests. The lakes in Dalat city are “Xuan Huong” , “Tuyen Lam”, ‘Than Tho” Da Thien Lake, “Van Kiep” and Me Linh Lake. They are located right in the heart and surrounds of the city and each lake associated with an ancient legend. They should be put on your “must do list” while you are in Da Lat.

Amazing Architecture.

The French built Dalat and gave it its large boulevards, huge roundabouts, and lovely flower gardens. They also built enough European houses, schools, and offices in Dalat to compete with those in Hanoi or Hoi An.

You’ve come to the right site if you’re looking for French architecture in Vietnam.

Domaine de Marie

A Catholic church, Domaine de Marie (Nhà Th Domaine De Marie). It was constructed by the French in 1940, and in recent years, it has gained notoriety for its lovely pink façade, which, depending on the lighting, actually looks to be more of a coral or brick color. People go to this location to take selfies with one another in front of the church and on the tiny Juliet balcony. Not me on the balcony.

The Pasteur Institute

The Pasteur Institute in Dalat, which was constructed between 1930 and 1936, was once one of the main vaccine manufacturers in the area. It was established by Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin who invented fermentation and pasteurization and became the first ex-pat in Dalat. This building is owned by the Vietnamese Government. It should be ok to photograph, but if there is a guard present please ask first and obey all requests.

And many more including the Dalat Cathedral, the French quarter Villas, and arguably the most famous of all, “The Dalat Railway Station”

The Crazy House

This is not French architecture, but you can’t talk about “architecture”in Dalat and not include the Crazy House.

.Artist Dang Viet Nga designed and constructed this extraordinary edifice, which she describes as the pinnacle of her creativity.

She created the Crazy House “blueprints” in February 1990. And produced a number of paintings to convey her magical concept rather than blueprints.

The house is an example of expressionist architecture and lacks perfect angles in favor of organic shapes intended to resemble natural objects like mushrooms, shells, caves, and spiderwebs. This is something that can not just be talked about, it should be visited and enjoyed. And what better way of doing it than sleeping overnight?

Creating that Coffee moment in Dalat.

There are plenty of cafes in Dalat, so make sure to visit a few of them while you’re there. The most romantic thing you can do here is to sip a fragrant cup of coffee while taking in the view of the city shrouded in mist from some of Dalat’s top cafes. Popular examples with great views can be found at “The Vietnam Coracle”

Final Words.

While this certainly doesn’t give you a 100% list of what can be done in Dalat, I hope it does give you a little taste of what it is like. Do yourself and the locals a favor and spend more than a few days here. Dalat has a lot to offer and it is very easy to spend 2 weeks here without even scratching the surface.

You can use to arrange all your travel needs to Dalat or anywhere 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.


A Guide to Visiting Vietnam | Introduction.

Work and Play in Vietnam

I have lived in Vietnam teaching for over 15 years and I have found this country and its people to be enthralling, captivating, frustrating, and challenging. But I have never found it to be boring. Whether you come here for a holiday or to teach, or a mixture of both, I can promise that you will have adventures that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

From the simplicity of sitting on plastic chairs on a footpath, surrounded by Vietnamese workers on their way home from work and slurping down bowls of soup. To the experience of cruising on a 5-star “Junk” taking in the scenery of the awe-inspiring karst seascape of Halong bay. Your senses will be on overload.

It is appreciated by the locals if before your visit you have made some attempt to understand a little about the people, their culture and country. This will give you a quick overview and feel of the country before you arrive.

The Hue Citadel.

A Brief History of Vietnam.

Viet Nam is located in a region considered the cradle of mankind. An early agricultural center practicing rice farming, where stone and metallurgical inventions began

The Vietnamese people had to cope with various foreign aggressors. During 12 centuries through to the 3rd century B.C until the late 20th century, the Vietnamese had to cope with multiple struggles against foreign aggression.

From war with China over trade and land to the French trying to dominate with missionaries and trade and on to Japan after WW11 who were used to “police” Vietnam, all the way through to the Vietnamese American war.

Vietnam has been forged in the flames of battle. And like the bamboo they sway and bend but ultimately come back stronger than before. Even with such a violent background, The Vietnamese have remained a proud and gracious people.

Custom, Culture, and Etiquette.

The family is the glue that holds Vietnam together. It is not uncommon to find 3 or 4 generations all living under one roof. Many families strive for a large number of children and grandchildren under the belief that “more children equals more fortune.” Confucianism and the feudal notion of masculine domination have an influence on them. In the household, men play the most significant roles and are always in charge.

In the household, men play the most significant roles and are always in charge. he “three obediences and four virtues” of feudal ethics—obedience to one’s father during childhood, one’s husband during marriage, and one’s sons during widowhood—shape women. The four virtues are diligence, good manners, proper speech, and morality.

However, the traditionally male-dominated viewpoints have greatly weakened, and equality is now the norm (at least in urban areas).

there are things that are unique to Vietnam that are polite and impolite, it is well worth the time and possible embarrassment saved to take a few minutes and read my post on “Etiquette in Vietnam” It is only a 4-minute read and may save you a lot more than just embarrassment.

Weather and Climate and Best Times to Visit.

Covid has certainly put a dent in the tourism industry worldwide and Vietnam has suffered from a lack of tourists just like most other countries. The only good thing to come out of this is the quietness of so many normally busy tourist spots.

Unlike many people, the rain does not bother me. This is just as well in Vietnam as you can go from a sunny day to a torrential downpour in minutes. There is nothing like seeing hundreds of motorcycles scuttling to the side of the road so the driver and passengers can don ponchos and raincoats. When it rains in Vietnam it can be like driving in a bucket of water. And much of Vietnam is barely above the water level so expect to get flooded.

I can still remember the first time I was caught in a downpour on my motorcycle. The water was halfway up the wheels and driving was impossible. And having a snake swim past me was the icing on the cake.

So if you aren’t fond of rain here is a rain and weather chart for Vietnam so you can plan your holiday accordingly.

The chart is in Fahrenheit and inches

The chart is in Fahrenheit and inches.

Top 11 Cities in Vietnam by Population.

The 66th-largest nation in the world is Vietnam. And this nation is the 15th most populated in the globe with a population of about 94 million. Vietnam only has six cities with a population of more than 1,000,000 people which surprises a lot of people considering the total population.

With a population of more than 8.6 million, Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in the nation. And Hanoi is the second-largest city with over 4.7 million people but is still well behind Ho Chi Minh City in terms of size. Statistics from: Statistic Times.

The nation contains 32 cities with at least 100,000 citizens and an additional 51 cities with populations between 10,000 and 100,00. With the rest of the population living in rural areas.

Not all the cities, in my opinion, are worth visiting. But some are definitely worthwhile investigating. Starting with the top 11 cities by population, I am going to separate the corn from the chaff. There are also many sites that are not cities that we will look at over the coming weeks. So buckle up, lets start with some of my favorites.

From this list we are going to look at 3 cities. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau.


The attractive capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, has aged well, maintaining the Old Quarter, monuments, and colonial architecture while creating places for new construction. Although the city has dropped many of its previous names, including Thang Long, or “ascending dragon,”

it hasn’t lost its history, as seen in places like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison. More than 600 temples and pagodas, as well as lakes, parks, and shady boulevards, add to the charm of this city, which may be conveniently toured by cab.

Things to do.

From a $10.00 walking tour to an upscale visit of Halong Bay there are many sights to see in Hanoi. The walking tour takes about 3 hours and covers Hanoi’s lively Old Quarter of nearly 40 streets packed with shops selling all kinds of goods, each street named for its primary good or service.

You can take public or private transport to Halong Bay from Hanoi, and it is well worth the time. Tours on the Junks are usually for 2 to 3 nights and are around the $200 mark. There are around 1,600 islands and islets that makeup Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, creating an amazing panorama of limestone pillars.

Most of the islands are abandoned and undisturbed by human habitation due to their precipitous nature and are surrounded by emerald waters and thousands of tall limestone islands covered in rainforests. Visitors can travel on junk boat tours and enjoy sea kayak excursions. Scuba diving, rock climbing, and hiking are popular activities in the area, especially in the hilly Cát Bà National Park.

Ho Chi Minh City.

My home, on and off for the last 15 years, is a bustling metropolis that never sleeps. Ho Chi Minh City, the main hub of the southern region, is teeming with activity, innovation, and transportation. It is also the economic center of Vietnam. The dynamic cityscape of HCMC unites the old and new Vietnam in the smallest of areas, symbolizing both the past and the future of the city.

The Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, and Bitexco Financial Tower are some of the city’s most well-known tourist attractions, making District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City undoubtedly the most populated district. Hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars abound in this region as well.

Things to do.

Discover the Saigon Opera House, the Central Post Office, and the Notre Dame Cathedral by strolling down Dong Khoi street. Local attractions include the Jade Emperor Pagoda and Benh Thành Market.

Take the locals’ advice and climb onto the back of a motorcycle to explore the city from the ground up and experience its vibrant pulse. You can take motorbike trips at dusk and travel around the city when the nightlife starts to buzz. Evening is also a time when the street vendors open their stalls and you can buy anything from Levi jeans to steaming bowls and plates of food.

Locals in Ho Chi Minh City enjoy congregating around kiddie-sized plastic tables and dented metal tables for fantastic roadside feasts. Highlights include bánh mi, savory pancakes made in the tradition of the South (bánh xèo), and broken rice.

Or if the mood hits you, you can take a boat to Vung Tau which is a coastal city that is close to HCMC. It has a couple of beautiful beaches and some great seafood. However, on long weekends it is packed out with residents from HCMC escaping the heat and noise of our bustling city.

Vung Tau.

Vung Tau is the perfect weekend escape from HCMC and is even better if you can get there through the quieter weekdays. Prices to get there are cheap and accommodation ranges for all budgets. You can get there by bus with prices ranging from $7.00 to $15.00 for luxury minivans with WiFi or you can catch a high-speed ferry that will whisk you there in less than 2 hours. The cost for this express service is around the $18.00 US mark. Catching the bus will take around 3-4 hours depending on stops and traffic.

Vũng Tàu is a port city and is situated on a peninsula in southern Vietnam to the east of HCMC. It was once a French colonial settlement but is now a well-known beach destination with hydrofoil transportation bringing many people from Ho Chi Minh City. With the lush Small Mountain and Big Mountain serving as a backdrop, it features a long, crowded stretch of sandy shoreline that includes Front Beach and Pineapple Beach. It is simple to navigate, and it takes only 15-20 minutes to walk from the front beach to the back beach. There are several restaurants, offering both a wide variety of regional seafood and a fair selection of western cuisine.

Things to do.

The name of the game is relaxation. Soak up the sun and fill up on the food. for those more adventurous spirits, there are a whole range of day trips and also kayak and canoe tours. Additionally, you may take a day trip to some of the most stunning beaches in southern Vietnam, stopping along the way to see a local dragon fruit farm and nature reserve. While there, you can enjoy the tranquil surroundings and a fantastic Vietnamese meal with a local family.

Vung Tau is best known for its nightlife.  And there is a good selection of clubs and bars that cater to all. After a day of relaxation and eating you can let your hair down in the myriad of bars that are open through the night at Vung Tau. Clubs range from the loud to the lewd. With perennial favorites like Matildas, Vung Tau beach club, Peace and Love, The black pearl bar, vitamin C2 Beer club and so many more.

Vung Tau is a party town and the daytime is recovery time. A lot of the older ex-pats end up retiring here for the laid-back lifestyle and cheap living.

Final Thoughts.

This is an introduction to what sights and experiences you can have in Vietnam. More in-depth blogs have been written and will be continued to be updated under this section of my website.

Whether you are an ESL teacher looking to get away for a holiday or a tourist on a limited time and or budget, this should help you. I will expand over the coming weeks as to what I see as the best places to visit during your time in Vietnam.

A bit of knowledge goes a long way in making your trips a lot more enjoyable. If you have any questions, I am happy to provide answers to make things easier.


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 One-on-One.

This is about teaching English to ESL students

Private Tuition for ESL.

At some stage in your ESL career ( English as a second language), you will be asked if you can provide private tuition. Some teachers can get needlessly worried about doing this. However, teaching one on one can be a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. The rewards are not always financial but they are something we should cover first.

Pricing for Students

Teaching one on one can be a fiscal boon, but you have to be careful not to rely on private tuition only. Let me explain. If you are teaching for a private school you will have a regular income. And if any students depart, you will still get paid.

If like me, you do a lot of private tuition you will probably be teaching groups rather than individuals. So you have to take into account how much per hour you are making for your groups then average that out for your “one-on-one” student.

Lets do some rough accounting. I have a class of 12 students who individually pay 1,000,000 dong per month. ( $43.00 US) and I teach this class approximately 13 hours per month. So 12 million dong ( Vietnamese currency) divided by 13 gives the rate that I could charge my individual student.( about 900,000 dong)

Price high or price low.

This works out in US dollars to about $38.00. I know a lot of teachers will say that is too expensive, my student or my students parents can’t afford that. But you can’t afford to go below that. Let me explain why.

If you are working at a private English school you will probably get about $20 US per hour. If you cancel the class at the private school there should be no problems. That is only one class or 3-4 hours per week. You still get the rest of the classes in your schedule.

But if you have taken on your individual student and they leave after 3 weeks it may take you another month to pick up another class at your private English school. So, not only would I price higher, I would also want payment of 3 months upfront. And this is what I do. I have lived in Vietnam for 15 years and the parents will pay this if they trust you.

In a nutshell, the 2 main things to remember are price higher and endeavor to get an upfront payment of at least 2-3 months. You are the one who is taking the financial risk.

Teaching English One on One.

The great thing about teaching one-on-one is you can tailor each session to the specific needs of the student, especially the ability to tailor activities to the students strengths and shortcomings. The most important thing is that the pupil has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to practice intensively.

The student will progress more quickly if he or she speaks for the majority of the class, practice makes perfect. The same can be said regarding the other English skills; Listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Nonetheless, it is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that the time spent with the student is spent effectively.

If you have a happy student, not only will they stay with you, they will provide referrals to your teaching business.

Customized Lessons.

If you’ve never taught individual students before, the first few lessons can be challenging. Even if you’re an expert, the first few one-on-one classes with a new student will be difficult because each student has their unique personality, learning style, interests, and educational needs.

The first step to building an environment conducive to learning is to build rapport with your student. This is done by getting to know your student and what they need to get from your classes.

Tips for One-on-One lessons.

Whether your student is a young child ( I have taught individually to a 7 year old) or an older student, the tips I share with you are non age related. By which I mean you can use the overall concept for any age.

Introductions. The first lesson should be about getting to know the student and their life. They may tell you about their country and how it is to live there and customs and traditions. When discussing Christmas, for example, you might compare how the holiday is observed in your home country compared to your students. If your student works in a certain industry, have them describe it to you: what the job entails, what the company does, and who their clients are?

If you have a younger student, chat to him or her about their family and the school that he or she attends. What are their favorite video games or TV programs. Also, don’t forget to introduce yourself to the student. Encourage the student to initiate the dialogue about you by asking relevant questions. Overall it is an “introduction” lesson.

Real Life Objects. Real-life items (Realia) can be used in any type of class, whether one-on-one or in large groups. However, if you have a map (for example), you can sit next to your student as he or she gives you instructions to their house, a hospital, or a specific spot that you can both follow on the map. “Realia” also makes the lesson more fascinating and enjoyable in general, and it can be a useful icebreaker.

Adults will enjoy Realia because it allows them to use and relate to almost anything. Newspapers, work brochures, restaurant menus, and ad pamphlets are just a few examples. And with children it is just about essential that you use them. Twinkl is a great resource for the younger student and you can check out the range of resources they provide here at”Twinkl Resources

Video Lessons. Remember that the main advantage of one-on-one sessions is that pupils have more time to communicate. Using video and audio to start a conversation is a terrific approach to get a student talking. Show a video to your student, check for listening comprehension, and then talk about what you watched.

Any audio file can be used in the same way. Keep in mind that the Internet offers a wide range of audio and video files, the majority of which are simple to download. There are a number of websites dedicated to children that also feature videos. And for shorter lessons consider YouTube as well.

It is also worth considering opening your own Youtube channel where you can post prepared homemade videos. Or make one with your student. Here is one I made about “Our House in Vietnam“.

Video Recording. Most students do not like getting recorded by video or only audio, however, a one-to-one lesson is a much better opportunity for this to take place than in a full class of students.

Audio and video recording are great for students to become self-aware of their speaking and pronunciation difficulties. And while the younger student will not be interested for that reason, they will have a lot of fun making the recording.

You could get the younger student to be the “presenter” of a house walk-through. Similar to the YouTube video shown above. ( via link )

Internet lessons. When it comes to one-on-one instruction, the Internet is ideal. You can use genuine websites for reading assignments, play an online game, listen to a podcast or view a video, and even have your student take an online test. The options are limitless.

However, keep in mind that adequate lesson planning is still necessary. Before your class, double-check all links and web pages. And depending on which country you are in, have a back up lesson in case the internet is down. However, Vietnam has improved a lot, but I still make sure I have a paper based alternative lesson just in case.

Quiet time. Although some advanced students are willing to talk for hours, the majority of them find it difficult to speak for more than ten minutes. Make sure to follow up a particularly busy speaking activity or game with a more relaxed and quiet tasks. A young learner may sketch a picture of the tale they heard; a business English student could write a resume or an email.

Silence isn’t something to be scared of. Remember that your students will need some time to process what they’ve learned. Keep in mind, though, that encouraging a student to work on something independently while you do something else could be seen as a lazy practice for the teacher. Because the student may think they could complete the task outside of class if you weren’t present. Such activities should be completed informally, with the teacher reviewing each answer with the student.

Final Thoughts.

One-to-one teaching has many advantages for both teacher and student. It does, however, require a slightly different mindset compared with group teaching.

One big advantage that I haven’t talked about is that teaching only 1 student gives you the opportunity to take the classroom outside. For example, you can go to the local supermarket and talk firsthand about the vocabulary related to the supermarket. Or even just visit a coffee shop where you can sit and talk (hopefully) with other foreigners.

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.

The Vietnam Education System and ESL

A Bit of Background.

I think it always helps if you have a deeper understanding of both the country and the area in which you will work. So I hope that this information gives you the background context for you to help the students and yourself.

An Overview.

Since the 1980s, Vietnam has undergone substantial market changes as the Communist government has transitioned from a command-style economic structure to a more open capitalist economy while maintaining political control.

The modernization of Vietnam’s education system, which is perceived to be trailing behind other Southeast Asian countries by foreign observers, was one of the country’s strategies for achieving greater economic growth.

A number of reforms were announced, including the need for teachers to enhance their abilities and get masters or doctoral degrees by 2020. There’s also a focus on increasing school enrollment.

Increased internationalization of Vietnam’s still relatively closed higher education system is another goal of the present reforms. The Vietnamese government is attempting to boost English-language education in the country, as well as foster international collaboration and exchange with nations such as Australia, New Zealand, France, the United States, Japan, and Germany.

School Grades and Age Ranges.

In Vietnam, children typically begin preschool at the age of three and complete kindergarten by the age of five or six. (The school weekday is 6 days a week for K-12, however, most students only attend half a day for classes).

They subsequently go to primary school for grades one through five. This program is for youngsters aged 6 to 11 years old. Although these are the only years in which Vietnamese children are required to attend school, it is typical to find children from low-income families not attending at all.

The students then progress to Grade 6 – 9 which is for 11 to 15 year-olds, (or enroll in vocational training programs.) This is called lower secondary school or “Trung hoc co so”.

After grade 9 they can then move on to Grades 10 to 12 called “Trung hoc pho thong” or Upper Secondary. Upper secondary admission is only granted after a tough entrance examination.

Students who do not achieve a high enough score on the admission tests might alternatively enroll in private institutions or advanced vocational programs. After which they may attend University after an admittance examination.

The National Highschool Graduation Examination.

The National High School Graduation Examination was created in 2015 by combining the high school graduation and university entrance exams in Vietnam, and all high school students in Vietnam are required to take it at the end of Grade 12 to receive a diploma known as the High School Graduation Certificate. Around 900,000 Vietnamese students take the exam each year in June.

The graduation examination requires the completion of three papers:

  • Mathematics
  • Literature
  • Foreign Language (English, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian)
  • In addition, students must choose either Natural Sciences (a combination of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) or Social Sciences (including History, Geography, and Civic Education). In some cases, the students can take both combinations and choose the best result to be applied to their “score”.

In addition to the results of national high school examinations, several universities in Vietnam have added ‘General ability’ tests to the selection process.

Because universities develop their own assessments, this approach is supposed to aid institutions in selecting students with sufficient talent to grasp their training programs. Candidates can apply for the tests on their own time, usually before or after the national high school exam.

Costs for Students and Parents.

Despite the fact that elementary education is technically free and the government covers the majority of the expenditures, elementary schools charge a range of supplemental fees, ranging from maintenance fees to fees for the purchase of books and uniforms.

In the meantime, secondary public schools are permitted to collect minimal tuition fees. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for parents to pay school teachers for extra private sessions in order to assure their children’s academic success, a frequent corrupt practice that raises prices and inequities in public education.

Higher education tuition fees have also been steadily rising, and numerous public colleges have already been freed from tuition limitations. For bachelor’s degrees, top colleges such as the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology are presently charging annual tuition costs in excess of USD $1,000.

The Curriculum.

Elementary School.

In grades one through five, students are taught Vietnamese, mathematics, moral education, natural and social sciences, arts, and physical education, as well as history and geography. Foreign language ( English ) and computer training ( starting in grades three and four) are also part of the curriculum. Rote learning from what I have observed seems to be the preferred methodology of teaching.

So when the students see a foreign teacher in English class making it fun, they can become quite excited.

Lower Secondary Education

All students who have completed elementary school are eligible for admission to general lower-secondary education. A Lower Secondary Education Graduation Diploma is awarded at the end of the program.

Vietnamese, foreign language, mathematics, natural sciences, civics, history, geography, technology, computer science, arts, and physical education are all part of the curriculum. Elective subjects include a second foreign language and minority languages.

Students attend up to 30 45-minute lessons per week, and annual advancement is determined by instructor evaluations and exams.

Upper Secondary

Course requirements involve a total of 6 hours per week in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology in the natural science field, and literature, history, geography, and foreign languages in the social sciences and foreign language field.

Past reforms allow for greater individual customization with elective subjects now making up one-third of the curriculum. Beyond these subjects, all students take a core curriculum that includes subjects ranging from Vietnamese to foreign language (mostly English), mathematics, and physical and military education.

Upper-secondary students attend up to 30 45-minute classes per week. High school graduation requires passing a rigorous final secondary school graduation examination, which is also used to determine admission to higher education.

The Background and The Reality.

I have been living and teaching in Vietnam now for the last 15 years and while I love living here there can be so much more done for the students.

Vietnam is currently one of the most active outbound student marketplaces in the world, trailing only China and India in terms of raw scale. The number of Vietnamese degree students who left the country increased by 680 percent between 1999 and 2016. Source, UNESCO institute of statistics.

This dramatic increase in Vietnamese migration reflects both the country’s rapid economic expansion and its educational system’s deficiencies.

From what I see one of the biggest problems the education system has is the financial reward system for the teachers. When I first arrived it was common for teachers to get 5,000,000 dong per month. About $250 US. Even with the reduced cost of living in Vietnam the salary just doesn’t cut it. Thus, the teachers become demotivated and do just enough to get them paid.

But it also means the teachers often take on extra classes from their home and if the students do not attend their school grades suffer.

In the classroom I see the teachers teaching in the rote style of writing on the board and then getting the students to copy. It is no wonder the students are so bored with school. I have witnessed teachers sitting at their desk and surfing the net while the students write down their “topic” from the board.

ESL in the Public Schools.

There are four areas you can teach Englisn in Vietnam. The first is in the public schools in any of the age ranges mentioned above. Next is working privately for the English Academies from VUS down to less salubrious choices. The third would be teaching in one of the International schools and lastly you can set up your own private classes.

When you teach in a public school do not be surprised if you walk into a class of 50 students. So you have to do a bit of pre-planning before you walk in. Please, do not try to “wing-it”. Because the class sizes are big you should consider looking at investing in a microphone which will save your voice.

You can find out more about this at Essential Tech Tools in The Classroom.

Most classes will last for 45 minutes and some will be back-to-back classes meaning you should be prepared to teach for 1 and a half hours. I have a range of advice and articles on my website about teaching to different ages and advice on lesson plans you may use. One example is “How to Teach ESL to Kids“. But there is also much more to be found.

And what of salary, well you can expect to make around $20 US per hour and still keep your weekend free. However, at some stage you will want to work in a private school as well because the public schools close for 3 months every year for Summer holiday. Normally closing at the end of May and restarting in September. So unless you want to do 3 months of traveling during this time, you should consider working in a private school as well.

Before applying for any positions you may wish to also look at “Mistakes to avoid as an English Teacher

Final Thoughts.

Moving to any country for work is a big change. You can prepare for a lot of this by reading as much as possible and talking to those who have done it. If you need any advice, leave me a message and I will get back to you ASAP.


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 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

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.