TET Festival in Vietnam. (Year of the Cat)

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

Tet in Asia 2023.

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

China.

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

South Korea.

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

Bhutan.

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

Mongolia.

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

Laos.

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

Vietnam New Year 2023.

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

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

The Year of the Cat in Vietnam.

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

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

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

Tet Festivities.

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

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

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

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

Tet and Family.

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

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

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

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

Tet Traditions and Customs.

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

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

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

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

Visiting Pagodas and Temples During Tet.

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

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

Tet and Flowers in Vietnam.

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

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

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

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

Mao Ga Flowers.

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

Tet and Food in Vietnam.

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

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

Traditional Tet Foods.

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

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

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

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

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

Do’s and Dont’s about Tet in Vietnam.

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

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

And don’t.

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

Final Thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen.


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

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Surviving Vietnam

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

Tips for Living in Vietnam.

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

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

My top 10 tips.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts.

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

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


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.

Living in Vietnam.

Enjoying the Vietnamese Lifestyle.

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

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

Ethnocentrism and the Uneasy Traveller

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

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

Moral Codes and Cultural Differences.

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

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

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

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

Cultural Insensitivity in the Workplace.

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

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

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

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

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

The Firing of a Foreign Teacher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts.

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

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

Thank you.

Stephen


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

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

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

 

Common Health Problems for the EFL Teacher.

Health Problems in the Classroom.

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

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

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

Common Educator Health Problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to Maintain Mental Health in the ESL Classroom.

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

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

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

More Options.

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

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

How to avoid problems or relieve symptoms:

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

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

Simple Solutions.

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

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

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

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

Join Clubs.

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

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

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

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

Final Words.

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

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

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

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

 



Stephen


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

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

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.


Vietnams Ministry of Education Bans IELTS Exams.

IELTS suspended from the Vietnamese classroom.

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

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

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

One Students Ordeal.

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

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

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

Why has MOET Suspended IELTS Exams?

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

Poorly Planned

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

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

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

Is This The Only Reason?

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

Online Scammers and Leaked IELTS papers.

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

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

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

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

Test Too Difficult for Vietnamese English Teachers.

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


Editorial Comment by Marty Hoare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Promises for a Quick Fix.

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

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

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

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


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English Language Centers Facing Shortages | Editorial.

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

Why Do Some Centers have Staff Shortages?

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

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

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

Higher Costs Hitting Home.

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

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

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

Language School Closures.

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

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

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

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

A Shortage Of Qualified English Teachers.

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

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

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

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

It’s Time to Relax Administrative procedures.

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

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

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

Money or Education.

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

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

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

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

The Need for Change.

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts.

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

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

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

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


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

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Free Alphabet Video for ESL Teachers in Vietnam.

Is Teaching The Alphabet still Relevant?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

English Alphabet for Vietnamese.

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

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

Or, you may wish to view it via YouTube.

YouTube Logo


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

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Travel and Live Safe in Vietnam

This will provide information about traveling safely in Vietnam today.

How to be safe in Vietnam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety Tips for travelers in Vietnam.

Petty Crime.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get your Grab download here

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

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

Health.

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

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

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

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

Traffic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hustles and Scams and Beggars.

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

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

Download your XE Money converter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natural Disasters.

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

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

Photography.

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

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

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

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

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

Undetonated Bombs.

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

And also “Etiquette in Vietnam


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

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

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

 

Holidays in Halong Bay

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

Holiday in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

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

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

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

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

Then

Halong Bay Formation.

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

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

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

And Now.

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

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

Times to Visit.

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

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

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

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

On and Off the Path.

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

Stay on a Junk.

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

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

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

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

Lan Ha Bay

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

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

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

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

Ban Sen Island.

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

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

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

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

Visit Hospital Cave.

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

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

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

Rent a Sea Plane.

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

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

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

Kayaking at Monkey island.

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

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

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

And so much more.

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

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

Final Thoughts.

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

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


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

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

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

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.

Stephen.

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