If you’re looking to get involved in sports during your internship there is plenty you can do. Sport is becoming increasingly popular amongst locals and with some beautiful trail runs available across the Vietnamese countryside – running is the sport that is taking up fans rapidly. Not only that, but with the large foreign community flocking to Vietnam there are lots of other international sports making their mark here through clubs.
At first sight you may think Saigon isn’t so well suited for running, with motorbikes everywhere, quite heavy pollution and not many pavements it does make it a challenge. However, the longer you spend here you start to find some nice quieter spots to get your morning or evening jog in. Some spaces you may enjoy running are: the newly developed area near Sala Stadium, Vinhomes Central Park, Hoa Lu Stadium, along the side of the canals.
Runclub.vn arrange group runs almost every day of the week at different areas in the city. They accommodate all levels and quite frequently are able to get discounts for marathons and trail races across the country. Saigon Hash House Harriers – Hashing exists across the globe and Saigon is no different. Every Sunday this ‘drinking club with a running problem’ head outside of Saigon for a run following a trail of paper or flour before finishing off the evening with a ‘circle’ and ‘on-on’.
If you like training in the pool then there are quite a few options across the city, but it is worth checking opening times as some of them can be quite strange and open for 2 hour chunks throughout the day! This blog has a good variety of different pools for training and relaxing around the city.
Yet Kieu Aquatics Centre is a great 50m & 25m lane pool that is kept clean. It is VND 20,000 / VND 25,000 (on weekends) per go and early in the morning is not too busy. The changing rooms aren’t great, so perhaps be best to head home for a proper shower and change afterwards.
Saigon Swim Squad meets once a week for an hour at AIS in Thao Dien and costs VND 150,000 per session – all profits going towards charity. The class is focused on improving technique and fitness for freestyle so you need to be a pretty competent swimmer, but it is nice to train as a group.
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam – but this is one you do have to get up early for to either avoid the traffic or the heat. Some bike shops such as Trisport and RidePlus may be able to rent out bikes for a couple of hours and they do frequently arrange group rides for the weekends. Trisport also arrange group triathlon practices in Sala a couple of times a month.
Below is a list of different clubs that get together to train in Saigon. They may stop training during the holidays, or reduce sessions, so it might be worth just checking their Facebook groups or pages for up to date information or dropping them a message. Some have membership fees, some have a training cost per session, but it would be possible to discuss with them something that works for both you and the club, so that you are still contributing to training costs.
The Vietnam Swans – Aussie Rules Football Club for both male and female.
Saigon Geckos – Rugby Union Football Club for both male and female. They also arrange weekly touch rugby sessions.
Saigon Gaels GAA – Gaelic Football Club for both male and female. Their season starts again in August as they prepare for the Asian Gaelic Games.
Saigon Shooters – Mixed netball club that has social netball on a Monday night; they run two friendly leagues throughout the year.
Saigon Women’s Football Club
Saigon Australian Cricket Club
These are just a few, but you can find a lot more on Facebook if you search what you are interested in.
Other sports & gyms
If you are wanting to play some badminton or tennis then it is easy enough to book a court at one of the sport centres. There are also options for climbing, ice skating, yoga around the city, so something for everyone.
Gyms are cropping up across the city – the main chain is California Fitness but this is quite expensive. There are smaller options around the city that can easily be found using Google Maps including some that specialise in cross fit, or martial arts.
Hope this information helps you stay fit in Saigon and keep doing the sports that you enjoy!
By: Jess Warren
So, you’re thinking about working in Vietnam? I’ve just come back from spending two months interning in Ho Chi Minh City for the expat-orientated magazine, AsiaLIFE, and it was one of the best ways I could have spent my summer. Instead of being sat at home, I was out gaining valuable experience in industry I’m looking to work in.
Working for a magazine for two months was also a pretty good way to see the city. Instead of being in the office nine-to-five each day, I was tasked with finding stories across the city, and interviewing interesting people, from business owners to government staff. I had the chance to work remotely, and was trusted to manage my time efficiently, and turn in the articles on time, without needing to be in the office. A pretty good way to grow my own time-management and organisational skills.
Living in Ho Chi Minh City is a bit of a whirlwind, the traffic is constant and chaotic, with bikes passing you by at every angle. If you’re up to it, travelling across the city via Grab (a ride hailing service for bikes) is a fantastic opportunity. Of course, take all the necessary safety precautions such as covering your legs and arms and wearing a better helmet than they provide. My employer gave me a helmet to use, and I would fully recommend making the minor investment.
The strangest thing about living abroad for two months was the considerably lower living cost, it actually turned out to be more expensive to buy western food items in a supermarket and cook at my apartment compared to eating lunch and dinner in small eateries and restaurants. This meant I had the opportunity to try out a variety of cuisine. Whilst you might think Vietnamese food is the only option, it’s far from the truth. In fact, Ho Chi Minh City has restaurants featuring every food from around the world, and done to a very high standard. At the end of my street, I had a pizza takeaway run by an Italian man from Naples. However Vietnamese food is incredibly fresh and delicious, so I would fully recommend.
The one thing that made my experience even better whilst living abroad was joining expat Facebook groups, and going to local events. I stumbled across a trendy arts café about five minutes from my apartment, where locals performed live music, stand-up comedy and there was even a magazine launch party there. By embracing living abroad, I found so many more opportunities outside of my working day. I joined a group and practised yoga in a local park situated on the riverbank, and I followed recommendations of places to see and go from the people I met. Instead of seeing your internship as a temporary ‘holiday’, I found the best way to view it was that I was living abroad in a city I would call home for two months.
Interested in applying for an internship just like Jess’? Then apply now!
Partez-vous bientôt au Vietnam ? Nous avons regroupé quelques réponses aux questions que vous pourriez vous poser !
- La monnaie vietnamienne est le dong vietnamien (VND). Pour vérifier les taux de change, nous vous recommandons d’utiliser le site xe.com.
- Vérifiez avec votre banque avant de partir si vous avez des frais de retrait ou paiement.
- Il est facile d’échanger des euros au Vietnam. Nous vous conseillons donc d’emporter des Euros avec vous. Vous pouvez aussi partir avec un peu de monnaie locale pour votre arrivée.
- Vous pouvez arriver 4 jours avant le début de votre stage – le jeudi – et partir de l’appartement 2 jours après la fin de votre stage – le dimanche.
- Vous pouvez réserver vos billets d’avion dès que vous avez trouvé un stage et signé notre formulaire de réservation.
- L’aéroport international de Tan Son Nhat est le seul aéroport de Hô Chi Minh – vous devrez donc arriver ici.
- InternVietnam recommande d’utiliser notre partenaire officiel STA Travel pour réserver vos billets. Ce sont les leaders mondiaux dans l’organisation des vols pour le Vietnam pour les étudiants. Obtenez votre devis gratuit pour les vols internationaux requis directement ici.
- Vous devez être munis d’un passport valable au minimum 6 mois après votre arrivée au Vietnam.
- Votre passport doit contenir au minimum 2 pages blanches.
- Il doit être en parfait état, ni taché ni déchiré.
- Pensez à nous envoyer une copie de votre passport au plus vite. Pour que nous préparions les documents nécessaires à l’obtention de votre visa.
- Nous vous donnerons tous les documents nécessaires à l’obtention de votre visa. Il vous faudra les emmener avec vous et remplir un formulaire.
- Nous prenons en charge les frais liés à l’obtention du visa.
- Vous obtiendrez votre visa à votre arrivée à l’aéroport. Il vous faudra être muni des documents fournis par notre équipe, le formulaire à remplir au préalable, deux photos d’identité , et de votre passport.
- Notre équipe vous donnera plus d’informations 4 à 6 semaines avant votre arrivée.
- Si le processus de demande de visa évolue nous vous tiendrons au courant.
- L’assurance santé et voyage est prise en charge par InternVietnam pour vous sur la durée de votre séjour.
- Vous recevrez les documents sur l’assurance avant votre arrivée. N’hésitez pas à les réclamer si besoin.
Vaccins et médicaments
- Aucun vaccin n’est obligatoire pour le Vietnam. Nous vous conseillons cependant de vérifier cela avec votre médecin avant de partir. Vous pouvez aussi vous rendre à l’hopital et prendre un rendez-vous avec le centre des vaccinations pour être sûr.
- Vous pouvez trouver du paracétamol partout au Vietnam. Si vous avez des médicaments plus spécifiques, nous vous conseillons de partir avec un stock pour la durée de votre séjour.
- En cas d’allergie ou de diabète, nous vous conseillons d’emporter 2 crayons à insuline ou EpiPen.
- Copies de votre passport et documents nécessaires à l’obtention du visa dans votre bagage à main
- Adaptateurs pour les prises
- Médicaments avec les ordonnances
- Déodorant, désinfectant pour les mains et autres produits de toilettes
- Pour les filles : des tampons qui sont difficiles à trouver à Ho Chi Minh
- Pour les personnes de grande taille : emportez vos chaussures et vêtements. Vous risquez de ne pas trouver de chaussures ou vêtements à votre taille
- Vêtements simples et formels pour votre stage
- Un costume/tailleur/tenue classe pour un rendez-vous important ou une soirée importante
- Vêtements de pluie et chaussures imperméables en cas de pluies intenses
- Répulsif à insecte et crème solaire
- Tongs ou claquette pour l’intérieur de votre logement
- Vestes et pulls légers . En effet l’air conditionné peut être trop froid dans certains endroits
- Masque anti pollution pour vos trajets en taxis
- Serviettes de toilette
Téléphone et applications
- Pensez à débloquer votre smartphone avant de venir. Sinon la carte sim que nous vous fournirons risque de ne pas fonctionner.
- WhatsApp et Facebook seront les applications utilisées par notre équipe pour vous contacter durant votre séjour et stage.
- Grab est l’application pour commander un taxi.
- Vietnammm est une application pour commander à manger en ligne.
- Xe Currency pour pouvoir convertir la monnaie.
- Google translator ou un autre système de traduction.
- Dans l’avion avant d’arriver il vous faudra renseigner votre adresse de résidence à Ho Chi Minh. Vous pouvez utiliser l’adresse de notre bureau. 94 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
- N’oubliez pas de remplir vos documents pour l’obtention du visa avant de prendre l’avion. Ainsi en cas de questions nous serons donc en mesure de vous aider, sinon il sera trop tard.
Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, has many things do offer during the day time as well as during night time. If you need urgent medical help or just want to buy some snacks late at night, you can find it in Ho Chi Minh City 24/7.
Shopping malls are mostly opened till 9 – 10 pm but many small convenience stores are opened 24/7. You can find most of the elementary products there if you need it in the middle of the night. Inside most of the 24/7 convenience stores or nearby them you can find ATM s where you can withdraw money anytime you want.
There is no problem to find food place in Ho Chi Minh City at any time of day or night. Most upper and middle class restaurants work only until late evening but you can enjoy food from small restaurants and street food at night.
Moving around Vietnam takes a lot of time, so choosing overnight travel might be a good option. If you want to go from/to Ho Chi Minh City to/from other cities or just around the city, you have choice of taking plane, train, bus, taxi or motorbike. Vietnam Railway Systems (VRS) and The North – South train are providing good quality connections across the country also during night. You can buy tickets directly at the train station or, if you need English service, some websites and travel agencies are providing it. The taxi and bus are relatively slow, as the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is extremely heavy. Good alternative to taxi and bus for going around the city is motorbike (you can get it as a taxi, rent it or buy – if you’re staying for longer).
Alternatively, you can rent a car. It is easy – requires only passport and valid driving license. The car rental company might only accept international driving license or one in common language such as English or French.
The most popular (non-stop) party place in Vietnam is Pham Ngu Lao, well-known amongst backpackers as it’s comparatively cheap. If you’re looking for some more fancy clubbing places popular within young people, then you should check out clubs in District 1. If you’re a fan of Karaoke, you will be able to find a few places where you can rent a room at any time.
In case you need urgent medical help, those places have 24/7 emergency service with English speaking doctors: Family Medical Practice Clinic, Franco-Vietnamese Hospital, International SOS Clinic, Columbia International Clinic and Hospital (3 locations), Cho Ray Hospital, Emergency Centre. For urgent dental cases you can seek help in Victoria Healthcare Dentist Department in District 1. 24/7 pharmacy can be found in Family Medical Practice Centre and International SOS Clinic.
Going to a foreign country is always intimidating due to the new environment – even the retail market might be very different to what you are used to! Even going for some shopping might become an adventure. This blog is here to give you an insight of the Vietnamese retail market and prove you that it will still be possible to find some familiar shops there !
- Which popular conveniences stores can I find there ?
If you are familiar with Asian conveniences stores, Vietnam will feel like home. More than 70% of convenience stores in Vietnam belong to foreign companies (mostly from Asia)!
- How is the retail market in Vietnam and what about its organization ?
Vietnam has a huge retail market : 800 supermarkets, 150 shopping malls, 9,000 traditional markets and about 2.2 million retailers (Source : Aseantoday.com).
Roughly speaking, the Vietnamese retail market can be divided into different types of modern distribution, as follows :
Conveniences Stores :
Popular ones : Circle K / Family Mart / Shop & Go / Mini Stop / 7 Eleven / G7 Mart.
They are competing directly with roadside stalls and traditional markets in Vietnam. In those, you will be able to purchase everyday items such as snack foods, soft drinks, groceries, confectionery, tobacco products, toiletries, newspapers, and magazines. You can find them everywhere!
+ : Very convenient, easy to find. Hungry at 2AM ? No problem, let’s get some snacks at the neariest Family Mart!
– : Some may have more choice than others. Chose carefully!
Quite a new concept for Vietnam but this is also the best place to be for a perfect shopping afternoon! The most renowned ones are the Lotte Mart (one in HCMC and one in Hanoi) and the Vincom Center in HCMC. These shopping malls may include special stores, a cinema, and of course a hypermarket, supermarket and department stores.
+ : You can find and do anything, you will never get bored!
– : It is very easy to spend too much money. Your bank might not be happy!
Examples of foreign popular hypermarkets : Loblaw and Superstore (Canada), Fred Meyer, Meijer and Super Kmart (US), Asda and Tesco (UK), Carrefour (France) and NTUC Fairprice (Singapore).
Basically, this is a superstore combining a supermarket and a department store. Therefore you will find a wide range of products, from full groceries lines to general merchandise.
The only Vietnamese brand name of hypermarket is Big C. They are usually located on the outskirt of the city and cramped which means you should probably avoid going there on evenings and weekends !
+ : Wide range of products, many foreign brands, you might feel familiar in these!
– : Avoid at all costs going there on evening or weekends as they are very busy.
Popular ones : Intimex / Co.opmart /Fivimart /Citimart.
If you are more of a weekly shopper, supermarkets are the perfect fit! You can often get discounts as some of them offer frequent buyer cards. Their goods and services are likely to be the same from one to another. By going there you will have a wide choice of food and household products.
+ : Possibility to get discounts with a frequent buyer card. Good for weekly shoppers.
– : If you are a daily shopper, you should rather head to a convenience store to save time and money.
Popular ones (HCMC): Parkson / Diamond Plaza.
Popular ones (Hanoi): Vincom / Trang Tien Plaza / Grand Plaza / The Manor / Parkson.
These stores sell luxurious items such as brand-name clothes, shoes and high class electronic devices.
+ : Very clean, luxurious, can find many foreign luxury brands.
– : Expensive.
The Vietnamese retail market is such an intriguing and exciting experience. And if you ever feel homesick, you will still be able to warm up your mood with imported products. I hope this blog will help you during your adventure to Vietnam!
If you are ready for an adventure in Vietnam, please click here!
If you are going to Vietnam and have no knowledge of the language, you ask yourself: How easy is it to get by with just English? I will talk about English in Vietnam and how difficult it is for a foreigner to get by without any Vietnamese in this blog.
In the past, Chinese and Russian were largely taught in most of schools and were considered as second language. In recent years, as Vietnam’s contacts with Western nations have increased, English has become more popular as a second language and taught in a larger scale, eventually replacing Chinese and Russian.
English in School
Nowadays, English is mandatory in most schools in Vietnam, sometimes alongside French. English proficiency is now seen as a vital requirement for employment. According to an educational reform, all students will have a minimum level of English by 2020. English in schools is limited in reading and writing skills, but not much speaking & listening skills. As part of the strategy, officials have adopted the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) to measure language competency. Students are expected to reach the level B1 by the time they graduate.
EF English Proficiency Index
The EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) attempts to rank countries by the average level of English language skills amongst those adults who took their exam. Vietnam is in place 34 of 80 countries worldwide and 7 of 20 in Asia with a score of 53.43, which is considerate a moderate proficiency. While the Southeast and the Red River Delta, Ho Chi Minh City’s and Hanoi’s regions respectively, are regions with the highest English proficiency within Vietnam; the North Central Coast, on the other hand, has the lowest proficiency. According to EF EPI, women have a higher English proficiency than men, but the difference is not big.
So…is it easy to get by with just English? Long story short, the answer is yes, BUT depends on where you go. Residents in all the tourist areas are able to communicate in English. In more remote areas, English speakers can be very rare. Some older Vietnamese people will speak more French than English, especially in the former South Vietnam. The importance of promoting English in Vietnam is growing due to its importance in the business world.
If you want to know about Vietnam, don’t hesitate and live this adventure with us! Apply now!
Today I am going to do a Vietnamese Crash Course for those who are learning or want to learn Vietnamese.
As redundant as it may sound, Vietnamese is the official language in Vietnam. But for a very long time Vietnam didn’t really have its own language. For so long it was object of constant foreign intervention. Therefore, Vietnamese has borrowings from Chinese, French and also English. Vietnamese is a difficult language, especially because it differs between regions.
Like other Southeast Asian languages, Vietnamese has a comparatively large number of vowels.
Some consonant sounds are written with only one letter like “p”, other consonant sounds are written with a digraph like “ph”, and others are written with more than one letter or digraph. Vietnamese has no use for the letters F, J, W and Z. Also, not all dialects of Vietnamese have the same consonant in a given word (although all dialects use the same spelling in the written language).
So in Vietnamese, every syllable is a separate word, this is why Vietnam is sometimes written as Viet Nam!
Vietnamese is a tonal language, with 6 tones in total, which means that one syllable can have at least 6 different meanings. Be careful with the tones! You’ll probably end up calling someone’s mother a horse or a grave at some point. Tones differ in length, melody, pitch height and phonation. The tone is indicated by diacritics written above or below the vowel.
Similarly to languages in Southeast Asia, there is no real number and gender for nouns in Vietnamese and verb tenses generally don’t exist.
- xin chào = Hello
- Khỏe không? = How are you?
- Khoẻ, cảm ơn = Fine, thank you!
- Tôi tên là… = My name is…
- Làm ơn = Please
- Cảm ơn = Thank you
- Không sao đâu = You are welcome
- Vâng = Yes
- Không = No
- Xin lỗi = I’m sorry
- Tạm biệt = Goodbye
Lost in Translation
- Biết nói tiếng Anh không? = Do you speak English?
- Tôi không biết nói tiếng Việt [giỏi lắm] = I can’t speak Vietnamese [well]
- Có ai đây biết nói tiếng Anh không? = Is there someone here who speaks English?
- Tôi không hiểu = I don’t understand
- Công an!/Cảnh sát! = Police!
- Việc này khẩn cấp = It’s an emergency
- Tôi bị lạc = I’m lost
- Tôi bị ốm = I’m sick
- Tôi cần một bác sĩ = I need a doctor
- Nhà vệ sinh/wc ở đâu? = Where’s the toilet?
- Cứu (tôi) với! = Help!
- Một vé đến … là bao nhiêu? = How much is a ticket to …?
- Xin cho tôi một vé đến … = One ticket to …, please.
- Tàu/xe này đi đâu? = Where does this train/bus go?
- Tàu/xe đi đến …ở đâu? = Where is the train/bus to …?
- Tàu/xe này có ngừng tại…không? = Does this train/bus stop in…?
- Tàu/xe đi…chạy lúc nào? = When does the train/bus for…leave?
- Khi nào tàu/xe này xẽ đến…? = When will this train/bus arrive in…?
- Tắc xi! = Taxi!
- Làm ơn đưa/chở tôi đến… = Take me to…, please.
- Mất bao nhiêu tiền để đến…? = How much does it cost to get to…?
- Có nhận thẻ tín dụng không? = Do you accept credit cards?
- Tôi có thể đi đổi tiền ở đâu? = Where can I get money changed?
- Máy rút tiền (ATM) ở đâu? = Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
- Cho tôi một bàn cho một/hai người = A table for one person/two people, please.
- Cho tôi xem menu? = Can I look at the menu, please?
- Tôi ăn chay. = I’m a vegetarian.
- Tôi không ăn thịt heo (South) / lợn (North) = I don’t eat pork.
- Tôi không ăn thịt bò. = I don’t eat beef.
- Tôi chỉ ăn thức ăn kosher thôi. = I eat only kosher food.
- Cho tôi xin một chaicà phê / nước trà / nước / rượu vang / bia? = May I have a bottle of coffee / tea / water / wine / beer ?
- Cho tôi xin một ly (South) / cố (North) …? = May I have a glass of …?
- Cho tôi xin một ly (South) / cố (North) …? = May I have a cup of …?
- Có size của tôi không? = Do you have this in my size?
- Bao nhiêu (tiền)? = How much (money) is this?
- Đắt quá. = That’s too expensive.
Seems like these tips might have been said many times before, but they are so true and useful!
- First of all, look for language classes. Either in a one-on-one class or in a group class, you can learn about the differences in tones and the Vietnamese grammar. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand.
- Also, practice makes perfect! For some people, learning a new language might come easier than for others, but no one can be fluent without practicing. You can look for a language partner. Go out and make friends!
- Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Locals will appreciate that you are making an effort on learning their language and you can also learn from your mistakes.
Learn more and apply now!
Lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam is a rather poor country with few Western-style amenities. However, the country is developing and that progress includes the appearance of more facilities like gyms and golf courses. The fastest growing areas are of course the big cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Now the life of a foreigner in Ho Chi Minh City is very easy!
Food & Drinks
Local food is super cheap and tasty, and Vietnamese beer, spirits and cigarettes are a very affordable price. However, if you like to treat yourself to Western food and drinks you should expect to pay more! Both Vietnamese and Western restaurants can be easily found around the city. For the brave ones it might be a nice experience to try local street food, which is delicious!
Vietnam is a real paradise for people who love to shop. You can find a wide range of products and places to buy them from, from typical Vietnamese street markets, through to supermarkets, fancy shopping malls and designer boutiques.
If you’re looking for some local food, clothes and souvenirs, we would recommend you to go to places such as Saigon Square, Zen Plaza, Lucky Plaza, Cho Ben Thanh, Cho Binh Tay and Ly Chinh Thang. If you’re missing some Western food you can shop in Auchan, Metro, or, if you fancy some vegan products, Annam Gourmet, Veggy’s, The Organik Shop and Loving Hut Hoa Dang.
For the international clothing brands, you should look in Vincom Centre and Union Square, Diamond Plaza, The Crescent Mall, Parkson Plaza, Bitexco, Takashimaya Vietnam or Dong Khoi Street. You also might find L’Usine an interesting place, it is a combination of contemporary fashion shops, art galleries and cafes. Most of those places are open from morning until 10 -11 pm.
Ho Chi Minh City offers two types of entertainment: Western- and Vietnamese-style. If you chose the first option, you can go to clubs, bars and pubs to taste some of the city’s nightlife and most probably meet some other foreigners as well as locals.
Downtown’s District 1 is popular for its rooftop bars, whereas a bit further from the city centre District 3 is famous amongst backpackers for its cheap eats and bars.
Another big attraction of Ho Chi Minh City are casinos, which are often compared to Las Vegas. The ones in Caravelle Hotel and Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers are considered as the best ones in the city.
If you want to get closer to Vietnamese culture, you can watch traditional dance performance and observe some cultural and religious festivals held throughout the country. A good idea is to visit the Sax n’ Art Jazz Club where you can see performances of most celebrated Vietnamese musicians as well as international guests.
Sports & Leisure
In Vietnam you can find places to do any sport you want. Most popular sports in Vietnam are badminton, tennis and football (soccer). In modern cities like Ho Chi Minh you can find gyms with world-class equipment, basketball and volleyball courts and futsal fields. Recently, also golf became very popular in Vietnam. Golf Resorts can be found inside as well as very near Ho Chi Minh city.
Places of practising religion
Over 69% of Vietnamese determine themselves as folk religions believers, nearly 12% are Buddhists, 7% Catholics, 0.1% Muslims and over 5% do not follow any religion. Even though Buddhists, Catholics and Muslims are in a significant minority, you can still find many pagodas, temples, churches, cathedrals and mosques in the Ho Chi Minh City. For the convenience of Expats living in the Ho Chi Minh City, many of them offer their service in English. A few of those religious places are also a tourist spot worth visiting.
Just a few years ago, it was hard to find an ATM in Ho Chi Minh’s streets but these days they are almost everywhere: in the shopping malls, near restaurants, bars and convenience stores. The majority of ATMs belong to local Vietcombank but you can also find many foreign banks’ ATMs of ANZ, CitiBank and HSBC.
Withdrawing money with your home country’s bank card
There is no problem with finding ATMs which accept Visa (Plus) cards, but it might be a little bit more difficult to find an ATM accepting Maestro (MasterCard) or Cirrus. To easily find your nearest ATM, you can visit MasterCard’s ATM locator or Visa’s ATM locator.
Before arriving to Vietnam make sure that your card has a magnetic strip on the back as chip-and-pin cards probably will not work in most Vietnamese cash machines. The main difference is with the length of PIN, Vietnamese bank cards have 6-digit-long PIN. You can easily solve this problem by adding two zeros in front of your card’s PIN but it does not always work, so you better ask your bank for advice. Remember to let your bank know that you are going to use your card abroad, otherwise they might take it as suspicious activity and freeze it.
Limits and fees
Most of the Vietnamese banks’ ATMs have a 2 million VND limit per single withdrawal outside Ho Chi Minh, and 4 million VND limit inside the city. The foreign banks have higher limits for one withdrawal – ANZ in Ho Chi Minh has 10 million VND limit, CitiBank has limits between 5 and 8.5 million VND (depending on the location – airports usually have a higher limit), HSBC has a limit of 4.8 million VND. If your home bank also has transaction limits, check with them before you arrive in Vietnam.
ATMs owed by the Vietnamese banks charge between 40,000 and 66,000 VND as a single withdrawal fee, so it is much better to get more cash at once rather than getting a few transactions. Foreign banks’ fees are usually at the same level or sometimes a big higher, depending on the bank. Also, your home bank may charge you fees for foreign transaction.
Vietnamese ATMs mostly dispense only Dong but might sometimes ask you if you want to be charged with your home currency – always say no as the exchange rate would be much lower than the mid-market one!
How to reduce or avoid fees
- Check if your home bank has a partnership with Vietnamese bank.
- Use ANZ, CitiBank or HSBC.
- Use a fee-free card.
- Pay with debit card instead credit card.
- Use TransferWise.
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Transportation in Vietnam, especially in big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, can be chaotic and confusing for foreigners. Many even called it an “organised chaos!” However, you can easily find services like taxis, Uber, Grab, Easy Riders, among others.
Taxis are really cheap and you can find them everywhere. However you might find the occasional fake taxi, especially around the tourist areas, so be careful.
Did you know that there are more than 38 million motorcycles in Vietnam? That’s 18 times more than cars! That means that mopeds are make up more than 90% of the whole country’s vehicles. The main reason why there are more motorcycles than cars is certainly because the cities are extremely compact and dense. Also, no license is necessary for motorcycles under 50cc, or electric bikes!
It is quite impressive what Vietnamese locals can balance and transport on just a motorcycle, from live animals to stacks of chairs. If you see 4 dogs and an entire family on just one motorcycle, don’t be surprised!
Uber versus Grab
Uber started operating in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in mid-2014.
It offers 5 types of transportation services, UberMoto, UberBlack, UberX, UberSUV and UberTOUR. Since Vietnam loves motorcycles, UberMoto it may be faster to travel with the motorbike due to traffic jams. They are also a very cheap form of transportation. UberX is a low-cost Uber, while you can also use UberTOUR for longer trips.
Prices with Uber are almost one third versus Vietnamese taxi services due to their promotion programs.
Uber not only offers transportation services, but also delivery services. Since September 2017, UberDELIVERY delivers your food from your favorite restaurant to your doorstep.
Uber is not the only company offering transportation services with an app. Grab is their main rival in Vietnam, who also started operating in 2014. It was the top-ranked ride-hailing app in 2017 in Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. In this case, Grab has 3 types of transportation services, GrabTaxi which are regular taxis, GrabCar which are private vehicles and, like Uber, Grab also has a motorcycle taxi service, which is very unique to Vietnam. GrabExpress it’s their delivery service.
Taking the bus is probably the cheapest way to get around Vietnam. The bus network is very extensive and goes across the country.
Every province in Vietnam has a main bus terminal,, mainly in the big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. These are interprovincial buses. Prices always depend on where you want to go and which type of seat you choose. There are travel agencies who can help you buy a ticket in advance.
Wherever you go, I advise only to buy bus tickets of registered booths from large companies inside the bus terminals.
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