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!
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.
So you think you know all there is to know about Vietnam? Well, let’s see! Here are some facts about Vietnam for you.
There are approximately 20 times the number of motorbikes than there are cars!
According to the ministry of transport, there are only 2 million cars registered in Vietnam whereas the number of bikes exceeds 38 million! This number is growing year on year. In Ho Chi Minh over 90% of the vehicles on the roads are motorbikes!
The Oxford Dictionary contains two Vietnamese foods
Whilst many words in a foreign language must be translated before entering the English dictionary, two Vietnamese dishes are so famous that they don’t need translation. Banh Mi and Pho both feature in the Oxford English dictionary!
Vietnam is the 5th happiest country in the world!
This is due to long life expectancy, 75.5 years, and great public services resulting in a low regional inequality. One of the highest levels of school enrolment at 98%. All these factors and much more add up to make Vietnam one of the happiest places on earth!
Vietnam is a hub for manufacturing!
Many global brands such as Nike and Old Navy produce their products in Vietnam. Also, Samsung assembly takes place in Vietnam!
You can be a millionaire!
With the exchange rate from most Western countries to Vietnam, you can have millions in your wallet every day! Whilst this may seem like the coolest thing ever you’ll have to quickly get used to using Vietnamese Dong to make sure you hand over the right amount of money!
Want to check out Vietnam for yourself? Apply now!
You may have some superstitions or taboos yourself, such as not walking under a ladder, not crossing paths on the stairs or stepping on a triple drain! However, these differ country-to-country, culture-to-culture. Check out some taboos in Vietnam below.
Some Vietnamese Taboos
In Vietnam, it is considered bad luck to travel on certain days of the lunar month. These days are the 5th, 14th, and 23rd of the lunar month. Many Vietnamese will not travel on these days!
It is considered taboo to have the headboard of your bed face the road. This is due to the head of coffins facing the road during funeral ceremonies (usually held in homes.)
Another interesting taboo is for individuals to marry within a year of the passing of their mother or father. It is the case that many will change the arranged marriage date to outside a year of the date of the relative passing.
It is also important in Vietnamese culture to not face anyone with the soles of your feet. Whilst this may seem a fairly simple one to avoid watch out when you’re sat on a couch with your feet up!
Whilst these taboos may seem strange and unusual our taboo’s in the west probably seem peculiar to those in Vietnam. Throwing yourself into another culture is all about experiencing new things. The culture, the food, the history. Vietnam is a great place to submerge yourself in a different culture and learn about these new, obscure taboos!
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Here we are! You have secured a great internship with InternVietnam and you are now impatiently waiting to go. But of course you might be anxious about some things, and one of them is- what should I pack for my Vietnam trip?
Hopefully this blog will answer your questions and you will have nothing to worry anymore as you can prepare your check list to ensure you don’t forget anything!
- Laptop or tablet : It is essential that you bring your laptop, as you will need this for your internship!
- Power adapter: Vietnamese plug sockets fit two plug types: 220V flat 2 or 3 pin plug, which is the same across much of Asia.
- Pharmaceutical products: Sun cream, insect repellent (Although malaria is rare and seldom found in most areas of Vietnam, Dengue fever can pose quite a problem), Tiger Balm or Cortisone Cream (if you do happen to get bitten by mosquitoes, tiger balm or cortisone cream can prevent the bites from getting infected.) Vitamins and preferred medicines. If you have prescription medicines, then be sure to bring a copy of the prescription with you.
- Clothes: Work attire is mainly casual wear due to the warm climate. However, it is necessary to bring at least a shirt, trousers and tie for more formal events in your internship. Clothes are relatively cheap in Vietnam so it is not necessary to bring clothes to last your entire stay, if you want to buy some while you are there!
- Swimwear: This is different in Vietnam than in the West (men wear tight swimwear and women are well covered up) so you may wish to bring your own. For those with a large shoe size, it is advisable to bring shoes for the duration as it may not be as simple to find your size as back home.
- Bring a light-weight, waterproof jacket. During the monsoon season, it is wise to bring a light jacket to protect you from the rain that can come and go in a flash.
- If you would like to have access to pagodas and temples, modest below-the-knee clothing is a must. Chose below-the-knee Skirts or trousers. Despite the heat, local men and women dress quite conservatively, and you should be expected to do the same by covering your shoulders and legs, especially when visiting sacred places and government buildings.
- Flip Flops. Alongside practical footwear, bring along a pair of flip-flops – or even better, purchase some once you’re there. Not only will these be easy to take off when visiting temples, certain bars and restaurants, but they will also allow your feet to breathe in the hot and humid weather.
We hope this blog has been useful for your pre-arrival packing mission!
Want to discover more about Ho Chi Minh City for yourself? Then apply now!
While reading this, you are probably getting ready for your internship in Vietnam and checking everything off on your to-do list. Aside from all the usual important stuff you need for going abroad- your passport, visa, medicine, and clothes, you need to think about what vaccines you might need for Vietnam. This blog is here to save you time and will be a helpful guide for you to get over this last step.
This is something you need to consider before starting your adventure in Vietnam, and while vaccines aren’t necessary, you definitely need to speak to your doctor to see what they recommend!
It is recommended that you speak to your General Practitioner at least 6 to 8 weeks before your scheduled flight to discuss any health risks or vaccinations.
It is not necessary to be vaccinated before your arrival in Vietnam, however there are some recommended vaccinations for your stay in Vietnam: Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Tetanus-Diphtheria and Measles if you do not already have them.
- What’s the risk of me contracting a vaccine-preventable disease?
- How long am I going for?
- What will I be doing?
- Can I be protected without a vaccine?
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Our team is looking forward to meeting you soon in Ho Chi Minh City!