Things I wish I knew before moving to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Moving abroad was a massive leap in the dark for me. Unemployed and nearly out of options I took the plunge to start a new life halfway across the world. After a 15-minute chat with the Academic Manager of a random teaching company, I was invited to teach in the big smoke of Vietnam. I hastily accepted the full-time offer and did absolutely no research before jumping on the plane. All I knew (and wanted to know) was that I was teaching English and living somewhere in Ho Chi Minh City. A bit weird, I know.

Although it was irrefutably the best year of my life so far, there are also things I feel I should have known or looked a bit deeper into to get the best of my experience from day dot. Fortunately, I have compiled these in a list below, so if you are looking to move to Ho Chi (or maybe any big foreign city) take heed.


  1. Which district are you living/considering living in? Most of the expats live in District 2 and this is where all the cool events happen – I wished I lived there. District 1 is the center of the city but you probably wouldn’t want to live there full time. Consider District 3 if you’re looking for a more authentic experience.
  2. The city is reallllly polluted. Try to find a mask to block out the obscenely bad air quality.
  3. Tampons are super hard to find/really expensive. Stock up before leaving or get the implant.
  4. If your dress size is above 12, you will struggle to find clothes that will fit you.
  5. Don’t whip your phone out when on the back of a moped, it will be snatched. Try not to take your phone out at all if your anywhere near a road, or if necessary, make sure it’s completely covered.
  6. Grab app is a lifesaver. You can get a ride anywhere in a matter of minutes for dirt-cheap prices. Don’t be too drunk on a bike though as they will throw you off (happened to me 3 times, just get a car instead)
  7. Vietnammm is the best website if you want to order food.
  8. 500,000 dong notes (around 18 pounds) look VERY similar to 20,000 dong notes (around 70p) getting these confused when paying someone is financially crippling.
  9. If you are planning on riding a moped (without a license) the police will shake you down if they catch you. To be safe, keep a 200,000 note in your wallet to bribe them, hide all other money in your shoe/bag/bra.
  10. Bring a waterproof poncho with you. Its hell when you are stuck on a Grab bike in the pouring rain with no cover, hello sloshy shoes.
  11. Bui Vien is the party street, find shady clubs and ‘massage parlors’
  12. Vietnamese mattresses are literally blocks of wood, it’s really hard to get a good nights sleep. Source your mattress online.
  13. Lazada is an online shop where you can buy nearly anything.
  14. It’s easy to get a Vietnamese sim card for your phone – but it’ll be pay as you go. Ugh.


So there’s my list. Let me know if you have any questions or message me if your considering traveling/moving to Vietnam – I’ll happily help you out!

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