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.
- 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.
- The city is reallllly polluted. Try to find a mask to block out the obscenely bad air quality.
- Tampons are super hard to find/really expensive. Stock up before leaving or get the implant.
- If your dress size is above 12, you will struggle to find clothes that will fit you.
- 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.
- 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)
- Vietnammm is the best website if you want to order food.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bui Vien is the party street, find shady clubs and ‘massage parlors’
- Vietnamese mattresses are literally blocks of wood, it’s really hard to get a good nights sleep. Source your mattress online.
- Lazada is an online shop where you can buy nearly anything.
- 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!