Introduction of Vietnam

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This introduction of Vietnam is a mix between basic information you need to know before arriving in Vietnam and an overview made by people with experience of living in Vietnam. We have tried to show you some different aspects of Vietnam from the economic situation of Vietnam and its History to the weather, the dense traffic, the delicious food and including what it’s like to travel in Vietnam. Feel free to contact us for additional information.

Vietnam is a stable developing country with high potential

Also called “Indochinese peninsula”, Vietnam is located in the South of China. Since the reunification of the North and the South Vietnam in April the 30th 1976, the country’s official name is The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Forget about the War against the US! Vietnam lives in peace since 40 years and is nowadays achieving massive development! The Government is politically stable, economic and demographic indexes continue to improve rapidly. Its Economy is open to foreign investment which represents around half of the national GDP. Vietnam is part of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the CIVETS (the six favored emerging markets countries: Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South-Africa).

Easy facts to remember:

  • 91,5 millions of inhabitants
  • 2nd world exporter of coffee behind Brazil and 2nd world exporter of rice behind India
  • 50% of the population is less than 30 year-old
  • Economic growth rate is approximately above 5% since almost 30 years!
  • There are 5 important cities with high potential:
    • Hanoi (the official capital, North)
    • Hai Phong (industrial city, North)
    • Da Nang (Newest emerging city, Central Vietnam)
    • Ho Chi Minh City (Also called Saigon and seen as the Economic Capital, South)
    • Can Tho (heart of the Mekong Delta)
  • $160 = Monthly average income per inhabitants in 2014 (World Bank 2014)

Massive transformations means huge contrasts

As a booming economy, from one street to another, you will travel between rich and poor areas, from business centers with brand new buildings, fancy cars to the countryside and rice paddies, from street-food places to high-end restaurants, etc. Coming from a developed country means you have more chance to have access to all of it and you’ll be amazed by the diversity of this country.

Related article: The monthly budget for living in Vietnam

Coffee in the street – $1 the glass

Dinner on the riverside – $30 for one person

Vietnam has a fascinating History

Far before the US War, Chinese have occupied Vietnam for more than thousand years from the first century before Christ until the eleventh century. Located between India and China, the Indochinese peninsula has always been a strategic position for business international relationships. After repulsing the Chinese, Vietnam became independent but had to fight constant Chinese invasions. These few centuries of independence gave strength and confidence to the people.

From the 1860s until 1954, French occupied Indochina (Known as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) to extend their Empire in Asia. But Ho Chi Minh raised a nationalist army to fight for independence and defeat the French. Then, US troops enter Vietnam to take back the peninsula and contain Communism and URSS. The US war ended in 1975 and Vietnam became a socialist republic, independent and reunified. The language has Chinese and French influences. The actual Vietnamese alphabet uses Latin script. It was created by Alexandre de Rhodes. All streets in Vietnam have names of heroes, emperors and historical characters from the last thousand years. Culture, Architecture, social norms and values find their origins into the Chinese, French, Japanese and American occupation. The Vietnamese identity is strongly influenced by its past but still remain unique. People are patient, resolute, open-minded and kind.

Tropical weather

The weather in Vietnam is tropical and very pleasant. Average temperature is 26 to 30 degrees with 80% of humidity in the air during the whole year. In Saigon, there are 2 seasons: the rainy season lasts from mid-May to mid-November and the rest of the year it is dry season while the north has 4 seasons where temperature can go under 10 degrees during the winter! But in general, it’s a good idea to bring your pair of flip-flops!

Easy access to amazing destinations

Vietnam itself is a dream destination!From Halong Bay to the Mekong Delta including the mountains of Sapa, Hanoi, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City and other seaside resorts, you’ll be amazed by the diversity of the landscape and there are enough for everyone’s taste.

Few photos of our travels in Vietnam
You can travel all around South-East Asia easily. Countless famous touristic destinations are a stone’s throw away from Vietnam at affordable prices! Take the train, the bus or the plane and go anywhere in few hours! Check Singapore, Angkor in Cambodia, Bangkok in Thailand or even Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Myanmar, etc.
Other destinations very near Vietnam

Traffic is dense

You’ve surely heard about traffic in Vietnam and if not, we suggest you watch the video below. Vietnamese use motorbikes for almost everything! In Vietnam, you can find motorbike taxi at every corner of the country. It’s maybe the most exiting difference from developed countries regarding transportations. It works the same way than a taxi except it’s normally twice cheaper if you succeed in negotiating the price. It’s time to put your business skills into practice and jump in the traffic! Every newcomer arriving in Vietnam is astonished by the crowd and the noise from the street. Some of our interns were surprised: “where all these people are going?!” It’s part of the frenetic aspect of Vietnam especially in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi, the two biggest cities.

Traffic in Frenetic HCMC, Vietnam from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.

Crossing a street is an Art.

To cross the street is a real challenge. The flow never stops and if you wait for the green light, you might wait your whole internship! On the contrary, we drive very slowly in Vietnam, no more than 30kms/h so it’s easy to anticipate and find your way inside the crowd. You might need a few days to understand how it works and have the courage to try on your own. You will be used to it very soon and we can teach you ;)!

Check this quick video to really understand what we’re talking about!

Vietnamese cuisine is amazing and delicious

Some people say that Vietnamese cuisine is as much sophisticated as the French Gastronomy. You’ll judge by yourself… We are sure about something: A few months is not enough to try ALL the variety of food Vietnam has to offer. Here are some samples: Bon Appetit! Try as much food as you can!

food vietnam pho bo beef noodle soup
food vietnam cha gio nem fried spring rolls
food vietnam bun thit nuong
food vietnam mi quang
food vietnam chili sauce

More information about Vietnam?

  • When we arrived in Vietnam, we read Vietnam – Culture Smart! (in French: Vietnam attitude!) The essential guide to customs & culture by Geoffrey Murray. It gives you interesting and accurate information and it’s a good introduction to Vietnam.
  • For those who like newspaper and blogs, you should subscribe to Saigoneer: It’s a famous Vietnamese newspaper written in English and check CityPass Guide
  • You like videos? Then, check our YouTube Channel to find documentaries and videos about Vietnam. We will soon produce our own videos.
  • You might also need information about the budget to live in Vietnam.

Thank you for reading, The Jump in Vietnam team

Monthly budget for living in Vietnam

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Is life in Vietnam unbelievably cheaper than in Europe?

The real difference from Western developed countries is that coming in Vietnam will allow you to have a comfortable lifestyle by spending as much as you are currently spending in Europe or The US as a student! But your lifestyle will be demanding and you need to have a specific budget for that.

Most of foreign people living in Vietnam rarely cook at home because food in the street or in restaurant is very affordable (and yummy!). In your case, you might stay in Vietnam only a few months and take this opportunity to travel, try as much places as you can and enjoy your trip.

So what should be your monthly budget?

If you stay in Saigon, a budget of $600 a month all-inclusive is the minimum: you will need to be careful with your expenses but it is doable! A reasonable budget would be about $800-$1200 a month (all inclusive). If you travel, your budget might need to strat from $30-40 a day (all inclusive). Explanations:

Imported products such as electronics, luxury products, spirits/wine or clothes are most of the time more expensive. Perfume in Vietnam cost 2 times the European price for example. But you’ll find everything you need and most of the time at a very competitive price compared to your original country.

Also, don’t forget that bargaining is part of the culture and locals will easily see that you are a foreigner… So you might be quoted a higher price (actually, it’s 100% sure that will happen)! It’s the opportunity for you to show your negotiation skills and don’t hesitate to discuss and arrange the prices if you think you’re paying too much. That’s also a reason we are going to give you a quick overview of the prices you should pay.

A quick overview of prices:

Basically, $1 is 25.000VND. We refer to the US dollar as the VND (Vietnamese Dong) is indexed to the USD (the US Dollar). For this article, we put the prices in USD but you better stop converting as quickly as possible and remember the prices in VND: you’ll be able to save some $ at the end and pay a fair price. Too many expatriates living in Vietnam act like tourists and think as $1 is nothing so you can spend it. Actually, you can do a lot with only $1 in Vietnam!

Here are some examples of prices applied in Vietnam that will give you a clearer idea of what should be your purchasing power on site. These data are based on our own experience and can vary depending on each situation.

  • 1 meal in the street: between less than $1 to $3
  • 1 meal in a restaurant: between $1 and $7
  • 1 bottle of water 1,5 liter is $0.50
  • 1 beer in a supermarket is $0.40, in a bar it is $1-2 and in a club; $4-$7
  • 1 cigarette pack is around $1-$1.5
  • 1km by taxi is $0.50 and it can be a lot cheaper by moto-taxi
  • 1h of phone talk-time in Vietnam is $5. With $5, you can call Europe during 25 minutes!
  • 1 month of motorbike rental is $40-$50 a month
  • 1 month renting a room in a shared-house is $200-$300 per month (and with $350-$450 you are in a serviced apartment or a villa).

Prices for flights, visas, health care spending and Education in Vietnam will depend on your own situation so we have decided to not mention them in this article but feel free to contact us, share and comment on this article so we can give you more information.

Thank you for reading and see you soon!
The Jump in Vietnam Team