Living in Vietnam
Living in Vietnam was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. I miss it everyday and I hope to go back to live there again. That being said, it can be a difficult place to live. It’s chaotic, at times it’s frustrating, you can’t expect life to be the same as it was in the country you are from. I remember being told that the first two months would be exciting, then the next couple would be frustrating, but then you’d accept the life and would learn to live with the frustrations. This was actually pretty accurate.
I wrote the following articles over the course of the 2 years that I was living in Vietnam. Some of them will be very useful if you are planing on moving to Vietnam. Others were written as a way to vent (right around that 3 month period) and are more comedic. If you have any questions about moving there, please feel free to contact me.
Exploring Vietnam: Binh Duong New City
In 2005, construction began on what will eventually be the administrative capital of Binh Duong. I’ve watched, over the past 2 years, as new restaurants, hotels, and apartment buildings have popped up. The heart of the city is the huge administrative building along with the convention center next to it. These new and modern buildings are an unusual sight in Vietnam.
Everything About Coffee in Vietnam
Coffee isn’t just a drink. People rearrange their lives to get that morning cup of wake-up juice. One time, I killed a lady who was slow at ordering in my local cafe. Or maybe that was a pre-coffee day dream.
At any rate, when I moved to Vietnam I was very excited about getting my taste-buds on some traditional Vietnamese coffee. Coffee in Vietnam is so chocolatey and rich. An iced coffee with milk, or ca phe sua da, is a dessert that you drink even before breakfast. Instead of milk, sweetened condensed milk is used. It’s amazing.
Living in Vietnam is awesome.
Everyone knows about the amazing travel opportunities. From deltas, to mountains, to bustling cities -- lined with a 3,260 km coastline!
And of course there’s the incredible food with its fresh ingredients, and its blending of tastes and textures.
But what I’m going to miss most about Vietnam isn’t the pho. I actually got a little tired of it after the first 4 months.
The best things about living in Vietnam are the little things that I started doing regularly. Things that I couldn’t do in North America, but I really enjoyed doing here.
How to Drive in Vietnam: Tips on Driving a Motorbike
One of my favorite things about living in Vietnam is the madness that runs wild in the streets. I’m talking about scooters, motorbikes, motorcycles, and electric bikes. I love to be able to jump on my motorbike and zoom to the market. It’s easy, quick, and great on petrol. Oh yeah, and it’s a ton of fun.
For our last trip in Vietnam, we decided to do a road trip up into the highlands to Dalat. Getting to Dalat, we took the QL20. You can see that route -- and get all the information about where we stopped, what we saw, tips on driving, and more -- by going to this link: Vietnam Road Trip Part 1: Driving to Dalat. If you’re looking for part 2 of the video, you can find it here: Dalat, Vietnam.
In this post, I am going to outline the route we took back to Saigon.
At the peak of the dry season, the best place for Saigoneers to escape isn’t the beaches. The hills of the highlands are much cooler, and the pine-smelling air is fresh. After 6 months of sweltering heat and no rain, Sara and I decided enough was enough. It was time to head to the hills. We packed up the motorcycle and drove to Dalat.
Pho-get About It
Everyone knows about the Vietnamese beef noodle soup phở. Vietnamese restaurants around the world have it on their menu. Pho is good. Sometimes it’s great. But there are plenty of other delicious bowls of broth in Vietnam. A lot of them won’t show up on a Vietnamese menu overseas. I suspect some may not even be considered edible to someone that hasn’t grown up with the particular flavors, and isn’t open-minded enough to really give it a chance, but I insist you try these if you get the opportunity. You might find a new favorite Vietnamese soup. I know I have.
Live it up in Vietnam for $4000 per year
It’s not hard to save money in Vietnam. If you’re an ESL teacher you’re likely to make around $15-20 per hour. You can easily save half of that if you take advantage of Vietnam’s low cost of living. I’ve lived in the country for almost 2 years now. After settling in, I discovered just how little I needed to live an amazing life in Vietnam. So how cheap is it to live in Vietnam? With a bit of initial work and spending, it’s possible to live off of $4000 per year — and the best part is, you can avoid cooking and cleaning, and basically live the life of Riley.
If you fancy yourself an independent traveler – one that doesn’t like tours and doesn’t rely heavily on guidebooks – you probably like to do your own research, finding tips about off-the-beaten-path places or local hangouts that the tourists don’t know about. With smartphones and tablets, it’s easy to arm yourself with websites for traveling Vietnam, but the hardest part is finding the sites. If you like off-the-beaten-path travel, you have to dig deeper to get that hardly seen information. Much like how I prefer eating at a restaurant that doesn’t have an English menu, I enjoy getting my information from Vietnamese sites.
Dai Nam Park, or Dai Nam Tourism Complex, is a huge 22 hectare amusement park that includes a cultural/historical area, a zoo, a water park, and amusement rides. There’s a hotel there (400,000VND per night), camping (about 230,000/night including tent and mattress rental), and many restaurants. Like I said, it’s huge.