When you move to Vietnam, you’ll likely find that the people are delightful, the standard of living is high, the cost of living is low, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to explore Vietnam’s many wonders. Below are a few tips to help you get started on your Vietnamese adventure.
1. Get the Right Visa
If you are from the U.S., there is only one type of tourist visa that you can get at this time—a one-year, multiple-entry visa. Although it is valid for one year, you must still leave the country at least once every 90 days. Once you are in Vietnam, it’s possible to get a six-month or one-year multiple-entry business visa.
If you are not from the U.S., you have a choice between a one-month or three-month visa, with either single or multiple entries. If you plan to stay a while, apply for the three-month visa. Again, it may be possible to obtain a six-month or one-year business visa once you are in Vietnam.
2. Find the Right Town
If you want affordable beach living, Nha Trang and Vung Tau might be perfect, while progressive, dynamic Da Nang offers miles of beautiful beaches, nearby mountains, and a taste of city life, too. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are Vietnam’s two largest cities. Both offer all the amenities that you would expect to find in any international city—an endless variety of restaurants, thriving nightlife, plenty of parks, museums, and other diversions. Art and history buffs will enjoy the small central coast cities of Hoi An and Hue. If you prefer cool, year-round weather, Dalat is a perfect choice. Dalat is located high in the mountains, where parks, lakes, and waterfalls abound. If you want to start your own business, Da Nang is the most business-friendly province in Vietnam, and you might also consider Ho Chi Minh City or Nha Trang.
All of these places have established expat communities, and the local people are warm and welcoming.
3. Know the Right People
Make some Vietnamese friends—relationships and family are everything in Vietnam, and having local friends is the best way to immerse yourself in the culture. Knowing the locals will also make your life a lot easier, whether you need to call a taxi or need a hand bargaining at the market.
4. Find the Right House
There are property management companies in every larger town and city in Vietnam, and it’s easy to find English-speaking agents who will show you available houses, condominiums, and apartments for rent. Online groups and word of mouth are also excellent ways to find nice places. Be sure to look not only at the house but also the neighborhood. You probably don’t want to live over a busy market or next to a karaoke bar. Finally, get a good sense of the owner. A good landlord can make all the difference.
5. Join the Right Groups
Every city and large town has a Facebook group for expats, and these are an excellent source for finding housing, learning about the area, finding local events, discovering the latest businesses, and for making new friends.
6. Eat the Right Foods
Vietnamese cuisine is diverse and healthy. Eat where the locals eat and you’ll be in for a treat. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of western and international food available, too.
7. Visit the Right Places
Vietnam is a photographer’s dream. From the mountain highlands to the extensive coastline, from the bustling cities to pastoral villages, you’ll find more than enough to keep you active and interested. Stay at a homestay instead of a hotel, and immerse yourself in the local culture.
8. Learn the Right Words
Even knowing a little bit of the language will open doors and enrich your experience in Vietnam. Even if you can only initially manage to say “hello,” and “thank you,” you’ll be complimented on your excellent Vietnamese.