Although for many, the word Vietnam conjures up a long ago war, the country is a wonderful place to spend some time. This coastal country has become increasingly popular as a travel destination in recent years and was even listed among Trip Advisor’s Top 10 destinations for 2018. After all, Vietnamese cuisine is colorful, delicious and healthy. Who hasn’t heard of pho soup and bahn mi sandwiches by now?!
The good news is that this centrally located Asian country is a very affordable destination. Travelers can get by on a basic budget of as little as $15 per day. However, a midrange budget will only run you about $41 per day, so this is probably one place that you might be able to splurge a little. Just be aware that the locals heartily believe that there is one price for them and one price for everyone else. As long as you keep that in mind and understand that the price you’re paying is probably still cheap by your home country’s standard, you’ll get by just fine.
The locals are generally very friendly and laid back. Many Vietnamese people understand basic English, but they don’t usually speak the language fluently. However, those working within the travel / hospitality industries will know enough of the language to hold a conversation. I’ve found that downloading translation apps that work offline is a good way to communicate, even though local people may not be able to reply using the same feature.
A vast majority of the people in this country are ethnically Vietnamese, but there is also a good sized Cantonese minority in some cities. Vietnamese citizens mostly follow Buddhist teachings, yet a sizeable percentage of the population also follows Catholicism and the indigenous belief system of Cao Đài. No matter what background citizens may have, the Vietnamese New Year or Tet remains a major holiday here. While visiting here during that time of year is an interesting experience, it can also be a pricey one.
Weather patterns vary throughout the country with the northern portions of the country having a more traditional four season set up and the southernmost regions being comparatively warm throughout the year. Therefore, travelers are sure to find a region that suits their tastes in this regard.
Top places to visit in the country include Ha Long Bay, the rice terraces of Sapa, the stylish town of Hoi An, and the Mekong delta. Culinary activities are also quite popular here. Visitors may enjoy taking cooking classes, eating the delicious street food, and drinking the native brews which include locally produced beers and super-sweet coffee drinks. Other common pastimes include hanging out on the beautiful beaches, checking out the vast cave systems (such as the famous Son Doong), bargain hunting in local markets, participating in homestays, and even stopping by the local schools to talk with the students there. Hiking and motorbiking are likewise popular pastimes but you’ll need to be very careful if you choose to participate in the latter.
Note that visitors from the United States will need a visa to travel to Vietnam. The e-visa is the best way to accomplish this, since it’s an easy transaction that only costs $25 and takes about 3 business days to get to you. This document allows you to stay a month in the country once you arrive. However, different visas are available if you’d like to extend your visit a bit longer or would like to be able to enter and exit as you see fit. The prices do go up accordingly, but you’re sure to find one that suits your needs.
TEFL UK have some exciting teaching jobs in Vietnam so if you'd like to experience this amazing country for yourself, please do get in touch!
Previously: How teaching abroad is good for the soul!