YOUR INSIDER'S HOME GUIDE
IN HO CHI MINH CITY 🇻🇳 SINCE 2008
SAIGON INSPIRATION HOME VIETNAMESE POWER SOCKETS FOR DUMMIES
What you shall know about power sockets in Vietnam
Traveling to Vietnam anytime soon? Or you’re a foreigner already living here planning to bring one of your electronic devices from home? Do you need a converter? There are some things you need to know about how power works in Vietnam, and the types of electrical plugs used here.
The Basics of voltages
The general voltage in Vietnamese power sockets is 220/380V at 50 cycles on a three-phase system. The word “general” is used a little loosely here because there are some sockets across the country that run on different voltage ranges.
For example, Ban Me Thuot, Khanh Hung and most parts of Saigon and Hanoi have standardized the nominal voltage of 220/380V in their sockets.
However, in some parts of Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue, Nha Trang, and Can Tho, you can still find sockets that run on a voltage of 127/220V. There have also been 120/208V sockets spotted in Dalat and Saigon.
These numbers are what’s called “nominal voltages”, the estimated power an outlet would give or an appliance would take. Actual power needed or given can differ. For example, a common voltage range in other countries is 230/400V, and that is the nominal voltage. But its actual value varies between 216.2V and 253V, and 400V is the maximum voltage achieved across the three phases.
So, if your appliance has 230V written on its plug, then that’s the nominal voltage it runs on, and if you’re plugging it into a Vietnamese 220/380V socket, then it runs within that range and your device should work smoothly without the need for a converter.
The other thing to take note of is the types of sockets available in Vietnam. You can easily find Types A, B, C, E, F, and G plugs in Vietnam. The British standard three-pin Type G sockets are a relatively new addition, but they’re common in most new 4- and 5-star hotels.
Most USB chargers come with interchangeable plugs which allow you to use them in any other country in the world. The wall outlets in Vietnam support Types A, C, and G, and USB chargers are built to handle 100-240 volts.
But you might think about getting an International Travel USB charger so you can charge the same device both in your home country and abroad without the need for a converter. If your device supports a “fast charge” function, then this feature will not only allow you that but also safely support more power-hungry devices.
Take note of the type of plug that came with the charger. The general rule of thumb: it’s safe to use if it fits the Vietnamese socket.
But if It Doesn’t…
If the appliance you are using doesn’t fit any of these sockets, you can easily buy an adapter at any hardware store, but just remember that adapters do not alter the voltage—they just allow you to plug in your device. The best ones to use in Vietnam will be the Type G adapters. If your device doesn’t fit any of the sockets and the voltage range listed is different from the ones available in Vietnam, you’ll need a converter.
First of all, you need to check if your device is dual-voltage, for example marked with 100-240 volts. Single-voltage devices usually just have one specific number such as 240V, although sometimes it might indicate a small voltage range such as 220-240V to accommodate small voltage fluctuations.
If your device is dual voltage, then it’s fine, but if it isn’t, you’ll need to get an international travel voltage converter to prevent the device from overheating while being plugged in. This device will convert the voltage from your socket (220V) to the one your device is meant to be using, for example, 110V.
A Step-Down Voltage Converter is bulkier and does the opposite. This is the bridge device that converts the lower voltage of your device to 220V to fit the Vietnamese socket.
How to Use Common Devices in Vietnam
Clothes Iron: First, check if your iron is dual voltage to ensure that it supports 220V. Some devices will come with an option to choose between different voltages. Next, identify what plug type your socket is. If it’s a Type C plug, then get a Type C adaptor and plug it in and you’ll now be able to iron your clothes in Vietnam.
Mobile Phone: Most mobile phones can be charged easily in Vietnam by simply buying a Type A, C, or G adapter. If you’re using a two-pinned Type C Europlug USB adapter, for example, then you can plug it into the power outlet, and then plug the USB cable into the adaptor, with the other end in your phone.
iPad Mini 4: If your power outlet supports a Type A plug, then all you need is the Type A USB power adapter and a USB to Apple Lightning cable, which is included with your device and plug it in. If your socket doesn’t match the plug your device has, then you will need to get a Type C or Type G USB power adapter, but the voltage will still remain the same.
Most new Apple devices, including iMacs, come with inbuilt universal power converters. The iMac 2012 edition, for example, lists its voltage range as 100-240V, which means it can be used almost anywhere in the world. All you will need is an adapter to ensure the plug fits into the socket.
If All Else Fails
To find out how many volts your device runs on, simply look at the plug, the bottom of the device, or the instruction manual of your device. If you can’t find it on either of those, then a Google search should suffice.
SAIGON INSPIRATION HOME FIXER: A HANDY NEW APP IN VIETNAM FOR THOSE WHO DON’T DIY
Need Help? Here is how to get it to your home
As technology progresses and brick-and-mortar shops make way for online stores and market platforms, the concept of service providers is quickly changing from the traditional structure where service requests are made to a company to a gig-based economy made up of freelancers and entrepreneurs—in this case, known as “fixers”.
The absence of a middleman means transactions are direct—you only pay for what you use. For the service providers, their earnings are proportional to the amount of work done, which also allows fixers the opportunity to create their own small businesses.
Introducing Fixer to Vietnam—The App that Redefines DIY
With its strong start-up culture, Vietnam is no stranger to the app trend. One new player is set to enter the game with an innovative and practical range of services, reliability, and flexibility.
Fixer is a mobile and web application available on Android and iOS devices that serve as a platform to bridge service providers, known as fixers to those who need it, the fixee. Providing necessary services such as moving, cleaning, handyman tasks, grocery shopping, and even interpreters, the platform removes the middleman from the equation by allowing the fixer to choose, communicate and work together directly and efficiently with the fixee.
Seamless Communication Helps to Create One of Vietnam’s Most Useful Apps
With the entire process from communicating, and delegating to reviewing done in-app, fixees who are looking for a particular service can log into the app and use its search function, to find a suitable fixer, be it a handyman, a shopper, or a cleaner.
One of the app’s notable selling points is its in-app translator that allows easy communication, even between English and Vietnamese—a feature that is extremely useful for non-Vietnamese-speaking clients in Vietnam. The app’s push notification feature ensures that urgent tasks get the attention they require.
Vietnam’s Digital Marketplace
The app works as a digital marketplace where prices can be negotiated to ensure both parties reach a reasonable price for the services rendered. This allows fixers the freedom to adjust prices based on demand, and fixees to be able to scout around for the best prices in the category they are searching for.
Another selling point for the app is the ability for fixers to determine their particular skill-set in their respective profiles, without being limited to what is in demand. For example, a fixer who is an electrician may also be a guitar maestro, and this can be reflected in their profile.
Therefore, if you’re looking for an electrician to put up some lights for a party later, you might also get your fixer to stick around to play a special set or two on the guitar for your guests. This concept is based on Fixer’s “neighbors helping neighbors” message which is intrinsic to most Southeast Asian societies.
The Demographics of Vietnam’s Fixers and Fixees
Fixers are generally made up of young Vietnamese people who are known to be ambitious, tech-savvy, and hungry for opportunities—stay-at-home mums who have valuable skills to offer for example, or backpackers who are looking for a quick buck. The app will support their role as fixers by helping them bridge the possible language and cultural gap between them and their clients, as well as allowing them to manage their schedules. Fixer is free to use, subscription comes later.
Fixees on the other hand, are primarily busy professionals who need a helping hand for tasks, as well as ex-pats who have difficulties speaking or understanding Vietnamese and would like their task done, just as it should be, without the hassle of getting lost in translation.
Transactions will primarily be done in cash once the task is complete but the app will soon support cashless payment modes, including cryptocurrency support. This will allow fixers the flexibility to use this platform as a major source of income. For more information on Fixer, visit their website or download the app on Google Play or Apple’s AppStore.
SAIGON INSPIRATION HOME WEATHERING THE STORM: FLOODING IN HCMC
The six-month rainy season officially starts in May
During last year’s monsoon season, the Centre Asiatique de Recherche sur l’Eau (“Asian Water Research Centre in English) recorded an astounding 44 flooded streets.
Issues with Infrastructure
“Misuse of water diversion infrastructure – filling canals or blocking water drains – has in the past been the driving cause of Ho Chi Minh City’s flooding events, and Asian Water Research Center researcher Tran Ngoc Tien Dung said that remains the key culprit.
“The situation [has not] changed,” Tran said in an email giving the center’s flooding findings for this year. The research center defines a flooding event as water accumulation over 10 cm and if the water remains 30 minutes after a rain event.
Beyond being a nuisance to drivers, flooding can threaten critical resources, as in Tan Son Nhat airport in 2016 when flooding there endangered the power station serving the airport. A disabled power station would have shut down the control tower. Ho Chi Minh City responded with an immediate US$16 million worth of flood abatement construction.
This represents a fraction of the city’s ongoing financial commitment to flood relief. In September, Ho Chi Minh City announced a VND 97 trillion (US$4.3 billion) water control effort, which will span the next five years and call for the construction of three reservoirs and a group of pumping stations. A centerpiece group of projects is an eight-kilometer, three-meter-wide sewage pipe to keep trash out of a key natural water diversion resource, the Saigon River.
Seeking International Relief
The flood effort has won international cooperation. The Dutch government will help build the three 10,000-cubic-metre reservoirs. In the project announcement, the city stated it had 40 percent of the funding immediately available with some of the cost being covered by international aid.
Indeed, when the World Bank’s chief Vietnam liaison Ousmane Dione visited the country for the first time in September, he affirmed the global aid group’s support. Dione’s previous positions with the World Bank were responsible for water control throughout the Southeast Asia region.
This may prove to be an uphill battle due to an unusually early monsoon season. In April, photos of passengers disembarking from a plane onto a flooded tarmac made rounds on social media. Tran said inundation continues to plague the city because of residential construction, particularly what he feels is a need for greater sensitivity to hydrological concerns.
Going with the Flow
As far as the rain itself goes, Tran said beware the first half hour of a rain storm. Precipitation events tend to produce the most rainfall during that time. Tran added that rain storms tend to cluster themselves around the afternoon, so until around November, be ready for rain any time between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Also, “always have a raincoat with you.”
How to Drive in the Rain
Rainy season befalls us now, but duty calls nevertheless. For those driving in the rain, here are a few helpful tips courtesy of DC Motorbike (217 D2, Binh Thanh D.) to keep you and your bike going through the precipitation despite a precipitous travel itinerary.
– If you disregarded the above and went forward anyway, no worries. Shut the bike down, move it to a dry place and use the kickstarter to activate the bike. A running engine will push any water out of the exhaust.
But if you use the electric starter, you may damage it. A manual initiation is best.
– During heavy downpours, wait until more favorable conditions if possible.
– If the water level is above the exhaust, do not proceed. A flooded exhaust can cause problems with the engine and may result in a damaged electric starter. These are costly problems that you can avoid by staying away from shin-high water.