Vietnam One of the Best Places to be An Expat in the World!

By: John Mark Harrell

Vietnam’s low cost of living and high wages are unrivaled.

Jobs abound in a country with a growing economy and limitless career opportunities.

A modern, convenient lifestyle in Vietnam is not only accessible--it’s the norm.

Meals for $1, weekly transportation for $10, rent for $100, and a minimum monthly salary of $1000... sounds impossible, right? In Vietnam, not only is this possible, it’s reality for many expats! Major cosmopolitan hubs like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang are some of Vietnam’s most popular gathering places for expats from all over the world seeking low cost of living, an abundance of career opportunities, and the famously friendly welcome of Vietnamese locals. Vietnam is a country that beckons expats from all walks of life to jump right into the middle of the action. Read on to find out why Vietnam is consistently ranked one of the world’s best places to be an expat.

Vietnam for ExpatsImage source: workinasia.net

High Salary, Low Cost of Living

For expats looking to save money, Vietnam is a financial paradise. Last year, Vietnam jumped up 3 places on the 2018 InterNations survey of the world’s best countries for expats, ranking 9th overall, and climbing all the way to 4th for countries with the lowest cost of living. Expats living in Vietnam consistently report more savings, more expendable income, and lower expenses than almost any other country in the world.

What exactly can you expect to earn in Vietnam? According to a 2018 Go Overseas survey, most expats are English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers earning an average wage of 22.7 million VND (US $1,000) to 45.5 million VND (US $2,000) per month, which places Vietnam in the world’s top 9 countries paying the highest EFL salaries. A 2018 HSBC survey found that, taking all professional fields into consideration, the average annual expat income in Vietnam is $90,000 US. Coupled with the cost of living, Vietnam ranks first in the world for increased savings and expendable income.

Vietnam for ExpatsImage source: starsinsider.com

Housing in Vietnam is incredibly easy to come by as cities like Ho Chi Minh are rapidly expanding, with new houses and apartments flooding real estate listings daily. Almost all housing available to expats includes furniture, parking, western appliances, and weekly or daily cleaning services (often including laundry service). For all of these perks, plus utilities, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 US per month for a private room, including an en-suite bathroom, in a comfortable house share near the city center. Of course, those looking for a little more opulence can rent spacious modern apartments at a monthly average of $500-$1000 or more, depending on what your budget allows.

Vietnam for ExpatsImage source: luxstay.com

How about meals? Street food in Vietnam is the cheapest way to go, with a delicious and freshly-prepared bowl of noodles usually averaging less than $2 US! Gone are the days where eating out is a luxury. Many expats prefer eating out as it is comparable in cost to buying groceries, and saves precious time for those with busy work schedules. With an endless variety of mouth-watering local dishes to try, you’ll not only save money on meals in Vietnam, you’ll discover and crave new foods you never knew existed.

With less money spent on cost of living, most expats in Vietnam experience unparalleled financial freedom, allowing them to travel more often, repay debts like student loans, and set aside money for retirement. It is, without a doubt, the number one reason anyone should consider moving to Vietnam.

Career Opportunities in Vietnam

Vietnam is also a fantastic place to build a career, and though most expats teach EFL for a living, there is a growing and thriving community of expats in a variety of professional fields such as business marketing and advertising, graphic design, hospitality, physical and mental well-being, real estate, non-profit organizations, small business ownership, and many more.

Vietnam for ExpatsImage source: shutterstock.com

Vietnam is the world’s number one country for expats to find a job, according to the 2018 InterNations report. Not ready to commit to a job remotely? No problem! Expats routinely move to Vietnam on a tourist visa and find themselves newly employed within days. 

How is this possible? Coupled with an unprecedented economic growth, Vietnam’s booming business sector is constantly on the hunt for foreign experts to take critical roles in young companies experiencing rapid expansion. 

Vietnam for ExpatsImage source: urbanistnetwork.com

The nation’s education system is expanding and improving rapidly as well, with new job openings not only at traditional schools, but increasingly popular language centers offering classes on weekday evenings and weekends. Not only are low-experience or first-time teachers welcomed here, but seasoned academic professionals looking to fill higher positions at prestigious private and international schools are highly sought-after as well.

Professional opportunities abound for expats in Vietnam. As of June 2018, an estimated 105,000 expats lived and worked in Vietnam. With that number set to increase dramatically year over year, there is no better time than now to take advantage of the fertile job market and exciting career choices available to expats in Vietnam.

A Fully Modern Lifestyle

Anyone moving from their home country will consider to some degree what they’ll miss about the comforts of home. Fortunately, foreigners living in Vietnam report very little compromise for the incredibly low cost of living and comparably high salary. In major urban centers like Saigon, Hanoi, and Da Nang, there is no shortage of modern amenities like convenience stores, grocery stores, and shopping malls stocked with familiar Western brands and products.

Vietnam for ExpatsImage source: bstatic.com

Among the greatest concerns for any expat is safety. Vietnam not only ranks as one of the world’s safest countries for expats, but also as one of the top 10 friendliest places on earth according to the 2018 InterNations report. 

Health-conscious individuals, those with sensitive diets, and self-proclaimed gourmands increasingly have access to hundreds of modern restaurants featuring high-quality ingredients and international cuisines ranging from Korean to European, even Mexican! 

Most importantly, the nation’s healthcare system has dramatically improved over the last few decades, with modern facilities and a variety of private Western hospitals and clinics staffed with international experts in major urban centers. 

Vietnam is Waiting for You!

There are few places in the world with comparable amenities to Vietnam. Numerous expat surveys from the world’s biggest expat networks including InterNations, Expat Insider and Go Overseas, consistently rank Vietnam as one of the world’s best countries for expats thanks to the famously low cost of living, fantastic career opportunities, and a fascinating and friendly local culture comfortably coupled with all the modern amenities a foreigner could want for.

Vietnam for ExpatsImage source: googleusercontent.com

Banner Image source: shutterstock.com


Ikigai: Understanding Ourselves to Find Purpose

By: Patrick Gaveau

Why does having purpose even matter?

What is Ikigai & how do we find it?

“The real test of knowledge is not whether it is true, but whether it empowers us.” - Yuval Noah Harari, “Sapiens”

Part 1: WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE PURPOSE

For as long as I can remember, I have always been working towards a goal or a dream. As soon as I managed to accomplish one of my objectives, a desire to target the next big thing would start forming. The process of working towards these goals has been a large part of what I feel has given my life meaning and purpose.

IkigaiImage source: unsplash.com

Early on, I attained my dreams through trial and error. Fortitude was one of my strong points, so even when the path wasn’t easy I prided myself on never giving up. Yet, as I got older and I gained wisdom I realised something: the forward motion I felt while working towards a goal was really only part of the deeper experience. There was a bigger question looming beneath it all.

Why Does Having Purpose Even Matter? 

This primal question had no immediate answer. Other animals are content finding purpose by simply surviving. Humans seem to need more than that. But why?

IkigaiImage source: tripsavvy.com

I began by asking myself the following questions: 

- Why was I motivated to wake up every day?

- Are we rational beings?

- Is searching for purpose rational?

- Can the lack of purpose be what damages us the most?

Some of these questions were easy to answer. I knew what motivated me was to inspire and share with others in order to create a better world. In Part 2 of this essay, I will discuss the concrete ways I go about doing just that. However, before I could continue on my quest, I needed to know what made the desireto succeed at my self-imposed goals burn so bright? And, perhaps even more importantly, what might be holding me back?

The Rationale for Being Irrational 

Let me be blunt and provocative. For starters, humans are, in essence, irrational beings living in non-existent societies. By this, I mean that societies have been created by us. They are essentially figments of our imaginations. Certain things that we know to be true, like the fact that France borders on Switzerland, are actually human creations. Animal and plant life don’t see any difference between the two countries on either side of the Alps, yet, we insist on creating invisible borders. Humans are masters at creating stories and then deeply believing in them to the point that an alternate reality can no longer exist. 

IkigaiImage source: businessinsider.com

Storytelling is what humans do best. We’ve created stories to explain and organise what we perceive to be real for millennia. It has allowed us to create complex and vast ever-changing systems that bind us together so that we can easily dominate other species. Without such a remarkable capacity to create fiction that makes us believe in Government, Money and Religion, we humans could not be at the top of the food chain. The ever changing stories we build over and over are the actual cement of our societies and cultures

Yet, despite our deep-seated beliefs in our stories, there is also something within us that thrives on paradox. To put it more clearly, can we all agree that when we say/think something, we often end up doing exactly the opposite? Is this as true for you as it is for me? Do you think that accepting such behavioural patterns as “normal” is rational?

If tobacco has repeatedly been proven to result in cancer, why do we continue to sell it? To smoke it? If healthy food is essential to a healthy life, why do we continue to make the decision to eat so poorly? We can all agree that if we continue to abuse our plastic consumption that we put ourselves, our children and all life on Earth at risk of extinction. Yet, how many of us have managed to decrease our plastic use? … and the list goes on.

IkigaiImage source: pregistry.com

At heart, we are all irrational beings and this implies that humans have an incredible capacity to find comfort in contradictions. It is important to realise that our basic need to seek meaning in life is also irrational. Yet, that doesn’t make it any less essential.

What Holds Us Back From Our Goals? 

I hope that I’ve demonstrated two important things by now: our irrational capacity goes well beyond beliefs, and created fictions are a powerful force. Yet, what does irrationality have to do with needing to find purpose? 

Video source: Improvement Pill

Our quests for purpose are simply another part of our personal storytelling. They are built upon generations of fabricated knowledge. So if purpose was invented and therefore irrational can’t it also be limitless? In light of this, why can’t each of us create a beautiful story that resembles us, so that we can each strive in our imaginary world, and be exactly as successful as we choose to be?

Part 2: FINDING YOUR PURPOSE 

Anyone who has made it this far into this article might find some inspiration in the beautiful Mandy Hale quote that states that... 

“Sometimes all we can do is to embrace the uncertainty. Focus on the wait, enjoy the beauty of becoming. For when nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

IkigaiImage source: runnersworldonline.com.au

Knowing that your options are truly as broad as your imagination can be liberating but it can also be overwhelming. Initially, I too struggled to have a clear view of my ultimate purpose until, while researching, I stumbled on an ancient Japanese concept called IKIGAI

Ikigai literally means “A Reason for Being”. Not only does this concept help define who a person truly is, it also creates a framework for what that person should strive to become. Joseph Campbell poignantly explained this concept when he wrote... 

“People say that we’re searching for the meaning of life. I don’t think that is it at all. I think that what we are seeking is an experience of being alive.”

Ikigai is a simple, practical and effective way for anyone looking to have a deeper and more meaningful experience more in their lives. Ready to begin? 

A Lesson in Ikigai 

IkigaiImage source: Toronto Star

Take a look at the four central questions featured in this conceptual framework and address each one with a verb, name or concept that relates to how you see yourself. List as many elements you hold for each question. If you use the same words in several questions as in the below sample, this is fine. Be honest with yourself, and take your time, do it over and over. It may take weeks to nail down the true essence of each personal category. 

Once you’ve completed your list, review the chosen words. Now it’s time to be truthful—you’ll grade yourself on how you truly excel at each concept. To do this, rate yourself on how proficient you think you are compared with a random group of 100 people. Take a look at one of my client’s sample tests. The word “creativity” appears repeatedly under each question category. He gave himself a score of 100%, meaning he felt strongly that he was a master at being creative. Finally, classify each word by order of importance. If a word scores below 80-85%, you may choose to remove it.

As you work, you may realise that some verbs are similar and can be grouped. For example, negotiating and persuading have a close enough meaning that they can be summarised by one word such as “influencing”. If you’re still unsure about the right verbs/skills/capacities and its ratings, ask your partner, your mother or someone else who knows you very well, and validate your findings together. 

IKIGAI

A Japanese term for "Reason for Being. "The word ‘Ikigai’ usually refers to the source of value in one's life or the things that make one's life worthwhile.

What I can be paid for

What I am good at

What I love to do

What the world needs most

Ratings

Keyword

Creativity

Creativity

Creativity

Creativity

100.00%

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO INSPIRE (MENTOR-COACH-HEALER-ENTERTAINER)

Laughing

Laughing

Laughing

Laughing

100.00%

Breathing

Breathing

Breathing

Breathing

95.00%

Talking

Talking

Talking

Talking

95.00%

Public Speaking

Public Speaking

Public Speaking

Public Speaking

95.00%

Persuading

Persuading

Persuading

Persuading

95.00%

Questioning

Questioning

Questioning

Questioning

90.00%

Exercising

Exercising

Exercising

Exercising

90.00%

Conceptualising

Conceptualising

Conceptualising

Conceptualising

90.00%

Resolving

Resolving

Resolving

Resolving

90.00%

 

MISSION

What I love to do

What the world needs most

Ratings

Keyword

 

 

 A personal mission statement, which offers the opportunity to establish what's important to you. It can also help guide you towards a decision in a particular job, company, or career field.

Spontaneity

Spontaneity

100.00%

 

 

 

TO GROW

Introspection

Introspection

95.00%

Philosophy

Philosophy

95.00%

Psychology

Psychology

95.00%

Sincerity

Sincerity

95.00%

 

PASSION

What I am good at

What I love to do

Ratings

Keyword

 

 

 Represents a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire to do something. 

Improvisation

Improvisation

100.00%

 

 

 

TO FLOW

Waterskiing

Waterskiing

100.00%

Driving

Driving

90.00%

Skiing

Skiing

90.00%

 

PROFESSION

What I can be paid for

What I am good at

Ratings

Keyword

 

 This is an occupation, practice, or vocation requiring mastery of a complex set of information and skills through formal education and/or practical experience.

Persuading

Persuading

100.00%

 

 

TO LEAD

Interviewing

Interviewing

95.00%

Marketing

Marketing

90.00%

Managing

Managing

85.00%

 

VOCATION

What I am good at

What the world needs most

Ratings

Keyword

 

 

 What am I destined to become? A vocation is not something that you can switch like a profession or a career.

Spontaneity

Spontaneity

100.00%

 

 

TO BE CONSCIOUS

Straight-forwardness

Straight-forwardness

90.00%

Adaptation

Adaptation

90.00%

Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy Lifestyle

85.00%

Your next step is to search for one word that can effectively summarise the other verbs, names or concepts that have been identified within each section. This word should be written on the right side of the table and should truly describe the essence of who you are. 

For example, “To Flow” is my client’s Passion. He arrived at this word because of his skills of waterskiing, skiing, driving and improvisation. All of these talents require the ability to focus and react promptly as well as effective navigation capacities within the flux of the environment, whether that be flying through the air above a lake or sailing his way through a speech in front of a room full of business colleagues. He felt that the epitome of those skills was his ability to effectively “flow” through any situation. This is the same process of self reflection that he went through for each section.

Once completed, you’ll know what words are the most important to you. These words, though extremely specific, will also be general enough to cover a wide variety of activities in which you can choose to partake. Your next step is to identify which activities will serve you best within this framework.

My client discovered throughout the process that his Ikigai is “To Inspire”. Striving to inspire others requires “Consciousness” of thoughts, words and actions, which describes his Vocation. In order to find new ways to inspire others, he also needs to constantly continue to learn and to “Grow”, which is his Mission. As a business owner, “Leading” is a necessity. It is also an essential part of his character, making it his Vocation. Last but not least is his Passion for “Flow”. He is constantly seeking new ways to maximise his creative flow, in order to remain as long as possible in his most productive state. Reflecting in depth on these keywords helped him to narrow down his career paths to being a Mentor, Coach, Healer or Entertainer. 

IkigaiImage source: vpr.org

For me, my Ikigai has become my compass. The gained knowledge of realising that my possibilities are limitless in the human construct of our society, along with my deep beliefs in creating my life story with this guidance have provided deep and long lasting fulfilment.

Discovering your own IKIGAI, Passion, Vocation, Mission and Profession is not as easy as it may seem. It may be more evident for some people than others. It often relates to each person’s capacities to reflect inwardly. If you face difficulties, ask for the support of a wise analytical mind and/or a wordsmith. Believe me, with sustained concentration and sufficient time, you’ll find it too, and once you do, you’ll be able to guide your storytelling path towards true meaning. Remember, your purpose in life may evolve over time, thus it is important to continue to re-examine your Ikigai every few years or so.

The next time you find yourself needing to make an important decision concerning your life or career, ask yourself if doing so will serve your Ikigai? This will guide you, and give you strength to pursue your goals with a newly gained sense of purpose. Afterall, when you are living a passion-filled life you are living on purpose, and that is the purpose of life.

Banner Image source: unsplash.com


The Grass is Not Always Greener...

By: Patrick Gaveau

Better Disposable Income and Working Opportunities?

Better Healthcare?

Better Government?

Why do so Many Expats Love Life in HCMC?

A few weeks back, terrifying news broke out about the 39 Vietnamese who died while suffocating in the back of a truck, in an attempt to seek a better life in the UK. This was a horrifying event and a poor awakening to the reality of many rural Vietnamese. This triggered my interest to find the answer as to “Why so many Vietnamese are still seeking to immigrate abroad?”

Research carried out together with experienced Vietnamese and foreign friends, from here and abroad, identified seven central motivational factors that drives those who believe that a better life is awaiting them elsewhere... 

- Better income, work opportunities, and working conditions 

- Improved education and health care systems

- Safety and security

- Preserved natural environments

- A better government

…all leading to a Better Future. 

I wrote this article humbly, knowing my own limitations, and whilst keeping aware that some issues may be rather sensitive to many. As a foreign resident and lover of Vietnam for the past 13 years, I seek to raise awareness from a migrant foreigner’s perspective and help locals open up to a fresh view on migration challenges and opportunities.

Some will ask “Who is he to discuss what he cannot understand, especially when he is not Vietnamese?” I am just a born migrant who spent his life around the globe as you can see in the table below... 

10 Countries of Residence

Years/Months Lived in Each Country

25 Cities

Vietnam

13 years

HCMC

Cote D’Ivoire

12 years

Abidjan

USA

8 years

Orlando, West Palm Beach, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Phoenix, Seattle

France

6 years

Cannes, Marignane, Aix en Provence, Montpellier, Royan, Bourg en Bresse, Perpignan

Australia

2 years

Melbourne, Sydney, Deniliquin, Sunshine Coast

Polynesia

2 years

Tahiti

Canary islands

2 years

Lanzarote

Canada

10 months

Montreal

Holland

10 months

Wageningen

Spain

10 months

Barcelona

All in all, this amounts to 47 years of living abroad! I have lived on five continents in both the northern and southern hemisphere. And I have resided alongside Asians, Africans, Americans, Maoris and Europeans, some Bhuddist, others Christians or Muslims. I saw the rich and the poor, and experienced a variety of societies and systems with people of all colours and interests. Hopefully, this article enlightens some of those seeking asylum on the up-coming challenges that they will probably face if they effectively find a way out of Vietnam.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: theculturetrip.com

Throughout this article, I will be questioning several motivational factors to see if these are true or false, subjective or objective, or if these factors are even justified. The aim is to identify what gaps lie between each of these assumptions and the reality of how it may be, to see if life truly is better for Vietnamese who move abroad. 

Better Future - SUBJECTIVE 

There is a saying that goes ”the grass is much greener in our neighbour's garden” and this is SO not true. The colour of the grass is only dependent on the capacity to see that it is already green and the will to nurture your garden. The problem is that most people often prefer to look outward, as they dislike what they are and represent. People hope that over there, wherever else this may be, it is better. 

As a foreigner with ample experience in Vietnam, I can honestly say that the future is much more promising here in Vietnam, both economically and socially speaking. The economic growth in Vietnam allows us to feel confident that so much remains to be done here while markets are most often saturated and limited in other western countries. 

Many people are kept apart from their families for years whilst trying to become citizens in other countries. They work hard towards migrating the whole family, who will also eventually aim to gain citizenship. Those who are lucky get to reconnect to their families but this is still not a guarantee of a better life. Most end up living mediocre lives which is not exactly the definition of a “Better Future” is it?

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: italoamericano.org

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to say that all overseas Vietnamese stories don't get a happy ending. This is exactly what a lot of people strive to achieve and it is also where “the big American dream” mindset came from. As always, there is a brighter side to venturing out. 

After the Vietnam war, many Vietnamese moved to the US, making them the largest foreign born population in the country. In fact, almost 80 percent of Vietnamese immigrants within USA were naturalized citizens in 2017. It was recorded that there were over 1.3 million Vietnamese currently residing in the US, making up 3 percent of the nation’s 44.5 million immigrants.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: migrationpolicy.org

44 years ago, many of those who left Vietnam did indeed end up finding more opportunities in foreign countries. Many had successful lives and acquired wealth along the way. Most Vietnamese-born Americans had refugee parents who fled the country as boat people, encountering pirates while sailing through the dangerous South China sea. They set sail to refugee camps in Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, or the Philippines and they would find themselves stuck in those camps for months, even years before immigrating to the US to find greener pastures. But the challenges did not end there. Immigrants then had to face the sudden change of environment, culture, language, and unfortunately, racism.

Today, many of them still strive to return home, as their hearts are still rooted in Vietnam. This is mainly due to the fact that these Vietnamese had to migrate because it was their only choice at the time. It was a time when finding jobs abroad was a lot easier and the requirements were not as challenging as they are today.

Better Disposable Income and Working Opportunities - FALSE

Yes, income is often higher abroad, at least in most developed countries, but we must re-evaluate by accounting for the cost of living in common migration destinations. Did you know that California, Texas, London, Toronto, Tokyo, Seoul, Melbourne, and Sydney rank at the top of the list of the most expensive places to reside in the world? They also rank very well in the list of favoured destinations for Vietnamese to be expatriates.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: assets.bwbx.io

Let's not forget the additional expenses incurred while living abroad. Everything is expensive, especially for daily commodities, so calculate how much discretionary income you may be left with after your everyday expenses such as groceries, rent, utilities, transport, etc. Many Vietnamese immigrants have reported facing financial challenges for a variety of reasons. 

It is common for Vietnamese immigrants to experience difficulty in landing a position/role of the same calibre and status of which they could work at within Vietnam, especially when applying for managerial positions. He/she will often not succeed in their job application due to language barriers, cultural and ethnic differences, or simply because their Vietnamese degree or work experience is not valued as sufficient or considered invalid. 

How much better can any one be with VND 30,000,000 (1200 Euros) per month in Berlin or Paris for example? With that budget (minimum income) you could probably rent a small studio (25 square meters) over 2 hours away from the city center. You would have to commute long distances to work via bus, train or metro and be subject to the daily stress and strain of rush hour. Your budget may allow you to eat out in a restaurant with a loved one or friends only once or twice a month, if you are lucky. As for rice, bread, vegetables, fruits, internet, utilities, plus local and national taxes, VAT and PIT, it would be a hell of a lot more expensive abroad.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: thehunterdoncountynews.com

Unfortunately, residents in America and Europe need to own their own car, as commuting would prove to be more costly and winters are just too cold to ride around town on your bike. You would need to factor in gas and maintenance to support such a large ticket necessity. On the other hand, you may enjoy more affordable schools and you may even have free healthcare in some places in Europe, but if you reside in America, healthcare is an expensive benefit. Without medical insurance, which is a cost in itself, healthcare may be something you simply cannot afford.

Last but not the least, as an expatriate and a breadwinner, your family back in Vietnam will often expect you to send some dividends of your hard earned cash. To do so, you would really need to learn to restrain yourself and count your pennies - is that the “better life” that most expect in the first place?

Better Education Opportunities - NOT ALWAYS JUSTIFIED

In reality, primary schools are not really about what your children may learn, academically speaking. It is more about social development, playing together, and having constructive social interactions with friends and teachers, and an avenue for childcare. To this extent, many would sense that Vietnamese teachers are more suitable simply because they are some of the most kind, playful, joyful, carrying, diligent, and patient people you will meet. Vietnamese women tend to value family and children above all else and their maternal instincts are clearly evident in the way they care for and develop relationships with their students. 

At a secondary level, most western technical or educational systems provide decent opportunities, but if you were based in San Antonio - Texas, you'll be surprised to find that 50% of the adult population is at the lowest two literacy levels, lacking the skills required to graduate from high school. There are other important differences at the secondary level worth mentioning too. This includes the value of "disciplinary systems” and “respect” for teachers; a concept extremely different in the west compared to Asian countries.

Generally, western teenagers are more "wild" and more "experimental" than those in Vietnam. Many, especially those who live among minorities, are exposed to social peer pressure, galavanting with friends, often partying whilst underage drinking and smoking pot - something considered the norm. After four years abroad, most Vietnamese parents report that their well behaved child has become so ”westernised” that they cannot expect them to care for them when they get old anymore - a virtue not present in the western world.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: redcrestcareers.com

At a tertiary level, educational systems in western countries are still often better than in Vietnam. But the question is can you afford it? And if you can, is it worth paying so much for the privilege? If parents spend up to VND 2.2 Billion (100,000 USD) for their child to earn a foreign bachelor degree in Australia, for example, can this be paid back with the average VND 11,000,000 per month salary when the child finishes his/her education?

Sure, foreign education gives you an edge. Your communication skills will come into play as a convenience and your education will develop a better understanding of multiracial concepts and work ethics, but is this enough to justify the distance and monetary value that you'll be sacrificing when these days, all or most things can be learned online and for free? The next important question is, would the current educational system be suited for the future job market? This remains to be seen. But when you consider the current and up-coming technologies, this becomes highly questionable.

Better Healthcare - RARELY JUSTIFIED

If you compare Vietnam’s healthcare system with those in France, South Korea, and America then yes, it is so much better abroad. The issue in the USA, however is always whether or not you can afford it. Being treated well within the American healthcare system usually comes hand-in-hand with the burden of a costly private insurance plan so it’s not exactly “so much better” there once you have considered the cost of good health care treatments. While we all understand its value when needed, fortunately, only a few of us will ever need such advanced modern treatments and facilities for a complex operation. 

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: thealdennetwork.com

It’s not always so easy to get quality modern healthcare for advanced surgeries in Vietnam but Vietnamese healthcare has made lots of progress in the last ten years and it continues to improve. In fact, there are already some operations such as the endoscopic surgery technique of Doctor Tran Ngoc Luong, being practiced in Vietnam that foreigners from all over the world seek to learn and study from. Doctor Luong is the first surgeon in the world to do thyroid endoscopic surgery with the patient not having to be reminded by a long scar on their neck because this technique is done by cutting between the neck and armpit without having to use robots. Other areas where foreign doctors travel to learn from Vietnamese doctors include endoscopic procedures in obstetrics and cardiology.

Better Safety and Security - FALSE

Unfortunately, racism still exists within many communities across the globe. How would you feel if you heard that your 12 year old daughter is being bullied because she was stereotyped as a “bad Chinese” every single day - even when she is not Chinese? From listening to so many first hand accounts of experiences abroad, you and your children may always be reminded that you are something else, a minority. To them, you and your children are simply “different” and “yellow”.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: newyorker.com

How safe would you feel living in a place where shootouts in schools or public places, depression, and suicide rates are well above those of Vietnam? How would you feel living in France where more cars are being burned to the ground every year than in any other country and where weekly riots down the main streets of the city centres are the norm? 

Children are always exercising their misguided liberal ”western” freedom, and their parents are too busy working double shifts just to get by. Truth is, petty crimes are common in most of the world but the actual risk of being robbed or getting mugged are much greater abroad than here in good old safe Vietnam.

Better Environment - TRUE

Respect for the environment is often better in well off countries. If you ever see westerners eating in our restaurants or hanging around on our beaches, you may notice how most of them pack away their dishes and pick up their trash. And water in most first world countries is usually well maintained and drinkable straight from the tap! Oh what a luxury.

Fresh air is more common as most of their populations consider their carbon footprint to be lower and more environmentally friendly. Carbon emissions from factories are regulated and modern public transport networks keeps traffic - and subsequent air pollution - to a minimum. Not to mention the access and availability of eco-friendly automobiles. In mainland China, major cities such as Shanghai have banned regular motorbikes and enforce the sole use of electric powered scooters. This is greatly improved the air quality in a short number of years.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: hikers.shop

The garbage collection and processes are also more sustainable, efficient, and some even find ways to turn these into renewable energy. Natural parks and forests are also well protected, and all of that results in better overall air quality. Australia and Japan, for example, spend millions on enforcing strict recycling laws, and through the education system, children are taught from a young age the strict importance of recycling waste, saving water, and sustainability.

Many complain about the traffic in Vietnam. The endless sea of mopeds, fumes, and honking horns. The truth is that traffic is just as bad if not worse in larger foreign cities. You can get jammed during peak hours in Los Angeles, stuck in a standstill for hours at a time - something we rarely get in HCMC. Traffic is often equally as painful in Hong Kong and the CBD area of Sydney. This is a reality that people who have never been in other parts of the world do not realize.

Better Government - RELATIVE

Many local Vietnamese assume that France is a democracy and has a better government rule, but when you look at it from an economical perspective, we can’t really say that the French government is any better than Vietnam’s. “Better” is always subjective but for what it's worth, here in Vietnam, the people have hope even though a lot still remains to be done. Local Vietnamese love entrepreneurship and are always seeking opportunities and their survival and success is only possible due to the stability that the Vietnamese government has delivered for the past 20+ years. 

If you want better roads, schools and health care, think of how much this equates to the government’s capacity to raise taxes. Better infrastructures often means greater taxes. As an expatriate, you’ll get even more heavily taxed because you are in a foreign country. In highly developed social societies such as Sweden or Denmark up to 70% of your total income would be taxed! And do you realize that VAT which is 7-10% in Vietnam is at least double in all of the EU? Would you really enjoy feeling like you are ”working for the government” because they get a huge chunk of your hard earned salary? 

Opening your own business anywhere outside of Vietnam usually means that you can expect extortionate rental and utility fees, not to mention the high cost of multiple licenses required to start up and continue running your own business. Although strict with its rules and regulations, Vietnam is a nation that welcomes and encourages business startups, with rental and management fees, as well as licensing and labour costs much lower than those enforced within other countries.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: indonesiaexpat.biz

In many developed countries outside of Vietnam, corruption is commonplace. Corruption in Western societies is usually disguised under a variety of names such as political campaign donations or lobbying activities. Most Western countries also have their own off-shore haven where people can avoid paying taxes, and corruption payments or bribes are constantly exchanging hands under the radar.

Now, discussions regarding governments are complicated and hugely subjective. So let's just say that each of us may have different perspectives, and you are all entitled to them. I will leave it at that.

The “Illusion of Life” in a virtual world

Have you ever heard of living double lives? No, this is nothing shady but many of us live a false projection of our lives on social media when compared to what is reality. Our social media ”face” is often different from how life truly is. This is neither healthy or makes life any easier. It becomes a standard of living now, an illusion of a greater and grander life. Something we unnecessarily stress ourselves to achieve.

New immigrants are naturally proud of having achieved “freedom”. They post often on Facebook and flaunt their new lives to their friends, families, and followers. Their digital connections look up to them, envy them. Families insist that you share often about all the “great news” and what it’s like to live in such a modern place but they also assume that you’re earning so much and live an amazing, happy, and fulfilling life.

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: studybreaks.com

This is the bright side of the coin, the other side shows that material gains do not shed light on what is truly within you. You’re living in a foreign nation and you’ve learned to live with your loneliness and sadness too often, it has become the norm. You are now integrated into this new society where people are most often sad themselves, you are behaving just as them. You think you have become one of them, a better version of what you could ever have been back in Vietnam. And then you wake up one day not recognizing who you see in the mirror. You must be thankful for all you have, send only the good news, and money when you can, and you're ”all good” now. But is this the reality?

You talk about good food and post beautiful photos but the fact is that your palate and love of home food has you craving and yearning for a slice of home. Your favourite ingredients and dishes are not readily available and you may have to adapt to local food and this may not always be as healthy as what you want or need. And we're just talking about food here. What about how hard it really is to make ends meet and how lonely it gets in new and strange environments?

Millions of Vietnamese share the same dream, strive for the same holy grail - to live in Canada, France, USA, Australia, Japan, anywhere else outside of Vietnam. If all migrants began sharing how challenging it really is to move to a new country, a place where you have no friends, no understanding of the language, traditions or culture, many might reconsider the challenge of emigrating and leaving the comfort of their home and loved ones.

Okay, so I acknowledge the problems here in Vietnam, like the traffic, corruption, and the seemingly “poor” environment but it does have a lot of charms. Western countries have slums and seemingly “poor” places too. Maybe they are just not as exposed as what you see here but once you get there, you will see that not everything in the movies or on social media is true. 

The grass may look greener on the other side but in reality, there’s more to what you see on the surface. Just like your own backyard, it has roots and weeds too. These are the things that you have to consider before heading out to a different country to seek greener pastures.

Why do so Many Expats Love Life in HCMC?

Life as an expat here is something many enjoy. We are pleased and fortunate to experience a vibrant city like no other. The rush, the colours, the noise, the palpable energy, the food! This is Saigon, the Pearl of the Orient. It has always been known to be a great place to be. There is nothing like it elsewhere, at least economically speaking. An exotic eldorado.

A city where its people have beautiful souls, are gentle, fiercely respectful, and always loyal. A place where when you smile, they smile back. A place where we can dress the way we want without feeling the weight of looks or judgement. This is a place of emotional freedom where we all live well without racism or religious conflict. A place where we can always find support when need be. A country where hope of a better future is rooted in its genes, its history. A young population that is eager, talented, and hard working. 

HCMC is a land of opportunities and it is the place to be. Many expats from around the world come to live in HCMC because life is great, and cheap! Let's not forget to mention the food here rocks and the tropical fruits are amazing! People are generally friendly and respectful. Life is good and we can lead a good life with a lot less. Besides, the sun shines all year long, isn’t that lovely?

Vietnamese Assume Life is Better AbroadImage source: ctfassets.net

When it comes to safety, I am definitely safe in Saigon, as long as I am careful when passing through some places after 11 pm. The rest of the time, you’ll be fine. Rarely have I heard, in my 13 years here, that someone I know got his bike stolen, or lost his car or got a broken window. There is theft like everywhere else on this planet, but here, no one bears arms except for the police.

Having gone through all of these factors, as an immigrant who has lived in almost all corners of the globe for so many years, I, along with thousands of other expats are left to wonder, ”Why are so many Vietnamese keen to immigrate to the countries we escaped ourselves?”

Banner Image source: vak1969.com


Things not to do in Vietnam

By: Quang Mai

Following the post about “Tips to spot and avoid scams and pick pockets”, City Pass Guide provides a list of things not to do in Vietnam that can secure visitors and help them to make their trip in Vietnam enjoyable.

On the street

To avoid being robbed or becoming victims of pickpockets, we highly recommended travelers not to carry more money than they need when walking around the streets, especially when you are alone. Wear as little jewelry as possible, as even fake jewels attract unwelcome attention from would-be robbers. In fact, thieves and drive-by snatchers do not have time to decide if jewelry is high value or not; they simply take whatever opportunity comes their way through a moment’s carelessness.

When taking a ride by xe om (motorbike taxi) make sure your bag, if any, is not on display or easy to grab. Bag snatches, although relatively rare, are probably the most likely crime a tourist will encounter, and it the risk is increased enormously if your prized camera or laptops are clearly visible.

Cultural issues

Wearing large amounts of jewelry is considered impolite because it seems to be flaunting wealth in public.

Don't wear singlets, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive. Don’t be surprised when you notice some local ladies wearing them. Such dress is actually being criticized in many official and unofficial discussions in both online and print /media. You should not create any chances for locals to lay the blame on western culture.

Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone's house.

Never lose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanor and you will be reciprocated with the same.

Physical displays of affection between lovers in public are frowned upon. That’s why you may usually come across couples holding hands while very seldom you can see a couple give kiss to each others in the public area. In fact, you may catch some couples hugging or even kissing to pose their selves in front of a camera. They are actually a part of the new generation of Vietnamese who are open-minded and affected by film and entertaining industry.

Ethnic minorities

Avoid giving empty water bottles, sweets and candies or pens to the local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages. You cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner, and the people have no access to dental health. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community.

Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.

Political issues

Blogging is acceptable if your content stays steer clear of sensitive stories about the government. It is OK to share your personal experiences and review accommodation or restaurants but nothing else. Talk about anything like corruption in the government or even the Vietnam War can lead to a negative reaction on the part of the authorities. Therefore we definitely highlight this important point. It’s better to forget the term of “Freedom of Speech” while travelling in Vietnam.

Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.

Anything that depicts pornography is highly illegal. Prostitution also happens to be illegal. If you love bars and nightclubs, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi probably can serve your interests. But always keep in mind that sharing a hotel room with a Vietnamese of the opposite sex is generally not permitted.

Trading in or possession of drugs is illegal and a capital offence in Vietnam. As in other countries, drug abuse costs a lot in terms of prevention or even reduction, but it seems that it can never be completely eradicated. Therefore, don’t ever carry drugs with you while you are travelling in Vietnam.


Other articles:

Top 5 tips for crossing the street in Vietnam

Top 5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

5 tips of preparation for better score at golf

5 tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket

Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam



Visibility and the Exploding Growth of Vietnam’s Queer Spaces

By: John Mark Harrell

Vietnam’s lô tô troupes are one of the first safe spaces for the trans community.

A growing number of venues and grassroots organizations are creating new safe spaces for Vietnam’s LGBTQI+ community.

Vietnam’s LGBTQI+ community, like others around the world, has gradually stepped into the light and become increasingly visible and accepted, largely thanks to increased media representation that has spread awareness and helped normalise gender fluidity and non-heterosexual relationships. While there is much work to be done, safe spaces for queer individuals to gather and seek support have been growing and flourishing in the country’s major urban centers, and even in the countryside thanks to the decades-long existence of Vietnam’s well-known lô tô troupes.

Lô Tô: A Safe Haven for Vietnam’s Trans Community

Many LGBTQI+ individuals hide their sexuality or true gender identity from their families, but for many in the transgender community (particularly for those who choose to transition), this luxury may not always be afforded to them. While transgender people are increasingly visible in positive media representation and pop culture, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, in collaboration with Hanoi University of Public Health, has found transgender discrimination to be rampant, with over 60% of transgender people in Vietnam having attempted suicide at some point in their lifetimes. 

“Part of the problem is the limited way of thinking in the heterosexual community,” says Phong, a Hanoi-based performer. “Claiming that everyone has to live according to the gender assigned at birth.”

While transgender women experience the misogyny, abuse, and erasure that is devastatingly common throughout the world, transgender men (and more broadly, anyone assigned female at birth or AFAB) currently have very little access to sexual health resources. Fortunately there are growing grassroots movements, like FTM Vietnam, who are working to organize events like Trans Dot and spread awareness of issues specific to this underserved queer community. In addition, a recent initiative by ICS to provide quality sexual health education to students across Vietnam has concentrated a majority of its resources on the AFAB community.

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: facebook.com/transdotvn

Beyond basic sexual health, professional medical help is another scarcity in the limited pool of resources for the local trans community. Few doctors in Vietnam are qualified or knowledgeable about gender confirmation surgeries or hormone therapy, leading many trans people to buy their hormones on the black market and inject them without knowing the appropriate dosage for their body type. Those who are fortunate enough to have support networks and sufficient resources travel to Thailand for their medical procedures—but if any complications arise after returning home, transgender people may find it next to impossible to find treatment even in major cities like Hanoi and Saigon.

Transgender people in southern Vietnam have historically banded together and formed their own communities as a survival mechanism. In the early 1980s, coupled with the rising popularity of Bingo which had been imported by the French during the colonial era, the nomadic lô tô“ troupes first appeared, comprised of mostly transgender drag queens who travelled from town to town, throwing carnivals and Bingo games for local communities until their licenses to operate expired, or they could no longer attract enough customers, or they were forced out by the local community. 

Though once merely regarded as a sort of “freak show,” this tradition has become a weekly staple at Rubik Zoo in Saigon performed by a local troupe of performers called Sài Gòn Tân Thời. Lô tô itself has transformed from a local novelty into a part of the country’s unique cultural heritage and, gradually, a positive representation for transgender people. Sài Gòn Tân Thời have recently been featured at a performance arts festival in Taipei, Taiwan, and have even had a go at investors on an episode of the Vietnamese version of Shark Tank

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: phunuvietnam.mediacdn.vn

For many transgender people in Vietnam, working as entertainers or in lô tô troupes is the only means to survival, as their legal gender doesn’t match their true identity or appearance, leading to difficulty applying for other kinds of jobs or integrating with society in ways cisgender people take for granted. Though change is inevitably on the horizon, it is only recently that transgender people have begun to be heard and seen beyond their capacity to entertain.

Safe Spaces for Queer Folks

ICS is a nonprofit organization that works throughout Vietnam to advocate for LGBTQI+ rights, educate local communities, and help organize local Pride events. Originally comprised of volunteers who met on internet forums, they eventually become organized and officially registered as a company in 2011. In 2012, they organized Vietnam’s first ever Pride celebration in Hanoi, and have since expanded to cities and towns all throughout the country.

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: facebook.com/hanoipride.vn

The Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) is another local advocacy group that also works more broadly for gender justice and protection of ethnic minority groups and has been advocating for social justice since before ICS was founded. The Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents (CSAGA) has been around since 2001 and works more broadly for women’s and girls’ rights throughout Vietnam. In addition to these more established organizations, an increasing number of smaller grassroots organizations have grown to address the needs of smaller and underserved queer communities or needs and concerns specific to certain demographic regions, like NYNA and NYNO, Unigen, Hanoi Queer, Saigon Queer, and Bau Troi Xanh

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: facebook.com/hanoipride.vn

Thanks to these grassroots organizations working in their local communities, the word is spreading and public perception is gradually shifting.

“[Public perception] has improved quite a lot; those within the younger generation don’t discriminate at all and those from the older generation are softening up,” says Long, a transgender dancer and drag performer based in Saigon. “Parents of those within the community are starting to accept how their kids identify themselves and understanding that it’s natural and normal.”

In addition to advocacy groups, a growing number of queer-specific parties and events have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, giving the increasingly visible LGBTQI+ community opportunities to express themselves, make new friends and connections, and simply have fun. 

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: facebook.com/hanoipride.vn

GenderFunk is a collective of queer artists and performers who have been organizing some of Saigon’s biggest queer events since summer of 2018. Their Saigon is Burning series, which has expanded to include Hanoi is Burning (as well as a GenderFunk-inspired “Is Burning” event in Grenoble, France), is a drag competition inspired in part by the original New York City ballroom scene which is the subject of the groundbreaking 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. 

GenderFunk aims to promote queer art, create safe queer spaces and, in the words of founder Ricardo Glencasa, “to explore and express your gender, however the f*** you want!” GenderFunk has also organised several gender and sexuality workshops for universities in Saigon and worked with ICS through charity fundraising events to finance close to 100 million VND for initiatives for leadership training and inclusive sexual education in schools throughout Vietnam.

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: facebook.com/GenderFunk

Before there was GenderFunk, there was Full Disclosure, which pioneered the first inclusive drag night for both locals and expats in Saigon. Full Disclosure, founded by Gavin Sealy (also known as drag queen Joy Oi), started in 2017 and still organises events featuring local and international talent in a laid back environment where attendees can simply be themselves and have fun. 

Full Disclosure has also worked closely with the Tipsy Unicorn, one of the newest additions to Saigon’s gay bars, to put on weekly events and create safe spaces for the LGBTQI+ community in Saigon, ranging from trivia nights to weekly Rupaul’s Drag Race viewing parties. In addition to bringing the local community together for more informal gatherings, these events consistently provide a platform for the city’s newest drag performers to experiment and gain valuable experience.

In addition to these newer queer spaces, many existing performance troupes and drag shows have existed for the local community over the past decade or so, including the legendary JS Band, a group of fashionable transgender drag queens who perform regularly at venues around town (as well as GenderFunk & Full Disclosure) founded by activitist and mentor Jessica Ca in 2012. Bang Trinh team is another blend of trans and cis drag queens who frequently perform at local clubs and venues and spread awareness of LGBTQI+ issues in Vietnam—not only entertaining their audiences, but educating them as well.

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: kenh14.vn

Ongoing club nights in Saigon like Republic and more upscale events at Skyxx are long-established venues for local and international drag performers, though they cater to high end crowds looking for a nightclub atmosphere. And perhaps one of the most popular unofficial-but-everyone-knows-it queer spaces is at Thi Bar on De Tham street in Bui Vien, which is consistently packed on the weekends and a favourite gathering place for local Vietnamese gay men.

Further to the north, Hanoi’s queer scene is expanding and manifesting itself in new ways that many in the local community never thought they would see.

“We have drag in Hanoi, which is crazy,” says Phong. “And it’s been nothing but support from everyone. Hanoi Pride caused lots of attention, good and bad but hey...that’s progress!”

Local queer collectives Peach and Wet organise numerous drag performance events and queer parties at venues all over Hanoi. One of Peach’s highlight events, “Singalong Social,” features a unique format where drag queens lead the audience in singing along to some of their favourite tunes. They also put on regular performance events and have recently hosted their own drag competition show for Hanoi Pride called Queen of Hanoi. 

Peach has worked closely with GenderFunk in Saigon to co-organize events in both Saigon and Hanoi in the past year, and an exciting blend of Vietnam’s diverse cultural communities in the North and South, as well as the mixture of international visitors and expats, has created a unique new kind of queer community in the country that expands beyond borders to a movement that is gradually having an international impact.

Beyond clubs, bars, and drag shows, there are a growing number of safe spaces for queer folks together in Saigon and Hanoi, like iSEE’s multi-functional meeting space, Gõ LGBT Shop, and the ICS Hub Cafe. Hanoi Queer recently organized Queer History Month in conjunction with Hanoi Pride in September 2019, with a stated goal of “communicating the presence of the LGBTQ community and contribute to the celebration of diversity as part of the larger goal of pushing for the society’s recognition of LGBTQ people.” The Hanoi International Queer Film Week hosts queer film events in a major festival once a year and smaller recurring events throughout the year. 

Vietnam's LGBTQI+ CommunityImage source: facebook.com/VietnamQueerHistoryMonth

As more and more members of the community raise their voices and make themselves heard, the demand for queer spaces and queer gathering places has increased dramatically in the last decade. There are now more safe spaces and grassroots organizations than ever before in Vietnam’s history, though for now they are mostly concentrated in major urban centres like Saigon and Hanoi. 

Here and around the world, there is certainly much to be done in the struggle for equality, but in Vietnam there is a palpable sense of hope in the local LGBTQI+ community. A hope that inclusivity and acceptance of “alternative” gender identity and sexuality will soon become the norm, rather than the exception.

Banner Image source: starsinsider.com


Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

By: City Pass Guide

A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

After months of no real movement towards re-opening the country for international travellers, there seems to be a chink of light shining at the end of what has been a very long tunnel for Vietnam’s travel industry.

Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

Firstly, 6 months after the subject was first raised, Vietnam and Singapore have reportedly agreed to work towards a reciprocal programme of vaccination recognition that will allow commercial flights between the two nations to restart.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and the Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan made the announcement at a meeting in Hanoi on Monday 21st June, highlighting the need for the mutual programme so that the economy of both countries can begin to recover after 16 months of travel restrictions.

 In addition to this welcome news, it was also announced that Vietnam will reduce the amount of time visitors to the country will be required to stay in central quarantine, if they are fully vaccinated.

Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

The announcement came on Friday June 25th at a meeting between the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and outlined how fully vaccinated people will be able to quarantine for just seven days, rather than 21, which is the current requirement.

Details of when the new restrictions will come into action were not given at the meeting, nor were details of whether or not the programme will be rolled out across the country, but it will certainly be views as a positive step for many people who have been waiting to return to Vietnam or to go and visit family in other countries.

At present the programme will only be accessible to people coming from countries that have managed Covid-19 well, including those nations that have achieved herd immunity through vaccination.

Vietnam Travel Update: June 2021

Finally, as Vietnam’s vaccination drive begins to move up a gear, Phu Quoc has been identified as a priority location for vaccinations to be distributed. The aim is to fully vaccinate the island’s residents so that vaccine passports can be trailed in the top tourist destination.

Well known for its variety of luxury resorts and beautiful landscapes Phu Quoc will be an appealing destination to travellers who have been unable to leave their own country for over a year. However, permission to enter Phu Quoc will also be limited to people who are fully vaccinated, and even then, restrictions may still be in place.

The news may be scant consolation for the hundreds of thousands of tourism workers in other areas of the country, but we must hope that this is the first step on the road to recovery.

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