Don’t panic! Cúp điện or power cuts are pretty normal here in Vietnam. Sometimes these can be scheduled or it could just happen without a warning. If you are located around the city centre, somewhere like Saigon, power will most likely be back within 30 minutes. If not, then it may be because of the never ending construction that needs to be connected to the power grid or something more serious such as lightning damage. Scheduled power cuts are also common as this is something that the government executes to save electricity. Vietnam still experiences coal shortage which is why power companies have to find ways on how to cut back on power consumption. Be prepared for these controlled power cuts, especially during the months of March to June, when it is sunny and hot in both the South and the North, which increases demand for electricity.

If you’re living in the countryside or in the provinces, the situation might be different. Power outages might take longer and might occur more often, depending on the location. Oh, and just so you know, there are still some areas in Vietnam that still don’t have electricity AT ALL! Vietnam is still installing power lines to these areas which may or may not affect the schedule of power cuts in the country. 

Where can I find the schedule of power cuts?

The schedule of cuts can be found in newspapers like Tuoi Tre and Thanh Nien, as well as on EVN’s website. It is also possible to get the schedule by SMS (send “LMD”, a space and then your 13-character customer code starting with “PE” to 8055; ex. “LMD PE1000000001”). If you are experiencing a blackout for more than half an hour, find the number on your electricity bill and give your provider a call – you may query them regarding the status along with the estimated time required to rectify the issue.

What do I need to prepare in case of power cuts?

For the power cuts, having a candle and a lighter or match to light it up neatly placed somewhere accessible is always a smart thing to do, especially if the black out is at night. If you’re worried about the candle causing fire, there are so many battery operated and rechargeable lamps available in the market. Emergency lights are also good to have, especially if you have a store or cafe as these automatically light up once the power is interrupted.

Handheld or portable fans (or emergency fans) are also good to have as well. Have you seen fans that also comes with an LED light at the base? These are practically lifesavers! Just make sure that you keep these things charged up. Speaking of charging, you should definitely have a power bank handy just in case the power outage takes longer than expected and your gadgets need some extra juice.

As far as food goes, it’s always good to have a supply of canned food. If you really want your food cooked, you can also prepare a portable stove for your convenience. These are the ones that comes with refillable canned gas and can be set up and packed up when needed. If you noticed, most of these things are also items you would need in case of disaster, and things you will most likely bring when camping, so having all of these, you will definitely survive the apocalypse.

Oh, and as an extra, it might also be wise to invest in a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Source) which can power one or two fans or a generator if you will.

What can I do in case of power cuts?

While many would complain about the heat or the darkness, we should really learn to enjoy the peace and quiet that it brings. No loud music or TV, no distractions. You can turn it into a romantic situation by enjoying dinner by candlelight, or relax by the window as you count the stars and watch the night sky. For power outages that takes a few hours, you can enjoy the outdoors with your family or friends and turn it into a bonding experience.

For information on living in Saigon go to Saigon: Not Yet a Tourism Hub