Ho Chi Minh City expat living in Saigon

It’s hardly surprising that as Vietnam’s biggest city (more than twice the size of Hanoi) and as its economic hub, Saigon attracts the great majority of foreigners who live in Vietnam. Maybe it’s the city’s cachet as a dangerous and exciting city, left over from the American War, or maybe it’s the booming economy, but there’s no shortage of Westerners who’d be happy to make a base here. One great attraction are the hundreds of wonderful restaurants and bars in the city; you could spend a couple of years checking out a new place each night, and still not get round them all.

In general, all products and services here are much cheaper than in the West although rents, even for a small apartment in the downtown area, are becoming prohibitive, pushing expats out of the centre to places like Phu Muy Hung (south Saigon). Another appeal of the city lies in nearby places you can explore at weekends – the Mekong Delta, the southern coast and national parks such as Cat Tien.


Guide to expat living in Ho Chi Minh city including how to make contacts, find a place to live, avoid culture shock and have the time of your life in this tremendous Southeast Asian city...more


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Guide to getting settled in your own place in Saigon including where to start looking for places, options for renting and how to spot a bargain in the Saigon property market...more

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Guide to getting by speaking the native tongue in Ho Chi Minh City including handy words and phrases for every day tasks including finding tourist sights, ordering a meal or shopping...more


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Guide to expat living in Saigon

If you’re considering living in either Hanoi or Saigon, you need to evaluate the weather in each place, as they are markedly different. If you get uncomfortable in high humidity, perhaps you’d prefer Hanoi, with its cold winters to balance the hot summers. On the other hand, if don’t like shivering with cold, Saigon’s your spot, as temperatures rarely drop below 20°C.

When it comes to what to do there, choices are fairly limited. The greatest demand is for English language teachers, and qualifications are not always necessary. However, unless you are highly qualified, this job does not pay well and you’ll find it difficult to save.

Those expats who live a comfy life here are often involved in joint trade ventures between Vietnamese and international companies, or work for international companies that have interests here such as hotel chains.

If you’d like to find out more about living in Saigon, try to track down a few expats in their after-work haunts and offer them a beer in exchange for advice. A couple of the more popular bars among Saigon expats are Underground on Dong Khoi and Le Pub in the budget district.

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