Settling In Vietnam
Unless you are already a master of the Vietnamese language, you will come across many language barriers with the local people. Basic English is spoken by some, but by combining a few phrases and using a bit of confidence you can usually get around and find what you need. A good sense of humour is particularly helpful when communicating and is also handy for negotiating better prices.
It is a good idea to take classes though, as it is often very hard to structure sentences properly and accurately pronounce words without professional tuition. Besides that, you will get a lot more out of your Vietnam experience by picking up phrases and absorbing the culture.
If you did not know already, the official currency for Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Check a reliable currency conversion website for the latest exchange rates.
If you’re bringing money over, then it is best to bring dollars and exchange them at banks upon your arrival. Our advice is to get new notes and keep them as flat and crisp as possible to ensure that they are accepted over here. Torn, old-looking, and faded notes are often not accepted as they are worth less than their total value in many places across Southeast Asia.
Housing in Vietnam provides teachers with various options, which suit people of different ages or who plan to stay in Vietnam for different lengths of time. Some teachers, particularly those who are on short-term contracts, choose to live in a guest house or hotel. As these range from budget to luxury, it can be easy to set up and removes any of the fees involved with leasing agreements.
As Apollo centres are based in large cities, flats and house shares are always an option. Rent will vary depending on the size and location of the housing and can be negotiated, particularly if you are intending to stay for longer periods of time. Most contracts last for one year and housing can be single or shared.
Before or upon your arrival, your local Apollo team can advise you and put you in contact with good guest houses, hotels and rental agents so you can effectively prepare in moving to a new location.
For newcomers, Vietnam transport in some places may take you by surprise. For example, in Ho Chi Minh City there are over 7 million residents and over 4 million motorbikes on the roads and these numbers are growing. In the smaller cities, such as Da Nang, the traffic is not quite so heavy.
Crossing the road is an interesting experience for many in Vietnam. For those who are less confident, it is a good idea to watch the locals first and follow their lead.
Getting across town is not too expensive by xe om, literally translated to ‘hug vehicle’, which is a motorbike taxi. Many are often found on street corners and do not be surprised if they call you over to ask where you are going. The number of taxis has also grown dramatically over the last few years and there are many established chains that are recognisable throughout the city.
Many staff own or rent their own motorbikes, and this is a good independent way of getting around once you are used to how the traffic flows. International driving licenses are not recognized for the purposes of operating a motorbike in Vietnam. However, Vietnamese licenses can be obtained locally and your Apollo centre will be able to help you.