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Binh Tay Market Ho chi minh city
Daily Life in Vietnam

Lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City

Lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam is a rather poor country with few Western-style amenities. However, the country is developing and that progress includes the appearance of more facilities like gyms and golf courses. The fastest growing areas are of course the big cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Now the life of a foreigner in Ho Chi Minh City is very easy!

Food & Drinks

Local food is super cheap and tasty, and Vietnamese beer, spirits and cigarettes are a very affordable price. However, if you like to treat yourself to Western food and drinks you should expect to pay more! Both Vietnamese and Western restaurants can be easily found around the city. For the brave ones it might be a nice experience to try local street food, which is delicious! 

Shopping

Vietnam is a real paradise for people who love to shop. You can find a wide range of products and places to buy them from, from typical Vietnamese street markets, through to supermarkets, fancy shopping malls and designer boutiques.

If you’re looking for some local food, clothes and souvenirs, we would recommend you to go to places such as Saigon Square, Zen Plaza, Lucky Plaza, Cho Ben Thanh, Cho Binh Tay and Ly Chinh Thang. If you’re missing some Western food you can shop in Auchan, Metro, or, if you fancy some vegan products, Annam Gourmet, Veggy’s, The Organik Shop and Loving Hut Hoa Dang.

For the international clothing brands, you should look in Vincom Centre and Union Square, Diamond Plaza, The Crescent Mall, Parkson Plaza, Bitexco, Takashimaya Vietnam or Dong Khoi Street. You also might find L’Usine an interesting place, it is a combination of contemporary fashion shops, art galleries and cafes. Most of those places are open from morning until 10 -11 pm.

Entertainment

Ho Chi Minh City offers two types of entertainment: Western- and Vietnamese-style. If you chose the first option, you can go to clubs, bars and pubs to taste some of the city’s nightlife and most probably meet some other foreigners as well as locals.

Downtown’s District 1 is popular for its rooftop bars, whereas a bit further from the city centre District 3 is famous amongst backpackers for its cheap eats and bars.

Another big attraction of Ho Chi Minh City are casinos, which are often compared to Las Vegas. The ones in Caravelle Hotel and Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers are considered as the best ones in the city.

If you want to get closer to Vietnamese culture, you can watch traditional dance performance and observe some cultural and religious festivals held throughout the country. A good idea is to visit the Sax n’ Art Jazz Club where you can see performances of most celebrated Vietnamese musicians as well as international guests.

Sports & Leisure

In Vietnam you can find places to do any sport you want. Most popular sports in Vietnam are badminton, tennis and football (soccer). In modern cities like Ho Chi Minh you can find gyms with world-class equipment, basketball and volleyball courts and futsal fields. Recently, also golf became very popular in Vietnam. Golf Resorts can be found inside as well as very near Ho Chi Minh city.

Places of practising religion

Over 69% of Vietnamese determine themselves as folk religions believers, nearly 12% are Buddhists, 7% Catholics, 0.1% Muslims and over 5% do not follow any religion. Even though Buddhists, Catholics and Muslims are in a significant minority, you can still find many pagodas, temples, churches, cathedrals and mosques in the Ho Chi Minh City. For the convenience of Expats living in the Ho Chi Minh City, many of them offer their service in English. A few of those religious places are also a tourist spot worth visiting.

Palm trees by the river in vietnam
Practical Advice

What to Expect When You Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City

So you’ve got your ticket booked, internship confirmed. But what can you expect when you step off the plane and arrive in Ho Chi Minh City?

No doubt the first thing that will hit you when you arrive is the heat. Summer is here all year round in Ho Chi Minh! With lows of 21 in the winter and highs of 35 in the summer, you won’t need any thermal clothing!

Palm trees by the river

Upon entering the arrivals lounge you’ll be greeted by one of our team members. They will stand out as they will be holding a sign with your name on it, and will have an InternVietnam tshirt on! From here, you will be taken by taxi to your accommodation.

After you arrive at your accommodation and drop your stuff off you will be taken to sort out your new SIM card. This will help you to settle in by setting you up with a mobile so you can use Internet whilst out and about and make texts and calls.

Now you’re all set up to get out there and have fun!

One of the first things you’ll want to do is try some of the delicious food. Whether it’s Banh Mi, Pho or something else you’ll be sure to love it. You’ll be able to find a variety of different restaurants within a short distance of your apartment with a great selection on offer.

Banh Mi Vietnam

After you’ve settled in, on Monday, when you start internship you’ll be invited to the InternVietnam office where you’ll meet our branch manager. They will give you an orientation on some useful things to know whilst in Vietnam.

Following your orientation, you’ll go for lunch with the team from the office, who will no doubt show you one of their favourite spots to dine at. It’s a good chance to get to know a little more about the InternVietnam team, and I’m sure they’ll have plenty of questions for you as well!

In the afternoon you’ll then be whisked off to your company by a member of the InternVietnam team. They will introduce you to your colleagues, and there will then be a short meeting getting to know what tasks you’ll be undertaking and any questions you may have for them.

Inspired to try it out for yourself? APPLY NOW!

Vietnamese Culture

5 Cultural Differences Between the UK and Vietnam


Introduction

When we talk about the cultural differences between Vietnam and England culture, we can think of many things; namely Literature, Style of Music, Arts, Religion, Language… and I will tell you some dissimilarities of the two cultures. This blog will describe some of the likenesses and contrasts between the UK and Vietnam!

UK and Vietnam flags

Many Vietnamese traditions are beautiful to witness and you will really enjoy gaining a better understanding of life here.

Family structure

For example, in Vietnam, children are the most important members and the centre of a family. The other members (parent, grandparents, uncles, aunt) pay special attention to them. The central role of elderly people in the family is to raise their grandchildren. It is a lovely tradition that gives the adults more time to themselves, seemingly keeps gramps feeling young and develops respectful community for, and connected to the elderly. It is not uncommon to see elderly people taking their younger relatives to school on the bus, or playing with them outside, which always makes you smile on your way to work.

Drinking culture

Bia Hoi Junction Hanoi

There is a lot of cheap, cold, draft beers, in Vietnam and many people sitting on a plastic stool on the side of the road. That pretty much sums up the bia hoi experience.  Bia Hoi is a draft beer, made with no preservatives.  You will see lots of people sitting around, drinking, talking, eating, and people watching. One thing to avoid is to drink without eating, at least a little something – generally sliced cucumbers served with salt, chilis, and lime, or fried battered corns. Have you ever heard of the Snake Wine? It is quite popular in Vietnam. They put the whole snake (or scorpion) into the bottle and then pour the rice wine into it!

Nevertheless, a few cultural differences I have noticed are a little bit harder to get used to, and you’ll just have to learn to live with them when living in Vietnam.

Cultural difference Number 1: Munching and belching is normal in Vietnam!

The first cultural difference I discovered was on a business trip on the second day of my internship. For lunch, we stopped at a restaurant by a river, and quickly I noticed the loud eating going on in the room.
Loud eating is considered rude in most countries in the world. But not in Vietnam. You may also see people dropping litter or food scraps, on the ground as they eat, but again this is completely normal. You will find used napkins, food scraps and cigarette butts on the floor of lots of traditional Vietnamese restaurants.
But reassure yourself, not everyone eats loudly though, and not every restaurant is dirty!


So, here is your challenge; be prepared to eat loudly as well! It is widely accepted and interpreted as you are enjoying your meal.

InternVietnam - cultural difference Food
InternVietnam – Food

Cultural difference 2: Wild driving

Wild driving as a cultural difference

One of my favorite things about living in Vietnam is the madness that runs wild on the roads. I’m talking about scooters, motorbikes, motorcycles,electric bikes… tonnes of fun!

In fact, because of all the unpredictable swerving, it seems drivers are more observant, with quicker reactions than most in the UK. Not to mention they get you from A to B super quick and so cheaply! Upon that realisation, and having taken many more taxi journeys, I have become increasingly trusting of the local drivers. However, I will welcome the orderly and comparatively peaceful roads with open arms when I return home.

On the other hand, driving in Vietnam is sometimes quite frustrating. There seems to be a lack of rules, or a lack of enforcement of rules. If you ask a Vietnamese person what the rules of driving are, they will look at you like you are coming from another planet.



Cultural difference Number 3: Non-existent queuing

Vietnam queue
InternVietnam – Vietnamese queue

Being British, I have had queuing drilled into me at an early age and can’t help but be overwhelmed with annoyance if someone queue jumps. In Vietnam, however, queuing seems to be more along the lines of a polite suggestion rather than a strict social norm.

Many times I have been queuing for the cash desk in a supermarket and, as it reaches my turn, someone walks in front of me and places their items on the desk. You soon learn to become more pushy and assertive, as well as perhaps a little more impatient. Although it can become a bit of fun, I still can’t quite overwrite my innate desire to respect a queue.

Cultural difference Number 4: The nap after lunch

Cultural difference: napping everywhere

The Spanish cannot beat the Vietnamese when it comes to napping! Napping in Vietnam is an art and the people here are professional nappers.

Vietnamese people can take a siesta almost everywhere from hammocks made of rope mesh and suspended by cords at the ends to under the trees and in the bus next to strangers, pavements, right on the concrete floors, pavements or motorbikes. At elementary schools, taking a nap is mandatory, little students have to listen to their teachers, transforming desks made with two wood panels into beds to sleep after lunchtime.

Nap-time is when you can observe the very slow pace of life by strolling through the streets in light volume traffic, feeling the chilling breezes going through your hair, and seeing an idyllic Vietnam in the midday.



Cultural difference Number 5: Loudspeakers everywhere !

Vietnam has about 10,000 loudspeakers. Loudspeakers are a throwback to the 1960s- 70s war years between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, when they delivered news and warned people to get into a bomb shelter for protection against attack from the air.

Nowadays, these loudspeakers still exist, with announcements covering a range of topics like residential clusters meetings, avian flu prevention, healthcare information and sanitation reminders all over Vietnam through the daily 6:30 AM and 5:30 PM broadcasts in a male or female voice. They begin and end with some beautiful music sort of patriotic rhythms.

If you stay in Vietnam, I am 100-percent sure the loudspeakers will wake you up in time.


InternVietnam - Loudspeakers
Source : https://www.mazevietnam.com/2016/12/10/10-strange-things-about-vietnam/

As a conclusion…

Throughout my time in Vietnam, I have attempted to fully immerse myself in the Vietnamese culture and have really enjoyed my time here because of it. Even these cultural differences that may be a little out of my comfort zone made my experience more enriched and interesting and, aside from maybe number 1, I wouldn’t want them to change.

Want to learn more about our destinations? Check the five majors cultural differences between the UK and China!

If you want to join us in Vietnam for an amazing experience, you can apply here!

Comparisons, Eating Out in Chengdu, Events in Chengdu, Events in Qingdao, Qingdao Blogs, Qingdao Eating Out Guide, Travel

Qingdao vs Chengdu

It has been just over one month now, since I packed up my life again and stepped onto the plane headed for Qingdao. Before that, I had spent six months in Chengdu – a fiery city, full of exciting opportunities, impressive architecture and racing development.
Since I’ve now lived in both Chengdu and Qingdao, I think it’s time I put into words how I felt the two cities compare and differ, what I miss and welcome.

Firstly, let’s talk about food. Qingdao has a delicious variety of seafood – clams in particular are my favourite, as well as other great dishes such as aubergine with potato and peppers (Di san xian), or something akin to sweet and sour pork (tangsu liji), which are always a favourite at our Thursday dinners. The food is mild, although there are spicy dishes too of course, and the street barbecue is a highlight after every night out. Other than that, you also get beer in a bag… what else can I say?

InternChina - Qingdao Clams
InternChina – Qingdao Clams

All this is great, but honestly speaking, I do actually miss the spicy kick the Chengdu food offers. Paul (Office Manager Chengdu) probably won’t believe me when I say this though, since I’ve only ever complained about the spice while I was there… Sorry Paul, looks like I developed a love for spice only after I left! Key ingredients to Chengdu food are a lot of chillies and the famous Sichuan pepper (Huajiao) which creates a peculiar numbing feeling in your mouth when you bite it. These two (and quite a few more spices) create a culinary experience that you will most definitely never forget, and although it takes some getting used to, the Sichuan food is bursting with vibrant colours and flavours. When you visit Chengdu, make sure to try the renowned hot pot. It might look daunting at first, with a chilli-red soup that is filled to the brim with Sichuan peppers, but trust me, you’ll love it!

InternChina - Sichuan Hotpot
InternChina – Sichuan Hotpot

So, in my book the food point goes to Chengdu, I think.

Next up, scenery. This is a difficult one, because both cities have their own character and particularities. Chengdu is a fast-developing and growing city. Home to the immense global centre, impressive malls and striking roadwork, Chengdu’s cityscape is an awe-inspiring sight. Travel a little further out of the city however, and you’ll encounter beautiful mountains, hot springs and little villages. I particularly recommend climbing Emei Mountain and visiting the Giant Buddha at Leshan when you get the chance. And of course we cannot forget the Giant Panda Research Base. A must-see for cute and cuddly fans, and apart from watching the lazy giants munching away at bamboo, it’s also nice to simply stroll through the vast park of bamboo forests, lakes and gardens.

InternChina - Emei Mountain
InternChina – Emei Mountain

Qingdao on the other hand boasts long, sandy beaches, a beautiful sea side promenade, mountains in the middle of the city and captivating architecture both old and new. Admittedly, I haven’t explored Qingdao as much as Chengdu, but I look forward to discovering the city, the mountains and the seaside. Particularly the Old Town, in the West of Qingdao, is an area I would like to see more of. I have visited the old church and seen some of the German architecture, but I think it’s not something you can do in one afternoon.

InternChina - Qingdao beaches
InternChina – Qingdao beaches

So overall, both cities have a lot to offer from fantastic scenery to amazing food and rich culture. I miss Chengdu’s lifestyle and hope to return soon, but I am also loving my new life by the sea and beaches!

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