Please refer back to this blog post for regular updates on the effect of Covid-19 on our partners and partcipants, and everything we are doing at Pagoda Projects to continue to bring you extraordinary and safe work experience.
If you’re a student signed up to one of our programmes or are thinking about enrolling and have any questions, feel free to give us a call on 0161 818 8824 or send Ali an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, stay safe everyone!
PAGODA NEWS: COVID-19
Thursday 30th July
Unfortunately after 100 days, Vietnam has recorded it’s first community transmissions of COVID-19 in Danang City. This has come as quite a shock to the community given how successful they had been at controlling the spread. Nevertheless, as usual, the government and people have reacted quickly by implementing social distancing, isolating those who may have been at risk of infection and contact tracing all those with possible connections.
Whilst it is a bit of a damper on the success so far, we remain confident in the measures being taken to effectively tackle this new wave of infections.Wednesday 22nd July
Somehow we are almost at August – where has this year gone? We were delighted a couple of weeks ago to host our first public webinar ‘Failures: The Secret to Success’ in conjunction with our Remote Internship Programme. We were joined with three great panelists from Zhuhai, Taipei and HCMC who shared on the challenges that they have faced to get where they are today.
As remote working / WFH has now become somewhat the norm, we enjoyed hosting a Remote Working Workshop yesterday as part of our Remote Internship Programme. As University of Dundee students come to the end of their internship after 8 great weeks, we are now joined by students from universities across Wales, England and Australia working for organisations all around the world for the next 8!
With August around the corner our UK team are looking forward to potentially heading back into their new office in Manchester. Fingers crossed!Thursday 2nd July
Vietnam has now gone 77 days without any community transmissions of COVID-19. Whilst the borders are still closed except for ‘experts’ working on projects of national significance and repatriated Vietnamese with mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival, business very much goes on as usual within the country (as does the traffic!).
All facilities, shops and services have now reopned, and since many have vacation at this time, domestic tourism is restarting with hotels, resorts and tourist attractions reopening up for business. Temperature checks and face coverings are only required in notably crowded places and there is certainly a sense of ease amogst the population towards the lower threat of the virus.
Vietnam has fantastically recorded no deaths, with the most serious patient making a remarkable recovery from the virus over the last couple of weeks.
Monday 29th June
Taiwan Celebrating NO NEW LOCAL CASES in over 88 days!
Only a few cases have been imported but contained.
Status report on daily life in Taiwan – Face masks are still required to be worn on entering public transport (metro and buses) but masks can be removed on the metro if a safe distance of 1.5 m can be maintained… Which is unlikely during rush hours!
All shops, offices, restaurants, cinemas (showing old western movies and new Taiwanese movies), parks etc are still fully open to the public. Large malls and some restaurants are still performing temperature checks upon entrance with alcohol spray for the hands.
Weather is sunny and hooooot as per usual 🙂Tuesday 2nd June
As lockdowns and restrictions have been eased slightly around Europe we have been very excited to onboard over 70 students onto our first Remote Internship programme. As interns have remotely settled into their new workday and host company throughout the week, we have held an Employability Skills Webinar and Virtual Fireside Chat with Louise Nicol, Founder and Director of Asia Careers Group.
Alongside their internship, interns have been paired with a Cultural Mentor to exchange stories and knowledge about the intern’s home country culture and their Host Company country’s culture. It’s been great to see their cultural journals, hear about their conversations and witness development of intercultural awareness. Even the Pagoda Projects team are learning new things!Thursday 7th May
Vietnam is Back! Of course with cautious optimism, but over the last two weeks shops, restaurants, cafes and sports facilities are back open for business, with care taken to the numbers inside and the ability to safely distance. Schools are slowly going back and as Vietnam celebrated Reunification Day last week; 45 years after the end of the Vietnamese War, the country has supported each other and worked together to keep the virus at bay.
The picture is the view from famous Nguyen Hue towards the Saigon Opera house as people enjoy the cool city evenings. We haven’t been able to see this view for several years because of construction work to the Saigon metro, but this station is now finished!
Friday 24th April
A quick Vlog from our Vietnam Branch manager Vicki Offland today, chatting about the situation in Ho Chi Minh city at the moment regarding Corona Virus as successful government measures have helped keep the virus at bay which is leading to a phased relaxation of social distancing.
Vicki also reveals what Pagoda Projects has been doing to keep morale up 🙂
Tuesday 14th April
A couple of rays of good news from Taipei today!
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced today that there are no new cases of Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) to report for the first time in 36 days!
It appears the CECC’s efforts at quickly identifying, isolating, and tracing confirmed cases have held the virus at bay, for now…
Another trick up Taiwan’s sleeve is their new ‘Mask Vending Machine‘ which is being deployed across the city.
To help alleviate the queues at 7/11’s and pharmacies, the government have set up vending machines which can dispense up to 2000 masks per day! Costing only 45NTD for a pack of 3 ($1.5 / £1).
Thursday 2nd April
Our InternVietnam team are now working on developping our Remote Internship Programme for the University of Dundee from home! They are also planning for the arrival of our scheduled employability programmes in August/September 2020.
Vietnam has entered day two of a 15-day country wide voluntarily lock-down in order to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Many of the population were already maintaining good social distancing and following government health advice. All non essential business are closed except in cases of delivery which maintain as normal and is making less inconveniences for the population.
As of today 62 out of 222 cases recorded have recovered and many business and organisations are adapting to this new way of working online through online webinar and workshops.
Friday 27th March
We are EXTREMELY excited to announce the imminent launch of a remote internship programme for our partners at the University of Dundee! The University of Dundee programme will be taking place this summer in a slightly different format. Take a look below to find out more. We will be expanding our remote internship opportunities to our other valued partners in the near future. Watch this space for announcements!
Company? – click here to find out more
University? – click here to find out more
Tuesday 31st March
Well, we have entered the second week of lockdown in the UK and seemingly more uncertain times lay ahead. All of us at Pagoda Projects just wanted to share a quick message to all our participants, alumni, partners and everyone going through challenging times.
Look after yourselves, whether that’s with crazy new home workouts, becoming a jigsaw master or learning how to light a Zoom call like a Hollywood film set.
Friday 27th March
Although our InternMexico programmes for June & July 2020 have also sadly been postponed, our InternMexico Branch Manager James is busy planning the launch of our newest initiative from the comfort of his own home in Mexico City.
Friday 27th March
Our InternVietnam team waved goodbye to the final few participants on our Ho Chi Minh City programme this week. They are on their way home to the France, the UK and Germany, hopefully taking lots of fond memories of Vietnam with them.
All InternVietnam programmes for participants due to head out to Vietnam until July 2020 have been postponed but the InternVietnam team are still planning for some arrivals in August and September 2020!
Friday 27th March
Our Taipei team are hard at work and continuing to plan for participants wishing to embark on our Taipei programmes from September 2020 onwards.
Participants on place in Taipei are exercising caution and looking out for themselves. We are supporting these participants in their decision to either continue with their placements or to return home early, dependant on advice from official government channels such as FCO, DFAT, MFAT and GAC.
Our participant insurance policy will continue to cover those hard-working interns who are eager to stay under the current circumstances. However, we will be reassessing the safety of these participants daily in case of further developments and will remain in close contact with our insurance providers as things progress.
If you have any concerns regarding a participant currently on place in Taipei, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Daniel (in Taipei) or Clare (in the UK).
Thursday 26th March
Our InternChina teams are slowly emerging back into the world after a period in lock-down. Our Chengdu Branch Manager Liam is thrilled to be back working in the office again.
Programmes that were due to take place in Mainland China in April or May 2020 have sadly been postponed in light of current travel and visa restrictions.
All of our study tours along with Australian and New Zealand Government and University programmes have already been postponed. Some of the InternChina programmes that are due to take place in June, July and August 2020 on behalf of students studying in the UK may also be postponed. We will stay in close contact with the participants and ongoing applications hoping to take part on these programmes about any changes to over the coming weeks.
This includes those applicants hoping to take part on the GenerationUK Programme this year, your programme dates may be subject to change. Please keep your eyes on your inboxes for an update and thank you very much for your patience and understanding in the meantime.
Thursday 26th March
Just as our participants, alumni and faithful partner universities and companies across the world are striving to endure, adapt and thrive through the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pagoda Projects are doing the same!
From all of us at Pagoda Projects, our thoughts and best wishes are with medical workers and governments who are doing their best to heal and protect.
Get in touch:
Partez-vous bientôt au Vietnam ? Nous avons regroupé quelques réponses aux questions que vous pourriez vous poser !
- La monnaie vietnamienne est le dong vietnamien (VND). Pour vérifier les taux de change, nous vous recommandons d’utiliser le site xe.com.
- Vérifiez avec votre banque avant de partir si vous avez des frais de retrait ou paiement.
- Il est facile d’échanger des euros au Vietnam. Nous vous conseillons donc d’emporter des Euros avec vous. Vous pouvez aussi partir avec un peu de monnaie locale pour votre arrivée.
- Vous pouvez arriver 4 jours avant le début de votre stage – le jeudi – et partir de l’appartement 2 jours après la fin de votre stage – le dimanche.
- Vous pouvez réserver vos billets d’avion dès que vous avez trouvé un stage et signé notre formulaire de réservation.
- L’aéroport international de Tan Son Nhat est le seul aéroport de Hô Chi Minh – vous devrez donc arriver ici.
- InternVietnam recommande d’utiliser notre partenaire officiel STA Travel pour réserver vos billets. Ce sont les leaders mondiaux dans l’organisation des vols pour le Vietnam pour les étudiants. Obtenez votre devis gratuit pour les vols internationaux requis directement ici.
- Vous devez être munis d’un passport valable au minimum 6 mois après votre arrivée au Vietnam.
- Votre passport doit contenir au minimum 2 pages blanches.
- Il doit être en parfait état, ni taché ni déchiré.
- Pensez à nous envoyer une copie de votre passport au plus vite. Pour que nous préparions les documents nécessaires à l’obtention de votre visa.
- Nous vous donnerons tous les documents nécessaires à l’obtention de votre visa. Il vous faudra les emmener avec vous et remplir un formulaire.
- Nous prenons en charge les frais liés à l’obtention du visa.
- Vous obtiendrez votre visa à votre arrivée à l’aéroport. Il vous faudra être muni des documents fournis par notre équipe, le formulaire à remplir au préalable, deux photos d’identité , et de votre passport.
- Notre équipe vous donnera plus d’informations 4 à 6 semaines avant votre arrivée.
- Si le processus de demande de visa évolue nous vous tiendrons au courant.
- L’assurance santé et voyage est prise en charge par InternVietnam pour vous sur la durée de votre séjour.
- Vous recevrez les documents sur l’assurance avant votre arrivée. N’hésitez pas à les réclamer si besoin.
Vaccins et médicaments
- Aucun vaccin n’est obligatoire pour le Vietnam. Nous vous conseillons cependant de vérifier cela avec votre médecin avant de partir. Vous pouvez aussi vous rendre à l’hopital et prendre un rendez-vous avec le centre des vaccinations pour être sûr.
- Vous pouvez trouver du paracétamol partout au Vietnam. Si vous avez des médicaments plus spécifiques, nous vous conseillons de partir avec un stock pour la durée de votre séjour.
- En cas d’allergie ou de diabète, nous vous conseillons d’emporter 2 crayons à insuline ou EpiPen.
- Copies de votre passport et documents nécessaires à l’obtention du visa dans votre bagage à main
- Adaptateurs pour les prises
- Médicaments avec les ordonnances
- Déodorant, désinfectant pour les mains et autres produits de toilettes
- Pour les filles : des tampons qui sont difficiles à trouver à Ho Chi Minh
- Pour les personnes de grande taille : emportez vos chaussures et vêtements. Vous risquez de ne pas trouver de chaussures ou vêtements à votre taille
- Vêtements simples et formels pour votre stage
- Un costume/tailleur/tenue classe pour un rendez-vous important ou une soirée importante
- Vêtements de pluie et chaussures imperméables en cas de pluies intenses
- Répulsif à insecte et crème solaire
- Tongs ou claquette pour l’intérieur de votre logement
- Vestes et pulls légers . En effet l’air conditionné peut être trop froid dans certains endroits
- Masque anti pollution pour vos trajets en taxis
- Serviettes de toilette
Téléphone et applications
- Pensez à débloquer votre smartphone avant de venir. Sinon la carte sim que nous vous fournirons risque de ne pas fonctionner.
- WhatsApp et Facebook seront les applications utilisées par notre équipe pour vous contacter durant votre séjour et stage.
- Grab est l’application pour commander un taxi.
- Vietnammm est une application pour commander à manger en ligne.
- Xe Currency pour pouvoir convertir la monnaie.
- Google translator ou un autre système de traduction.
- Dans l’avion avant d’arriver il vous faudra renseigner votre adresse de résidence à Ho Chi Minh. Vous pouvez utiliser l’adresse de notre bureau.
94 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
- N’oubliez pas de remplir vos documents pour l’obtention du visa avant de prendre l’avion. Ainsi en cas de questions nous serons donc en mesure de vous aider, sinon il sera trop tard.
Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, has many things do offer during the day time as well as during night time. If you need urgent medical help or just want to buy some snacks late at night, you can find it in Ho Chi Minh City 24/7.
Shopping malls are mostly opened till 9 – 10 pm but many small convenience stores are opened 24/7. You can find most of the elementary products there if you need it in the middle of the night. Inside most of the 24/7 convenience stores or nearby them you can find ATM s where you can withdraw money anytime you want.
There is no problem to find food place in Ho Chi Minh City at any time of day or night. Most upper and middle class restaurants work only until late evening but you can enjoy food from small restaurants and street food at night.
Moving around Vietnam takes a lot of time, so choosing overnight travel might be a good option. If you want to go from/to Ho Chi Minh City to/from other cities or just around the city, you have choice of taking plane, train, bus, taxi or motorbike. Vietnam Railway Systems (VRS) and The North – South train are providing good quality connections across the country also during night. You can buy tickets directly at the train station or, if you need English service, some websites and travel agencies are providing it. The taxi and bus are relatively slow, as the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is extremely heavy. Good alternative to taxi and bus for going around the city is motorbike (you can get it as a taxi, rent it or buy – if you’re staying for longer).
Alternatively, you can rent a car. It is easy – requires only passport and valid driving license. The car rental company might only accept international driving license or one in common language such as English or French.
The most popular (non-stop) party place in Vietnam is Pham Ngu Lao, well-known amongst backpackers as it’s comparatively cheap. If you’re looking for some more fancy clubbing places popular within young people, then you should check out clubs in District 1. If you’re a fan of Karaoke, you will be able to find a few places where you can rent a room at any time.
In case you need urgent medical help, those places have 24/7 emergency service with English speaking doctors: Family Medical Practice Clinic, Franco-Vietnamese Hospital, International SOS Clinic, Columbia International Clinic and Hospital (3 locations), Cho Ray Hospital, Emergency Centre. For urgent dental cases you can seek help in Victoria Healthcare Dentist Department in District 1. 24/7 pharmacy can be found in Family Medical Practice Centre and International SOS Clinic.
Going to a foreign country is always intimidating due to the new environment – even the retail market might be very different to what you are used to! Even going for some shopping might become an adventure. This blog is here to give you an insight of the Vietnamese retail market and prove you that it will still be possible to find some familiar shops there !
- Which popular conveniences stores can I find there ?
If you are familiar with Asian conveniences stores, Vietnam will feel like home. More than 70% of convenience stores in Vietnam belong to foreign companies (mostly from Asia)!
- How is the retail market in Vietnam and what about its organization ?
Vietnam has a huge retail market : 800 supermarkets, 150 shopping malls, 9,000 traditional markets and about 2.2 million retailers (Source : Aseantoday.com).
Roughly speaking, the Vietnamese retail market can be divided into different types of modern distribution, as follows :
Conveniences Stores :
Popular ones : Circle K / Family Mart / Shop & Go / Mini Stop / 7 Eleven / G7 Mart.
They are competing directly with roadside stalls and traditional markets in Vietnam. In those, you will be able to purchase everyday items such as snack foods, soft drinks, groceries, confectionery, tobacco products, toiletries, newspapers, and magazines. You can find them everywhere!
+ : Very convenient, easy to find. Hungry at 2AM ? No problem, let’s get some snacks at the neariest Family Mart!
– : Some may have more choice than others. Chose carefully!
Quite a new concept for Vietnam but this is also the best place to be for a perfect shopping afternoon! The most renowned ones are the Lotte Mart (one in HCMC and one in Hanoi) and the Vincom Center in HCMC. These shopping malls may include special stores, a cinema, and of course a hypermarket, supermarket and department stores.
+ : You can find and do anything, you will never get bored!
– : It is very easy to spend too much money. Your bank might not be happy!
Examples of foreign popular hypermarkets : Loblaw and Superstore (Canada), Fred Meyer, Meijer and Super Kmart (US), Asda and Tesco (UK), Carrefour (France) and NTUC Fairprice (Singapore).
Basically, this is a superstore combining a supermarket and a department store. Therefore you will find a wide range of products, from full groceries lines to general merchandise.
The only Vietnamese brand name of hypermarket is Big C. They are usually located on the outskirt of the city and cramped which means you should probably avoid going there on evenings and weekends !
+ : Wide range of products, many foreign brands, you might feel familiar in these!
– : Avoid at all costs going there on evening or weekends as they are very busy.
Popular ones : Intimex / Co.opmart /Fivimart /Citimart.
If you are more of a weekly shopper, supermarkets are the perfect fit! You can often get discounts as some of them offer frequent buyer cards. Their goods and services are likely to be the same from one to another. By going there you will have a wide choice of food and household products.
+ : Possibility to get discounts with a frequent buyer card. Good for weekly shoppers.
– : If you are a daily shopper, you should rather head to a convenience store to save time and money.
Popular ones (HCMC): Parkson / Diamond Plaza.
Popular ones (Hanoi): Vincom / Trang Tien Plaza / Grand Plaza / The Manor / Parkson.
These stores sell luxurious items such as brand-name clothes, shoes and high class electronic devices.
+ : Very clean, luxurious, can find many foreign luxury brands.
– : Expensive.
The Vietnamese retail market is such an intriguing and exciting experience. And if you ever feel homesick, you will still be able to warm up your mood with imported products. I hope this blog will help you during your adventure to Vietnam!
If you are ready for an adventure in Vietnam, please click here!
Today I am going to do a Vietnamese Crash Course for those who are learning or want to learn Vietnamese.
As redundant as it may sound, Vietnamese is the official language in Vietnam. But for a very long time Vietnam didn’t really have its own language. For so long it was object of constant foreign intervention. Therefore, Vietnamese has borrowings from Chinese, French and also English. Vietnamese is a difficult language, especially because it differs between regions.
Like other Southeast Asian languages, Vietnamese has a comparatively large number of vowels.
Some consonant sounds are written with only one letter like “p”, other consonant sounds are written with a digraph like “ph”, and others are written with more than one letter or digraph. Vietnamese has no use for the letters F, J, W and Z. Also, not all dialects of Vietnamese have the same consonant in a given word (although all dialects use the same spelling in the written language).
So in Vietnamese, every syllable is a separate word, this is why Vietnam is sometimes written as Viet Nam!
Vietnamese is a tonal language, with 6 tones in total, which means that one syllable can have at least 6 different meanings. Be careful with the tones! You’ll probably end up calling someone’s mother a horse or a grave at some point. Tones differ in length, melody, pitch height and phonation. The tone is indicated by diacritics written above or below the vowel.
Similarly to languages in Southeast Asia, there is no real number and gender for nouns in Vietnamese and verb tenses generally don’t exist.
- xin chào = Hello
- Khỏe không? = How are you?
- Khoẻ, cảm ơn = Fine, thank you!
- Tôi tên là… = My name is…
- Làm ơn = Please
- Cảm ơn = Thank you
- Không sao đâu = You are welcome
- Vâng = Yes
- Không = No
- Xin lỗi = I’m sorry
- Tạm biệt = Goodbye
Lost in Translation
- Biết nói tiếng Anh không? = Do you speak English?
- Tôi không biết nói tiếng Việt [giỏi lắm] = I can’t speak Vietnamese [well]
- Có ai đây biết nói tiếng Anh không? = Is there someone here who speaks English?
- Tôi không hiểu = I don’t understand
- Công an!/Cảnh sát! = Police!
- Việc này khẩn cấp = It’s an emergency
- Tôi bị lạc = I’m lost
- Tôi bị ốm = I’m sick
- Tôi cần một bác sĩ = I need a doctor
- Nhà vệ sinh/wc ở đâu? = Where’s the toilet?
- Cứu (tôi) với! = Help!
- Một vé đến … là bao nhiêu? = How much is a ticket to …?
- Xin cho tôi một vé đến … = One ticket to …, please.
- Tàu/xe này đi đâu? = Where does this train/bus go?
- Tàu/xe đi đến …ở đâu? = Where is the train/bus to …?
- Tàu/xe này có ngừng tại…không? = Does this train/bus stop in…?
- Tàu/xe đi…chạy lúc nào? = When does the train/bus for…leave?
- Khi nào tàu/xe này xẽ đến…? = When will this train/bus arrive in…?
- Tắc xi! = Taxi!
- Làm ơn đưa/chở tôi đến… = Take me to…, please.
- Mất bao nhiêu tiền để đến…? = How much does it cost to get to…?
- Có nhận thẻ tín dụng không? = Do you accept credit cards?
- Tôi có thể đi đổi tiền ở đâu? = Where can I get money changed?
- Máy rút tiền (ATM) ở đâu? = Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
- Cho tôi một bàn cho một/hai người = A table for one person/two people, please.
- Cho tôi xem menu? = Can I look at the menu, please?
- Tôi ăn chay. = I’m a vegetarian.
- Tôi không ăn thịt heo (South) / lợn (North) = I don’t eat pork.
- Tôi không ăn thịt bò. = I don’t eat beef.
- Tôi chỉ ăn thức ăn kosher thôi. = I eat only kosher food.
- Cho tôi xin một chaicà phê / nước trà / nước / rượu vang / bia? = May I have a bottle of coffee / tea / water / wine / beer ?
- Cho tôi xin một ly (South) / cố (North) …? = May I have a glass of …?
- Cho tôi xin một ly (South) / cố (North) …? = May I have a cup of …?
- Có size của tôi không? = Do you have this in my size?
- Bao nhiêu (tiền)? = How much (money) is this?
- Đắt quá. = That’s too expensive.
Seems like these tips might have been said many times before, but they are so true and useful!
- First of all, look for language classes. Either in a one-on-one class or in a group class, you can learn about the differences in tones and the Vietnamese grammar. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand.
- Also, practice makes perfect! For some people, learning a new language might come easier than for others, but no one can be fluent without practicing. You can look for a language partner. Go out and make friends!
- Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Locals will appreciate that you are making an effort on learning their language and you can also learn from your mistakes.
Learn more and apply now!
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!
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.
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.
So you think you know all there is to know about Vietnam? Well, let’s see! Here are some facts about Vietnam for you.
There are approximately 20 times the number of motorbikes than there are cars!
According to the ministry of transport, there are only 2 million cars registered in Vietnam whereas the number of bikes exceeds 38 million! This number is growing year on year. In Ho Chi Minh over 90% of the vehicles on the roads are motorbikes!
The Oxford Dictionary contains two Vietnamese foods
Whilst many words in a foreign language must be translated before entering the English dictionary, two Vietnamese dishes are so famous that they don’t need translation. Banh Mi and Pho both feature in the Oxford English dictionary!
Vietnam is the 5th happiest country in the world!
This is due to long life expectancy, 75.5 years, and great public services resulting in a low regional inequality. One of the highest levels of school enrolment at 98%. All these factors and much more add up to make Vietnam one of the happiest places on earth!
Vietnam is a hub for manufacturing!
Many global brands such as Nike and Old Navy produce their products in Vietnam. Also, Samsung assembly takes place in Vietnam!
You can be a millionaire!
With the exchange rate from most Western countries to Vietnam, you can have millions in your wallet every day! Whilst this may seem like the coolest thing ever you’ll have to quickly get used to using Vietnamese Dong to make sure you hand over the right amount of money!
Want to check out Vietnam for yourself? Apply now!
Just a few years ago, it was hard to find an ATM in Ho Chi Minh’s streets but these days they are almost everywhere: in the shopping malls, near restaurants, bars and convenience stores. The majority of ATMs belong to local Vietcombank but you can also find many foreign banks’ ATMs of ANZ, CitiBank and HSBC.
Withdrawing money with your home country’s bank card
There is no problem with finding ATMs which accept Visa (Plus) cards, but it might be a little bit more difficult to find an ATM accepting Maestro (MasterCard) or Cirrus. To easily find your nearest ATM, you can visit MasterCard’s ATM locator or Visa’s ATM locator.
Before arriving to Vietnam make sure that your card has a magnetic strip on the back as chip-and-pin cards probably will not work in most Vietnamese cash machines. The main difference is with the length of PIN, Vietnamese bank cards have 6-digit-long PIN. You can easily solve this problem by adding two zeros in front of your card’s PIN but it does not always work, so you better ask your bank for advice. Remember to let your bank know that you are going to use your card abroad, otherwise they might take it as suspicious activity and freeze it.
Limits and fees
Most of the Vietnamese banks’ ATMs have a 2 million VND limit per single withdrawal outside Ho Chi Minh, and 4 million VND limit inside the city. The foreign banks have higher limits for one withdrawal – ANZ in Ho Chi Minh has 10 million VND limit, CitiBank has limits between 5 and 8.5 million VND (depending on the location – airports usually have a higher limit), HSBC has a limit of 4.8 million VND. If your home bank also has transaction limits, check with them before you arrive in Vietnam.
ATMs owed by the Vietnamese banks charge between 40,000 and 66,000 VND as a single withdrawal fee, so it is much better to get more cash at once rather than getting a few transactions. Foreign banks’ fees are usually at the same level or sometimes a big higher, depending on the bank. Also, your home bank may charge you fees for foreign transaction.
Vietnamese ATMs mostly dispense only Dong but might sometimes ask you if you want to be charged with your home currency – always say no as the exchange rate would be much lower than the mid-market one!
How to reduce or avoid fees
- Check if your home bank has a partnership with Vietnamese bank.
- Use ANZ, CitiBank or HSBC.
- Use a fee-free card.
- Pay with debit card instead credit card.
- Use TransferWise.
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It’s 40 degrees Celsius, you’re in a full suit, you show up to the office dripping in sweat.
No one wants to turn up to work for his or her first day in the wrong attire. Whether it’s too smart or too casual. You want to slide in just perfect, like you’ve been in the office for ages.
In Vietnam, you can hop on the back of a motorbike and get into work with ease. This means pretty much door-to-door service. No need to work up a sweat running for the bus!
So, you want to know what to wear?
In Ho Chi Minh City you will not be expected to wear a suit as it is simply too hot! Most office workers will wear a simple trousers and shirt combination along with a smart pair of shoes. It may be an idea to bring a tie just in case you have an important meeting and need to smarten up!
No need to pack a suit!
Women in the office are much the same. You won’t be expected to wear a suit. Due to the modest and conservative nature of the culture in Vietnam, women should not wear anything too revealing. Skirts should fall below the knee and sleeveless tops are a no-no. Also when it comes to footwear, you are not expected to wear high heels. A small-heeled shoe or a pair of flats is more than acceptable.
However, it is the case that your attire should match those you are meeting. If you have a meeting with a high-ranking official, it may be an idea to smarten up a little!
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The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), which symbol is ₫ . The VND is one of the world’s highest denominated currency, so do not worry if you see high prices with many digits for staples, and also do not get too happy seeing how much Dongs you can get for £1!
£1= 31,838.94 VND (as of 14/03/2018 – you can check the latest exchange rate here). The most used banknotes are from 500 to 500,000 VND, so be prepared to have a lot of them in your wallet because of the various denominations of VND. If a shop vendor is giving you change in coins – refuse them! Coins are out of use and then you would have problems with spending them, as they are accepted only in some banks.
We recommend you exchange some money before coming to Vietnam to get you through the first few days. You will usually need about 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 VND (approximately £47 to £63) for your first week. American Dollars are also accepted in Vietnam but it is not a good idea to pay with that currency. The local shops, restaurants and taxi divers have their own “exchange rate”, which is much different from the bank one, so you can easily end up paying more.
If you brought some cash in your national currency with you, you can easily exchange it in the bank with your passport or at a money exchange – we can recommend suitable places. When changing your money – make sure that you check and count the amount you have received before leaving the shop to make sure it is correct. If bringing in cash – please not the custom limits on the amount of cash you can bring into Vietnam:
Local Currency: Amounts exceeding VND 15,000,000 must be declared on arrival
Foreign Currency: Amounts exceeding USD 5,000 (or equivalent) must be declared on arrival
Using your bank card
If you brought your bank card with you, you can withdraw money from the ATM. There are many ATMs across the city including international banks such as HSBC & Standard Chartered. The charge ranges between 40,000 and 66,000 VND (this depends on the specific banks). Your Visa (Plus) card should work fine in every ATM, Maestro (MasterCard) and Cirrus are less common. Alternatively, you can use Transferwise, which is s very cheap option, as well as other tried and tested currency cards such as Monzo and Starling Travel Card.
Cash or card?
Card payments are widely accepted in most of Ho Chi Minh’s modern businesses and hotels. But if you want to get a taste of city’s street food, you better get cash. When paying with your card, you will be asked if you want to be charged in VND or in your home currency. Always choose to pay in VND, as it is much cheaper.
Always remember to let your bank know that you are going to use your card outside your country, so they will not see your withdrawals in Vietnam as suspicious and block your card! When paying with cash, make sure you use the right banknote, as some of them have almost identical colour. And remember to ask for your change!
Can I get a local bank account?
If you are looking to access your cash locally then there is an option for you. A Timo Card is an app based banking system (linked to VP Bank) that it very simple to set up. You simply sign up online, arrange an appointment and then go to the Timo Hangout with your passport and valid visa to complete the paper work. You can easily transfer into the account from overseas using TransferWise to be able to access money locally. The advantage of this, is you can use the card to top up your Grab Pay Credits, top up your phone as well as using it in shops without the mounting extra charges.
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