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Daily Life in Vietnam, Practical Advice, Vietnam Basics

Money in Vietnam

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.

InternChina Money in Vietnam - Pinterest

First days

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. 

Exchanging money

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.

InternChina Money in Vietnam - UniBul's Travel Blog

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. 

Interested in internship in Vietnam? Why not Apply Now!

Transportation in Ho chi minh city
Vietnamese Culture

Taboos in Vietnam

You may have some superstitions or taboos yourself, such as not walking under a ladder, not crossing paths on the stairs or stepping on a triple drain! However, these differ country-to-country, culture-to-culture. Check out some taboos in Vietnam below.

Some Vietnamese Taboos

In Vietnam, it is considered bad luck to travel on certain days of the lunar month. These days are the 5th, 14th, and 23rd of the lunar month. Many Vietnamese will not travel on these days!

No travel on certain dates

It is considered taboo to have the headboard of your bed face the road. This is due to the head of coffins facing the road during funeral ceremonies (usually held in homes.)

Another interesting taboo is for individuals to marry within a year of the passing of their mother or father. It is the case that many will change the arranged marriage date to outside a year of the date of the relative passing.

It is also important in Vietnamese culture to not face anyone with the soles of your feet. Whilst this may seem a fairly simple one to avoid watch out when you’re sat on a couch with your feet up!

Whilst these taboos may seem strange and unusual our taboo’s in the west probably seem peculiar to those in Vietnam. Throwing yourself into another culture is all about experiencing new things. The culture, the food, the history. Vietnam is a great place to submerge yourself in a different culture and learn about these new, obscure taboos!

Inspired by experiencing Vietnamese culture for yourself? Apply Now!

Packed luggage in an airport
Practical Advice

What to Pack for Vietnam

Here we are! You have secured a great internship with InternVietnam and you are now impatiently waiting to go. But of course you might be anxious about some things, and one of them is- what should I pack for my Vietnam trip?

Hopefully this blog will answer your questions and you will have nothing to worry anymore as you can prepare your check list to ensure you don’t forget anything!

Recommended items

  • Laptop or tablet : It is essential that you bring your laptop, as you will need this for your internship!
  • Power adapter:  Vietnamese plug sockets fit two plug types: 220V flat 2 or 3 pin plug, which is the same across much of Asia.
plugs type
In Vietnam, the following plugs are used :
  • Pharmaceutical products: Sun cream, insect repellent (Although malaria is rare and seldom found in most areas of Vietnam, Dengue fever can pose quite a problem), Tiger Balm or Cortisone Cream (if you do happen to get bitten by mosquitoes, tiger balm or cortisone cream can prevent the bites from getting infected.) Vitamins and preferred medicines. If you have prescription medicines, then be sure to bring a copy of the prescription with you.
  • Clothes: Work attire is mainly casual wear due to the warm climate. However, it is necessary to bring at least a shirt, trousers and tie for more formal events in your internship. Clothes are relatively cheap in Vietnam so it is not necessary to bring clothes to last your entire stay, if you want to buy some while you are there!
  • Swimwear: This is different in Vietnam than in the West (men wear tight swimwear and women are well covered up) so you may wish to bring your own. For those with a large shoe size, it is advisable to bring shoes for the duration as it may not be as simple to find your size as back home.

Specific Advice

  1. Bring a light-weight, waterproof jacket. During the monsoon season, it is wise to bring a light jacket to protect you from the rain that can come and go in a flash.
  2. If you would like to have access to pagodas and temples, modest below-the-knee clothing is a must. Chose below-the-knee Skirts or trousers. Despite the heat, local men and women dress quite conservatively, and you should be expected to do the same by covering your shoulders and legs, especially when visiting sacred places and government buildings.
  3. Flip Flops. Alongside practical footwear, bring along a pair of flip-flops – or even better, purchase some once you’re there. Not only will these be easy to take off when visiting temples, certain bars and restaurants, but they will also allow your feet to breathe in the hot and humid weather.
Monsoon in Vietnam
Monsoon in Vietnam

 

We hope this blog has been useful for your pre-arrival packing mission!

Want to discover more about Ho Chi Minh City for yourself? Then apply now

collage of internvietnam images
Vietnam Basics

What’s in the Welcome Pack?

What’s in the InternVietnam Welcome Pack?

If you are reading this you are probably very curious about what kind of treasures are included in our not-so-secret welcome pack! Hopefully for you, this is the right blog.

Below is a list of the essentials we provide when you arrive in amazing Ho Chi Minh City! This list is of course not exhaustive, and your welcome pack may vary, but these essentials will always be provided!

  • InternVietnam T-Shirt
  • Ho Chi Minh City Guide
  • Vietnamese Sim Card
  • Some snacks
  • Basic Vietnamese phrases
Welcome package InternVietnam
Welcome package InternVietnam

With all of these elements, you’ll be feeling confident and ready for your new internship adventure in Vietnam! You will quickly be living like a local and living the dream.

We hope your internship will bring you success and you will make many unforgettable memories during your time in Ho Chi Minh City!

If you are ready for an adventure in Vietnam, please click here!

Knife and Fork vs Chopsticks
Vietnamese Culture

Cultural Differences Between the West and Vietnam

As can be expected when travelling to the other side of the world, many things will be different. From eating and drinking, to socialising and relationships, expect a lot of cultural differences!

Eating!

In the West, if you make much noise when eating it may be considered rude and bad manners. However, in Vietnam the more noise the better! When eating a particularly delicious bowl of noodles, locals can be heard slurping.

noodles and coconut

Celebrations!

Whilst your birthday may be considered the most important celebration in the West, in Vietnam it is peoples death day when celebrations take place. During this time they will worship ancestors, prepare a big meal and get all the family and relatives together.

Greetings!

In the West we have no particular routine of introduction, aside from maybe a formal handshake or an embrace with a close friend. In Vietnam however, shaking hands is less common, especially with the opposite sex. When introducing yourself, it is important to greet the elders first before then the younger individuals.

Cutlery!

As I’m sure you are aware knives and forks become a rare sight once you enter the Eastern world. You can expect to eat all your meals with a spoon and chopsticks! This may take some getting used to at the start but after a few meals no doubt you will be a pro!

Knife and Fork vs Chopsticks

Affection!

In Vietnam, you will rarely see husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend showing affection in public. This is considered inappropriate and should be kept to private areas. Very different to the West where you can see a whole variety of PDA!

Want to experience Vietnamese culture for yourself? Apply Now!

Internvietnam - Transferwise
Daily Life in Vietnam, Practical Advice

InternVietnam and Transferwise

If you are coming to Vietnam and wondering how to transfer money from your home country without being charged huge fees, there is an answer – Transferwise. Transferwise is a peer-to-peer platform that allows sending money internationally for individuals as well as businesses without hidden costs and for much lower fees than other such type companies. The company supports over 300 currency routes worldwide and also provides multi-currency accounts.

Good experience

Transferwise already passed the test with our InternChina offices, which host interns from all over the world, helping them pay internship fees from their home country and then receiving money during their stay in China with very profitable transfer.

Transferwise started their operations in Vietnam not long time ago (in August 2016) but have already made this country one of their busiest markets in the Asia Pacific region.

How it works

The transfer fee for sending money to Vietnam with Transferwise is 1.5% (or 95,000 VND for transfers under 6,300,000 VND), the money will take maximum 2 days to arrive at the recipient’s account. So it is much cheaper and quicker than a traditional bank. Before you make the transfer, you can check how much money you will have after transferring it into the new currency, how much of a fee will you have to pay and then compare the prices with other platforms or banks. If it turns out that Transferwise is the best option for you, all you need to know to make the transfer is the recipient’s full name (English), Local Account Number, Branch Code and BIC/SWIFT Code.

How TransferWise Works

If you want to get more information on how it works with Transferwise, please see this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLKKzRvOsLQ

Or visit their website.

Interested in doing internship in Vietnam? Why not Apply Now!

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!

Vietnam Apps
Practical Advice

Must Have Apps for Vietnam

Most of the apps on your phone will still be useful in Vietnam, and there is no need to download a VPN. Popular apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Uber will all work (although you can Uber a motorcycle as well as a car!) You can also use Google Translate and Maps to get around and speak to locals!

GRAB

Grab is a Vietnamese Uber equivalent. Much like Uber, you can see the rate before you get in the car, and the app will also give you a driver profile so you can see who’s picking you up. Of course, you can also keep an eye on the driver’s route!

Grab Bikers Waiting for Rides

Cốc Cốc Map

This is the Google Map Vietnam equivalent. In this app, you can find your nearest restaurant, ATM or petrol station (if you ever need one.)

Coc Coc Map for Vietnam Travel

BusMap

This super useful app will help you get around on public transport in Ho Chi Minh. With over 2,000 bus stops and 100 different bus routes, navigating public transport is made simple with this easy to use app.

Bus Map VN screenshotZalo

Zalo is Vietnam’s answer to Whatsapp. With over 30 million users, nearly half of the country can be found on Zalo! It has group chat, video call and voice call features. You can also post to your profile and view the profiles of your contacts in order to stay up to date with your friends!

Zalo App

Foody

Foody is Trip Advisor and Deliveroo all in one, which gives you restaurant reviews as well as the option to order for delivery or reserve a table! This app does it all! Get 5 star reviewed food delivered to your door whenever you want – what more could you want?

Foody Delivery App

Want to hop on a Grab Bike to your new favourite restaurant recommended by Foody? 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!

Practical Advice

How Not to Lose Your Luggage!

Imagine travelling for 21 hours to get to Vietnam, with all 3 flights delayed along the way at some point, only for you to arrive, but not your luggage. Unfortunately this is what happened to me on my trip to China.

There had been a bit of a misunderstanding at my transfer in Beijing. My bag was supposed to go all the way through to Qingdao, but I needed to get a new boarding pass for the internal flight. I arrived at the transfer desk and a fuss ensued because I did not have my luggage with me. Naively, I believed this was all a big misunderstanding; the airline assistant simply did not understand my Scottish accent and all would be fine when I arrived in Qingdao and reunited with my backpack! This was not the case.

It quickly became apparent that I was not going to get my bag in Qingdao when the few people on my flight collected their luggage, and I was left cutting a very lonesome figure in the baggage hall watching the empty carousel go round and round. I filed a lost baggage claim and left the airport for my new Qingdao residence.

InternVietnam- Lost Luggage
InternVietnam- Lost Luggage

After 18 phone calls and 4 days with no clothes or personal belongings, I was finally reunited with my backpack!

Over 3.3billion journeys were made by aeroplane in 2014 and of these, 24.1million bags were mishandled (i.e lost or misrouted). Statistically this means there is less than a 0.1% chance of your luggage going anywhere but its intended destination. Unfortunately I was one of that 0.1%, and there is a very, very small chance you could be too. Therefore, this post outlines how you can avoid losing your luggage and also, what to do in the event that it does go missing.

How to Avoid Losing Your Luggage

According to some key travel experts, every time you fly you should assume your luggage will go missing, and should therefore take note of these key tips to minimise the risk!

Luggage Tags

InternVietnam- Don't forget luggage tags!
InternVietnam- Don’t forget luggage tags!

Never leave home without a nametag. This is essential to helping airport staff locate your bag if it does get mishandled and it could be the difference in you getting your bag within 24 hours or a few days. Another tip if you are unsure about putting your personal details such as your name, home address and telephone number on a luggage tag, is to print your Twitter handle or social media accounts on the tag. This allows any airline staff to quickly contact you without compromising your privacy.

Check in early

At least 2-3 hours before an international flight. This gives airport handlers maximum time to move your bag to the correct area of the terminal and on to the right plane.

Pack your itinerary

Place it somewhere easy to find in your checked bag. The journey from check in to plane can be quite rough for luggage and sometimes the airport tag with the intended destination can get ripped off. If you have an itinerary in your checked luggage, when airport staff open the bag to look for information, they can quickly identify the bag’s owner and intended destination.

Personalise your bag

Embellish your bag with stickers, ribbons or a luggage belt- anything to make it stand out! Firstly this helps at the carousel as it will stop somebody picking up your bag accidently but also, if your bag does get mislaid, it will make your luggage easily identifiable to airline staff.

Take photos

Before you close your bag up for the last time and head to the airport, take photos of your belongings in a pile. This will help you remember exactly what was in the bag, and it will also help you prove the value of the belongings in your bag if you do have to make a lost luggage claim.

InternVietnam- Document your belongings
InternVietnam- Document your belongings

Double check the airport code

Airport staff are only human, and they make mistakes too. Double check that the right airport code has been attached to your bag so if its intended destination is London Gatwick (LGW), it doesn’t go to La Guardia, New York (LGA) by mistake!

Electronic tags

If you really want to be on the safe side, you could invest in an electronic tag with a microchip that sends you updates on your bags location anywhere in the world.

Prior to leaving the UK, I was not aware of most of these tips. Unfortunately my bag ended up in South Korea but eventually I got it back after 4 days.

Less than 0.1% of luggage gets mishandled or lost, so it is extremely unlikely that it will happen to you; but mind these tips to further ensure your luggage arrives in Vietnam at the same time as you!

InternVietnam- Unfortunately you can't pack the dog!
InternVietnam- Unfortunately you can’t pack the dog!

Finally, it is also worth noting that in the event that your luggage does unfortunately get mishandled, you should have your hand luggage prepared with the necessities to keep you going for a few days.

Remember to Take

Spare clothing

Take at least a spare top and underwear. If you arrive in Vietnam without luggage, you will desperately want some clean clothes to change into. The spare clothing will also help you get by until you can get to a mall or market to buy some new garms!

Essential toiletries

Again, pack the necessities that will get you through at least your first night in Vietnam. This includes any travel-sized cleanser/moisturiser etc as it can be quite tough to find your preferred products in Vietnam due to the inclusion of whitening ingredients in the formulas.

Medication

Remember to take any medication in your hand luggage in case your checked bag goes missing. If you are staying in Vietnam for a few months or longer and therefore have a substantial amount of medication with you, remember to take a prescription and/or doctor’s note with you to present to customs if asked.

Charger and adapter plug

It’s really essential when you arrive in Vietnam to have a charged, unlocked, functioning phone. This is especially important when you arrive at the airport in case there are any delays, but also because you will use your phone frequently to navigate the city and keep in touch with your new friends!

The above list is in addition to standard carry on baggage items such as:

  • Phone
  • Passport
  • Wallet/Purse with VND, credit card (if you have) and at least 1 debit card.
  • Itinerary
  • Eye mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Pen- for filling out customs forms!
  • Hand sanitiser

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