VietnamHo Chi MinhEssential Information for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City

Essential Information for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association, over 100,000 foreigners are living and working in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019! And that number exists for a good reason: according to statistics about expats in Vietnam, Vietnam’s ranked 14th among the best destinations for expats in the world. If you’re thinking about expatriating here, read on for the essential information for expats in Ho Chi Minh City.

 In this article, we’ll show you:

  • Why You Should Live In Ho Chi Minh City
  • Why You Should Not Live In Ho Chi Minh City
  • Job Opportunities
  • Essential Documents For Expats
  • Housing Information For Expats In Ho Chi Minh City
  • Ho Chi Minh City’s Transportation Guide
  • Banking Information For Expats In Ho Chi Minh City
  • Safety Tips For Expats
  • Useful Websites, Groups, and Apps


Why You Should Live In Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City is the perfect place to live for foodies since there the cuisine here is so diverse.

  1. Though Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest metropolis in Vietnam, the living cost is relatively low compared to the international rate. One can spend from US$ 465 (budget) to US$ 1310 (high-end) in total per month, while the salary of expats per year is approximately US$ 88,000. Moreover, you’ll love how much can US$ 1 buy here: from coffee to even a full-course meal!
  2. Living in Ho Chi Minh City means no worries about entertainment. The city is bustling no matter when, even on weekdays! You can go to the bars, visit a museum, or join a local tour to learn more about Vietnamese culture without prior planning.
  3. Ho Chi Minh City is a food haven, even more so for veggies enthusiasts, because the diet here involves lots of greens. All kinds of food available are going to satisfy even the strictest critic. See more: Ho Chi Minh City Food Tour.
  4. Above all, Ho Chi Minh City embodies a dynamic economic scene that welcomes talents and investors from all over the world with an abundance of career opportunities!

Why You Should Not Live In Ho Chi Minh City

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Living in Ho Chi Minh City means being used to heavy traffic.

  1. Although English is a compulsory subject in school now, the majority of Vietnamese can’t speak English, especially the elderly. Therefore, you’ll have certain barriers in daily conversations and documentation.
  2. Healthcare in Vietnam is complicated and not foreigner-friendly since most hospitals are overloaded, and they don’t speak English. International hospitals, however, can come at a high price.
  3. Ho Chi Minh City has a quite polluted air that’s heightened during daily traffic jams. Moreover, there are always traffic jams in the city. So if you settle here, prepare to deal with the average air quality and heavy traffic.

Job Opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City

For expatriates, the most common job is teaching English due to the current high demand for fluent speakers. Even if you’re not native, as long as you can speak English proficiently, you’ll find teaching jobs easily. On top of that, the pay is quite decent.

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Some of the big English centers in Ho Chi Minh City are VUS, ILA, YOLA, APAX, AMA…

Aside from teaching, expats can get online jobs like content writing or corporate blogger. Though the pay is not secured and often mediocre, this job allows you to work anywhere and anytime.

For higher positions, expats can find opportunities as executives in foreign companies or major Vietnamese corporations.

Last but not least, volunteering is also a good idea. Expats can work for local and international non-profit or non-governmental organizations in Ho Chi Minh City. That way, you’ll both get paid and contribute to society.

Essential Documents For Expats in Ho Chi Minh City

Passport – Visa: There are many types of visas that expats can get, so choose accordingly since obtaining one can take a long time. You can go for e-visa for better convenience but never opt for a visa on arrival.
You may want to check out How to obtain a Vietnam Visa?

Work permit: A working permit is the first thing expats should think of after securing a job because they can be fined or expelled from Vietnam if they work without one or with an expired one. The procedure is straightforward and not time-consuming, so this should be on top of the checklist.

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Driving is the fastest way to go around the city, and to avoid troubles, you should get a valid driving license.

Driving license: There are two ways to drive in Ho Chi Minh City, one is to get an IDP – International Driving Permit in Vietnam, and one is to get a Vietnamese driving license. The procedure for obtaining the latter is harder, but it’s more convenient for expats who plan on staying for a long time.

For more information: How to get a motorcycle license in Vietnam

For finding jobs:

  • TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate: you can get this in your home country or in Vietnam. The course usually takes 120 hours of training, but it’ll be helpful to get teaching positions.
  • Higher education diploma(s) original copy
  • Federal/state background check original copy

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Example of a vaccination certificate.

For bringing pets:

  • Vaccination certificates (in English): we recommend you get your pets’ rabies vaccination from 1 year to 30 days prior to your arrival in Vietnam. Other vaccinations are:

Dogs: distemper, parvovirus, canine hepatitis, adenovirus, parainfluenza, coronavirus, leptospira

Cats: panleukopenia, calicivirus, herpesvirus, leukemia

  • Inoculation records: the history of all injected vaccinations on your pets.

Housing Information For Expats In Ho Chi Minh City

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With the average salary of an expat, one can get a decent apartment in Ho Chi Minh City’s center.

Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City is relatively affordable, ranging from US$ 260 (budget) to US$ 800 (high-end), even though it’s one of Vietnam’s most developed cities. Foreigners living in the city often go for apartments and shared houses. Best districts in Ho Chi Minh City for expats to live are districts 1, 3(the central districts), and districts 7, 2.


  • Always see the place in person and check if all the appliances are working.
  • Ask carefully what the rent includes because usually, electricity, water, and internet bills (and administrative cost for apartments) are not included.
  • Find three-month or six-month contracts rather than a one-year or long-term contract in case you don’t like the place.
  • Check the neighborhood to see if it’s safe, comfortable, and convenient.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Transportation Guide

Ho Chi Minh City offers a plethora of transportation options to choose from. If you’re adventurous, a motorcycle is the most convenient and time-saving choice to navigate through the traffic jams and small alleyways of Ho Chi Minh City. However, remember to get a driving license first and familiarize yourself with the Vietnamese Law on Road Traffic.

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Always wear your helmet while driving motorcycles.

Some addresses that offer long-term rental:

Tigit Motorbikes

Address: B2-00.01 Sarimi, 72 Nguyen Co Thach, An Loi Dong Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City.
Contact: 038 651 8481

Chi’s Cafe

Address: 185/30 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, Ho Chi Minh City
Contact: (+84)28 3837 2502

Nevertheless, if you’re scared of the busy streets here, you can opt for our cheap public transportation like taking the bus (usually VND 6,000/ride) or ride-hailing apps like Grab and Go-Viet.

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Banking Information For Expats In Ho Chi Minh City

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HSBC bank in District 1.

Banking in Ho Chi Minh City is convenient thanks to the number of international banks here (HBSC, ANZ, Shinhan Bank, Standard Chartered, Hong Leong, CitiBank…) and reliable Vietnamese banks like Vietcombank, ACB, VietinBank, BIDV…

Most expats choose to open two accounts, one in a foreign currency and 1 in Vietnam dong for easy transactions. All you need are a passport, a visa, a small deposit, a work contract, and a proof of address.

Read more on Vietnamese Currency.

Safety Tips For Expats in Ho Chi Minh City

  • English nowadays is still not spoken widely around Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, to avoid confusion or scam, learn some basic Vietnamese phrases or better yet, learn Vietnamese!
  • The weather in Ho Chi Minh City can change suddenly, which leads to annoying diseases. Prevent this by learning about the most common diseases in Vietnam and how to stay away from them.
  • Get informed on scams and annoyances in Vietnam that foreigners meet the most to get yourself away from troubles!

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There are various Vietnamese language centers for foreigners in Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Vietnam is not too hostile towards the LGBT community, so you can hang out at most places. However, in Ho Chi Minh City, there are lots of entertainments that cater specifically to the LGBT community.
  • Keep your belongings where you can see them all the time as snatch thieves often aim for foreigners.
  • Note down the information of the driver when you’re using hired transportation in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Sign up for an insurance plan when traveling in Vietnam:


Useful Websites, Groups, and Apps for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City

For house hunting:

Living in Ho Chi Minh City: a large group with frequent posts from both locals and expats.

Living in Vietnam: a website of a French expat that has a clear and easy-to-understand format.

For teaching jobs:

English Teachers In Vietnam: a popular group that connects teachers with jobs and discuss teaching-related topics.

Vietnam Teaching Jobs: a professional website that posts every other day.

For other jobs:

Jobstreet: an international employment consultancy that has frequent postings with various jobs. a web designed specifically for expats and has many non-teaching job listings.

Facebook groups for expats:

Expats in Ho Chi Minh City: a leading group for answering new expats’ concerns.

Expats and Locals in Ho Chi Minh City: another online community for expats to meet and ask questions.

Facebook groups for female expats:

Female Expats and Locals in Ho Chi Minh City: arguably the largest group for expats in Ho Chi Minh City with helpful content.

Saigon Female Expats Meetup: a group used for meetups, but it has job listings now and then as well.

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Grab is the leading ride-hailing app in Ho Chi Minh City, and Vietnam.

Mobile Apps: with the bustling use of technology in Ho Chi Minh City, mobile apps are a must. The ideal starter pack would be a ride-hailing app, a navigation app, a (food) delivery app, and a translation app. 

More Useful Information For Expats In Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: To settle down, the first thing expats should do is to get a sim card that has 3G/4G/5G. Big players are Viettel, Mobifone, and Vinaphone. One tip is to get your sim at an official mobile network store, rather than any vendors off the street, to avoid scams.

Food shopping:

You can shop for Western groceries and amenities at An Nam Gourmet Market, Nam An Market, Phuong Ha shop, and Thai Hoa shop on Ham Nghi Street (District 1).

For organic food, check out: La Holista, Biogarten, and Organik Dalat.

Popular local supermarkets are CoopMart, BigC, and VinMart.

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An Nam Gourmet Market in District 1.

Household appliances:

Shop your electronics at Dien May Xanh, The Gioi Di Dong, and Nguyen Kim.

To get environmentally-friendly products, go to Lai Day Refill Station and Green Around The Corner.

Gym: Ho Chi Minh City gyms are abundant, from local gyms that cost under US$ 15 to high-end ones that are still cheap as chips – around US$ 150. Some popular options are California Fitness and Yoga and Power Up Fitness.

Summary On Essential Information For Expats In Ho Chi Minh City

Being in a foreign country can be a terrifying yet rewarding experience. With this article on essential information for expats in Ho Chi Minh City, we hope that you can settle down with ease soon and start enjoying all the fun that the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City offers!

Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides
for fun and insightful trips in Ho Chi Minh City!

family outing in ho chi minh city motorcycle


If you have any tips for living in Vietnam, feel free to share with us in the comments.

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