Work in Vietnam

What to expect when working in Vietnam

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Work in Vietnam


When it comes to working in Vietnam as a foreigner, you might wonder how to prepare yourself for such a vastly different country. If it’s your very first time setting foot in a country like Vietnam, you’ll probably have a hard time finding structure in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. However, once you’ve figured out the traffic and managed to settle down a bit, you’re in for an exhilarating experience.


Before you embark on your new adventure, you might want to know the ins and outs of Vietnam and living in Vietnam, which is why we’ve put together this guide for you to know what you can expect when working in Vietnam.


The Basics

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Home to approximately 95 billion people and a rich history, the S-shaped country is an interesting and increasingly popular destination. The country is located on the Indochina peninsula, bordered by China, Laos, Cambodia, and the South China Sea with a coastline that stretches up to 3,444 km long. Covering a land of 329,560 square kilometres, Vietnam is roughly the same size as Germany (357,021 km2).

Because of the different topographic relief and latitudes, you’ll find three different climate zones and temperatures varying from 3°C in the high mountains near Sa Pa to 40°C in the tropical south. Remarkably, the north of Vietnam is generally colder than any other Southeast Asia region in the same longitude.

On the other side, Vietnam’s southernmost region is only 8 degrees north of the Equator, so it’s no surprise that the temperatures vary from 20°C to 40°C. In fact, Vietnam’s climate is so diverse that there’s no definition of an average temperature.

On the banks of the Red river lies the ancient capital Hanoi. It’s the second-largest city of the country known for its century old architecture, traditional neighbourhoods, and scenic parks with influences from China, Russia, and France. Ranked within TripAdvisor’s top 25 destinations, the northern city is now one of the most popular tourist destinations of Vietnam.  

Down in the south of Vietnam you’ll find a tale of two cities: a modern financial hub with sleek skyscrapers and modern boulevards, and a former capital with a complex history hidden inside its colonial buildings. Ho Chi Minh city is truly a mix of old and new. Throughout the years, the city has become a popular destination for both tourists and locals. With a delicious cuisine famous for its layers of fresh flavours, it’s better known as the ‘Foodie destination’ among the well-seasoned Vietnam travellers.



Intern in Vietnam

Vietnam has made a remarkable jump over the past 30 years from one of the poorest countries to a lower middle-income country. Within 12 years, its GDP rose from 45 billion to 205 billion and poverty declined significantly to a 7% in 2015, still less than Thailand and Indonesia. With a stable macro-economy and increased domestic GDP, the country achieved its economic growth target of 6.7% in 2017, which is the highest rate in 10 years. In the coming years, the country will focus on infrastructure, agriculture, information technology, and high-tech industry. The country is also the owner of the 4th largest oil reserve in Asia Pacific, making the country one of the largest oil producer in Southeast Asia. Despite being still a lower middle-income country, future economic prospects remain positive for the country, which makes Vietnam – together with the low living costs - an attractive place for expats and interns. Besides Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hai Phong are also cities worth to keep track of.

Business culture and social customs

Vietnam cultureIf you plan to work in Vietnam, is it highly important to understand its business culture as it is often a way of showing respect. Having a strictly hierarchical structure in both business and social settings, decisions are always made from the top and mostly by the oldest person. It is a custom to call your co-workers by their title and in social settings your (Vietnamese) friends by their age ranking. Many factors such as your current occupation, education, age, and even family-ties influence your status in business as well as in society. Interesting to know is that the once by men-dominated business culture is now moving towards a business environment with increasing numbers of women taking senior positions.


How to get around

Vietnam travelCurrently, the main transportations are scooters, bikes, buses and cars. Due to the large population, rush hour can be quite busy and you’ll might find it impossible to get around by car or bus. Even if it also seems too congested to take the scooter, it is still the most convenient and quickest way to get to work. However, this is slowly changing for both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Already a few years in the planning, both cities have recently started to construct underground roads for metro lines, although it will take a few years to complete.


Facebook is a great tool for finding basically everything you might need: scooters, accommodations, jobs, places to visit, events, and more. ‘Hanoi Massive – New Era’ and ‘Hanoi Massive Housing’ are Facebook groups for both locals and foreigners in Hanoi. For Ho Chi Minh City, you might find ‘Housing Solutions for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City’ useful, and ‘interns & exchange students in HCMC’ for interns.


Internship in VietnamDepending on your personal budget, you can spend as low as 250 USD to 700 USD per month when it comes to food, transportation, and travel. You can eat meals for as cheap as $2 and groceries such as rice, eggs, fruit, and vegetables (1lb) can be easily found for under $2 as well. In terms of accommodation, you can find a studio for as low as 400 USD to +1000 USD per month, depending on your location, personal budget, and preference.


Work or Internship

If you haven’t decided about your job yet: there’s a high demand for foreign English teachers in Vietnam. It is relatively easy to find an English teaching job, especially for citizens from the U.S., U.K. and South Africa, as they don’t require an IELTS or TOEFL certificate when applying in Vietnam. Due to the growing business presence of its two top investors South-Korea and Japan, work opportunities related to these countries are also emerging in Vietnam. It is advised to start your search in your own country first. Websites such as and conveniently provide international job vacancies for foreigners, mostly from international companies. It is easier to obtain a work permit in your country once you’ve got a work invitation from the company. Skills that’ll increase your chances tof landing a job in Vietnam are management and leadership skills in sectors such as IT, Engineering, Business development, and Education. Vietnam is not looking for employees who can do a task, but for employees who are also able to teach its local workforce how to improve.


An internship is also a perfect way to gain work experience in Vietnam. Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer everything necessary to gain professional experience in sectors such as business development, science, IT, engineering, education, healthcare, global development, and more. A city less congested with competition is Da Nang where you’ll also find a wide variety of internships in logistics, IT, hospitality, and education. When interning in Vietnam, you might consider brushing up your language skills as foreign language fluency (written and verbal) is highly valued.




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