Living in Vietnam as an expat could be awesome but daunting experience at the same time. However, there are some free smart phone apps all expats can use to make the most out of their stay in Vietnam. Despite the most popular/ best rated ranking, here I round out the top 08 most useful free apps for expats in Vietnam based on my experience as an expat living abroad with the same types of app.
*Any comment/ suggestion is much appreciated!
1. Local Talk: Zalo & Whatsapp
Communication plays an extremely important role in our lives. Hence, chat apps are of course worth mentioning here. Beside some foreign competitors such as Viber and Whatsapp (more and more predominant in Vietnam), Zalo is likely Vietnam’s most used chat app. Zalo offers users great experience with convenient appreance and a range of emoticons and free text messages/ voice messages via 3G or Wifi.
2. Local Taxi: GrabTaxi & Uber
GrabTaxi is an automated GPS app to book and coordinate taxis via smart phones. All you need to do is to log in to the app, put in your pickup location and destination, then wait for the closest driver to come and “grab” you in. The app also provides you all needed information such as how long the ride would take and how much you are expected to pay. GrabTaxi is of good use to foreigners/ expats in Vietnam because the app can prevent you from being scammed or overcharged/ ripped.
Uber is an online app that brings a significant change to taxi services around the world. You pinpoint where you want to be picked up and where you are heading to, the closest driver would come to pick you up. The ride will be tracked on GPS and cash interaction between passengers and drivers is replaced by credit card transaction before the ride. Two more advantages of choosing Uber are Language (English) and Cheap Rate (compared to taxi). However, due to rape case related to Uber taxi driver in India, Uber’s reputation is somehow damaged and not in secure.
3. Local Bus: Saigon Bus & Hanoi Bus
If you are considering commute or travel around those big cities by bus, Saigon Bus – Xe buyt Saigon and Hanoi Bus – Xe buyt Hanoi apps are exactly what you are looking for. Users can easily look up all bus stops and terminals of all bus lines in both Saigon and Hanoi and find it convenient to move around by searching available bus numbers within a click.
4. Local Search: Clingme
Compared to other local search apps, Clingme is much friendly to users who do not know Vietnamese. The app is now available on both iOS and Android with two versions of language: English, Vietnamese. What you can find at Clingme: Restaurant, Street Food, Fast food, Coffee Shop, Bars, Beauty Shop, ATM, Parking, Petrol Station... All search results are based on location you are choose to set the radius raning from 01 up to 20 KM.
5. Local Language: Google Translate
Vietnamese ourselves usually say/ joke “Phong ba bão táp không bằng ngữ pháp Việt Nam” (Storms, hurricanes are easier to deal with rather than Vietnamese grammar). Thus, no worries when you do not expect to master Vietnamese within a short time. Meanwhile, let Google Translate “accompany” you along the way and keep your ears open to every single new word. Day by day, Vietnamese will be in your hand and hopefully, Vietnam will be in your heart too!