Close
Follow all our news on Facebook!

Moving to Ho Chi Minh City - Share your Move!

Hello Everyone,

I know this is a pretty open ended question with a lot of directions it can go...but here goes:

I am planning on moving from USA to Ho Chi Minh City next year.  For those of you that have made this move (or similar) - what do you know now that you wished you had known when you made the move?

Regards, JL

JL - Here's my #1 one realization: Don't pack much (clothes-wise, etc). Everything is available here if you invest just a little time to find stuff at much lower prices than in the USA or elsewhere. Bring your laptop, 2-3 'changes of clothing', and that's it! Be patient, tolerant, understanding, open-minded ... and you will have a perfect transition. Plenty of everything around here in HCMC. Good luck!

Thank you for the information!  I am a little concerned when it comes to clothing - particularly finding things that will fit me.  I am about 6' (1.83m) and 220lbs (~100kg). Are there places around where I can find clothing to fit?
I have heard from some people that using a service to locate an apartment is easier and significantly less stressful.  But I have heard from others that it is a not money well spent and getting a short term place while I look for an apartment on my own is better.  Any thoughts on that? 
Thanks!

Regards, JL

1m83 and 100 kg huh? I guess you're XXL or 3XL. You can find that size at Saigon Square. To be sure, you can bring your own clothes enough for 2 weeks without washing for various occasions. In worstworst scenario (unlikely), you can have your clothes tailored. I would worry more about shoes options as my huge friends always complain about.

For apartment, no need to spend the money. You can search around and decide your budget together with the area you want to live in.

Happy moving! :)

Thank you for the information.
I'll be sure to bring plenty of shoes with me!

I'm in a similar situation and was wondering if anyone else has anything else to add to the original question in this post?  One difference from OP is that I'm a Vietnamese-American.  From my own research, i found:

1. open up a bank account at a local branch in the US of HSBC or Citibank.

2. consider opening up a mailbox in the US so that you can have a US mailing address (stock trading, 401k access issues, other).

3. purchase common US OTC meds since some might not be readily available in Vietnam.

Anything else?  Thanks!

Search the forum for terms like 'banking', 'medications', 'documents to bring'. Depends on whether you are staying for awhile or a long time. Many consumer goods and drug store stuff that you are familiar with are not available in Saigon. Either bring with you, or plan on shopping in BKK / SIN, or adapt to local stuff.
Summary from my experience: Schwab checking, backup Capitalone checking, 2 credit cards, bring up to $5000 perfect unwrinkled $USD bills, antibiotics like Neosporin, intl driver's license maybe useful, a minimal set of clothes you like.
The thing with clothes is that if you are particular with brands like Nike etc, they are available but you will pay full retail in the malls. (They are so cheap in the US because of sales, also Amazon, Ebay etc. which won't ship here.) The versions on the streets are fake, maybe ok, maybe not. Also last time in SF I splurged on a breathable light rain Marmot jacket, like Patagonia, Northface etc. I have not seen gortex or similar breathable clothing in Vietnam. Expensive but soooo much better than the vinyl raincoats here that rain more on the inside from sweat.

Two more things:
An unlocked IPhone of course (or one of those other boring brands).
If you are still under contract, just pay it off at your carrier.

To make phone calls TO the US (friends, banks, parole officer) get a Google Voice phone number. It is free to sign up, looks like you are calling from the US, and internet calls are free.

You will also want to get a VPN but you can wait until you are here. Some internet things are blocked overseas, and sometimes you want websites to think you are in the US.

great tips, thank you!

there are plenty of free vpn service or apps out there. I use hexatech to watch xfinity and do my BOA banking. If you're looking for a place to stay, pm me.

On banking, I still use a small bank in my American home town where my retirement income goes. I also have a receive money account with Vietinbank. My income goes to the home town bank and once a month I call(Skype or MagicJack work) my home town bank and tell them to send me another month's money. Then in a couple of days, I go to any Vietinbank branch and collect my money.

Note, I generally have a couple months stashed in the Vietinbank account

If you want to live in Saigon, stay around the expat areas at first if you want to get a feel and some information about the place. After that, move well away from the expat areas and live in the outer suburbs, much nicer experience. If you like the whole expat bar,restaurant and quarreling, stay around the expat areas.

colinoscapee :

If you want to live in Saigon, stay around the expat areas at first if you want to get a feel and some information about the place. After that, move well away from the expat areas and live in the outer suburbs, much nicer experience. If you like the whole expat bar,restaurant and quarreling, stay around the expat areas.

Good point, to reduce culture shock. Start there bc more shops speak some english, more foreign food options, more first world "foreign" people if you like that. It is not so bad touristing a place where nobody speaks your language, but moving there long term entails more adaptation/culture shock. I had apartments in Bình Thạnh and D5 districts, and even in that short distance from D1, I'd rarely see foreigners, non-vietnamese restaurants, or find people who understood me. I even get double takes, I am tall but I don't think I am freakish looking.

So different from Bangkok where I am at the moment. Caucasians roaming in every corner of the city. Simple english is rarely a problem. They are so used to foreigners, no one ever stares.

gobot :

Search the forum for terms like 'banking', 'medications', 'documents to bring'. Depends on whether you are staying for awhile or a long time. Many consumer goods and drug store stuff that you are familiar with are not available in Saigon. Either bring with you, or plan on shopping in BKK / SIN, or adapt to local stuff.
Summary from my experience: Schwab checking, backup Capitalone checking, 2 credit cards, bring up to $5000 perfect unwrinkled $USD bills, antibiotics like Neosporin, intl driver's license maybe useful, a minimal set of clothes you like.
The thing with clothes is that if you are particular with brands like Nike etc, they are available but you will pay full retail in the malls. (They are so cheap in the US because of sales, also Amazon, Ebay etc. which won't ship here.) The versions on the streets are fake, maybe ok, maybe not. Also last time in SF I splurged on a breathable light rain Marmot jacket, like Patagonia, Northface etc. I have not seen gortex or similar breathable clothing in Vietnam. Expensive but soooo much better than the vinyl raincoats here that rain more on the inside from sweat.

Good advice except "intl driver's license maybe useful."

Not really. An actual VN DL is not hard to get if you have a valid DL from any American State and many other countries. The big issue is that their are residence requirements. Took about an hour at the DL Office and around 300,000VND last time I renewed. Wasn't hard or expensive a few years back. Note, if your DL is for automobile only you are not legal to drive a motorcycle and you would need to pass the VN DL test for the motorcycle. I got ahold of the test study booklet and my Vietnamese is not good enough to pass the written test. Get the Motorcycle cert on your US or other Country before you leave.

Thanks 70, I did not know that.  :top:  I got a motorcycle addendum to my California DL when I took the motorcycle safety course, because even though I did not ride there, I felt it would be good training for Asia. I thought I would have to take a Vietnamese-language written test regardless. When I get my temporary residence card, I will go see about converting my driver's license. That would be pretty cool.

https://www.vietnamonline.com/transport … cense.html

How to obtain a Vietnamese Driving License
The importance of Obtaining a license:

You are not recommended to drive without a valid license - this needs to be either a Vietnam's driving license or a temporary license converted from your international driving permit. The penalties for not possessing a license when you drive can be severe: from 3 years up to 10 years if causing accident, and even 20 years if accidents causing death.

Apply for a new Vietnam driving license:

To apply for a Vietnam's driving license - whether car or motorbike, contact the Centre for Automotive Training and Mechanism at 83A Ly Thuong Kiet (Hanoi) or Office of Transportation at 63 Ly Tu Trong (Ho Chi Minh City).

Convert your old valid license to Vietnamese one:

If you need temporary driver's licenses or to convert your license to Vietnamese equivalence, you need to contact Office of Traffic & Public Works at 16 Cao Ba Quat Street (Hanoi) or 63 Ly Tu Trong (Ho Chi Minh City).

Documents Required:

In order to apply or convert your existing driver license to a Vietnamese equivalence, you need to submit the following documents:

› One copy of your passport with the photo page and the visa page (both visa and passport need to be valid).
› One copy of your existing driving license, with a translated and notarized version (by a public notary place)
› Three passport size photos (see photo requirements)
› Filled in application form (download the form for driving license application)
› USD 1.5 for processing fee

Processing Time:

The processing time of a driver license is about 5 working days. Application form and required documents can be submitted at the Department of Transport in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City mentioned above.

New topic

Expatriate health insurance in Ho Chi Minh City

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Ho Chi Minh City

Moving to Ho Chi Minh City

Find tips from professionals about moving to Ho Chi Minh City

Travel insurance in Ho Chi Minh City

Enjoy a stress-free travel across Ho Chi Minh City

Flights to Ho Chi Minh City

Find the best prices for your flight tickets to Ho Chi Minh City