Relocation to Vietnam - list of things to bring or not!

Hello friends,
Alot of new developments since last time I posted.  Amazing I have found suitable employment in Saigon. A good wage for Vietnam. I told them it would take me about six weeks to report. My question is this; if you were going to make a list of all you needed to get done upon arrival or even things you needed to bring,what would these be? I am coming alone I have never been to Vietnam before but I have been researching this for a long time. Some of you may recall I posted about my little Vietnamese school teacher I have been talking with Dailey for about a year. She is part of my motivation and the other is simply living in Vietnam. Any recommendations that you could give me to make my transition smoother would be appreciated from located at apartment 2 transportation to grocery shopping whatever thank you so much I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far

Bring ALL the things you love.    You cannot get them here.

..or import them...

British bring Butter (and Bras if female)

Aussies bring Vegemite and Baked beans.

Yes, you might smile, but it is the small things you will miss the most.    Pharmaceuticals are a bugbear to find (and incredibly expensive!)    Avoid budget airlines.   Mine left my main bag in Singapore: never seen again.    Foresight saved my sanity.    I wore as much as I could, duplicated most necessities and carried (2) laptops in the one cabin bag.      I repeat, BRING TWO!    Phones as well..    (etc)

..and keep them separately and securely when here.

Common sense prevails.    If not, be prepared to pay...

Previous posts will give the gist of what to expect.   Read them.

The upsides?  Too many to list.    Get your clothes tailor-made.  Even shoes.   The quality is far superior because Vietnamese craftmanship is top drawer.   Read trip advisor or Google to find the best at about half of what you pay in Western countries.   Food, accommodation, transport and general services are all incredibly cheap. 

Keep an open mind and Enjoy.   It is far better than you might imagine...                :top:

Thank you bazza makes sense everything you said and I have always enjoyed your posts and thanks for the often I just hear the negatives....I'm hoping this to be the welcome life change I've been looking for 😃

Good.   Remember an open mind learns from the negatives too.

Hi Jim.. Glad to read that things are coming together for you. First off, what Bazza said, except for one small thing. Shoes: If you have big feet like I do, you will have to get them made for you, as the sizes here stop at around 10.5 European.

Marmite and Vegemite you can buy in the An Am stores in Q1 and Thau Dien now along with smelly cheeses and an assortment of sausages and cooked meats. Real Worcestershire sauce is now available in Metro supermarkets along with such commodities as Balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

One of the members here, Jean Pierre, is busy making European style sausages up in Nha Trang and hopefully these will be available very soon at supermarkets in Saigon.

If you are a hat man (I wore an Akubra until I got p*ssed in Oman and left it on the bar in the Intercontinental hotel), bring your fave hat with you.

If you want to wear a Rolex watch, you can get fakes at Benh Thang market, BUT.... Take the time get to know the stall holder, one of the big ones and let your Vn friend do the talking as there are two levels of fake Rolexes. The first is utter crap and costs next to nothing. The second level is more expensive, pay up to 100 USD, but some of them have decent Japanese or Russian movements, which will last ten years or more. If you deal with the stall holder in a friendly manner, he may help you get something better than the average tourist gets.

Bring a good pen knife with you. Bring a small tool kit with you. Tool kits are available here but the quality is generally cr[at]p. You just need some small screwdrivers (for fixing your spectacles etc) and fixing power plugs and what have you - and a small set of sockets. ! have a pocket set just a bit bigger than an iPhone 4 (and twice as thick), which has been invaluable since I have been here.

If you have any particular needs or worries, a post on here will normally get you good help and advice.


Yes sir......I hope I have no major negatives 😃 and I'm going to try like hell not to invite any

Hey Jim,

It's a good idea to make sure everyone you deal with back in the states, banks, brokers, property agents, insurance companies, superannuation people, utilities , Tax agents etc etc .....make sure they have your email address and they understand that correspondence will be only done that way if possible.

Get a post office Box here after your settled in. Mine costs $3 a year.  I hardly use it, but it's nice to have a facility for any paper mail to go to.

Some banks insist on written authority to change things.. Arrange to have them accept Fax authority OR message Via Internet banking.    Make sure your bank has the facility set up for international funds transfer prior to leaving.

Yogi lives in cyber space now.    I rarely need paper copy for anything. Even my Tax is now fully online.

Have a list of ALL contacts and their emails, ph etc on your computer or tablet and email that list to yourself, and update it when needed.

Check all your credit cards, licenses for expiry dates and the process involved for getting the updated cards sent to you.   Anything that's expiring soon, see the bank and arrange for an update.
Take a screenshot of all your cards , licenses, passport etc and email the shots to yourself.

Make sure your Will is current and what happens to your remains here if you "cark it".   There's a guy here in Nha Trang that's been dead for about 3 weeks and they can't locate family and no one knows what to do with the remains. He's on ice. 

If you can manage most of your stuff online it's a breeze. Everywhere here has free wi fi.

SHOES........there's good quality shoes in the states,especially joggers.  Bring a couple of pair , most of the stuff here is fake and falls apart quickly.

I could go on , but it's time for an afternoon dip at the beach.


There will be things you can't get in Saigon (don't know about other VN cities) but if you can't adapt, almost everything is available in Singapore or Bangkok. Not cheaper here than the US though. Consumer goods are cheapest in the US, because of sales and discounts and Amazon and ebay and craigslist, also they are authentic because of enforced laws there. So get your new computer, phone, breathable rain jacket, meds, etc before you come.

Some of my past suggestions but you should expand the threads.

-banking … n=timeline

-bring with you … 93#3108047

-documents … 57#3037188

-food, meds … 00#3033366

-unlocked phone w/gps … 19#3028982

Hey Jim,

Work permit,  Visa classification it all sorted before you get here.   ?   

Thats a problem for a lot of people who work here. The Visa situation here is a maze of twists & turns.
Some people  come here with a job lined up & then get told to LEAVE the country and apply for a work permit.

Hopefully the employer has that situation covered and you have written confirmation of that.

I don't want to sound alarmist , but make sure the Salary package offered is CLEARLY  detailed .

The following may sound ridiculous but it did happen to a guy I knew here.   

He came for a long service leave holiday and finished up marrying a local girl.   He was offered a job here and decided to move here permanently since the salary looked attractive.    He went back home, quit his job & sold up his stuff .   

On his return he commence work as a tour guide supervisor.  How worked 29 days a month with  long hours .   At the end of the month they handed him $85 .

He said what's this......

That $2,000  a month salary was actually $2,000. PER ANNUM. ( commission based) . The buses weren't full , so only half the $160 a month he would have got.   Some days he got nothing so he eventually quit.   He now has a drinking problem & who can blame him.

The BIG PRINT giveth & the small print taketh away.    So check the fine print.

Beware of VN employers, they like to talk things up, as Yogi says, buyer beware. After a few years here you should come back and tell us what your expected thoughts were,and what really happened. I'm sure you will see why we are so cynical.

Bazza139 :

Pharmaceuticals are a bugbear to find (and incredibly expensive!)

Bazza:  This is a part of your post that may not be entirely accurate.  You forgot that the OP is from the US which is the only developed country in the world to not have a civilized and humane health care system.  He may find medications to be a lot cheaper.  To Jimcatrell65:  If you take anything long term like blood pressure medications, a 90 day supply should be enough.  You can research alternate names on Wikipedia and fill most without a prescription.  Just give your old bottles to the pharmacy.  If you take routine medications, why not give the list to your long distance GF and have her check on availability.  It could double as a check on her sincerity.

The only thing I could not find is the old Sudafed, the one with Pseudophedrine that in the US you can still buy without a prescription but is kept behind the counter.  I had a ENT specialist who knew what it was prescribe it for me but I could never find a pharmacy that had it. 

One other thing, if your feet are really large, say US 12, even custom made shoes could be difficult.  They just wont have the last to make them.  I am a US 10 wide and my shoe maker had to pad up his largest last for my shoes.  There are places that can make larger, but they are hard to find.

Well in there a lot of disappointments in life this company is not fully Vietnamese owned the other owners are out of Holland he is the one who negotiated the deal with me he has been coming back and forth to Vietnam for the last 15 years but you could be right we'll see if they paid me a time or two it will have been worth it I will have gotten to see Southeast Asia

And Yogi to answer your question yes they are applying for my work permit and resident card I feel their sincere they need a sales manager the guy who has been doing it who is half owner in the company he needs to get back home to Holland he just skyped me and asked me if I could come two weeks earlier

Jim, a couple of things you will need in good measure here, so bring them with you:

1. Patience
2. Sense of humour

And one thing you need to develop fast once you get your feet under your desk:...... a sixth sense that tells you when things are going to go tits up if you don't step in quickly.

And if things do go to ratshit you will be treated to the finest display of blame storming you are ever likely to witness. And if you haven't got a back up plan - they wont even have thought of making one - the most important thing will be to blame someone.

It's funny you mention that the Dutch partner in this company told me that the sales people who will be working for me for some reason will not tell you when there is a problem with a customer until it is too late he said he does not know why it for some reason seems to be the Vietnamese way but by the time you know there is a problem he said you've done lost a good customer . But the other guys insinuated that the offer might be bull shit. And anything is possible. But a 25 year sales career has taught me alot about people it's the best course in phycology in the world.😃  But it's obvious they need someone there main concern after the third Skype interview would I get bored and quit in six months?  Well see I know there are disappoints in life. But how do I know if I don't try? What's the worse that can happen? I have to go back home?

Ty Matt can't wait to meet you bro! And I have plenty of patience and a sense of humor borderline crazy

You've got the right attitude,... you want to be here & are prepared to have go. 

Your doing your research and have the benefit of some contacts here for some ideas.

Regardless of what happens, you could always give the teaching game a go.    The money's OK so long as you get enough hours.   I know guys here that are living Ok on less than 20 hours a week.   But that will depend on how many mouths your feeding & how much skirt your chasing.😀

There a guy here in Nha trang living on $600 a month from teaching, he only gets a few hours though.   It's fairly obvious looking at him that he's cutting his own hair, but he's doing Ok.

A TESOL certificate might be a good back up Plan B.   

If the girl your involved with is solid,  she will be invaluable in helping you settle in and find opportunities for you. 

You better start packing that bag, sounds like your getting away soon.

Yes last week of July....I gotta tell ya I'm nervous and excited at the same time....😃

There you go!:
"It's funny you mention that the Dutch partner in this company told me that the sales people who will be working for me for some reason will not tell you when there is a problem with a customer until it is too late he said he does not know why it for some reason seems to be the Vietnamese way but by the time you know there is a problem he said you've done lost a good customer."

Well, here is a problem for you to solve as soon as you get here and if you can do it the company will love you for it.

So, first thing to understand is that it is different here and don't get all crinkled around the edges about it. Second thing is to understand that the grin that they do when they screw up is not laughing at you, they don't know what else to do.

Thirdly, patience, training, team building, you know all the things they teach you at salesmanship school, they work here too but it takes longer.

After you have been here a few weeks and sampled the local restaurants, where the waiters/tresses giggle and run away, when a foreigner tries to order something or, if you speak to them in Vietnamese they freeze in horror, waggle a  hand in the air and say Khong Hieu (don't understand), take a trip to the Al Fresco restaurant in Thau Dien.

I first went there about four years ago and it was chaos. Then a South African bloke came in as assistant manager and took the staff in hand. Firm but fair, never lost his patience, but didn't take any shit from them.

He led by example and it took him two years, but right now when you go there the manager is Vietnamese, you get greeted at the door. The orders rarely get screwed up, it's clean, the staff are polite.... And the South African bloke is now General manager of the restaurant chain in Saigon.

The guy who Iam replacing....worked here a year and the went to work for another company I Vietnam. He was my first contact with the company and at first told me that he wanted someone already in Vietnam but he was looking for distributor in USA. I didn't think anything about it. Then got an email from him that he was taking another job but had recommended me as his replacement so this kicked off the interviews and negotiation😃

Yes he also told me another problem. One that I have encountered my entire sales management career.he said he asked them to give him an accounting of there sales activity for the week he said they could only account for 16 -17 hrs of work out of 44! This surprised me as I viewed Vietnamese people as hard working. American sales people are lazy but I was really shocked about Asian salespeople.......but it might not be they are lazy maybe the just need direction

Ty yes I was thinking bout that. You are correct about us health care. I am a veteran so I get my meds through va....blood sugar medicine is all really.....I thought I would bring a 90 day supply if I can't find them in vn I can order them online and have my mother forward them to me...I think? Not sure

jimcantrell65 :

Yes he also told me another problem. One that I have encountered my entire sales management career.he said he asked them to give him an accounting of there sales activity for the week he said they could only account for 16 -17 hrs of work out of 44! This surprised me as I viewed Vietnamese people as hard working. American sales people are lazy but I was really shocked about Asian salespeople.......but it might not be they are lazy maybe the just need direction

Jim they need education and encouragement.

One of the problem here is that people are afraid of losing "face". They are also afraid of being blamed for things. A very common failure here is to put someone in charge of something. without any training and when it goes wrong, blame them for "being stupid". They will lose "face", they will be depressed and they are now far less likely to take any responsibility in future.

They need reprogramming (its the best way I can describe it).

Well that is what I love to do.. I love motivating and inspiring a sales force.....I love sales people and I love Vietnamese people so I think we will get on fine....and the ownership knows it will take some time...he said as much.

I hate to tell you Jim, you are in for a big,big shock. It's great to be positive, but you are not Vietnamese, therefore you know squat in their eyes. Come back on here after a few years and tell us your stories of how you trained and motivated them, I for one will be ready.

You may be right brother but what should I do? Get scared and forget it? Give up my dream? Cut my wrist maybe?

Jim, just be ready for one of the hardest jobs you have taken on. Do it. It will be hard. But the rewards will be immense.

Ty Matt ,
I've been warned it will be hard and I believe it. And thank you for being encouraging....I expect it to be challenging....but I embrace the challenge...I am fifty years old quite likely on the last decade of my career I want it to end well


Like you, I researched (very) thoroughly before arrival.

Maybe it's me.  (Or my devious past..?)   I feel I have found (my) Heaven on Earth.

Contrasting values are necessary for Appreciation.   You might as well watch Monty Python's 'Meaning Of Life', for the (very) few negatives only serve (me?) to appreciate just how good it (really) is.    And objectivity is my game, so the rose-tinted glasses don't exist.

(Yet) again, your attitude is correct:  only time will demonstrate rectitude.

Just do it.   Even if the sky does fall in, your memories will be far better than if you had stayed in the rat race.    ..and as an expat with experience, your students will be hanging on every word. 

You may well become another Matt.

Seriously...           :idontagree:

Ty bazza
A friend of mine.he is older than me he spent 20 years in SE Asia . He came home to retire I spoke to him on the phone 2 days ago and gave him the news. He said great Jim you'll enjoy it over there he said he'll I'm tired of the United States already I'm going back to Southeast Asia. As it turns out Matt is going to be my neighbor I guess it really is a small world 😃

Not that small.   But birds of a feather do tend to flock together...   :top:

Just trying to be realistic, having lived here for 9 years I can say is not easy.You sound like things are going to rosy and fairly easy, you may want to do some more research online about working here. Just be a bit more cautious and understand, it's not easy at times.

No I mean I'm not a kid I'm 50 years old I know it's not going to be Rosy and I realize you know but at the same time I have to approach it positively the worst thing that can happen is I will fail

Please don't misunderstand me. I do appreciate your advise the guy that hired me also gave me similar scenario. But when else in my life will I get this opportunity? And it's something I dreamed about for years so I must pursue it. Life's to short to live in the " safety zone" so to speak...and I have found that approaching life in a positive manner is the best life hasn't been easy bro...alot of heartache,personal failures, divorces haha....I want to give life in Asia a chance.  If I seemed like a know it all, I apologize, thats not my attitude at all my brother. 😃


I agree with what you are doing, and I hope it works for you. It's just I have seen so many guys and girls come here with big expectations, some make it work, others turn into raging alcoholics or return home with their tail between their legs. Come here with an open mind, don't get caught up with the girls(I realise you already have a lady)just use common sense, get a feel for how things work and you will be fine. I remember when my brother came here for the first time and was offering advice to locals, I told him to stop wasting his time, years later it is now a case of not offering any advice.

Ty brother I hope it works out....I'm nervous no doubt

Regarding sudafed mentioned way above, pharmacies in VN are no longer permitted to stock it, but do have something else that worked for me when I had a cold.

Fourteen years ago, when I ran out of Western pills for my hypertension, the properly trained local herbalist treated me successfully for two years until I returned to visit Australia and bought a resupply of prescribed pills.  So if you live way out in the countryside and have a good herbalist, go and see him/her.  But beware of quacks.

Pseudophedrine is undoubtedly banned because it is the base ingredient for the street drug called crystal meth.  It can be sold in a semi-controlled manner in the US because each sale goes into an electronic database.  Of course this certainly could not work in VN.  The only thing that I can ascertain requires a Rx in Vietnam is medications containing opiates which I fortunately have never needed.

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