Close

Language Barriers Make Getting Around HCM Difficult: Please Advice

Hello Exparts in HCM:

I am new in HCM from USA, visiting HCM. I want to get around, but I cannot communicate with drivers of motorbikes and taxis who do not speak or understand English. Please advice how easily I can navigate my way around the city to see places and meet new people in the expart community.

Thanks

Go to Phatty's Bar 46-48 Ton That Thiep Street, Ho Chi Minh City, plenty of expats there!

Have a few large ones and then you will be able to communicate with the locals....

Thanks for advising. But what "large ones" do I need to have at that place?

Libhero :

Thanks for advising. But what "large ones" do I need to have at that place?

Large ones = any kind of alcohol....  :dumbom:

A few other tips - use Uber to get around because you'll be able to enter pick-up and destination locations without having to speak much to the drivers.  Go to the "backpacker's area" to meet visitors, expats, and locals who speak English.  If you want to meet expats only, then hang out in district 2, Thao Dien area... a popular expat pub there is Saigon Outcast (Google it).

Libhero - One of the successful techniques is to use your mobile phone (ideally an iPhone) to show the drivers an address in Vietnamese language (from TripAdvisor or from some other site), or even a location on Maps. I also use Translate at shops or grocery stores if I am looking for a particular food product.

Learn basic phrases ("May I have a 6-pack of Bia Saigon, please ?!) and your local landmark to make your way home ("New World Saigon Hotel, please), and of course, finally, say "Cam On" as often as possible. After you successfully exit Phatty's, make your way to Pasteur Street and have a beer at each of the pub outlets there. Lots of expats and local hostesses there to help you gain tips on the city and life in general ...

All the Best!

Buy a map of the city...point out your desired location to the taxi driver.Don,t forget to point to the meter in the taxi as this should indicate it is to be running while you are in the taxi...heard some stories of non metered fares and the driver trying to rip off the passenger...taxi Vinasun are supposed to be reputable...my Vietnamese wife uses them
To buy a map go to Fahasa bookshop,there are a number of locations in the city but if you are in the city center there is a Fahasa on Nguyen Hue,it's about a third of the way up the street on the right hand side walking away from the river.Nguyen Hue is the street behind the bitexaco tower if you are approaching from the central market.It has a very wide walkway for the full length of the street with a statue of Ho Chi Minh at the far end away from the river
Bought a map myself,think it cost 40000 dong,it's not perfect,but it will get you to most places,use it to get around on my hire bike
Also in regards to an earlier post Phattys bar is in a side street just off Nguyen Hue about half way up but off to the left hand side....also same area...Game On Bar with plenty of expats to speak to
Gareth

Libhero :

Thanks for advising. But what "large ones" do I need to have at that place?

can see you have language barrier with English too!!!!!!! large 1 is a stein/ pint of beer, hehehehe

If you happen to hire a driver who does not understand English (most do not) and you happen to know which way to turn, it couldn't hurt to know these terms:
quẹo trái   turn left
quẹo phải  turn right
stop works in either language
cam ơn ( ̣em or anh)  thank you
If you do not know what the tonal markings signify, practice with a local  until you are saying the same thing they would say. Listen for the rising and falling tones.

A little effort goes a long way.

Strongly recommend UBER.  Uber is great -- you pick the destination before they pick you up.  Plus, I have found it to be 20-30% cheaper than vinasun or mailinh.  even cheaper if you want to take a motorbike taxi :)

in terms of beating the language barrier for uber (b/c many drivers are not the best with english) -- i recommend picking a big obvious landmark where you want picked up.  When they call you (as is standard procedure), just say the name of the store or restaurant slow and clear.  "I am standing at KFC!"

This has reduced my wife's stress with getting around, reduced our expenses for taxi, and we don't have to fuss with cash or funny business with tax drivers running up the meter.

geoff3456 :

If you happen to hire a driver who does not understand English (most do not) and you happen to know which way to turn, it couldn't hurt to know these terms:
quẹo trái   turn left
quẹo phải  turn right
stop works in either language
cam ơn ( ̣em or anh)  thank you
If you do not know what the tonal markings signify, practice with a local  until you are saying the same thing they would say. Listen for the rising and falling tones.

A little effort goes a long way.

All I need to say is "Di bia om!" then everything goes smoothly ;-)

Google has a voice app, You speak English into app, it translate to perfect Vietnamese. Google Translate.

After work perhaps.

You can try Grab Taxi - its like Uber but for motorbikes.  Haven't tried it myself but friends have told me its pretty good.

Assuming you are not ubering:
Google map on  your smart phone.
Or write down the address on a piece of paper.
Or ask your hotel to write down the address on a piece of  paper.
Make sure you carry a business card from your hotel so you can get back later.

Same methods you would use for any foreign country.

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 stress-free travel to Ho Chi Minh City

Flights to Ho Chi Minh City

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