Expat assistance in some of the details for moving/living in Vung Tau

MY name is Stephen Gillatly, and I am a 65 year old single male considering moving to this area. At least to SEA in general. Currently live in Victoria, British Colombia, Canada. Served 8 years in the Canadian Navy, then proceeded to take my skills as a Marine Electrician and work in the private sector. Funnily enough, I spent a lot of that time working on warships. Basing my cash available on $1500 CDN a month

Trying to get the best information I can so I can make a better decision on how to proceed in this. I am going to break this into subjects to help both me and the people replying.

This seems to be a very confusing subject. I am looking at applying for a 3 month multi-visit Visa. Now do I have to do a border run every 3 months, as some articles suggest, or can each original visa be extended twice? I realize each extension requires $US each time if I am getting the gist of these forums correctly. So in essence you would only have to do a border run every 9 months. ( yes I realize that 3 months is not really 3 months but something like 87 days. can someone supply the correct # here?) Is this correct?

Medical Insurance
Starting my journey I will have 2 months coverage from my Union. So my plan was to wait until I got to VN and pick the brains of the expats. I am rarely ill, haven't spent any time in a hospital except for a car accident 20 years ago. Suggestions/recommendations.?

Below are the drugs I currently require regularly. Are these available? At what cost?

Delatestryl 1000mg/5ml           Testosterone Enanthate    by injection
Sandoz-Vaslartan HCT160mg/12.5mg
Ratio-Atorvastatin   10mg
Lomotil 2.5mg0.025mg              Diphenoxylate HCI/Atropine  Sulf   

Figured I would hit Agoda for the first 3 days, to get the lay of the land and then either upgrade and shift to finding either a local realtor or expats for current advice.

Any and all advice would be appreciated. Plan is to arrive sometime in March/18, just trying to get all the pieces aligned as it were.


Visas are confusing because laws change. And because some places can get around the law anyway. I haven't gotten a tourist visa for a couple years, but I used Sunviet twice, and have heard good things about Chi's Cafe, though I only used Chi's for motorbike rental. Here are current price pages:

Sunviet on Facebook, Sept 29 post

Chi's Cafe visas

For medical, I self-insure, but I can also have govt insurance in US if something big. Hope you have some money in the bank for emergencies. I assume you have some Canadian govt socialized medical.

That's a lot of drugs, somebody or you will have to google for generics. Generics are generally very much cheaper, western brand names not available for obvious reasons.

Agoda is good to get started. 3 stars will be fine in District 1 Saigon, $20 range. Many hotels are not listed in Agoda, and 2 stars can be fine too, if you check em out when you arrive. Vung Tau hotels are about the same price except on the beach. Saigon might be an easier place to ease into Vietnam living for a week before heading to Vung Tau, because Vung Tau is so much smaller. I think you will need to rent a motorbike living at the beach, things are spread out, though I suppose you can figure out buses and bicycles. Taxis are more expensive there.

You can also search the Vietnam or HCMC forum for Visa, insurance, Prescription, etc. Many similar posts have been answered.

Thanks for the reply gobot, but I am not really seeing anything helpful in it.

Under the Visa section you have not told me if what I think is true is correct or not. Can I as a Canadian get extensions without doing a border run every 3 months? I think you are saying I am correct, and giving me 2 business which would help, which are in HMC. Is that correct?

Under medical I do have Canadian insurance, but I'm not sure it will cover me for an extended term overseas. Most private plans I have found on the Net want to start at $350 a month. It would be cheaper for me to self pay in almost all instances from what I have picked up on the forums. If necessary, I could always fly myself home.

Under the drug section, there are only four, as I listed both the generic name and the brand name.

Under accommodation, I am quite used to using Agoda from the month I spent in Thailand last year. Not really interested in being in big cities, so I picked Vung Tau for the ocean and the fact it has a smaller footprint.

Again thank you for your feedback.  :)

As Gobot said "laws change quite often".

What is law today can be different when you arrive. Best to get a one year DN visa, no border runs required, but this could change tomorrow, that's how the government works here.

Sorry I didn't explain well enough.
When Johnny says "You are holding a Tourist visa (DL) – you can get 2-3 times extension" that means without leaving the country. He would handle it.  Why the indefinite number, 2-3 ? I don't know you would have to ask him.
More lingo: 'Multiple entry' means you can leave the country many time and reenter immigration with the same visa.

Yes those 2 businesses are in Saigon. When you are in Vung Tau, expect to go to Saigon once in a while for shopping etc. The FUTA bus round trip is 180,000d and 2.5 hours.

Probably the better alternative is get a visa from the Vietnamese consulate in your country. For example here is the San Francisco website, and like colinoscape says you can get a 1 year multiple entry, DN (business) or DL (tourist) type. Also then you can avoid the visa-on-entry mess too.


Border runs aren't a big deal anyway, the bus is like $10, takes a half day from Saigon. After you are living there for awhile you can get a residence card (TRC), and maybe Visa Exemption (VEC), not sure how to do that unless you marry a Vietnamese though.

Yes what I implied is that I would fly myself home if necessary, otherwise I am self insuring. Clinic visits are cheap.

I don't know about meds and can't distinguish between mfr and generics! Maybe somebody else can help you.
But for fun, you can start by searching in Vietnamese and see what comes up.
thuốc tây ban Enanthate
(medicine western buy -----)

[Western meaning to distinguish from Chinese herbal which is a big thing here still]

Use google chrome browser, on the page in Vietnamese, right click and pick Translate to English, it kinda works.
Another thing you can do is call a clinic during business hours and ask if  they have your meds/generics, and the price. In Saigon, Family Medical Practice has a pharmacy and a website. They speak english. You want to bring a year's supply with you regardless, yeah?

Personally I like Vung Tau a lot, and might move there myself someday!

For accommodation Google "OSC Apartments Vung Tau"...there will be a map of the location.Its a large apartment block,about 30 floors so don,t know if that's what you are looking for long term.I have stayed there,with my wife,in a one bedroom apartment and found it ok with Tv,internet,fully furnished and kitchen. There are a number of expats staying there so you can pick their brains.The location is about 200m  from the beach,about 150m from some restaurants facing the beach.The main part of the city/ town is to the on the other side of the lake shown on the Google map so it's fairly central.
If you go to " Booking.com" there are at least 25 individual offers for rental in the apartment block with varying prices so a good selection to choose from.I,m just thinking it will be cheaper to start off and who knows it might be suitable for long term.
To the Northwest about 300m on the very large roundabout is a very large supermarket...Google "Lotte Mart Vung Tau" for a map.Its Korean owned,clean and you can buy anything there from toothpaste to beer to cooking oil to electrical goods...there is also a  food court,been there many times  myself....cheap and good quality .
Besides the advertisements on the website my wife's friend rents a number of apartments in the building.I can, if you wish ,contact her for an email address so possibly you can arrange a rental with her,she is very helpful,speaks good English and can also arrange moped rental.
Drop me a private email if you wish to contact my wife's friend.
Have you given any though to how you are to travel from the airport to Vung Tau?
When I have time I will post information that I have found regarding medical insurance,in the meantime check out the previous posts on the subject,it's a regular subject with lots of opinions

Thanks for the Visa advice gobot and colinoscapee. Unfortunately as you say the rules change. As a Canadian the consulate only offers 3 month multi entry tourists visa's to us. That's why I was concerned about doing a border run every 3 months. I thought it would make my live easier if I could get two extensions, and then do a run. Who knows maybe I will want to go travelling.

Thanks for the advice colinoscapee on housing opportunities, shopping etc. I am sure I will get in touch via PM when I eventually get there. (March/April).
I am going to keep all my answers in the thread, so that if any other browser has the identical circumstances it might help them too.

Thanks gentlemen

Sorry Gareth I missed thanking you for your advice. My apologizes. Probably PM you at a later date.

I'm not really worried about the meds issue due to the fact high blood pressure and high cholesterol are common health malady's in this day and age. The testosterone injections are for a low count and also shouldn't be a problem, unless they freak over syringes being used.

Look at a VOA(visa on arrival) the embassy won't offer this and will tell you it's a scam. Thousands of people use this system every day and it's not a scam. Get yourself a 1 year business visa and don't worry about extensions.

I'm Canadian and will be retiring to Vietnam from China in early 2018. I just arranged for and received my letter of permission from the Immigration Department for a one-year, multiple entry, Business Visa... on arrival.

Prices to arrange a VOA vary a lot (USD $250 - $420) depending on the service you use. The best price I found is with https://www.vietnamimmigration.org/

Send them an email at info[at]vietnamimmigration.org and the price is $30 less than the $280 website price. I paid $250, it took five days (including a weekend) and came as a 'private letter' (no $6 extra charge).

You can only enter at an international airport and there is a fixed-price, $135 (for one-year visa) 'stamping fee' payable to Immigration when you arrive.

It looks like Chi's Cafe visas has an even better price ($210) than the service I used.


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