Working in Vietnam as a digital nomad

digital nomad in Vietnam
Updated 2022-06-07 09:50

Vietnam is emerging as a new popular destination for digital nomads and downshifters. As the prices in most Asian countries are slowly rising, Vietnam remains in the favourable low-cost niche while offering all the needed facilities for working remotely.

Why Vietnam?

Having stayed off the nomad radar until quite recently, Vietnam has managed to preserve its rather non-touristic character allowing its visitors to stay in a less-crowded setting for longer and on a smaller budget.

Another thing that makes Vietnam stand out among its Asian neighbours is its burgeoning coffee culture. Introduced to the country by the French in the 19th century, coffee is now one of Vietnam's main exports and the reason behind an abundance of coffee shops throughout its big cities. One of the country's most popular coffee chains is Trung Nguyen, which, with its 5-page coffee beverage menu and comfortable low-slung sofas provides a convenient and affordable work setting. Other local brands include Cong Coffee and Phuc Long Coffee.

What you need to know before moving to Vietnam

The first thing to keep in mind is that Vietnam currently doesn't have a digital nomad visa, although it is a popular destination for digital nomadism. Therefore, moving there as a digital nomad requires proper consideration, especially in terms of visa and other paperwork.

The popular belief is that you can move to Vietnam as a digital nomad on a 3-month tourist visa upon arrival, regardless of your nationality. However, you are not officially allowed to work on a 3-month tourist visa. So how do you go about this?

Citizens from 23 countries are exempt from the visa obligation and are allowed to stay for 14 or 30 days in Vietnam, depending on their nationality. These countries include Cambodia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain and Sweden. Those from 46 other countries are eligible for an E-visa that allows them to stay in the country for 30 days. Finally, citizens from certain countries have to check from their embassy or consulate whether they are eligible for a short-term visa for Vietnam.

In any case, avoid seeking help from immigration agencies to avoid any potential scams. Vietnam visa applications can simply be made on the country's official visa portal. Usually, the visa process takes not more than 3 working days. For the E-visa application, expect a fee of $25. Besides, if you're currently planning your move to Vietnam, make sure to check on the latest Covid-related travel restrictions.

Those who wish to extend their stay in Vietnam are required to leave their country upon the expiration of their visa and come back after 30 days. For more information, check Vietnam's official website.

Good to know:

Residents and non-residents in Vietnam can work as independent contractors. This particularly applies to digital nomads who work online for employers or clients based outside the country. If this is the case, there's no need to worry about obtaining a work visa or paying local taxes. However, having a work visa is compulsory for working as a freelance with Vietnamese companies or individuals.

Best cities to work from

Commonly known as Saigon and often abbreviated as HCMC, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and is the former capital with a population of over 8.8 million people, according to 2021 reports. The city is becoming a popular destination among digital nomads because of its affordability, good Internet speeds and the ease of setting up camp.

The city is often praised for its entrepreneurial spirit and an aggressive start-up scene. Ho Chi Minh manages to combine all the benefits of residing in an exotic destination with the motivation and drive of a big city. There is no shortage of places to work from and, while the nomad community is still in the budding stage, the young business crowd provides plenty of networking opportunities.

Hanoi is the second-largest city and Vietnam's capital. Ranked as one of the world's top 10 destinations, it is frequently visited and offers lots of attractions as well as a developed business environment. The city is a mix of Asian traditions and Western influence and, thus, provides a comfortable work setting with the necessary amenities and at a reasonable price.

There are plenty of coffee shops and coworking spaces to choose from and, with growing tourism, you will also have a wide range of options when it comes to accommodation. Hanoi is quieter than Ho Chi Minh when it comes to the nightlife, but offers many historical and natural attractions to explore like Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Vietnam Military History Museum and others.

For those looking for a more laid-back lifestyle and access to some of the country's best beaches, Da Nang may be the best stop. It is the third-largest city in Vietnam located right between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh on the Eastern Sea coast. The coastline is the main attraction. Look for My Khe Beach, the Son Tra peninsula, and the Red Beach. Finding a place to work from is not a problem, and you will have a nice selection of local and western coffee shops at your disposal.

Another coastal destination on the list is Hoi An. Just south of Da Nang, the city is home to beautiful beaches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Known as Vietnam's most atmospheric city, Hoi An offers more of a small town feel with An Bang and Cua Dai beaches just a short drive from the city centre.

The Internet and coworking spaces

Vietnam's average Internet speed has seen massive improvements over the last couple of years, although it still remains below the global average. Wi-Fi access is relatively easy to find ' most coffee shops, hotels, and office buildings will offer free Wi-Fi connection. However, do not expect complementary Wi-Fi near all tourist attractions.

Big cities boast a large number of coworking spaces. Plus, the region's pronounced coffee culture has ensured an abundance of coffee shops, both local and western, which offer a nice setting for work and rest.

Coworking spaces in Ho Chi Minh

Spiced, 18/14 Nguyen Thai Minh Khai, Äa Kao, Quán 1

BIGWork Ho Chi Minh, 83 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Ward 6, District 3,

Fablab Saigon, 44/10 Nguyễn Văn Đậu, Phường 6, Bình Thạnh

The Hive Saigon, 94 Xuân Thủy, Thảo Điền, Quận

The HiPB, 1A Truong Quoc Dung street, 8 ward, Phu Nhuan district

Coworking spaces in Hanoi

UP Coworking Space, Tầng 8, tòa nhà Hanoi Creative City, 1 Lương Yên

HanoiHub Coworking Space, 2nd Floor, No 2 Alley 59, Láng Hạ, Chợ Dừa, Ba Đình

iHouse Coworking Space, 131 Yên Hòa, Yên Hoà, Cầu Giấy

Coworking spaces in Da Nang

Enouvo Space, 15 Tạ Mỹ Duật, An Hải Bắc, Sơn Trà

Coworking spaces in Hoi An

Hub Hoi An Coworking, 105 Lê Thánh Tông, Cẩm Sơn

Leisure in Vietnam

With its rich historical background and diverse landscapes, Vietnam has plenty of destinations within its borders to explore when work is over ' from touring the war memorials of Saigon to discovering the rocky islands of Ha Long Bay and beach resorts on Phú Quá»c. The food is an attraction in itself, and Vietnamese cuisine is regarded as one of the healthiest in Asia. Taking a cooking class is a popular and practical pastime. Big cities offer a vibrant nightlife with an excellent choice of bars and clubs while smaller towns charm with their laid back lifestyle and lush greenery.

Good to know:

Before choosing Vietnam as a long-term nomadic destination considers the traffic. The country's bigger cities will require you to be extra vigilant when crossing the road because of the large number of motorbikes rushing through the city's streets day and night.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.