- Download our Ho Chi Minh City Schools Guide
Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City will find themselves in a vibrant, engaging culture. The city has many benefits, but it also has drawbacks, and expats should prepare themselves realistically to make the most of their time in Vietnam.
Living in Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: Thriving expat community
There is a strong expat community in Ho Chi Minh City and the social life is varied and engaging, which means there is something for everyone from families to singles.
+ PRO: Welcoming attitude of the Vietnamese people
Vietnamese people are very friendly and welcoming of foreigners. Expats will find locals accommodating and genuinely interested in helping them – something that may seem unusual to many expats.
- CON: Overcharging foreigners
Despite the friendliness of the Vietnamese people, some expats still face unfairly increased prices. Expats should be firm when bartering and learn a few Vietnamese words to negotiate a fair deal.
Lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: Wonderful sights and activities offered throughout the city
Expats looking to spend their days outdoors will be spoilt for choice. There are many recreational and water parks around the city, which are not just for the kids to enjoy. The city is also home to numerous historical and cultural sites for expats to explore. The vibrant local art scene is a representation of the upscale and cosmopolitan lifestyle spread throughout Ho Chi Minh City.
- CON: Pollution
With more than eight million residents, Ho Chi Minh City suffers from a significant amount of noise and air pollution. Expats will see some Vietnamese people wearing face masks to prevent irritation from pollen and pollution.
+ PRO: Easy access to the beach
This is especially important as a respite from the hot summer days, making it the perfect getaway to enjoy the weekend and escape city life.
+ PRO: Incredible food
From dingy authentic Vietnamese haunts to five-star restaurants, there are numerous international and local cuisine options to satisfy all tastes.
+ PRO: Abundance of shopping outlets
Shopping is a favourite pastime for many Ho Chi Minh City residents, and expats will have plenty of options available. The shops range from small markets to impressive department stores.
- CON: Petty crime
Vietnam is a safe country, but like every city, Ho Chi Minh City does have petty crime. Expats should be watchful of their belongings and aware of those around them.
+ PRO: Cheap and easy travel to neighbouring countries
Places like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are popular, with regular flights going to and from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Tan Son Nhat is Vietnam's largest international airport, and it is located in Ho Chi Minh City.
Amenities in Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: Top international schools
Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City with children will have access to a host of excellent international schools offering a range of curricula.
+ PRO: Efficient and reliable banks
Banking is accessible and convenient for expats. With top banks like HSBC and ANZ available, expats should have no problems with banking.
- CON: Public transport is lacking
Ho Chi Minh City's public transport system is relatively underdeveloped, which can be frustrating for expats. Currently, there is no metro system in place, but construction is in progress for this.
Language in Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: The language is relatively easy to learn
The Western alphabet script is used for the Vietnamese language, which makes it more accessible for foreigners in comparison to other Asian countries.
- CON: There is a language barrier
Despite Vietnam being one of the few Asian countries that use a Roman-based alphabet, there is still a language barrier. Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City should keep in mind that English is not commonly used.
Censorship in Ho Chi Minh City
- CON: Government censorship
There is occasional government banning or censorship of websites. Internet access to certain sites is sometimes regulated, especially if they are religious or politically sensitive.
"Vietnam, and especially HCMC, is a city with a lot of diversity. You can enjoy a bowl of noodles on the street (the traditional Pho soup) for less than $1, but you can also have a drink on top of one of the highest skyscrapers in the city if you want to have a taste of the ritzy lifestyle. The diversity and different choices of lifestyle we have on offer make our lives more rich, diverse and fulfilled in different aspects." French expat Guillaume shares his experiences of living in HCMC.
"I do like the freedom the most, the feeling that everything is possible, the weather, the easy way to travel. The quality of life in Vietnam compared to Germany is of course different, but you can’t have everything if you set different priorities." German expat Anne lets us in on her expat experience in HCMC in our Expat Arrivals interview.
Are you an expat living in Ho Chi Minh City?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ho Chi Minh City. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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