Main Religions: Vietnamese folk religion (73.2%), Buddhism (12.2%), Catholicism (6.8%), Caodaism (6.8%)
Vietnam is at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast Asia, with an area of 331,212 square kilometres (127,882 sq mi) and a population of around 103.8 million, making it the world’s fifteenth-most populous country. Vietnam shares land borders with China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. It shares maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia through the South China Sea. Its capital is Hanoi and its largest city is Ho Chi Minh City commonly referred to by its former name, Saigon.
Vietnam inherited its cultural wealth from thousands of years of history, sprinkled with a handful of outside influences. Through it all, the Vietnamese have a strong sense of pride in their traditions and way of life. The central cities of Hue and Hoi An are treasure troves for culture lovers, as is Hanoi, the country’s graceful capital.
Outside the cities, many elements of Vietnamese culture trace back to cycles of wet rice cultivation, from harvest festivals to table manners. There are countless ways to immerse yourself in the fabric of Vietnamese life, including cooking classes, craft workshops, temple tours, musical performances, museum visits, and more.
The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese; English is increasingly preferred as a second language. A variety of other languages are also spoken, including French, Chinese, Khmer, and various Khmer dialects. It is estimated that 85% to 90% of Vietnam’s residents are Vietnamese by ethnicity.
University admission is determined by the results of entrance examinations. A high school graduate must have a high score to be admitted to a university. Public universities are considered a major step in a successful career, especially for rural or otherwise disadvantaged individuals.
Although measures have been taken to reduce the importance of these exams, the pressure on candidates remains high. Currently, there is a shortage of university placements for students.
Public universities in Vietnam have very low tuition fees compared to private universities. Vietnamese students pay about from £0 to £1,000 a year for tuition at public schools depending on the level of the degree. International students pay between £1,000 to £2,500 per year.
Top 10 Universities of Vietnam:
Duy Tan University, Da Nang
Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Ha Noi
Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City
Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Ha Hoi
Nguyen Tat Thanh University, Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Ho Chi Minh City
University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City University of Industry, Ho Chi Minh City
The University of Da nang, Da Nang
Cost of Living
It is well known that Vietnam offers a high quality of life at an affordable price. As of 2022, Vietnam’s cost of living is 42.8% lower than the United Kingdom and 63.5% lower than the United States. Based on the average apartment cost in Vietnam and a wide range of living expenses in Vietnam, this is an estimate of the total cost of living.
According to Numbeo, Vietnam ranks 88th in the world in terms of cost of living. To put things into perspective, local Vietnamese earn £300 per month. A low-budget lifestyle can easily be achieved with £500 per month, or even lower if you are extra resourceful.
Due to a former house frontage tax (similar law existed in the Netherlands between the 16th and 18th centuries), Vietnam’s houses are extremely narrow and tall. People build houses as narrow as they could, deep and tall.
The cost of renting in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can be quite high because of overcrowding.
1 bedroom apartments in city centre – 8,871,736.53 đồng (£292.77)
1 bedroom apartments outside of centre – 5,503,466.74 đồng (181.61)
3 bedroom apartments in city centre – 19,921,328.24 đồng (657.40)
3 bedroom apartments outside of centre – 11,717,544.64 đồng (386.68)
All covid-19 entry requirements have been lifted in Vietnam. There are not any requirements for proof of Covid-19 vaccination or testing to visit Vietnam. This may change in response to new variants; therefore, you should monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
You should only stay in Vietnam legally and ensure you have the right visa and permissions.
All British nationals can enter Vietnam for up to 15 days for tourism, transit, and business purposes without needing to apply for a visa however you can’t for paid or voluntary work. This will be extended to 45 days from 15 August 2023. For more information, please see the full details on gov.co.uk.
Safety and Security
It’s safe to visit Vietnam most of the time, but if you are visiting a big city or tourist area, you should take sensible precautions.
Passports are not supposed to be handed over as a guarantee to third parties (e.g. motorcycle rental shops, landlords), because passports have been held against claims of damage in many instances.
Take precautions when you are in crowded areas or places visited by tourists, especially if you are riding a motorbike, as pickpockets and bag snatchers can be active. Consider splitting key items into bags.
There is a lack of compliance with local road regulations. Be prepared for the unexpected by keeping your speed down. When traveling on a motorbike as a passenger, you should wear a good-quality helmet and carry comprehensive medical insurance. If you are riding a motorbike without a helmet, it is illegal.
It is typical for people in Vietnam to work from 7am to 8.30am and from 4pm to 6pm, from Monday to Friday, and until noon on Saturday, leaving the afternoon (mostly) and Sunday off. Law allows 48 hours per week. The average weekly working hours for men in Vietnam were approximately 40 hours, while for women it was around two hours less.
Vietnam’s average wage is around 3.45 million VND (£150) a month. A person working in Vietnam typically earns a gross salary of £750/month, £8,995/year, or £4.32 per hour, depending on the type of job they have. The average take-home salary (net) is £386/month.
The Vietnamese language remains the most dominant language and 86% of the population speak it in Vietnam. Vietnamese appreciate it if a foreigner tries to learn simple phrases in their language such as xin chao (pronounced as ‘seen chow’), meaning “hello” in Vietnamese.
In business meetings, it is ideal to have a translator if you’re unable to speak Vietnamese. It Is preferred to hold meetings in person over online meetings and emails.
The best way to meet potential business contacts is through a mutual acquaintance or third-party referral. There should be advance planning for business meetings, and big public holidays should be avoided, such as Tet, which is the Vietnamese New Year.