From the moment I landed at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi I realized my life changed. ln 2016,I travelled to South East Asia. In a blink of an eye, I realized there was more to life than my small hometown in the South of England. It’s now 2020 and I have been here for 4 years, lived in 3 different cities and have completed my Bachelor’s degree in Vietnam. I must say it has been the most incredible time and life changing decision.
From the moment I stepped off the plane I felt like a stress had been removed from my shoulders. I felt free, and I felt as if I could do anything and be anyone I wanted. Some say It feels like home. Everything here is so easy compared to the west, you can rent motorbikes within minutes, you can move into apartments and houses hassle-free, no messing around with references like back in England, everything was really easy and I love it.
Riding a motorbike was something I didn’t do in the UK, so when I arrived in Vietnam, I was scared, mainly because of the sheer numbers of bikes on the road, however, after a few lessons from one of my new local friends, I felt confident enough to go out on my own. Trust me, it doesn’t look easy, however once you actually feel confident riding the bike, navigating through the traffic becomes much easier. It actually becomes quite exciting and refreshing as there are so many beautiful sites to see around the various cities. You’ll be driving along and you’ll want to stop and take photos at every corner. Vietnam really does have some amazing photogenic places.
The local food is amazing! I’m not going to lie; I was skeptical about trying local cuisine at first but there is something for everyone. Of course, you will not like every dish Vietnam has to offer but I guarantee there are some that you will like. Vietnam has so many dishes to choose from but here are some of my personal favorites; Banh Mi, a baguette roll made from rice flour, packed with different fillings. Mostly meats and vegetables. Pho, aromatic beef noodle soup, probably Vietnam’s most famous dish. Lastly, Bun Rieu Cua, a crab noodle soup in a spicy tomato broth with lots of vegetables. All of these dishes can be found all over Vietnam, however the taste may vary due to the different style of cooking in different regions. Be prepared for the increase in spices the further South you go.
The quality of life in Vietnam is so different to that of the UK. During my time in Vietnam I was studying in the daytime and working in the evening which worked out great because it meant that I could earn a good wage whilst completing my degree. The work-life balance is one of the main reason’s foreigners come to Vietnam, having lots of free time available to go out, go to the beach or get food at various restaurants around town, it makes Vietnam one of the best places in the world for expats.
Due to Vietnam’s geographic location it means that I can visit other countries that I never thought I’d never be able to. Thailand is one place I visit often, kind of like a weekend trip as its only 2 hours flight time! This was mostly due to Visa purposes in my first year. However, Thailand has some amazing places to visit, Bangkok there is a little love-hate relationship with me, there is great shopping, and many places to visit but I don’t enjoy the night life, however get down to the islands and you’ll certainly have a great time. Singapore, a beautiful, clean and quiet country, which makes a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam. I find Singapore to be a small version of London, yet there are many more different cultures in Singapore and therefore more smells of different foods options available for you to try. but be prepared it is expensive. If you get down to Chinatown you can try out all of the local Chinese cuisine. Don’t forget about Korea and Japan too, with both countries being just a short flight away from Vietnam.
Vietnam however has enough places to visit and I haven’t done enough of them, but I would recommend Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Da Nang, Hoi An, Dalat, the list really is endless. There is so much to see and do within this beautiful country.
Ha Long, located in the north of Vietnam, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site Ha Long Bay, known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests.
Sapa, Located in Lao Cai province, again in the north of Vietnam is a mountainous region and a popular trekking base, it overlooks the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley, and is near the 3,143m-tall Phang Xi Pang peak, which is climbable via a steep, multiday guided walk.
Da Nang, a coastal city, with a beautiful coastline of white sand beaches. Claimed to be the most livable cities in Vietnam. A place which attracts millions of international and domestic tourists. Everybody loves Da Nang. A short trip down from Da Nang heading south along the beach will lead you to Hoi An town. Another UNESCO World Heritage site. An old trading port with lots of beautiful buildings, rivers and rice fields
These are just some of the reasons why Vietnam is one of the best places to live in the world. I always recommend people come here and try it out it’s a amazing experience and I’m sure you will have a great time.
Written by Jordan Lockmann – August 2020