If you’re looking for a place with it all – relaxation, gorgeous beaches, cheap and delicious food, and lots of cultural sights then Vietnam is the place to go!

Over the past few decades, Vietnam, like many other South-East Asian countries, has enjoyed a booming tourism industry and millions of visitors from around the globe visit the country’s pristine beaches and mysterious mountains. Now that it is possible to live and work in Vietnam by teaching ESL, many young teachers have the opportunity to explore one of the world’s most fascinating and beautiful nations with great ease.

Vietnam is a country with a long history and ancient traditions. It has a plethora of historic attractions and old temples. The majority of travellers head this direction for the country’s wonderful natural beauty; the green rice fields in the north or the fascinating bustle of the Mekong Delta in the south. If you want visual dramatics, Vietnam delivers.

Hike mountain tracks and explore tribal villages near Sapa, experience the spectacular sandy bays of the central coastline or cruise Ha Long Bay, which is a must on any itinerary.

Situated in North Vietnam round a 120-kilometer long coastline, it is deservedly the top tourist attraction in Vietnam. The bay features thousands of islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves; others islands include lakes and some support floating villages of fishermen.

Surely no trip would be complete without braving a simple street crossing in Ho Chi Minh, where the two-wheeled chariot populates roughly 90% of the roadway. All day and night you can check out locals zipping around on their wheels, transporting chickens, TV’s or even entire families on their motorbikes, just remember to cross at your own risk!

Due to the huge tourism industry, travelling in Vietnam is not difficult. In fact, around the main tourist attractions, it is extremely easy to find transportation from one destination to the next. Unlike in neighbouring China, where you’ll need your phrase book handy, English is commonly spoken by bus conductors and at train stations.

As a large country, if you want to cross great distances, for example, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, you would be best looking for a flight rather than a bus or train. The journey could be done in just two hours and domestic flights are not very expensive when booked in advance. The train is cheaper and far more comfortable than bus or plane, but takes more than 30 hours to cover the distance between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

Yet if you want to meet people and see the countryside, book a soft sleeper ticket (ideally a few days in advance, particularly around the holidays), and prepare for an adventure. Average road speeds in Vietnam are pretty slow and so bus journeys take a long time, but going long distance on the buses designed for tourists can be incredibly cheap – as low as $20 from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh.

The Cities

If you’re teaching in Vietnam then you will most likely be teaching in a city, rather than out in the countryside. This means you’ll have access to the country’s transportation network. Obviously, the bigger the city, the better the connections. If you’re in Hanoi, you’ll be able to see the north of the country comparatively quickly. If you’re in Ho Chi Minh, you’ll be able to get around the south of the country with greater ease. Da Nang, which is about halfway between the two cities, offers you the best chance to see the central area of the country.
Life in the cities of Vietnam is fast-paced compared to its sleepy neighbours, Laos and Cambodia. Traffic can be intimidating, but once you’re accustomed to it, exploring the urban jungle is a rewarding experience. Traditional life tends to blend with modernity in fascinating ways as skyscrapers tower over the pagodas that preceded them.

Popular Destinations

Ha Long Bay is probably the best-known of all Vietnam’s tourist destinations. Here you can see the famous limestone pillars shooting up from the sea or else go to the nearby Lan Ha Bay for much of the same experience, but without the crowds. At the other end of the country, in the south, there’s the Mekong Delta, where you can see floating markets and off into the sea there’s Phu Quoc – a veritable paradise island.

From its gorgeous national parks and lush mountainsides to its bustling cities and idyllic beaches, Vietnam really does have it all! Check out our jobs page for details of teaching positions in this magnificent country!

By: Michelle Power

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