10 Reasons To Discover Asia While Teaching English in Vietnam

by John Bentley

From the pristine beauty and rich cultural history to dynamic colorful cities and world-class cuisine, Vietnam is an international traveler’s dream.  For those looking to discover all that this Southeast Asian country has to offer, teaching English in Vietnam may be the perfect way to immerse in the enchanting nation.

River Exploration by Boat

1. Immerse Yourself as a Local in the Heart of Asia

As an English teacher in Vietnam, experience one of Asia’s largest, fastest growing nations, not as a tourist from the vantage point of hotels, tour buses, or hostels, rather as a local. Live in a typical Vietnamese neighborhood, shop in local markets, and break bread with colleagues, neighbors, and friends alike at corner noodle stands and coffee shops. Pick up some Vietnamese language skills, savor the cuisine, and enjoy travel opportunities that friends back home can only dream about.

2. Vietnam is One of the Largest Job Markets for English Teachers in the World

With a population of nearly 90 million and a traditional commitment to education with one of the world’s fastest growing economies – built largely on international trade and tourism – Vietnam offers thousands of employment opportunities to foreign English teachers each year. 

 Included are positions for those with little or no professional teaching experience. It is important to note that English teaching positions are typically reserved for native English speakers holding a four-year college degree and a TEFL certification. A national criminal background check (such as an FBI criminal background check) is often required as well.

3. Low Cost of Living + Good Salaries = High Standard of Living

A typical first-time English teacher in Vietnam can earns the equivalent of over 1,000 U.S. dollars a month. That might be poverty-level wages in San Francisco or New York City but in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, where monthly rent for a furnished apartment ranges anywhere from 150 to 300 U.S. dollars a person. Three meals a day can be purchased for under 10 U.S. dollars making the salary significant. English teachers in Vietnam are able to live comfortably, eat well, travel on weekends and holidays, and still have the luxury to save.

View of Saigon, Vietnam

4. Colorful and Vibrant Cities with a Touch of French Colonial Charm

From the maze of the legendary “36 streets” in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and the imperial grandeur of the Temple of Literature to the colorful markets of Cholon in historic Saigon, Vietnam’s cities offer a wealth of history, culture, and charm. Bustling, dynamic cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (historically known as “Saigon”) offer everything one might expect in a major Asian metropolis; from an ever-growing forest of skyscrapers and sparkling new highways to world class dining, shopping, and nightlife. Unlike some other major Asian cities, Saigon and Hanoi have retained much of their historical character, including the architectural legacy of the French, who colonized the nation during the 19th century.  

5. Pho Noodle Soup, Banh Mi Sandwiches, & Renowned Coffee

Vietnam, where one can eat a world class sandwich while drinking an exquisite cup of coffee on almost any street corner without ever seeing an international chain establishment. Combining traditional Chinese and Southeast Asian techniques and flavors with an extraordinary array of seafood and produce, Vietnam is an eater’s heaven. From hearty noodle soups (famously known as Pho), to fresh salads and mouth watering grilled fare, Vietnamese cuisine is balanced, fresh, healthy, and most of all tasty. The country’s French heritage is evident in the breads and pastries widely found, and perhaps most famously in the legendary banh mi sandwiches, featuring uber fresh French bread loaded with fillings like roasted pork, chicken, and head cheese topped with cilantro and chilies. While many Vietnamese will eat anything that moves, given the nation’s ancient Buddhist heritage and abundance of fresh produce, vegetarians will find Vietnam to be more than accommodating.

6. Life Along the Mekong

Like the Nile, the Amazon, or any of the great rivers of the world, the Mekong both gives and defines life for those who live along the banks. A journey through the Mekong Delta reveals a dazzling world of colorful floating markets, traditional stilted villages, magnificent beauty, and thousands of years of history and culture embodied in ancient pagodas, temples, and palaces.

7. 2,000 Miles of Coastline & The Stunning Beauty of Ha Long Bay

Living in Vietnam, one is never far from the coast. The nation claims more than 2,000 miles of coastline, including tropical beaches, traditional fishing villages, dynamic port cities, and ancient imperial capitals. The crown jewel is undoubtedly Ha Long Bay. Known as the “Descending Bay of the Dragons,” this stunning seascape of some 2,000 limestone islands and islets off the coast of North Vietnam makes for one of the most stunning sights to be experienced anywhere. The inspiration of many ancient myths and legends, Ha Long Bay has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is best explored by boat, which also provides a great means to discover other local attractions, including traditional floating fishing villages underground grottos and caves.  

River near Hoi An and Da Nang, Vietnam

8. Gain International Work Experience for Your Resume 

In the globalized economy of the 21st century, international work experience and a proven ability to work and function across international borders are highly sought after characteristics by employers. As an English teacher in Vietnam, participants gain professional experience in the heart of one of the world’s fastest growing economic regions. The region serves as an exceptional platform no matter what professional or academic endeavors are undertaken.

9. Fantastic Travel Opportunities in Vietnam & Around Asia

From the lush highlands of Sapa near the Chinese border to the imperial treasures of Hue and the sun-kissed beaches of Nha Trang, Vietnam is loaded with fantastic travel opportunities. In addition, situated in the heart of Asia, it makes for a great base for exploring other Asian nations.

10. Make a Difference in the Lives of Others

Teaching English in Vietnam not only provides the means to live and become immersed in this fascinating country, but also provides the opportunity of a lifetime to make a positive impact on the lives of others. To millions of Vietnamese, learning English can open doors to educational and professional opportunities that may greatly enhance living standards while enabling a better future for their families.