The Best Cities in Vietnam for Internships

by Ta Minh Ha

Vietnam is an emerging Southeast Asian economy of increasingly dynamic competition and promising opportunities. It has been considered a country in the Asia-Pacific region with a key position, due to its geo-strategic significance and distinctive traditional cultures that remain even today amidst the influx of globalization. Exploring oneself professionally through an internship in Vietnam, therefore, provides unparalleled opportunities to observe the nation’s ongoing economic liberalization and rapid development, blended with traditional roots and a strong cultural heritage. Undeniably, an internship in Vietnam will add a winning advantage to students’ resumes and their future pursuit of global careers.

Students posing in front of a school
Wide range of opportunities for internships in Ho Chi Minh City

Internship opportunities in Vietnam can be diverse and abundant, but finding a good location, so you can both achieve a professional career preparation and make the most out of your experience living in Vietnam, can be tricky. That’s why you need to keep reading, and learn about the best cities in Vietnam for internships. If you settle on any of these cities, you are in for a significant experience in your journey toward your future career.

1. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City offers a wide variety of internships for international students due to its rapidly growing economy. According to the 2017 ranking by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Ho Chi Minh City claimed the second spot for the most dynamic cities around the globe. The WEF rankings also stated that Ho Chi Minh City, with its high potential, “continues to attract capital from foreign investors betting on their transition from low-wage manufacturing to high-value activities”. Since Ho Chi Minh is considered one of the world’s most dynamic urban economies with low costs, rapid consumer market expansion and the construction of office, retail, and hotel stock are underway to meet increasing demands. Therefore, Ho Chi Minh City is home to prestigious educational institutions, thriving tech-minded entrepreneurs, and booming businesses, which offer a wide variety of internship opportunities in Vietnam for internationals.

In terms of historical and cultural exploration, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon when it was the capital of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, has transformed into a brand new, modern, thriving metropolis. It will impress you with its abundance of museums, temples, pagodas, cathedrals, and impressive French colonial architecture. The city also has historical sites from the war, such as the Independence Palace and Cu Chi Tunnel complex, which are entirely suitable weekend sites to see for those who want to dig into the country’s recent history. 

Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Visiting Mekong Delta, an exciting region just an hour away from Ho Chi Minh City.

If Hanoi is the home of pho, one of Vietnam's proudest most renowned food exports, Ho Chi Minh City is the city that truly offers variety and breadth of Vietnamese cuisine. Ho Chi Minh is home to thousands of street food stores and vendors, so it is no surprise that you can always find a delicious, filling, and heart-warming bowl of noodle or a quick crunchy Banh mi (Vietnamese baguette) for less than $2. 

On top of all of this, the vibrant day and night life, alongside easy access to local hot spots and places of interest in Vietnam, makes Ho Chi Minh City a very attractive destination for internships and one of the best cities in Vietnam.

2. Hanoi

Aside from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi is also one of the best cities in Vietnam and a highly-desired destination for international students looking for internships in Southeast Asia. On the same 2017 ranking (mentioned above) released by the World Economic Forum, Hanoi was also in the top ten most dynamic cities around the globe, just a few places below Ho Chi Minh. With outstanding levels of innovation and technology, Hanoi is seeing vigorous economic growth along with strong increases in population and incomes to drive its retail and residential sectors. It should be clear that Hanoi boasts everything necessary for a valuable and professional learning experience, as well as the potential for a very enjoyable time living abroad.

Unlike the modern, thriving metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, during the day Hanoi has a more artistic vibe. Its lively Old Quarter streets, full of restaurants, souvenirs, clothing, and fine arts stores, wrap around the tranquil Hoan Kiem lake, a scenic and relaxing escape from the chaos and bustle of the Old Quarter’s streets. When it comes to nightlife, Hanoi comes alive with markets, street vendors, eating hotspots, and beer filled streets. Let’s not forget to mention: Hanoi's local cuisine is considered some of the finest among all cities in Vietnam.

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hoan Kiem Lake – Hanoi. Photo Credit: citypassguide.com

There are many beautiful landscapes of the North that you’ll definitely want to be close to while in Vietnam, such as Ha Long Bay, one of the world’s seven natural wonders with mesmerizing views and caves to explore. Not many interns can resist Sapa, a small hill town in Northern Vietnam near the Chinese border, which is culturally rich with many different hill tribe minorities, or the lush mountain ranges, stair-case rice fields, and breathtaking views of Tam Coc-Ninh Binh. One of the reasons Hanoi is considered one of the best cities in Vietnam is because of its geographical placement. All of these natural attractions are within travelling distance from Hanoi, making internships even more convenient for those who want to explore the natural beauty of the country on the weekends or after their internship in Vietnam.

3. Hoi An

Hoi An has great potential as a destination for sustainability internships involving community development and social work, due to its special location and cultural significance. Hoi An Ancient town is located in Vietnam’s central Quang Nam Province, on the northern bank near the mouth of the Thu Bon River, and is a well preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port. Dating back to the 15th century, Hoi An’s buildings and layout reflect the influences of both indigenous and foreign (primarily Chinese and Japanese, with a bit of European influences) people that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. Interns can even learn about and contribute to solving major challenges related to the conservation and development of Hoi An, which continue to arise as the local community struggles to deal with climate change, water management, food security, and safety, as well as preserving the city’s old houses and intangible cultural spaces.

Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An Ancient Town – A UNESCO Heritage and ideal internship destination. Photo Credit: travel.com.vn

Hoi An is also home to the Nipa palm forest – a 140 acre forest planted in the 18th century that has sheltered and nurtured generations of Cam Thanh Commune residents through wars and natural disasters. However, poor planning and development have resulted in the destruction of half of the forest, between 1975 and the late 1990s. Today, efforts are being made by the local government to preserve and reforest the area, including a major reforestation project introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development that re-planted 30 acres of Nipa palm in the Cửa Đại estuary. In Hoi An, interns have abundant opportunities to join planning and reforestation efforts for the Nipa palm forest.

Lastly, Cham Island, located eight nautical miles off the coast of Hoi An, is home to crystal clear beaches, diving, snorkeling, and seafood, and is consequently a popular tourist destination and an island marine park. Cham Island is the perfect location for interns to learn about the challenges of sustainable development in the area, especially those focused on preserving the environment, while also maintaining income generation opportunities for the local residents.

Don’t Miss Out on Internships in the Best Cities in Vietnam!

With the rising population and booming economy, combined with a thousand year cultural heritage, these three cities promise a surprisingly wide range of career opportunities, exciting after-work life, and cultural and historical discoveries galore. Vietnam can be a dreamland for those who love to sink back, have a cup of tea, and watch the world go by -- who wouldn’t want to be one of those people?

Street food in Hanoi, Vietnam
Trying street food is a must in Hanoi

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This article was contributed by Student Exchange Vietnam, an organization dedicated to providing affordable internship and study abroad programs in Vietnam for international students. Each program is paired with homestays, excursions, and cultural immersion activities to help students make the most of the experience abroad.