Vietnam is one of the hottest TEFL destinations on the planet right now. With a growing demand for TEFL teachers, a low cost of living and picture-perfect scenery, this is the place to be in 2013. And don’t even get us started on the local food. Pho, Bánh, cháo…. a foodie’s feast!
With so much to do in Vietnam, planning and budgeting is the secret to having an awesome time. So to give you a head start, here’s the lowdown on what things really cost.
First things first, how much will you have to play with each month?! Well, expect to earn around US$1,000 -2,000 per month…. and even more if you’ve got a a few years’ experience or are qualified to a CELTA-level.
Although taxes are pretty high (as much as 35% for some teachers), the cost of living is so low that even after a chunk has been taken, you’re still left with a decent wage and a pretty comfortable lifestyle. Oh, and did we mention that accommodation is often included in your contract? (Find out other perks and top tips in our FREE guide to Vietnam)
If you’re about to hop on a bus, make sure you pay the local price! This will get you a ridiculously good value one-way ticket for just 50 cents and a monthly bus pass for around US$7.
At a few dollars a ride, a taxi is another great way to get around the city. Agree a price up front or pick a reputable firm with a meter before you get the Tuk-tuk out of there!
Unless you’ve got experience on a bike, all the legal docs, insurance up to your eyeballs and the name Evil Kenevil we wouldn’t recommend getting a motor bike. But if this really is how you want to get around, a new one will set you back a few hundred dollars. With public transport so cheap we’ll stick with back seat driving thank you!
What to do on your weekends? Umm, travel of course! If you fancy a trip from Hanoi to HCMC then bag yourself a cheap seat on the Reunification Express train from Hanoi to HCMC for just $61 – bargain.
Jetsar is the low cost domestic airline that will get you from one end of the country to the other. Flights really vary in price but a one way ticket from Hanoi to HCMC is around $100. But we prefer the overnight sleepers that are much better value and loads more fun.
Food and Drink
Not only is the food here mouth-wateringly good but the prices are eye-wateringly cheap! If you cruise the street stalls then you’re not going to pay much more than US$1 a meal and even if you choose the slightly more upmarket option of a local restaurant, it’s only going to set you back between US$2 and US$10.
For those of you that fancy a tipple a bottle of water is just 50 cents – which is around the same price as a bottle of local beer. Hmmmm, decisions!
Top tip: If you don’t have a bowl of Pho (think Pot Noodle but a billion times nicer) then you officially can’t leave the country. Ok, we lied…but at US$1.50 you really should give it a go.
A massive perk about teaching English in Vietnam is that your employer will probably help out with a place to live as accommodation is often included in the package.
But if you do plan to find a place for yourself then you’re better off looking for a shared apartment. Expect to pay between US$200 and US$400 each month for a room in a shared house in HCMC. Utilities are usually covered as part of the rent and if you’re lucky, it will also include your laundry. Bonus!
Hanoi is a little less expensive (US$150-250 a month) and other parts of the country will be cheaper still, although your TEFL salary will be lower too.
If you’re based in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) you can’t miss a tour of the Chu Chi Tunnels (US$3-5 admission) or a visit to the Reunification Palace (70 cents admission). Or if you’re up in Hanoi, Halong Bay is a bus ride away and well worth the trip – especially if you plan a tour around the bay (which costs around US$50). If you’re headed on the Vietnam TEFL Internship this August then ALL of your spending allowance will go on leisure and which food to eat next so make sure to do some research on what you’d like to do in your spare time!
Like what you hear? Suitcase packed and passport in hand? It should be! As a fast-developing country the cost of living will only go up as this destination grows in popularity. So get over there now while you can still grab a bowl of Pho and a nice cold beer for less than five dollars!