There are a wealth of good reasons to teach abroad in Vietnam. It’s a great place to gain experience, given the teaching experience and education requirements are not as stringent as say, Taiwan or South Korea, it’s very affordable, and it’s a great introduction to a new culture. Both Saigon and Hanoi are full of expats and teachers, and both are vibrant cities full of delicious foods, quaint buildings with a French influence, and lovely countryside surroundings.
Regardless of which city you choose, you’re sure to be baffled, at least at first, by the insane motorbike traffic, you’re sure to be delighted by the cheap eats, and the strong, sweet coffee will, no doubt, win you right over.
So how do you choose one over the other? Here are some good reasons to consider teaching abroad in Hanoi:
1) The Lakes and Old Quarter
Hanoi is a beautiful city, with a vibrant nightlife, a quaint old quarter, and a beautiful lake to walk or bike around. Though this is a touristy part of town, walking down the alleyways and small side streets provides a great glimpse into the colonial past meshing with the Vietnamese culture of today.
2) Amazing Food in Hanoi
Vietnamese food varies depending where in Vietnam you are, each with their own special variations on nationwide dishes like pho, or with dishes that are unique to specific towns and regions, like Hanoi’s version of bun cha. Food in Hanoi also tends to be a little less sweet and less spicy than its southern counterpart.
3) Egg Coffee
I know what you’re thinking, say what? Egg coffee?
I realize it sounds disgusting, but in reality it’s like a Cadburry Creme Egg and Vietnamese coffee (which is a strong, delicious brew) fell in love and had a mocha baby, though there’s no chocolate in it. Even non-coffee lovers love egg coffee. It consists of whipped egg yolk and sweetened condensed milk atop a steaming (or iced) coffee. For those who wish to stay away from egg, yogurt coffee is also a Hanoi specialty. Both are calorically rich, but definitely worth a try, if you can avoid becoming addicted!
4) More Temperate Weather
The weather in the north of Vietnam tends to be a lot more temperate than in the south, where it is typically quite hot and humid. While Hanoi can also get hot, it can also sometimes get quite cold, requiring winter jackets. If you like a little variation in your weather, you might prefer this city in the north.
5) A Great Expat Network in Hanoi
It’s easy to get around Hanoi, and the nightlife provides good opportunities to meet other expats. The city is full of budding artists, teachers, and digital nomads who call Hanoi home.
6) Great Shopping
Hanoi has a bustling night market, but beyond that, there are a few streets that sell quite fashionable clothing for the low end of what would be considered Western prices. It’s possible to find a great selection of shoes, dresses, jackets, pants, and all kinds of other clothing items that are sometimes impossible to find in Asian countries in Western sizes without paying exorbitant prices.
7) Sapa and Halong Bay
Two incredibly famous sites are a short distance from Hanoi - Sapa which is famous for its terraced rice fields, and Halong Bay which is famous for the mountainous islands that rise up sharply from the water. Both are incredibly beautiful and can be experienced over a long weekend. Halong bay is roughly 4 hours from Hanoi while Halong Bay is better accessed via overnight transport as the ride takes about 8 hours.
Regardless of where you decide to teach in Vietnam, you’re sure to gain valuable experience, meet amazing people, and come away from the experience with memories to last a lifetime.