Deciding to either move to Vietnam or not is one big decision, choosing which city to live in, is another. It’s not as easy as it sounds to simply pack up your things, book a flight, arrive, and everything will magically fall into place after that.
Finding the best city to live in Vietnam depends on your personality, needs, job options, and lifestyle. You probably want to be close to the beach, or mountain, perhaps you love big cities and crowded markets. How about a city that is rich in culture but also lively and modern? There are a lot of factors to consider before hopping on that plane.
Vietnam is not just another country in Southeast Asia, there is something magnificent why hundreds or perhaps thousands of expats decided to move here. If you find yourself confused about which city you should live in, here is some insight into a couple of main big cities and towns in Vietnam. You should also read this guide on how to move to Vietnam.
WHERE TO LIVE IN VIETNAM
Some expats would go to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Hoi An. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City undeniably have the biggest job possibilities both for teaching and non-teaching jobs. However, if you work online or planning to start your own business, you can also consider others cities such as Da Lat, Nha Trang, or even Phu Quoc Island.
Do you prefer a city with good nightlife or one that is children friendly? How about a smaller city or even a beach town? Find out below why these are one of the top and what are the other cities you should consider too.
RELATED POST: Teaching English in Vietnam: Important things you need to know
North of Vietnam
The north of Vietnam is an excellent region for those who love to experience the more traditional culture of Vietnam. This is also the area where magnificent caves are located, lots of places to go hiking, and the winter season can be experienced.
The capital of Vietnam is not only attractive to tourists passing by, but expats who are planning to move to Vietnam also have Hanoi high on their list. The capital city is rich in culture despite the waves of travellers coming every year. It has some of the oldest temples in Vietnam, atmospheric neighborhoods, romantic lakes, and loads of day or weekend trip possibilities.
There are also a lot of job opportunities in teaching, tourism, businesses targeting expats, and other service-based work. Almost everything you will be needing should be available in Hanoi. As a capital, it has an international airport, about an hour away from the city centre which will take you pretty much anywhere in the world.
Most Embassies and Consulates are also here which means if you need help or have to contact your own Embassy, it’s convenient to do so if you are in Hanoi.
Hanoi and the north of Vietnam are a little more traditional than the south, so you may want to dress a little more modestly if you choose to live there.
- Cost of living: $600/month
- Best quality: close to Ha Long Bay and Sa Pa, rich in culture, not too big of a city, has its own international airport
- Internet speed: strong (up to 30 Mbps or more)
- Expat community: yes (large and very diverse), mostly living in Tay Ho or Dong Da district. Choose the area between West Lake and the Old Quarter to avoid the massive crowd of tourists – check these Facebook groups
- Nightlife: businesses are only legally allowed until 11 pm (although underground bars and clubs can be found)
- Cons: really bad air quality (worse than HCMC), high traffic in the heart of the city, expats are scattered
ALSO READ: Seasons in Hanoi
Hai Phong is located 100 kilometres east of Hanoi. It’s the main town for Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island. The town is small. However, it is often busy due to the number of tourists going to the islands, as taking a cruise in Halong Bay is one of the most popular things to do in Vietnam.
The best perk of living in this town is how close it is to the beach. It’s perfect for those who want to live far enough from the big city of Hanoi and close enough to be able to go to the beach as often as you can.
The demands for jobs here are lower than in the big cities, and so are the wages. The job positions available are mostly for English teachers and some jobs in the tourism industry.
- Cost of living: $400/month
- Best quality: close to Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba, cheaper cost of living
- Internet speed: strong (up to 30 Mbps)
- Expat community: yes, mostly living in the town proper
- Nightlife: There are plenty of bars and restaurants around mainly accommodating the tourists, hence, expect the prices to be higher than local restaurants
- Cons: very small expat community (mostly in age range >40)
Central of Vietnam
Personally, I feel like if you want to live very close to nature, central Vietnam is the place to go. In this area, you will be close to the beaches to enjoy, caves to explore, and mountains to hike. This region I also popular with expats since there are plenty of job choices for English teachers.
The housing options are also decent at such affordable prices compared to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. May expats found the central region has the best city to live in Vietnam.
If you are looking for a smaller city, close to the beach, and a very romantic one, Hoi An is the place for you. Its charm will make feel at peace and relaxed. The creative lanterns you will come across on the streets will take you to another world. Since it’s a small town, it’s very easy to meet both friendly locals and expats.
The town centre can be very busy all week, if you need a break from that, get on your motorbike and head to a less popular beach or go for a hike.
- Cost of living: $400/month
- Best quality: artistic waling street, peaceful atmosphere, options for hiking and beach getaway
- Internet Speed: Medium (up to 20 Mbps)
- Expat community: Yes (smaller but reliable)
- Nightlife: Yes (to cater for the travellers, Hoi An has a pretty good nightlife)
- Cons: most expats live in Da Nang, doesn’t have its own airport (the nearest airport is located in Da Nang)
Known to be one of the best cities to live in Vietnam, Da Nang attracts expats who are looking for a nice beach life but a quiet vibe. Expats with children and/or retiring choose Da Nang since it has its own airport which has flights to everywhere in Vietnam and also outside of the country.
Some people would probably say that Da Nang is Ho Chi Minh City on the beach. There are a lot of skyscrapers, international shops, massive malls, hundreds of restaurants, and great nightlife.
The air quality here is also much better than in the big cities while you can easily head to the beach for a run in the afternoon for some fresh air instead of being surrounded by tall buildings.
Da Nang has a decent amount of job opportunities for Engish teachers and those who want to work in the tourism industry. The salary is still a little less than in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
- Cost of living: $500/month
- Best quality: beach, close to best places to hike and to explore nature, bigger roads compared to other cities, has its own international airport, medium-sized expat community
- Internet speed: fast (up to 30 Mbps and faster)
- Expat community: Yes (mostly linked with Hoi An and Hue expat groups) – check these Facebook groups
- Nightlife: Da Nang has quite a number of casinos, bars and restaurants that are open until midnight too or later to cater to both the expats and travellers
- Cons: flooded during typhoon season, barely has any parks that your pet can enjoy downtown
RELATED POST: Accommodations in Da Nang
Maybe Hue is only a small town for some travellers, but this town is actually pretty charming. Because Hue is not very far from the ocean, and less busy, a lot of expats decide to live here and start a new life.
Hue is also one of the few cities in Vietnam that still has ancient ruins and old towns. If you want to learn more about history and culture, be near the beach, Hue is the best city to live in Vietnam. The housing opinion is a bit limited but it’s affordable. The nearest airport or international airport is in Da Nang.
There are some English teaching jobs in Hue but limited and the pay is a lot lower than in the bigger cities.
- Cost of living: $500/month
- Best quality: Hue is famous for a motorbike trip of the Hai Van Pass which starts in Hue, crosses Da Nang, and then ends up in Hoi An. The tallest temple in Vietnam is also located here.
- Internet speed: Medium (up to 20mbps)
- Expat community: Yes – young, retired, and expats with children are enjoying the quiet life in Hue
- Nightlife: Yes – the nightlight in Hue is alive and cosy. The city centre is always filled with things to do mostly to accommodate the travellers passing by. The nightlife businesses in Hue are open until late.
- Cons: small expat community, un-walkable due to the number of tourist buses, flooded during typhoon season
RELATED POST: How to apply for a Vietnam tourist Visa
South of Vietnam
South Vietnam is also a famous region for expats. It’s filled with beaches and mountains, but also a massive city for those who love the metropolitan vibe. It’s also just a few hours to Cambodia.
The south of Vietnam is a little less traditional than the north. Many businesses are open until late at night (or early in the morning). There are also plenty of airports in this area. For example, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City, and Phu Quoc have their own airport that offers flights internationally (except Da Lat, the international flights are not available since the pandemic).
Nha Trang is popular for Russian expats, mostly because almost everything here is in Russian, even locals speak both Russian or Vietnamese. Nha Trang is popular for its beaches and resorts too. There is an island that has a waterpark, a 5-star resort which you can only reach by cable car or boat.
Nha Trang also has lots of skyscrapers, maybe a little less than Da Nang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City but it’s definitely going that same way. The beach has a nice long, and well-shaded walk path which is a popular trail for an afternoon run.
- Cost of living: $600/month
- Best quality: beach, places to hike that are less touristy, food
- Internet speed: medium (up to 25mbps)
- Expat community: Yes (smaller than the big city, mostly Russian and young expats) – check these Facebook groups you can join
- Nightlife: Yes – the nightlife in Nha Trang is wild and fun, a handful of bars and clubs are open until late to cater to both the expats, locals and the travellers
- Cons: going out downtown can be expensive due to the number of international tourists
RELATED POST: How to get around – Transportation in Vietnam
Da Lat is a small city located on top of a mountain. It’s one of the places in Vietnam that has the same weather and temperature (12°C-24°C / 53°F-75°F) all year round. This small city is popular with local tourists because of its amazing climate. Da Lat is definitely one of the few walkable cities in Vietnam due to its weather.
Downtown, it can still be annoying to walk due to motorbikes. But around the lake in areas about 3 km out of the centre, it’s pretty decent. Also, the local government has been doing some road work to upgrade the walk paths (although stores along the sidewalk would use it as a motorbike parking).
It is known as the flower city; the local government conduct a festival every other year to showcase the talent of the local flower farms. The festival lasts for 3-4 days. It’s a very busy place during TET or Lunar New Year (end of January or middle of February), and very impossible to get around. Apart from that, it’s pretty quiet the rest of the year apart from the weekends.
I personally think that Da Lat is one of the best cities to live in Vietnam if you are a digital nomad/remote worker or looking into opening your own business.
- Cost of living: $400/month or even lower
- Best quality: great weather and clean air, small-town means easier to get around, has its own airport both for domestic and international flights, lots of big and small parks for pets
- Internet speed: strong (up to 35 Mbps or more)
- Expat community: yes, mostly foreigners who have started their own family here, opened a business, and some English teachers
- Nightlife: there are plenty of restaurants and bars but only a few nightclubs
- Cons: small city, doesn’t have everything compared to Ho Chi Minh City, hilly, a smaller expat community
If you love water sports like kite surfing, Mui Ne is a great beach town. It’s also known for white and red sand dunes, and fishing villages. Since it’s on the backpacker’s trail, expect a big crowd of tourists every now and then.
Unfortunately, Mui Ne doesn’t have its own airport, however, it has its own train station. There are also limited job options for English teachers but it’s the best city to live in Vietnam if you want to be on the beach, affordable cost of living, and away from skyscrapers or a big city atmosphere.
- Cost of living: $400/month
- Best quality: it has its own train station (Phan Thiet), lots of things to do
- Internet speed: strong (up to 35 Mbps or more)
- Expat community: yes
- Nightlife: there are many dance clubs, restaurants, and bars to enjoy
- Cons: expat community is small and often scattered around
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in Vietnam. This city was called Saigon before which was only composed of districts 1 and 3, today, Ho Chi Minh City is consist of at least 12 districts that are around Saigon. A lively city that can fill your craving for nightlife, loads of activities to do, and large expat group support.
Expats are quite scattered in the city but many lives in District 1, 2, and 7. In these areas, many businesses are also designed to cater to the expat community.
Ho Chi Minh City has a lot of teaching job opportunities for foreigners and pays rather good. Of course, there’s an international airport here that many people might even say that it offers better and more flights than Hanoi.
- Cost of living: $600/month
- Best quality: only four-six hours to Cambodia(Phnom Penh), an hour flight to Phu Quoc Island, 2.5 hours to Vung Tau, loads of international flights are doing a connection here
- Internet speed: strong (up to 35 Mbps and more)
- Expat community: yes (large and diverse), mostly living in Binh Thanh, Da Kao, Phu Nhuan, Thao Dien, District 3, and District 10 – check these Facebook groups
- Nightlife: businesses are allowed to be open until late at night
- Cons: bad air quality, too big of a city, un-walkable, almost zero parks for pets
TIP: While looking for an apartment, you may want to check out the best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City
I hope this article helped you decide where to live in Vietnam and what is the best city to live in Vietnam for yourself. You may also want to check our article about pets in Vietnam, where we discussed the ways to bring your pets in Vietnam and other tips too. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below.
25 thoughts on “What is Vietnam’s Best City to Live in? Find out here!”
Hi my name is David and I am an Australian pensioner currently living in Cambodia, I want to move to live in Vietnam as it is much cheaper and has more things to do.
I receive the pension every two weeks in Australian dollars, and please remember that I am not a tourist just here for a holiday but I am here to live if all goes well.
What I would like to know is where is a good place to live which has a good night life and beaches and good hiking trails to go on and fishing spots and other fun things to do for someone like me who is on a cheap budget with the pension……also I want a safe place where I can walk around any time of the day or night and not be mugged or other possible bad things to happen to me.
Please use Australian dollars when talking about money rather than the USD so I can concider my budget.
With accommodation I am hoping to find a fully furnished appartment or house for under $200 AUD if at all possible in Vietnam .
Thank you in advance to anyone who can give me any advice and help for my move next month in April to Vietnam .
Hi David, personally, I’d look into Mui Ne or Hoi An – both with great beaches, fishing is definitely possible, you might need to go a little out of the city for hiking but indeed possible as well. I can also recommend Nha Trang 🙂
Thank you Isabelle and Nha Trang is one of the cities I was thinking about……is it at all highly possible to be able to rent a fully furnished appartment or house in Nha Trang which is near the beach for under $200 AUD per month or is this not enough money, or should I look for a place which is further away from the beach for this price?
I don’t really want to be in the tourist spots either as this means higher prices for living expenses!
For the location you are looking for 200 AUD won’t cut it to be honest, more like 300-600 AUD/month.
If you are willing to be a little outside the city centre, you should be able to find something for 300 AUD. But personally, I’d put somewhere between 350-500 AUD for a fully furnished apartment.
Thank you for this…..so for what I am looking for where can you suggest I move to live for renting.a long term appartment or house fully furnished for $200 AUD or less per month anywhere in Vietnam?
I am very happy to be far away from western influences as these places are very expensive!
I will probably buy a motor bike or a car one day so I can travel around therel and be able.to do my shopping as well!
Hi David, I think you should look into very rural provinces. I lived in Sao Do, a few hours from Hanoi where rent is pretty cheap for a lower quality. However, most of them are filled with students who are co-living. I do believe that it is possible, you just have to look harder and probably spend some time comparing little towns from each other and meeting a lot of locals to get information about where to look.
I really want to rent an appartment with a refrigerator and hot water for shower and air conditioning and a large bed in south Vietnam for $200 AUD approximately…….I don’t care about living in a westernized environment…..please suggest some locations for me as I know they do exist still.
Is Ho Chi Minh City or near by a possible idea or do I need a totally different location which is far away from western civilization?
Hi David, I honestly don’t think you can find an apartment for that price with the appliances you are looking for. It is possible but you will spend money on going to places. The only place I personally lived for that price is Sao Do in Hanoi. You will really have to get out of the city and live in a very local way. Hope this helps.
Yes this helps but I don’t want to live in north Vietnam…..I really want to be in south Vietnam within.a close proximity to Saigon……I agree with living in a small town somewhere…….this is going to be harder than I thought…..maybe i might have to increase my rental budget to $300 AUD per month or even $350 AUD……but considering that I am on the Australian pension I cant really afford to go any higher!
Hi David, I’m sorry but I can’t help any further. I suggest you ask for recommendations from expat groups: https://movetovietnam.com/most-active-facebook-groups-for-expats-in-vietnam/
Thank you so much for all your help and I think I will start in da Nang as it has everything there that i want and if after i get there and i find it doesn’t have what I am looking for then I can try other beach places closer to Saigon.
Thank you once again.for your time and help.
Hi David, your wish list and budget is what everyone is looking for. I believe the only way to get what you want is to find a roommate. Both of you at $200AUD will put you in the $400 range to get you close to city center. Isabelle is right that living too far out will cost you too much for transportation, time, petrol/gas, etc. Good luck
Which district is cheapest to live in , in HCMC, yet close to district one?
Hi Kurt, I’ve lived in Binh Thanh, I’d say it’s cheap enough there.