What is Vietnam’s Best City to Live in? Find out here!

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 thingsbook 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.


Border Crossing Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh

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.


Hanoi road sign

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. But don’t worry too much – this city is still lots of fun, and nightlife in Hanoi is more exciting than you might imagine.

  • 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

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.

Hoi An

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)


Da Nang

Best City to Live in Vietnam

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

Best City to Live in Vietnam

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

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

​Mui Ne

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

Border Crossing Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh

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!”

  1. Hi Isabelle,
    As a Canadian expat I have lived in Phuket Thailand for the past 22 yrs. Employed as an Offshore Helicopter Pilot flying to the offshore oil rigs out of Abu Dhabi, UAE, I find myself at age 60yrs rapidly approaching retirement in the next year or two. Pilots are only allowed to fly/work till age 65yrs.

    I am currently looking at selling my home here in Phuket ($500,000USD) and moving to Vietnam due to it becoming increasingly more difficult and expensive here in Phuket, Thailand.

    Very comfortable in the S.E. Asian culture, I don’t see myself ever returning to N. America.

    With an investment budget of approx $500,000 USD, plus the money from the sale of my home, I will be budgeting for approx 1 million USD.

    As Thailand and Vietnam are both members of ASEAN, I am very interested in what I can bring with me, should I decide to make the move, ie Household Belongings, vehicles, etc….?

    International Health Care (Hospitals) and transportation (Airport) are also concerns and Do not want to be any further than a 1 hour drive.

    Also, is it possible for foreigners to own land or condos/villas…?

    Apologies if these questions appear very basic, but I have just begun my research into this possible move.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Ian Mitchell

    • Hello Ian,

      Thank you for your message.

      Let me try to address the questions I can answer at the moment.

      1. Should you move? – If you haven’t been in Vietnam yet, I highly recommend you come here for a month and go around the country, hitting up cities and towns that have an airport, like Hanoi, HCMC, Da Nang, and Nha Trang. Da Nang and Nha Trang are both close to the beach. Even Thailand and Vietnam are somehow alike, I’ sure you’ll find something different from each other given that you’ve lived in Thailand for 22 years. Come here and have a feel of the area, culture, and the locals. Have you read this: https://movetovietnam.com/moving-to-vietnam-reasons-move-vietnam/

      2. If you decide to live here, you can definitely bring your household belongings, you will surely save so much time if you already have these things instead of spending days and hours in the mall. We recommend Evolve Mobility as a moving company, we’re not sure if you can bring your car, I’m pretty sure a motorbike will be fine. It’s best to ask the moving company: https://movetovietnam.com/vietnams-newest-environment-first-moving-company/

      3. Hospitals: There are many expats here, thus, expect that international hospitals shouldn’t be a problem: https://movetovietnam.com/best-medical-clinics-and-international-hospitals-in-vietnam/

      4. Transportation: Going around in Vietnam isn’t a problem unless you don’t drive a motorbike. You can hire a driver or use Grab. As I mentioned, Da Nang, Nha Trang, HCMC, and Hanoi are the cities that have international airports. https://movetovietnam.com/transportation-in-vietnam-3/

      5. You can’t own land, however, you can get a condominium unit, I’m not sure if villas exist in Vietnam.

      6. Vietnam offers a visa for people who choose to retire here.

      I hope I answered most of your questions, feel free to browse around the site. We have plenty of articles that will be a help for you.


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