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Working in Vietnam

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As technology makes remote work and relocation feasible for more professionals, many are drawn to the colorful culture and low cost of living in Vietnam. However, navigating the job market and business culture in this Southeast Asian country can be challenging for foreigners. If you're an expat looking to land freelance work or a steady job in Vietnam, there are a few key things you should know before packing your bags. With some preparation and knowledge of the local work environment, you can find rewarding opportunities in this beautiful country.

Job Opportunities for Expats and Digital Nomads in Vietnam

As an expat or digital nomad in Vietnam, you have several appealing job opportunities to consider.

Teaching English

English teachers are in high demand in Vietnam. Schools prefer native English speakers with a bachelor’s degree. The pay is decent, around $20-30 USD per hour. The work schedule is often part-time, leaving ample opportunity to explore the country. Many teachers also tutor students privately for extra money.


Vietnam has a low cost of living, making it an attractive place for freelancers and remote workers. Popular jobs include writing, editing, programming, graphic design, and online tutoring. Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer offer many remote jobs you can do in Vietnam. With the right skills and experience, you can make $1000 USD per month or more as a freelancer in Vietnam.

Tourism and Hospitality

Vietnam’s tourism industry is booming, creating many jobs in hotels, hostels, restaurants, and tour companies. Typical roles include front desk agents, servers, bartenders, drivers, and tour guides. While usually not high-paying, these jobs provide opportunities to work in a social environment and interact with travelers. Fluency in English and other languages is often required.

In summary, Vietnam offers worthwhile job opportunities for expats and digital nomads, especially in teaching, freelancing, and tourism. The low cost of living coupled with the chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture make Vietnam an appealing place to work abroad. With some preparation and persistence, you can land a job that suits your skills and interests. The experience of working in Vietnam will create lasting memories.

The Cost of Living in Vietnam: How Much You Need to Survive and Thrive

To live comfortably as an expat in Vietnam, you'll want to consider the overall cost of living and budget accordingly.

As a baseline, you can expect to pay between $500 to $1,000 per month for living expenses in Vietnam, depending on the city and lifestyle you want to maintain. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a major city like Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi will likely be your biggest expense at $300 to $700 per month. Utilities including electricity, water, and WiFi will be around $100 to $200 in total.

For food, you can eat out for every meal for $5 to $10 per meal or cook at home for even less. Groceries and fresh produce are very affordable. Transportation via bus, motorbike taxi, or ride-sharing will cost between $1 to $5 per trip. Leisure activities are also budget-friendly, from $1 beer to $5 museum entry fees.

To earn a good living as a freelancer or digital nomad in Vietnam, aim for an income of at least $1,500 to $3,000 per month. This will allow you to rent a nicer apartment, eat out frequently, explore the country on weekends, and still save money. Many expats are able to earn Western wages while enjoying a low cost of living in Vietnam. Popular jobs for expats include teaching English, freelance writing, online tutoring, and location-independent work like software engineering, graphic design, and digital marketing.

With its low costs, natural beauty, friendly locals, and vibrant culture, Vietnam offers an appealing lifestyle for expats and digital nomads on a budget. By living like a local, you can thrive in Vietnam without breaking the bank. With some research and preparation, you'll be well on your way to an exciting new life in this exotic land.


Vietnam is an affordable location for digital nomads

Vietnam's Major Cities for Finding Work

Vietnam's major cities are ideal places for expats and digital nomads to find work. Many opportunities exist in Vietnam’s largest urban areas, especially for those with in-demand skills.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is Vietnam’s largest city and economic hub. It offers many prospects for employment, especially in business, tech, and education. As Vietnam’s commercial center, Ho Chi Minh City has a strong demand for professionals with skills such as:

  • Business expertise: Accounting, finance, marketing, and management

  • Technical abilities: Software engineering, web development, and IT

  • Language instruction: English teaching and tutoring

Rent and living costs in Ho Chi Minh City are lower than in other major cities in Southeast Asia, making it appealing for foreigners seeking work.


Hanoi, Vietnam's capital city, provides opportunities for expats in sectors like non-profits, education, and tourism. As the cultural center of Vietnam, Hanoi especially values skills such as:

  • Foreign language instruction: Teaching English or other languages

  • Non-profit program management: International development, healthcare, education

  • Tourism and hospitality: Hotel, tour guide, and restaurant positions

While the cost of living in Hanoi is slightly higher than in Ho Chi Minh City, salaries also tend to be more competitive for skilled foreign workers. Many expats are attracted to Hanoi's charm, history, and natural surroundings.

Da Nang

Da Nang, a coastal city in central Vietnam, has seen major growth and development in recent years. It is an emerging hub for digital nomads, startups, and tech companies. Job opportunities in Da Nang include:

  • Software engineering and web development

  • Digital marketing and social media management

  • Coworking space operation and business development

Da Nang offers a lower cost of living than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, with an increasing number of cafes, co-working spaces, and a vibrant expat community. Its beachfront location also attracts many foreign workers and entrepreneurs.


Da Nang is a great city to live and work

Requirements for Getting a Work Permit in Vietnam

To legally work in Vietnam as an expat or digital nomad, you will need to obtain a work permit. The requirements to qualify for a work permit in Vietnam include:

Education and Experience

You will typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of relevant work experience in your field. Some positions may require additional certifications or credentials. Those with in-demand skills, especially in technical fields like IT, engineering, and education, may be able to find work with less experience.

Job Offer from a Vietnam-based Company

To apply for a work permit, you first need to secure a job with a company licensed to hire foreign workers in Vietnam. Some companies may be willing to hire remotely and assist with the work permit application process. Make sure any company you consider working with is properly registered to employ expats.

Health Check and Insurance

You will need to undergo a health check in Vietnam to ensure you do not have any contagious diseases. You will also need to provide proof of health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in Vietnam.


To apply for a work permit, you will need to provide documentation including:

  • Your university degrees, TEFL/TESOL certificate (if applicable), and any other professional credentials. These will need to be notarized and legalized.

  • A job offer or contract from your Vietnam-based employer.

  • A resume outlining your relevant work experience.

  • Bank statements show you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Vietnam.

  • A police background check from your home country.

  • Passport photos.

  • Processing fees for your work permit application. Fees are around $155 USD.

The entire work permit application process typically takes 4 to 6 weeks. Once approved, work permits are initially valid for up to 2 years and must be renewed to continue working legally in Vietnam. Following the requirements and steps to obtain the proper documentation will help ensure your work permit application is approved. Some digital nomads also opt for the 3-month travel visa and do the visa run every 3 months to avoid the work permit complicated process.

How Much Can You Earn in Vietnam as a Freelancer or Employee?

As a freelancer or employee in Vietnam, you can potentially earn a good living, especially compared to the local cost of living. Salaries and rates vary significantly based on your skills, experience, education, job role, company, and location within Vietnam.

Salaries for Employees

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for an expat in Vietnam is around $33,000 USD. Software engineers can earn $50,000-100,000 USD. Teachers at international schools earn $1,500-3,000 USD per month. Accountants and office administrators earn $800-1,500 USD per month. Salaries in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are often higher than other areas.

Benefits may include health insurance, annual flights home, housing allowance, bonus, and retirement contributions. Many expats negotiate 30-40 hour work weeks with lots of vacation time. Salaries for locals in Vietnam are significantly lower, around $200-500 USD per month on average.

Rates for Freelancers

As a freelancer in Vietnam, you can charge $20-100 USD per hour or more, depending on your skills and experience. Developers, designers, writers, and online teachers are in high demand. Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and 99Designs are popular for finding remote freelance work that can be done from Vietnam.

Some freelancers charge more than local wages but less than in Western countries, aiming for a rate of $30-60 USD per hour. This can allow you to earn a good living in Vietnam while still being very affordable for clients. Building a portfolio and gaining reviews from satisfied clients will help you earn toward the higher end of the range over time.

Negotiating a contract with clearly outlined responsibilities, deadlines, and payment terms before starting any work is highly recommended to avoid non-payment or scope creep. Many freelancers ask for 50% upfront and the remainder upon completion and approval of the work.

In summary, while salaries and rates in Vietnam are lower than in Western countries, the low cost of living means you can still earn a very comfortable living and likely save a sizable portion of your income.

Taxes for Expats and Digital Nomads in Vietnam: What You Need to Know

As an expat living and working in Vietnam, it is important to understand your tax obligations. Vietnam has a progressive income tax system, with tax rates increasing for higher income levels. Income earned in Vietnam is taxed, regardless of your citizenship or residency status.

Co-Working Spaces and Cafes for Digital Nomads in Vietnam

Vietnam has a thriving community of digital nomads and freelancers, especially in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Co-working spaces and cafes that cater to location-independent workers are popping up across the country. Here are some of the top spots to work remotely in Vietnam:

Work Saigon

Located in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, Work Saigon is a popular co-working space for digital nomads and freelancers. They offer flexible membership options with 24/7 access, high-speed Wi-Fi, and workspace amenities. The space has a casual, creative vibe and hosts regular networking events. Work Saigon is an excellent option if you want to connect with like-minded individuals in Vietnam’s largest city.

The Hive

The Hive is a co-working space located within many of Vietnam’s top cities, including multiple locations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They provide ergonomic workstations, private offices, meeting rooms, and business facilities for remote workers and entrepreneurs. Membership rates are very affordable, starting at around $50 USD per month. The Hive co-working spaces have a professional atmosphere and a high standard of amenities, ideal if you need a dedicated place to focus and be productive.

Coffee Shops

If you prefer to work from coffee shops, check out the coffee shops located throughout Vietnam. They have a relaxed vibe, stable Wi-Fi, and lots of seating - perfect for freelancers and digital nomads. The coffee and food menu offers Vietnamese and Western options. Many digital nomads find coffee shops like Cong Caphe an affordable and casual place to work, especially when getting started in a new city.

Building Your Professional Network in Vietnam

Building a professional network is key to finding job opportunities and establishing yourself in Vietnam’s business community. As an expat, creating connections with locals and other foreigners can lead to mentorship, job referrals, collaborations, and more.

Attend industry events

Look for networking events, talks, conferences, and meetups in your area of work. Introduce yourself to attendees, exchange business cards, and follow up to stay in touch. Events centered around startups, tech, education, and tourism are common in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Use professional networking platforms

Websites like LinkedIn, AngelList, and Meetup are popular for connecting with other professionals in Vietnam. Build a strong profile highlighting your experience, skills, and interests. Join relevant groups to engage with others, share posts, and message people directly to start building relationships.

Get involved in business organizations

Various organizations like the Vietnam Business Forum, Vietnam IT Association, and British Business Group Vietnam allow you to network with people in your industry. Become a member, volunteer your time, and attend their events to make meaningful connections. Getting involved in the leadership and decision-making of these groups can raise your visibility and credibility.

Network socially

While professional meetups and platforms are important, casual social interactions also provide opportunities to connect with people who may help advance your career. Strike up conversations with people at your co-working space or favorite coffee shop. Get to know other expats at social events. Join hobby groups to find people with common interests outside of work.

Help others connect

One of the best ways to build your own network is by helping connect the people in your network with each other. Make introductions between people who would benefit from knowing one another. Share information about job openings, events, or other opportunities that may be of interest. Your thoughtfulness and generosity will be appreciated and pay off in the long run.

Building a network takes time and continuous effort. But by putting yourself in the right places, both professionally and socially, and maintaining an attitude of helping others, you can develop a strong network to support your career as an expat in Vietnam.