Daily necessities in Ho Chi Minh City




The local currency in Vietnam is Dong. Vietnam is still pretty much a cash-based society, but there are an increasing number of shops and restaurants that will accept payment by credit card. The US dollar is also widely accepted in stores and restaurants.

Regular banking hours are from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. To open a bank account, you will need to submit an application form, your passport, and employment visa at any bank of your choice. You can encash your traveller's check at banks across the city and pay local shopkeepers with US dollars though there is a two percent transaction fee.

International Banks

Local Bank


The public transport network of Ho Chi Minh City may seem to be daunting at first considering that most of the bus routes are written in Vietnamese.

It is common to own a car in Vietnam, but getting used to the traffic conditions may take some time and there are limited parking spaces available.

However, expats in Vietnam rarely drive on their own. It’s risky if you are not used to the local way of driving, among thousands of motorbikes. Due to the low cost of hiring a driver, most expats usually have a driver to take them around.

If you feel comfortable driving in Vietnam, you will need to convert your international driving license or your home country’s driving license to a Vietnamese driving license. To apply for one, go to the Office of Transportation at 63 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1, tel: 8223760.

Domestic help

Some expats see significant advantages in hiring house workers who can help provide them with more free time and an easier lifestyle.

There are some things to consider before hiring domestic help. Some expats don’t like the loss of privacy and the challenges of an employer/employee relationship. Also, the people you hire may not do things the way you want them to, and some tasks you might be better off doing yourself.

Typical Positions of House Workers:

  • Cleaners (maids)

You can get a cleaner for a full or half day service. They wash clothing, clean the house, sweep, etc. Some can even cook Vietnamese food for your meals.

  • Cooks

Most cooks will be highly skilled at cooking Vietnamese food, but not so much for Western food. You may have to teach them how to prepare your favourite dishes.

  • Nannies

Vietnamese women are usually good at looking after children. However, some may not be aware of Western-style sanitation. You may have to guide them at first.

  • Drivers

A driver can be invaluable in Ho Chi Minh City’s chaotic traffic. Usually, the older ones know the city well and are used to road conditions. Younger ones may not be as experienced and maybe reckless. Driving yourself can be dangerous if you don’t know the area, and you may even get tied up in legalities in the case of an accident. Some expats prefer to rent a car along with a driver as part of the contract, though it is cheaper to hire someone who has their car with the agency.

  • Security Guards

Most apartment buildings already have security guards, but if not you might want to consider hiring one. Some neighbourhoods may be at risk for robberies at night, or while you are away at work.

  • Gardeners

You will only need a gardener if you have a large garden to keep, such as those found in an old colonial bungalow.

  • Manual Workers

If you have renovations or repair work that needs to be done at your residence, you should find a contractor to handle it and find the necessary workers.