All you need to know before moving to Ho Chi Minh City



Ho Chi Minh City or more popularly known as Saigon is Vietnam’s largest city that hauls expats from all over the globe because of its ecstatic energy and unique culture. Moving to this bustling metropolitan will give anyone a glimpse of two different worlds where historical buildings and war relics stand resiliently beside 21st-century skyscrapers. 

In 1976, Saigon officially changed its name to Ho Chi Minh City in honour of the great Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh. This Asian gem has always been characterised not just for its vibrant metropolitan but also by its beautifully preserved colonial structures and temples. Nowadays, Ho Chi Minh also serves as the country’s leading economic sector that continuously moves towards progress with the help of several leading industries such as finance, tourism, trade, agriculture and mining. 

Essential relocation information

The city is very charming and vibrant, and the cost of living is very low compared to other well-developed Asian cities. A hybrid of tradition and modern, HCMC presents a wide array of activities, services, opportunities and experiences. 


Ho Chi Minh City is a popular destination for expats worldwide. From your initial preparations for moving to living your daily life in the city, you will find yourself spoilt for choice.

Being close to the sea, Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate where the temperature ranges from warm to hot throughout the year. Humidity levels are constant at about 80%, and the average daily temperature is around 28⁰C. Expats moving to this city should expect to experience three seasons: the hot season which is the best time of the year and occurs between November and March, the wet season that begins in May and ends around October then the typhoon season that brings violent tropical storms from July until November. 


Ho Chi Minh City’s fast-paced journey towards modernisation brought consequences such as high levels of air and water pollution. From thick smog, clogged waterways cluttered streets to vehicles that emit harmful smoke, this city has it all. It was in 2013 that former Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan spoke up to raise public awareness about the serious health risks caused by these environmental issues. In April of the same year, he paved the way towards the ‘green movement’ by approving plans that’ll reduce the use of plastic by 60% by the year 2020. Nowadays, residents of the city are also provided with an option to rent out bicycles for as low as VND 4,000 per hour as an alternative travel option aside from driving. 


After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, the government declared Vietnamese as the only and official language of the nation. Though there’s a high probability that expats will find locals who speak English especially in the corporate world, a majority of the people in Ho Chi Minh City are still not fluent in using the universal language. Securing a successful life abroad requires a lot of effort and locals in Ho Chi Minh City will sincerely appreciate foreigners who take the time to learn how to speak their mother tongue. Here are some basic Vietnamese words that can gradually break down the language barrier. 

  • My name is - Tôi tên là ...
  • Good Morning - Chào buổi sang
  • Good Evening - Chào buổi tối
  • Thank You - Xin cảm ơn
  • Excuse me - Xin lỗi
  • How much is this? - Cái này giá bao nhiêu?
  • Where is the... - Mà là... 


Newcomers should be cautious when walking the streets. Pickpockets, purse snatchers and mobile phone thieves are common in Ho Chi Minh City so avoid looking too much like a tourist because anyone who seems new in the area is a prey to them. Refrain from walking alone at night or bringing jewellery or a significant amount of money when going out. Crossing the streets of Ho Chi Minh City can also be a threat to one’s safety since some drivers tend to ignore basic traffic regulations such as ‘no beating the red light’ so cross only on the pedestrian lane and stay extra vigilant to avoid getting hit by a speeding motorcycle.


Before moving to HCMC, as with other cities, research should be the first thing on your list. Get your insurance plans prepared and make sure it can cover you and your family in HCMC, it will also be best if you can find out if there are any other services you can get with your policy during your stay in the city. Sort out your items and decide which ones you need to take with you and which ones you’d have to leave behind, throw away, or donate. Search for good quality moving companies and ask for moving quotes. It would also be best to check housing options before your arrival. Creating a checklist for moving is the best way to stay organised before you relocate and to make sure you don’t leave anything out.

Housing and Apartment Hunting

There are several ways to find housing and accommodation in HCMC, and it would depend on the type of housing you’re looking for. Websites like VNRenting and Real Estate Vietnam are the best for finding rentals and accommodations in the city for relatively shorter stays. Going directly to real estate agencies would be best if you plan to buy property in the country.

Moving Your Belongings

Booking an international moving company is the best way to ship your belongings to HCMC if you’re moving a lot of items especially furniture and appliances. The best way to find the best moving company for your needs is to ask for a quote from several companies and compare their prices, services, and date and time of delivery. If you are only moving your clothing, shoes and some books, it might be better to add an excess baggage to your flight luggage.



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How to live like a local



The most populated city in Vietnam is the perfect place for expats who want to experience a unique traditional culture while enjoying a bustling cosmopolitan life. Its beautiful contrast of old temples, French colonial architectures amidst sky-high modernised buildings make Ho Chi Minh City undoubtedly one of the most sought-after destinations in Asia.

Despite being the booming financial hub of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City managed to keep the cost of living of its residents affordable. Both local goods and Western products are readily available at all the leading stores and expats can always find budget-friendly items on the shelves. Be it for work or education, this vibrant multi-cultural city is on top of its game. Vietnam’s commercial centre will not run short of reasons why it is a great place to start a new life abroad. So, for all expats who are on their way here, take the time to read the next few info that’ll help secure a smooth transition in the place once was called Saigon.


Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as more popularly referred to by its locals is a very diverse city in many aspects including religion. The Vietnamese practice the three Eastern Religions which are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. These three dominant religions are being observed in the same temples and are practised by a majority of its residents while the Roman Catholic Community represents around 10% of the total population. As a gesture of respect, expats should remember to dress properly and avoid clothes that show too much skin when entering pagodas, temples and religious sites in Ho Chi Minh City.

Though Ho Chi Minh City is becoming a popular attraction and many sites are picture perfect, expats should avoid taking photos of the locals without their permission particularly military installations or anything that concerns their military since it can be misinterpreted as a breech of national security. It is a Vietnamese custom to leave one’s footwear before entering the house, so be mindful of this practice. Also, expats should never sleep or sit with the soles of their feet pointed towards a family altar when sleeping in a local’s house because it’s a sign of rudeness and disrespect.


Expats who will live in Ho Chi Minh City will not run out of attractions to visit. The top of the list for historical buffs is the War Remnants Museum that exhibit U.S military jets, tanks and helicopters as well as photographs of the gruesome events that happened during the Vietnam War that lasted for 30 years. There is also an extensive list of temple and pagodas to visit such as the Central Mosque, built in 1935 for residents from southern Indian but is now used by Muslim worshipers and the Quan Am Pagoda which is the oldest pagoda in the city.

Those who are relocating with their children will also enjoy living in Ho Chi Minh City. Expats can go to several family-oriented places such as the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens that displays a wide variety of animals, the Dai The Gioi Water Park which is the perfect place to beat the heat and the Van Thanh Park in the banks of the Thi Nghe River which are a great place for relaxation.

Food and Dining

Though there are several Western food chains in Ho Chi Minh City such as KFC, Lotteria and McDonalds, the city’s true glory emanates from its variety of mouth-watering authentic local cuisine. The former Saigon has a broad range of restaurants that serve authentic Vietnamese dishes like Pho, bun bo hue or Hue beef soup and banh xeo which is a traditional Vietnamese omelette served with a selection of fillings (prawn, meat or bamboo shoots).

Aside from the international and local restaurants, expats shouldn’t miss eating in one of the street food stalls particularly those located in Districts three and five where they can experience the Vietnamese culture of dining. These food stalls are famous for serving affordable local dishes such as the Banh Mi Thit or pork sandwiches and Com tam which is a plate filled with rice, vegetables and grilled pork.

Famous Attractions 

Ho Chi Minh City is filled with historical sites and scenic attractions that tell stories about its rich culture. Expats who want to get a glimpse of the past can visit the world-renowned Jade Emperor Pagoda that was built by the local Chinese community in 1909. There is also the War Remnants Museum, the most famous historical museum in the city which showcases various artefacts relating to the Vietnam War, French Colonials and Indochina War. Newcomers can also take in the magnificent site of the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon which serves as the only Catholic Church in the midst of Ho Chi Minh City’s Buddhist society.


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