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living in vietnam

1. Housing

High quality housing suitable for foreigners is becoming increasing expensive.

Rent for houses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City ordinarily range from US$1,500 to US$6,000 per month, with many of the larger houses featuring gardens and swimming pools. Houses can be either furnished or unfurnished.

In addition, many serviced apartments have been built in the last few years, resulting in good quality accommodation being available from between US$500 to US$5,000 per month, depending on location and service facilities.

In general, accommodation in Hanoi is slightly more expensive than in Ho Chi Minh City.

Six months’ rent in advance may be required for some accommodation, but advance rent of one to three months is more common. Many foreigners choose to employ household staff, such as maids, cooks, drivers, or guards. Wages range from US$100 to US$400 per month, depending on the services performed.

2. Education

Several privately run international schools are located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for foreign children. These schools educate children of all nationalities from pre-school to high school and offer examinations under the International Baccalaureate program. Standard Aptitude Tests are also available at certain schools. Each school establishes its own curriculum, but the Australian, American and French education systems appear to be the most common. Annual tuition at these schools ranges from US$5,000 to US$20,000.

3. Medical services

As of December 2009, Vietnam had 1,094 hospitals and more than 30,000 clinics with over 53,000 doctors working both in state owned and private sectors. 31 Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are home to international medical facilities and foreign doctors operating in private practice, providing a range of services from general medical advice and medical testing, to gynecology, obstetrics and dentistry. The doctors are internationally trained and come from various countries. Most clinics are not equipped for serious emergencies or surgery and it is not advisable to have these procedures performed at a local Vietnamese hospital. Clinics can arrange medical evacuation, if required, at a cost of upwards of US$30,000. As a result, foreigners living or traveling in Vietnam are advised to buy medical and medical-evacuation insurance.

4. Leisure and tourism

Notwithstanding its war-riddled history, Vietnam as a culture and civilization has existed for more than 4,000 years. The traumatic interruptions in its peace have brought foreign influences into the culture, this is particularly apparent from China, France, Japan and the United States. These influences have merged with rather than replaced Vietnam’s own long-standing heritage. Traditional farming methods as well as traditional clothing can still be seen in the countryside; while Vietnam’s lively urban Street life remains one of its most characteristic features.

Tourism is a booming sector in the economy. Vietnam welcomed some 4.1 million foreign tourists in 2007, representing a year-on-year increase of 116% in comparison to 2006 (3.5 million). However, in 2009, due to the financial crisis, the number of tourists coming to Vietnam was 3.4 million which decreased by 12.3% as compared to the same period in 2008. 32 Nevertheless, Vietnam expects total revenue from tourism in 2010 to reach US$4 billion to US$5 billion. Vietnam has over 9,350 hotels with around 184,830 rooms, including 25 five-star hotels, 85 four-star hotels, and 166 three-star hotels 33.

As in much of developing Asia, the influence of Western culture is growing. Western compact discs and DVDs are available in local stores, and shopping malls and supermarkets continue to emerge. Sports popular in more developed countries, such as golf and tennis, are being played here. Cycling is a highly visible recreational pastime.

The Mekong River which flows for approximately 4,023 kilometers (2,500 miles) down through the Himalaya Mountains and the country’s 2,897 kilometers (1,800 miles) coast offers beautiful beaches and recreational opportunities. Vietnam’s tourism infra-structure, including first-class hotels and resorts, has been extensively developed. Over the last few years, resorts have opened in Dalat, Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, Da Nang and Sapa , and numerous first-class hotels have also opened in these cities.

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