Day in the Life of an Expat in Vietnam

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

A typical day in Vietnam will vary person by person, but there are some things you can count on happening to everyone everyday. These things make life interesting and exciting here, so let’s get started and see what a typical day could consist of!

Good Morning, Vietnam!

You will probably be awoken early by the various sounds coming from the streets. Vietnamese love to start their day nice and early, and you won’t have much of a choice but to join them! There are roosters all over the city who aren’t afraid to start their song as soon as the sun begins to rise. If that doesn’t wake you, the woman driving by on her bike filled with bread or other foods and loud speakers exclaiming ‘bánh mì đây!’ or “bắp xào đây!” might. Cafes and breakfast spots will fill with people, and many popular side street breakfast spots may be out of food before you even have a chance!

A street food vendor preparing for the day in Hoi An. Photo:


Morning Commute

As you board whatever your form of transportation may be, you will have to get through some crazy traffic to start your day. But don’t fret, I’m sure you will find plenty of entertainment on the way! If you pass by a park, you will find many older Vietnamese people getting their exercise in. You may even catch some super cute older women participating in a dance class! If that isn’t enough, watching people go by on their motorbikes and seeing what all they can carry is always fascinating. From dogs expertly staying balanced on their owner’s bikes to people lugging along an entire restaurant on wheels, you’ll definitely see something unexpected that is sure to either make you smile or question the laws of gravity.

A man and his dog commuting together. Photo:


Lunch Break!

At around 11 or 12, most jobs in Vietnam have a two-hour lunch break. And most Vietnamese will use this time to nap, and boy do they nap! They can nap anywhere and in any position. You will find them in rows of hammocks set up under bridges, in office rooms with chairs lined together to make a “bed”, in cafes, or even just reclined on their motorbike! It’s amazing to see how easily Vietnamese people can fall asleep, and before you know it they’ll be up and refreshed and ready for the second half of their day. Feel free to join them or you can use this time however you want!

Naps can be taken anywhere, any time. Photo:


Time for Dinner

As you finish up at work or school, you’ll be thrown back in the traffic monster. Parents picking up their kids from school, young people finding their friends to hang out in parks, and much more. As everyone rushes home for dinner, it’ll be time for you to do the same. If you live with a host family, be ready for a delicious, family-style meal. If you live on your own, hit the streets and find a restaurant that peaks your interest!

A traditional family-style Vietnamese meal. Photo:


Evening Activities

How you end your night is entirely up to you and your interests. If you’re living in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, you will have infinite options of things to do. Fitness classes can be pretty cheap and finding a new hobby can be a great way to spend your evening! You could also head to the popular hangouts like Nguyen Hue in Ho Chi Minh City or Hoan Kiem in Hanoi and get some great people watching in. Other options can be heading out and grabbing a bia hoi with your friends or going to a café and getting work done.

internship in vietnam old city

Hoan Kiem at night


Whatever your day in Vietnam looks like, you’re sure to have an interesting experience. Some days the craziness may drive you insane, but other days you’ll find peace and happiness in the little things amongst it all. Be sure to always keep your eyes peeled, the streets of Vietnam always have something new and exciting to offer!


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