- Download our Ho Chi Minh City Schools Guide
Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon, is Vietnam's largest city and an important regional seaport. With its tropical climate, a cosmopolitan population and a mixture of shopping malls and markets, it's an easy home away from home for many expats.
The city offers a fast-paced lifestyle within a metropolis steeped in history. The contrast is perhaps most evident in the juxtaposition of French-colonial architecture with high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, as well as in the traditional markets right across the road from busy shopping centres selling the latest in designer goods.
While Ho Chi Minh City is the financial capital of Vietnam, the cost of living in this city is not exorbitant. Local goods are cheap and, while imported Western goods are more expensive, they are readily available. Accommodation is varied and expats are sure to find something to suit their needs and their budget. Finding property within the city is also easy with new developments being built continuously, and the process of renting property is straightforward.
Transportation in Vietnam is a big topic, and simply crossing the street is a skill that expats moving to Vietnam need to learn swiftly. There are buses and bus routes around the city but they are not fully accessible to Westerners unless one makes the effort to learn a little Vietnamese. Taxis can be cheap provided expats use a reputable company. There are also many motorbike taxi drivers ready to speedily transport brave commuters around the city.
Shopping-wise, the choice is extensive and varied from luxury shopping malls to small superettes and markets. This goes for restaurants too, whether choosing to sample some of the famous Saigon pho from a street corner or eat at a cordon bleu restaurant. With so much choice in terms of wining, dining, shopping and even accommodation, Ho Chi Minh City is an attractive option for many expats.
Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City with kids can rest assured that their children’s schooling won’t be limited here. Thanks to the city’s large expat population, it plays host to a number of excellent international schools specialising in a variety of foreign curricula, including American, British, French and German. It is, however, important to note that spaces at popular schools are limited and therefore expats are encouraged to begin the application process as early as possible.
Despite having a fair amount of noise and air pollution, Ho Chi Minh City offers expats living in the city a life full of charm, pleasant surprises and friendly locals. It is a business hub in its own right; complete with a stock exchange, high-rise buildings and some 300,000 businesses. Ho Chi Minh City is vital to the economy of Vietnam and accounts for over 20 percent of the country’s GDP. It is a meeting point between East and West, and an exciting and beautiful city to explore and get to know.