Q1. Where did you move to and when?
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in August 2019
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I spent four years in Thailand in the Chonburi/Pattaya area from 2013 to 2017. After Thailand, I spent some time in Spain and Italy before a stint in my hometown of Manchester, England then I came here to Vietnam at the end of last summer.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
A multitude of reasons. Firstly was the poor salaries and shocking standard of the workplaces in Thailand. Secondly, the ever worsening visa requirements. It seems every day, the Thai government is looking for some hair-brained, tin pot way of keeping farangs out.
Thirdly, I was not a fan of the creepy nationalism and ever increasing xenophobia in Thailand. I couldn't be doing with living and working in a place I felt so unwelcome.
Finally, there was the lack of security. Passing the age of 30 made me realise I'm not getting any younger and I need to think about my future. As much as I loved Pattaya, breaking even every month with no savings or safety nets isn't really feasible in future.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
The biggest one is money and work. I earn nearly double what I made in Thailand and work significantly less for it, leaving me more free time to enjoy my hobbies and work on other things. I feel more valued as a teacher here and it feels like I can grow in my profession, rather than being a dancing white clown with no career growth in Thailand.
Cost of living is lower in Vietnam too so I can save a good portion of my wages every month and still live a decent lifestyle.
The visa is far easier in Vietnam and with a 2 year TRC, you are able to travel in and out of the country without a re-entry stamp. No 90-day check-ins or any of that BS.
The people seem better too. While there's definitely uneducated yokels and hi-so snobs here too, I find it easier to meet locals here than Thailand where it's very much us vs them. In my 3 years in Thailand, I never made Thai friends and that wasn't without trying. Have an accident in Vietnam, people will stop and help you while Thais would just step over your dead body or get their camera phones out. I feel far more welcomed here. A Vietnamese stereotype of Thailand is a land of arrogant lying nationalists. I wonder why. Also, I've never encountered the 2-tier pricing and double standards here that pass off every day in Thailand unquestioned.
Many of the expats here also seem to be better. There seems to be more career teachers here than backpackers and miserable old drunks.
Vietnamese language is written in Latin script so it's easier to read things without learning weird alphabets. While English ability here is equally weak as there, shop assistants or restaurant servers will be more likely to attempt English than scowl at you.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
Thailand is far more fun, at least as a single man. While Saigon has entertainment districts, the nightlife is far more provincial than Pattaya and it doesn't even compare with Bangkok. Bui Vien is inferior to its Walking St and Khao San Road equivalents, Places tend to close earlier and the nightlife scene is much more tame.
Many 'Thailand heads' will complain that Vietnam is boring. While it's not Saudi Arabia, it isn't Pattaya either and I can see where they're coming from.
Following on from that, I miss the women in Thailand. As a single guy, Thailand is the easiest and possibly the best place in the world to meet women, either online, in the street or even mongering.
While Vietnamese girls are equally or even more beautiful than Thais, it's a far more conservative country. Women are harder to meet, harder to date and far more flakey, unreliable or likely to bring a chaperone/need to be home by 9pm. No sex before marriage, while practically unheard of in Thailand outside the smallest villages is quite a common thing with Viets. There's also less of an interest or general awareness in dating farangs and most women here would rather marry a Vietnamese guy when they're 21 and settle down for the family life. Plus the P4P scene, while present, is far inferior to Thailand. Something to keep in mind for single men out there.
The food scene overall is inferior to Thailand's. Thai food is better than Vietnamese food, plus Thailand has more international fare, especially in Pattaya or Bangkok. While Saigon has plenty of international food too, it just doesn't cut it compared to Thailand. Outside Saigon and Hanoi, it can definitely be a difficult place for picky eaters like me.
Apartments are also worse here. The modern style condominiums with pools/gyms/shops on site and gated communities of western style houses that are abundant in Thailand are uncommon here and cost more than the Thai equivalent. Most Vietnamese are happy living in their concrete box apartments with bars on the windows and noisy neighbours. Accommodation is definitely not the best point here.
The Vietnamese language is harder. While Thai has weird scripts, it's a lot easier to understand speaking and listening in Thai. Vietnamese sounds alien. And as a country less geared towards foreigners, there's less written in English too.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
Definitely go for it, Thailand is an amazing place and a real experience. But do it young, try to save some money and have an escape plan for when it passes it's expiry date. It's easy to get stuck in the comfy life in Thailand and wonder where the time went while you're still no richer or higher up the career ladder.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Definitely. I really miss it. As soon as Covid passes and international borders open again, I want to take a trip back to Koh Samet and the beloved bars of Walking Street again.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
While Thailand is great, it isn't the be all and end all. There are plenty of good moneymaking alternatives without even needing to go to freezing cold Korea or the boring Middle East to get a few dollars.
Vietnam still has the same laid back vibe of Thailand, the same tropical climate and similar lifestyle but without the BS and with better pay. Come and give it a try (after Covid). You might love it too!