Thailand Vs. Vietnam For Expats part 1 – Pros and Cons of Living in Vietnam

Thailand Vs Vietnam For Expats part 1 – that will be the topic of today’s article.

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For expats looking to relocate, Thailand and Vietnam are two of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia. Both countries boast unrivaled natural beauty, diverse landscapes, tropical climates, vibrant cultures, and rich histories.

However, each country offers unique experiences that vary greatly depending on where you settle down. So which destination should you choose? Well, today, we will walk you through a few of the major differences between living in Thailand and Vietnam.

Thailand Vs Vietnam For Expats

Not only is that, but we’ve compiled the pros and cons of living in these two countries. This will allow you to understand each country’s culture and lifestyle better, so you can choose the destination right for you.

By the end of this article, expats will have more profound knowledge of Thailand vs. Vietnam. This will allow them to make their decision more easily when choosing their next home abroad. Before we get into the details of each countries’ unique qualities, we would like to point out that Thailand and Vietnam share a lot of similarities.

Most importantly, both countries feature affordable living costs and tax rates, as well as attractive social benefits such as one month of paid vacation and mandatory state healthcare (though the quality of that healthcare may vary). Let’s dive into the main concept.

Overview of the Differences

Thailand Vs Vietnam For Expats

In this section, we will discuss each country’s language and culture. For those worried about adapting to a new country, its language, and customs, this section is for you! Without further ado, let’s get it started!

Language: Thai vs. Vietnamese

Here’s how you can compare and contrast Thailand vs. Vietnam to help you make the right decision. In Thailand, the official languages of the country are Thai and English. However, most people from urban areas tend to speak at least some level of English.

In addition, many educated Thais also speak Japanese or German. Of course, these languages can be extremely helpful when doing business with other countries. However, do keep in mind that most Thai people will not speak any English.

This can make it difficult for expats who want to communicate with locals. Furthermore, Thailand has a very strong “tourist industry,” which means that many Thais are experts in speaking English. As far as other languages are concerned, most educated Vietnamese also know.


Thailand is an extremely popular destination for retirees because of how inexpensive it is compared to Western countries. Many expats choose to settle down in Chiang Mai, as it’s considered a cultural hub with numerous Western amenities such as Wi-Fi, Western restaurants, and comfortable lodging.

It’s much more expensive to live in Vietnam compared to Thailand; however, expats tend to prefer the southern coastal city of Nha Trang for its affordability and active nightclub and café scene.

Thailand Vs Vietnam For Expats


Many expats come to Southeast Asia hoping to recreate the lifestyle they left behind in their home country. As a result, they try to recreate Western-style dining, nightlife, and accommodations in the countries they choose to settle down in.

If you want to experience Southeast Asia without completely immersing yourself in local culture, Thailand is ideal as it’s similar to many parts of Europe with its multitude of upscale bars and restaurants that serve Western-style cuisine and beverages. Nha Trang is also a good choice if you’re looking to live like a local and experience Vietnam’s vibrant nightlife scene.


Both countries offer abundant entertainment options no matter what you enjoy doing. Popular activities for expats living in Thailand include visiting the beaches, diving, exercising, visiting temples, cooking classes, and watching Muay Thai (Thai boxing).

Vietnam offers many exciting outdoor activities such as hiking up Fansipan Mountain or cruising on Ha Long Bay. You can also opt to join one of the expat-organized excursions for more adventurous outings.


Although Thailand has its own unique culture, it’s still extremely welcoming to Western visitors and expats. Its people are known for their positive attitudes, friendliness, and hospitality. Meanwhile, Vietnam is also home to some of the kindest locals in Southeast Asia who are always ready to help if you get lost or need assistance with anything.

Pros and Cons of Living in Vietnam

Thailand Vs Vietnam For Expats

Living in Vietnam has its perks, but it also comes with some downsides you should consider before making a move. Before you get too excited about all of the great things about living in Vietnam, think about the following cons.


Cheap Living

Vietnam is a relatively cheap place to live, especially in the larger cities. Rentals are very affordable, and food can be purchased for a fraction of what you pay back home. Transportation costs are low if you have a motorbike, don’t mind being cramped in a taxi or 24-seater bus, or want to live further from the main hubs and go for a bicycle.

Transportation costs are on par with the cheaper countries in East Asia but lower than most other ASEAN countries. For example, a one-way trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by bus is 100,000 dong ($4.37), a 25-minute motorbike ride is around 10,000 dong ($0.44), an hour bus ride is around 200,000 dong ($8.91), and a four-hour minibus ride is around 500,000 dong ($22.11).

The Vietnamese Are Amazing

The Vietnamese are some of the warmest people, and they make for amazing traveling companions. The language barrier can be a challenge to overcome, but as long as you know basic Vietnamese phrases and respect the locals, you should have no problem meeting new friends.

Food Is Delicious

One of the best things about Vietnam is the food. Being a former French colony means that there are lots of amazing French-inspired dishes available. However, Vietnamese food is some of the best in the world, and there are tons of other regional cuisines to try. The pho (pronounced like “fur” with a noodle dropped into it) was voted best street food in the world by CNN, and it is easy to see why.

It Is Relatively Safe (Avoid the Touristy Areas)

Vietnam is almost as popular as Thailand with backpackers these days, but it still maintains its title of “South East Asia’s best-kept secret” (or least it did before this article came out). The crowds will be smaller than in Thailand, Malaysia, and other popular tourist areas in the region.

There are still thieves and con artists around – especially in Vietnam’s more touristy spots like Hoi An – but they choose easier targets than foreigners who know how to avoid scams. In general, if you do your research ahead of time and don’t go looking for a fight, you will have an enjoyable experience.

It Is Beautiful

Vietnam has some of the most beautiful beaches, scenery, and landscapes anywhere I have visited. With so much to see in this country, it will be hard to get bored. The many mountains are stunning all year round, especially during the spring when they are covered with blooming flowers.



Vietnam has one of the highest traffic densities in the world. It is also a hub for several heavy industries, which means that it has some of the worst air quality in Asia. According to one survey, Hanoi is now ranked the second most polluted city on Earth after New Dehli.

Money Woes

Although Vietnam has seen an economic boom in the last few decades, its GDP is still relatively low for its population. Many people are now traveling abroad to find better work opportunities with higher salaries. Even those who stay at home may not be making enough money to lead comfortable lives, which means they might have trouble paying off their loans and credit card debts.


Since the average Vietnamese is on a tight budget, living in major cities can be tough. For example, modern studio apartments in Hanoi often fetch prices as high as US$1,000 per month even though they are way too small for most Westerners.

Rents in Ho Chi Minh City are also among the highest in Southeast Asia, which means that only those who have well-paying jobs may enjoy life in these cities.

Fake Items

For some strange reason, fake items are more common in Vietnam than anywhere else. Fake cars and motorbikes often get mistaken for the real thing, not to mention that such products can be more affordable than their genuine counterparts. This is especially true for food and drink, where one would never know what chemicals they are putting into their bodies.

Poor Infrastructure

Vietnam is a developing country, and poorer countries usually have poor infrastructure, but Vietnam especially has a lot of catching up since it has one of the lowest GDPs in Southeast Asia. Some roads and waterways can be impassable during certain months, resulting in more deaths from natural disasters than in wealthier countries.

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