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What's the best digital nomad city in Vietnam?

 

in Vietnam by @ileitch | 5yr  | 42 comments

Whatโ€™s your favorite city in Vietnam as a nomad? Specifically Iโ€™m wondering which is the most nomad friendly; co-working spaces, number of nomads, fun things to do, etcโ€ฆ

Advice on which area of the city to live would be great, plus any ProTips :slight_smile:

Thank for your input!

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@simonl | 5yr

Hi, just arrived in Da Nang and looking to meet up with like minded people. Iโ€™m only around for a month but keen to share some ideas and get some feedback on concepts I have. Or just meet up for a social chat. Let me knowโ€ฆ

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@cr8on2 | 5yr

Great info in this thread!

Will be making my way to Da Nang on February 7th and will be living there for four weeks. My first go around at living the digital nomad lifestyle internationally!

Would love to meet any of you who are in town. LMK!

(Note: Visiting through Hacker Paradise)

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@ericvan | 5yr

@jonmyers, Iโ€™ll probably do my deposit with Dreamplex in a few weeks. Iโ€™ll be coming March 1. Are you in a โ€œstudio?โ€ I told them Iโ€™d consider finding a group to share a studio since itโ€™s 24/7 hours which Iโ€™d prefer.

Iโ€™m terrible at learning language. I love learning about cultures and the way things are done in other places, though. Iโ€™m guessing English speaking is strong with Vietnamese that work in Dreamplex. So you make โ€œbusiness callsโ€ from home and VoIP is good enough? Thanks.

Eric

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@ericvan | 5yr

@jonmyers quick question. Iโ€™m making my preparations for coming. Am working at Dreamplex. Can you tell me if VoIP via Skype or something like Vonage is good enough to use from a strong ADSL in an apartment building? I need to talk to people in USA at 11PM from a home apartment. Not sure I can get a good enough call quality. Thanks!

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@jonmyers | 5yr

I have no problems with Skype making calls at home.

You working at Dreamplex now?

I work on the 11th floor. Cheers.

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@ericvan | 5yr

@jonmyers you have been a Ministry of Hospitality for a country in a prior life, I think. Thanks for more fantastic advise. Japantown sounds perfect. Dreamplex is perfect for those that want quality surroundings like me (RE: not just cheap desks and cheap plastic chairs). Their one problem, which Iโ€™ve seen at over 1/2 of al co-working places in USA and Asia, is the close too early. I sent them a message to see if I could team up with a few others to get a โ€œstudioโ€ sized space. Iโ€™m guessing co working places only want the private office spaces to have 24/7 access, but they lose tons of biz by shutting at 6PM when some are working with folks in the West.

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@ericvan | 5yr

Hey @jonmyers. Iโ€™m getting serious about coming in Jan or Feb for 1-4 months or longer (letโ€™s see how well I handle the pollution). Can you suggest an updated piece about the merits of different Districts and neighborhoods in Saigon for someone with good/decent spending budget living more than 1-2 months? As with others on here, Iโ€™m looking to be very close to the fun and excitement (mostly District 1, but hey maybe there is plenty in other areas) but I definitely donโ€™t want an apartment thatโ€™s loud from construction or street noise. Anything to help get with quiet when Iโ€™m home.

For me, I plan to take taxis or motorbike taxis. I canโ€™t ride a motorbike becauseโ€ฆlong story to do w/ an accident in Thailand (my parents and friends might kill me for riding a motor-bike after my accident in Thailand).

Iโ€™m budgeting 500 USD to 950 USD per month for 1 BR apartment. Iโ€™d like to be close to the co-working space I use.

Right now my top choice for co-working is http://saigoncoworking.com. Iโ€™m not looking for a cheapo place: all co-working is super good value anyway.

Thanks, and hope to meet up for beers on me in 2016.

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Sounds good man.

I would suggest definitely staying in D1.

Specifically, I would stay in the area known as Japantown. Itโ€™s central, itโ€™s close to the main streets, tons of restaurants around there - and mainly it has a network of alleys with lots of buildings with serviced rooms and apartments for rent.

This area is the most walkable part of Saigon, in my opinion.

Japantown - Thai Van Lung/ Le Tanh Ton - Google Street View to get a feel for the area.

No other way but to get here, get on the ground and walk the alleys. If the inventory were online the price would be higher. There are a few entrances to the alleyways, and the maps fail to capture the full network of them. There are some on the other side of the street as well.

There are some decent Agoda hotels around that area in the $25 - $40/ night range. Just get on the ground, post up at one of those and hit the alleys.

In terms of coworking, that place is far out. I wouldnโ€™t do it.

My friends just opened a new coworking place in D1 - not too far from Japantown.

Itโ€™s called - Dreamplex

The other option is there are plenty of cafes to work from in Japantown.

This one is a favorite there - Bang Khuang Cafe

โ€“

Definitely give me a shout when you roll in!

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@ericvan | 5yr

Jonmyers,

Youโ€™re right about the โ€œlonger you stay somewhere.โ€ Thatโ€™s always the 1 mm dolar question for those of us that want to be nomadic: itโ€™s hard to deny all we MISS by not planting roots. Iโ€™ve been living in Philadelphia for 5 years now (a long time for me, other than my hometown city of Boston) and the โ€œrootsโ€ have done tons for me at this point. I would hate to move to another city in the USA even though a couple jobs could lure me 2 hours away to NYC.

But spending part of the year in Vietnam, well I guess the key is it would always be โ€œpart.โ€ I think splitting time between two vastly different worlds is very cool vs. say two places in a home country.

I think the serendipity you experience in Vietnam is great. Iโ€™ve also seen that when I had some small roots in Cebu or Makati in the Philippines. Very small world of expats leading similar lifestyle (RE: serious about their work, not just slacking because SEA is cheap).

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Always the quandary with this lifestyle, should I stay or should I goโ€ฆ

Kinda like debating religion or food.

Just depends and depends on the person.

Though, incorporating one thing into your perspective will be helpful, and that one thing is - purpose.

Whatโ€™s your personal purpose?

What purpose do you have where you are at?

How does that location serve your purpose?

How does your presence there serve otherโ€™s purpose?

Being caught up in the chase of location, location or ticking boxes off the bucket list without much purpose may leave one in a precarious situation where the bank account starts dwindle, the skills that put the money into the bank account begin to atrophy, and it can be unsatisfying and painful trying to claw your way to a mean.

Been there done that when I was younger.

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@jonmyers

I love your perspective in this thread. About 2 years ago (when I first graduated college) I thought: Oh, Iโ€™ll travel and meet tons of women and party and yada yadaโ€ฆ

Then I met a girl in the States, we dated for about 8 months, recently ended. And my new perspective is:

Life is all about people, and the people you surround yourself with make a HUGE impact on your life. Iโ€™m talking to my friends here in the States, and they all keep repeating how much they are working at jobs they may or may not be excited aboutโ€ฆ not my cup of tea.

So my goal right now is to move to a location where I can put down some roots (maybe a 6 month initial stay) and build relationships with DN entrepreneurs.

Considering your perspective, and your experiences travelling, could you offer me advice on Chiang Mai vs Medellin vs Saigon for my goals of networking and building a business for the long run?

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@jonmyers | 4yr

It really depends on your personality I guess.

They all seems like really different places.

Iโ€™ve lived in Thailand before, liked it enough, but I have never been to Chiang Mai. I donโ€™t have much interest in going to be honest.

Iโ€™m not a mountains guy, I like the mountains, but they donโ€™t determine where I live. Iโ€™m more beach - if Iโ€™m going to make a play for a provincial, smaller town. Pokey Hippy small city vibe is DEFINITELY not my thing. lol

People who like Chiang Mai generally donโ€™t like Saigon and vice versa.

Iโ€™ve lived in South America (BA, Santiago, Montevideo, Ecuador) - but never made it to Medellin. Iโ€™d really like to go, it seems like my kind of places. I have a lot of friends in and out of there.

One thing to consider about South America is you have less location optionality once you are there. Itโ€™s more expensive to get/ move around than Southeast Asia.

Saigon, Iโ€™ve already made that case - so, no sense beating a dead horse.

It depends on you. Do you get agitated in cityโ€™s? Do you feel like everyone is โ€œrudeโ€ to you? Is noise annoying? Saigon may not be for you.

Iโ€™m a city guy, like faster energy (Saigon feels pokey to me) - so it works, enough.

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Hi All, cheers for all the cool tips. Its looking like we will be in HCMC at the end of this month. While Da Nang may be more my kind of area thereโ€™s some business reasons to spend some time in HCMC. I noticed a lot of places on Agoda for the town were high end but found the references by @jonmyers here and that will be invaluable. Will be heading to the Japantown region and looking for accom to get started.

@jonmyers any tips on transport from airport to Japantown? Unfortunately Iโ€™m still lugging a surfboard with me everywhere and it can be a real pain in the arse to fly in blind and work it out with so much luggage.

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@ericvan | 5yr

@jonmyers yea I can see it as a world of difference. I went with three of my employees from Cebu back in 2007 to Bangkok for work. I was fascinated by their experience with the Thai, also a world away. Interesting that people in the Philippines almost always prefer to visit a โ€œwealthyโ€ country. But I get that. They want to go to HK or Singapore if somewhere in SEA. I think my employees (two women) saw the Thai as just as โ€œexoticโ€ (a word a hate, but donโ€™t have a better one for what Iโ€™m trying to say) as two backpackers seeing Asia for the first time and landing in Bangkok.

Certainly I know Iโ€™d love being around people that believe in Buddhism, and thatโ€™s a big appeal for Vietnam for me. Would be interesting to see how their religious ideas are a mix and include Confucianism (which is not technically a religion). Was there for three weeks before, but didnโ€™t talk to people about that.

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@opt | 5yr

My question is similar to Markoโ€™s, above: whatโ€™s the visa situation like for Americans in Vietnam? How does one stay while working, legally and long-term?

Same question for Thailand as well, especially given the situation there now. Iโ€™ve found that a lot of similar discussions tend to skirt around this topic.

Building a business wonโ€™t be helped by deportation, or even the threat thereof!

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@jonmyers | 5yr

3 month multiple entry business visa (easy to obtain through agency) - I believe is now about $125 - $150usd. The renewals rules keep changing due to WTO compliance - but, still easy to get around.

You can pop on a bus to Cambodia to renew (out of country) - you used to be able to renew in country - some people do, you just pay more. You have to see if the math works out in your time and favor.

Also, very easy to get a 1 year multiple entry business visa here. Once approved, you will have to exit the country and get the visa at a Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia (PP) or Thailand, etcโ€ฆ

I believe that one runs about $750usd.

You can renew visas here - fairly indefinitely.

Thereโ€™s no max amount of time/ visas and you have to leave.

Compared to Thailand, I find the visa situation to be far better for a longer term home base. If youโ€™re just popping in as a tourist, it can be annoying.

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@opt | 5yr

@jonmyers, thanks so much for the detailed response.

Iโ€™ve been parsing the information you provided, and may pester you further. :wink:

As a potential, newer nomad, I imagine following the non-business visa path, at least initially and until I better learn the ropes.

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Honestly, either are easy to obtain. There is no red tape.

I forget which one is more advantageous.

I have used these guys, evisa in the past.

Theyโ€™re solid.

When you have firmer plans, give me a shout. Iโ€™ll be here.

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Not much real meat here in terms of statistics, but funny enough - I just stumbled on this Sovereign Man post about Vietnamโ€™s growth potential.

Wish youโ€™d jumped on the China boom 20 years ago? Hereโ€™s your second chance in Vietnam.

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Hey everyone, Iโ€™m a fresh boarder here. Very interesting read regarding Vietnam and especially interesting to hear that Da Nang looks exactly like the place to set my eyes on.

Iโ€™m currently on business visa and located in Chiang Mai, Thailand but the visa situation here is becoming harder and harder on growing pace so thinking of options outside the country.

Can anyone give me heads up on how to securely obtain business visa in Vietnam? And if anyone has more overall experience regarding living and working in Da Nang I would be more than happy to hook up in Facebook etc.!

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@ericvan | 5yr

@jonmyers I just re-read your response after over 3 months to my questions about Saigon. As I recall, your post with the pic of you in a band ranks VERY high in Search Engine Results on Google related to โ€œnomadโ€ and โ€œvietnamโ€โ€ฆI forget where you wrote it. I still think itโ€™s one of the best things Iโ€™ve read about living in Saigon.

But also in the top 4 is this response you wrote! You should just copy some of what you wrote on here. Itโ€™s darn good stuff. Iโ€™d say youโ€™re a bit more optimistic about life for those single in HCM, but no matter. I still seem to read everywhere that there is little โ€œdatingโ€ in Vietnam, and for women over 27 there are in a rush to marriage. I donโ€™t like that because I do want a healthy dating life.

The pollution seems a bigger issue now. Not sure how much itโ€™s addressed on here, but Iโ€™m very interested in chance for a subway to succeed. Bangkokโ€™s was too little too late. I was in Manila for 2 months this winter and itโ€™s a disaster for traveling just a couple miles. Forget being part of โ€œthe cityโ€ in Manila. A person choses a part of a city and really needs to just stay there. The subway was destroyed by corruption as most everything is in the PH. I do think Makati is an awesome places in many ways. Itโ€™s about 1/2 the cost of Singapore and a bit similar, but with Filipinos instead of Singaporean folks.

My digital consultancy is going great. Hope to meet you in the next year. Rock on.

Eric

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Yeah, that image has some age on it. lol

Thanks for the praise on the article.

I think I said it somewhere here before, itโ€™s in desperate need of an update, gonna here soon, but will have it on my own site.

So much more I want to do and say in a story now.

Video, better photos (if any videographers out there or photographers come to Saigon, Iโ€™d love help) - and of course, more writing. Thereโ€™s a lot more to capture now beyond the usual - whereโ€™s cheap to stay?

As I dig myself deeper into this country, and become more connected, my perspective and spectrum of awareness of Vietnam has grown. For example, just today, I had an acquaintance I had met one drunken night out in Taipei 3 years ago roll into Saigon to give the keynote at an event. Met up with him today, and he introduced me to the CEOs of 3 different substantial companies and startups.

The longer youโ€™re in a place, the more those serendipitous things happen.

If youโ€™re scrambling place to place, itโ€™s hard to capture those moments and connections.

โ€“

Yeah, I donโ€™t think dating is an issue here. Like I mentioned before, just be direct. I was talking to a buddy this morning who has been using Tinder (probably not the best) to find dates. He said heโ€™s burned out on it, and finds just going to yoga class and tech events to yield more desirable dating prospects.

All depends on what signal and frequency you want to broadcast on.

Itโ€™s all here though.

โ€“

On pollution, I just came back to Saigon after a two-week stint in Thailand. Comparing the two, Iโ€™d say Bangkok has far more severe pollution. Again though, Iโ€™m probably the wrong guy to ask.

I have a fairly high tolerance for most things. Iโ€™ll be the guy out til 5AM and up at 9AM, fine, and off to the gym or for a swim. Thus, the pollution doesnโ€™t bother me much in Saigon.

That said, with the burning in Indonesia, we did get some fallout - and there was more haze than normal. But, with the warm dry season coming up, I would bet that the haze will chill out.

โ€“

Iโ€™ll share a story about what was one of the best times Iโ€™ve ever had here in Vietnam.

So, there is a beach town about 90 - 120 minutes from Saigon called Ho Tram, and there is a really nice casino on the beach called The Grand Ho Tram. You can just hop in a cab and go there or catch one of the free buses.

A group of us had rolled out there earlier in the summer for a poker tournament. It was great fun. One guy in our group hit the final table. Most of us just ended up chilling at the pool after the tournament.

Anyhow, the casino at the beach, The Grand Ho Tram, had booked the EDM act Above and Beyond. One of my closest friends here in Saigon loves Above and Beyond, so do I, and thus, we rallied a big group to go to the show, which was last September.

And, so we went - I honestly lost count and track of the pack, and we ran into others there.

Maybe in all 30 - 40 of us in our direct group, what an incredible night.

Thatโ€™s a snapshot of the glow paint beginning. lol

Polished casino video of the night:

They had laid out fresh sod/ grass on the sand for the event.

The scale of the event itself was manageable. Enough room for everyone to dance.

Sound quality was spot on, and it was just positive vibe overall.

And so amazing to be around that kind of company.

We had a blast, and again, youโ€™ll hear me hammer this, something I emphasize over and over.

The community.

Great people here.

My favorite shot of the night.

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@alexsgn | 5yr

Anybody searching for a co-working-space in HCMC District 1?
I am from Germany and settled six months ago in HCMC. I will stay for a while, so I rented an office - but itยดs to big for me and my Software-Developer.
So, Iยดd love to get more life into our office, meet new people, and - maybe there are ways to cooperate. I am strong in software-development for the financial markets, but very weak in marketing software-products online.
But anybody is welcome, even if youยดre a cookbook-writer :smile:

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@ericvan | 5yr

I too will bookmark the thread. I started a company in Cebu, Philippines in 2005 to do web dev and design for US w/ the absolute best talent in the country. But over the years the PH just didnโ€™t seem like the best fit even though I love SEA and have traveled/worked extensively there. I explored Vietnam for 3 weeks in 2002 (explore: not there โ€œon holidayโ€).

So, @jonmyers your post that you mention hereโ€ฆthat was actually one of the inspirations of realizing Vietnamese cities are a great fit for me after I read it recently. Youโ€™re a rock star, no pun intended: what an awesome pic for your post about Saigon!

I will now date myself, age-wise. I moved to Prague in 1993 and worked there for a year-- most of you canโ€™t imagine such a distant time-- but I was the advertising manager for โ€œPrognosisโ€ and it was enough to make anyone want to travel/work the rest of their life.

That was the biggest spot since Paris in the 20s. China became that โ€ฆfor a time. But now seems like Vietnam has all the amazing qualities of being the place to be if you thrive on on the positive energy that comes from a city in exciting times. It continues to explode with enthusiasm and people that have a chance to bring a fantastic city to a new level.

Are women there getting open minded about dating (if youโ€™re a woman considering working in Saigon, Iโ€™m sure youโ€™re interested in the way guys there stick to conservative ideas for boy/girl relationships as well)? Iโ€™d heard that it was like USA in the 1950s, perhaps especially when dating foreigners and that for women their eyes are always on marriage from the first date (not interested in BF/GF relationship).

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Eric, well - I am in the SeniorNomad Club as well. :blush: - truthfully though, age really doesnโ€™t cross my mind here much. The group here has all ranges.

I still workout everyday, take care of myself and am doing pretty much the same shit, say, like skateboarding, which I did when I was eight years old.

Anyhow, I have a bit of perspective on location, and how these things ebb and flow. I started my journey in 94/ 95 with a year of living in Taipei, Taiwan. I also lived in China back in 2003, have lived in India for a year, all over South America - Buenos Aires, Santiago, etc. - in all have racked up, I think about 30 countries.

Additionally, I have seen the explosion of mobility now. What an exciting time we live in.

I really need to update that Bootstrapping in Saigon post.

Iโ€™ll probably update and put a more comprehensive overview and blueprint for Bootstrapping in Saigon on my own site, which I will relaunch soon.

Quite a lot has changed since then.

The biggest change - - -

Construction has begun on a massive metro system.

Having lived in Taipei while their metro system was under-construction, and contrasting that with the present, I believe most will underestimate how the Saigon Metro System will impact the city.

Taipei 20 years ago was a lot like Saigon now.

Motorbike culture was the central force of that city at that time, it was pretty cowboy like Saigon can be in places, and it had a very invigorated and confident youth culture, which I see in Saigon at this time.

Oddly, Vietnamโ€™s present GDP is that of Taiwanโ€™s 20 years ago. Yet, they have a lot more people.

Vietnam at the moment has the fastest growing middle class in Southeast Asia. You can see the signs of it and optimism is in the air.

There are other factors to consider, which may pan out in Vietnamโ€™s favor.

The controversial and previously top secret, TPP Agreement, which has been gaining momentum will likely be a huge benefit to Vietnam.

There are big downsides to this agreement, especially when it comes to decision making authority and environmental issues, but Iโ€™ve tried to view it from other angles.

Mainly, I see this as an effort to neutralize Chinaโ€™s influence. Probably why it was so secretive.

Being an entirely coastal country, having a very young population where 70% of the country is under the age of 30, continuing a shift from an agrarian based society to industrialization and with some meager banking reforms that have to come about due to Vietnamโ€™s WTO compliance - - - I see the synthesis of all of these factors working in the countryโ€™s favor.

So much so, I have more or less based myself indefinitely.

Ohh, and there is another factor - - - - - I married a local. :sunglasses:


Dating

Thatโ€™s an interesting segue into your other question.

At the risk of being judged, being misquoted, misinterpreted, accused, and so on, Iโ€™ll give you my personal point of view.

I know these kind of questions and discussions are the elephant in the room in this community, and can be explosive.

I avoided the trifecta of entrapment all of my adult life - marriage, mortgage and children.

I have never been previously married, I have no children - and have previously been open to the idea of marriage, but not children.

Then I came hereโ€ฆ

Ok, on dating here, the culture and the interplay amongst men and women.

I really, really love the dynamic amongst the sexes here.

Itโ€™s hard to describe.

A bit of a back story.

I grew up being raised by a single mom, grew up around a lot of women because my mom was a ballet dancer, though I did have a grandfather who was blue-collar, a boxer and thus, I had a fairly rounded yin and yang model.

Growing up, I distinctly remember the interplay of the sexes.

It was calm, cool, confident and fun.

From my little view of the world at that time, the women I saw and observed were strong, working and could dish it out and take it.

Growing up there was a playfulness amongst the sexes, which was not overly concerned with offending, with being too politically correct or existing in a state of outrage over semantics.

And with that backstory, I will tell you my personal experience here.

There is a fun, unassuming playfulness between the sexes.

In terms of dating, it will depend, but in general, there is a very open attitude towards dating.

Very open.

In terms of that rushing to marriage expectation and all that stuff.

I think thatโ€™s mostly guyโ€™s egos talking too much, if you want my honest opinion.

Speaking in general terms, the girls here are very strong, they have strong opinions, when I was dating here, I did not meet one girl who was โ€œlooking to get outโ€ and say, move to America.

Like any other city, you will have gold diggers, but I found the gold digger factor to be low, and if thatโ€™s the case, itโ€™s easy to spot and itโ€™s up to the guy not to be a total idiot and fool and turn into a human ATM machine.

The judgers will think the dating game here is just a money game. Itโ€™s not - itโ€™s nuanced. It depends on the persons and how they carry themselves.

The levels of social intelligence and perception again, in general, are very high.

Femininity is well expressed, and quite celebrated and appreciated by most.

And, that is where the dynamic of the sexes is at play.

Itโ€™s fun and comfortable most of the time, and if it gets out of line, youโ€™ll know it.

An honest flirtiness that is usually not too out of line.

In terms of marriage.

Well, I never really saw myself getting married, ever - really.

My wife and I just celebrated our 1 year anniversary, and the 1 year report so far.

Amazing, far better than I could have imagined. Iโ€™m really happy.

Her family (who fought for the North) has welcomed me with open arms. We see them often and host them at our house for dinner often.

Obviously, I canโ€™t speak for her, but she seems very, very happy as well. No moodiness. Not outbursts of anger. Even keeled.

She is motivated and does her own thing. She has her own business and I have my business.

We both work from home. She has her friends, I have mine and we both have our own lives.

She will call me out on any BS - yet, is very patient and understanding.

We live nearly conflict free. A concept very alien to me.

If there is an incommunicado, patience is exercised and we slow down and talk through it.

At times, I go out with my friends at night, will party (she doesnโ€™t like to drink) and catch zero grief or jealousy when I return home. None. Nothing.

That makes me respect her more, lover her more and makes me value the relationship more. My eyes have little motivation to wander.

I had an ex-girlfriend of two years coming to Vietnam from the states who Iโ€™m still good friends with, and my wife and I were talking about where my ex would stay.

She looked at me and said - she will stay with us. Why would I care? I married you.

Thatโ€™s it. No conflict.

That response was a shocker.

I lucked out. I have a good foundation and I see this going somewhere.

In short.

Yes, this is a great place to date.

One thing - donโ€™t be a bullshit artist about how long youโ€™re here or set false expectations.

Thatโ€™s the one thing I see guys doing here a lot.

Theyโ€™re too afraid to state the truth.

Some will use lies and deception to run up their numbers.

Donโ€™t be one of those tools.

Just be honest.

Be crystal clear about your expectations and let the rhythm of dating run its course.

Just have fun. Thatโ€™s what most locals are interested in. Fun.


Truthfully, from what I have heard, the dating side for most western women here will be more challenging.

I have quite a few female friends here and the challenges are often a subject of discussion.

Again, generalization - but, Iโ€™m told by my female friends that the guys here are not masculine enough to their tastes. In general, men here are shorter and western women are taller - and for whatever reason, my female friends want a taller guy.

There is a very large western expat community here, and not all of those guys are interested in dating locals. Thus, I have seen a few budding relationships between expats.

I know of one relationship between a local Vietnamese guy and a western woman, perhaps two - come to think of it. Itโ€™s not as normal I guess.

Though, ladies, Iโ€™d say this is open territory. I have quite a few local guy friends who are smart, handsome, successful guys who would be a catch. Never rule anything out.


Hope that helps clarify some things.

Feel free to ask me anymore questions.

I enjoy writing about this stuff because it helps me frame my thoughts.

Hope to see you all in the Hoch.

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@ericvan | 5yr

@jonmyers as usual, many insightful ideas from you. My reference point in SEA is the Philippines more than elsewhere as a place to work remotely. Iโ€™ve realized Vietnam is polar opposite to the PH for the area. My biggest issue with the PH is itโ€™s basically a failed state. Itโ€™s a big like Burma with tiny group that steals and hoards all the resources and everyone else is ****cked. That always makes me mad and frustrated when Iโ€™m there and my college educated friends with, for example engineering degrees, have zero opportunity. They earn about minimum wage USA or less. And of course most gave to go to middle east and separate from their children and family. Change is happening for the better but it will take a very long time. Cambodia has better internet speed than the PH. Go figure.

The Vienamese donโ€™t have a sense of fatalism which is so pervasive in the PH. Also they like to learn, whereas in the PH people are mostly not too cerebral. Having said that, the people in the PH are amazingโ€ฆjust more different than me.

The whole โ€œelephant in the roomโ€ thing about westerners dating Asians is really too bad but true. I sometimes think it means that the guys that are not cool about how they relate to women win because somehow theyโ€™re not afraid to share online. Honestly, there is so little discussed about healthy dating attitudes and relationships for those going to SEO from outside.

I do SEO and data driven content analysis, so hope to talk to you when Iโ€™m closer to making the transition.

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Eric, yeah I have been to the PH. I really LOVE the people, fun, amazing people, but overall, it just doesnโ€™t float my boat.

I actually have a few friends who have been long term PH peeps. My buddy Chris in Cebu, and my buddies Justin and Joe were based in Davao for a long time.

When my buddies Justin and Joe came to Saigon, they definitely experienced an adjustment period. Something to keep in mind.

Itโ€™s just a very different style here in Saigon and it takes awhile to get comfortable and find a rhythm that works for your style.

Sometimes I call it the Brooklyn of Southeast Asia. lol

With awesome, experimental venues like Saigon Outcast, youth culture is alive and well in this city.

Anyhow, often new visitors will misread perceived indifference - when often, the opposite is true.

Just takes a while to get into the groove.

Good luck and hope to see you here.

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@azurio | 5yr

If you arenโ€™t into urban living, Hoi An seems much more charming than Da Nang. Hoi An has incredible style in the Ancient Town, and itโ€™s easy to get to the beach side as well. Some resorts are super cheap, and you can still find great expat bastions like Dingo Deli, a great digital nomad oasis even when the power goes out. Another Westerner comfort: incredible brunches, and we have been floored by the monthly brunch at Almanity as well as the weekly one at Victoria. I canโ€™t speak for many places, since Iโ€™ve only stayed in Da Nang and Hoi An so far.

@Casey_Rosengren: Great question, since Internet for the whole country slows to a crawl (about .5 to 1 Mbps) when the undersea cable breaks, which happened 2 or 3 times in the last year, I think. Some people get around it reasonably by tethering to 3G data, but thatโ€™s about it. If your work canโ€™t function at less than 5 Mbps for a month, planning a long stay in Vietnam may not be worth it. I worked around it okay.

Overall, Iโ€™m thrilled to be living in Hoi An for a couple months.

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@azurio | 5yr

PS! If youโ€™re considering Hoi An, Dingo Deli made an excellent post for expats to get oriented and get started with life in Hoi An.

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@caseyr | 5yr

@azurio - so if you use 3G it somehow gets around the cables? Does it stay around 4-5 Mbps down or is there a noticeable decline when the land-based connection fails?

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@caseyr | 5yr

Question to all Vietnam expats - what do you do when sharks eat the cables and Vietnam loses Internet connection to the outside world?

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@flowen | 5yr

wow this thread is awesome, bookmarking this one. thanks for the info guys!

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Itโ€™s simple, you want to focus on something specific and donโ€™t want distractions, go to Danang. I personally like Hoi An to get work done, but others may find it boring. If you want to meet new people, network, and have a bunch of activities to do on the weekends, Saigon is the place to be.

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@ileitch | 5yr

Wow, awesome feedback. Youโ€™ve all made great points, now I canโ€™t wait to visit both cities!!

Iโ€™m planning to fly out around the end of October, probably HCMC first for a couple months followed by Da Nang.

Iโ€™ll give you guys a shout when Iโ€™m in town, cheers!

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@stuckerp | 5yr

ileitch, hope you have a great trip. Just keep in mind youโ€™ll be coming during the rainy season in HCMC (heavy rains for ~2 hrs/day) and the typhoon season in Da Nang (a bit more bothersome). But as a plus, accommodation should be cheaper than other times of the year.

Hoi An is ok to visit, but I could never live/stay there. In my opinion, it feels like VN Disneyland for tourists with westerners everywhere and almost nothing is like an actual Vietnamese city - itโ€™s 95% tailors, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Also, itโ€™s about 1/10 the size of Da Nang (1/100 the size of HCMC), and the beach is mostly eroded at this point. But extremely beautiful at night.

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@stuckerp | 5yr

I definitely feel you. I lived in HCMC for 6 months (district 3) and loved it. Favorite 3 things about it are:

  1. So many like minded people doing the same thing to meet and share ideas with
  2. Best city in the world for coffee shops. 1000โ€™s of them and they are nicer (and more varied) than what Iโ€™ve seen anywhere.
  3. Even after being there for 1/2 a year, you can drive 5-10 mins in any direction and find a completely new neighborhood with tons of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars that you never knew existed. The city is massive and a true playground for an urban explorer.

In my opinion, HCMC is where you go if you want to network, grow you business through new opportunities, and enjoy all the benefits of a massive, bustling city. Da Nang is a great place to focus on your specific project, be able to enjoy the outdoors/beach/mountains, and be without the hassles of a huge city (but Da Nang is still ~1 million people). Seattle vs NYC is the best comparison I can come up with.

Internet is pretty much the same in both; very good for working unless the shark eats the cable.

For one last image of Da Nang, here was a sunset from the other day:

Overall, Iโ€™d say you wonโ€™t go wrong in either as they are both wonderful for working remotely. Jon, drop me a line when you come up and weโ€™ll give you a good welcome :slight_smile:

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Awesome dude.

We are making plans at the moment actually.

Likely the last week of this month.

May end having a shop up there myself.

Will hit you up.

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@jonmyers | 5yr

Yeah, you really have to know yourself with regards to location.

Some far prefer Danang others like myself are Saigon through and through.

Over a longer term, I go nuts in slower, sleepier cities.

Really depends on you, but you should carefully consider your location criteria.

Hopefully, I didnโ€™t paint Saigon as a paradise.

Itโ€™s far from it.

The city is constantly noisy, traffic initially overwhelming, the pollution bothers some people (I donโ€™t ride at rush hour), music in cafes - always too loud, and the locals will seem very abrupt at first.

And for myself, herein lies the charm.

I have spent a vast majority of my life in big, dirty cities.

From Kolkatta to NYC to Buenos Aires to here in Saigon, and beyond, I like and prefer the constant activity of big cities.

I find calm where others find chaos.

You must know yourself well on this point.

And, with said chaos, itโ€™s quite easy to escape and find tranquility.

Here in District 2, I have a newly built, 3-story home, which was designed by a well-known architect focused on a blend of modernism and Japanese design.

Sakura trees scale the house. Trees are in the house. The back is open air allowing for a breeze through the entire house coupled with a waterfall and pond in our living room.

I wake up everyday in the peace of my home, and head to the third floor, which houses my design studio. I just work. Collaborators visit. Customers visit. My food is on schedule. Gym is sorted.

Itโ€™s easy.

FYI - ugly construction is nearly done and concealed. old pic.

I donโ€™t say these things to brag, just stating that there is incredible value here for this kind of living, peace and creating a positive work environment to really get shit done.


One big thing I would say about location selection. Wherever.

Look at what you do every single day - day in and day out. Those same things.

Not the things you might occasionally do ifโ€ฆ

I used to think I was a beach guy. I love the beach. Love to surf. Still skateboard if I have the chance, but in reality - when I was presented with living in beach towns from Miami to Ao Nang/ Krabi to Gulf of Thailand Islands to here in Vietnam, I found I didnโ€™t use the beach nearly as much as I thought.

Nice to look at - for sure, but that factor for me personally, it carries less weight. Beaches are vacation destinations for me not business hubs. Business is the most important thing for me right now. Probably will be for a long time. Others place more weight on having a beach. Depends on you.

That day in and day out thing is what I value the most.

What I do day and day out, who do I connect with, how do I make it enjoyable, optimize it and gain maximize impact. Ohh, and just have people around to have fun with.

In that regard, I find the lifestyle optimizations for how I run my routines and show to be the best in bigger cities. Certainly in Saigon, there are fantastic lifestyle multipliers.

Further, and finally to help give you a mental model for location selection.

Examine where you are at and what goals you are trying to obtain.

Near the top of my list for location selection is one thing - - -

Itโ€™s about the people.

Itโ€™s about inserting myself in a place where you have a higher potential for serendipitous interactions to take place and a higher volume of people with whom to connect.

Most of the breaks Iโ€™ve had in my life have come from simply setting up shop in larger cities and being active.

Saigon is no exception.

In the time Iโ€™ve been here, simply from always being out, being active and meeting lots of people, I have had opportunities handed to me.

For example, I have been consulting with a VC firm here and helping them launch a national bank.

That was a word of mouth connection developed here.

Iโ€™m not convinced such connections are as easy to establish in smaller towns.

So, consider that factor. Are you building, scaling, need to connect or all of these?

Location, who you are, what you love, what you tolerate and what you hate, determines the location calculus.

Hopefully that helps.

Iโ€™ve got get up to Da Nang and hang with the crew there. I will probably head there in a few weeks to have a look at a friendโ€™s operation. Would love to hang out with you all.

If you all make it down to Hoch, first one is one me.

Cheers.

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@stuckerp | 5yr

I second Da Nang. By far the most beautiful city in VN. If you want a healthy lifestyle along with good internet, food, cultureโ€ฆ then Da Nang wins hands down. You have some of the best beaches in Vietnam (My Khe Beach), the Son Tra peninsula, Han River (with the Dragon bridge that breathes fire), Red Beach, the Hai Van Pass, Hoi An right down the road, Hue a morningโ€™s drive away, and a modern, clean city of 1 million people. You can see the sunrise over one beach and set over a different beach (how many different cities can say that)! Great seafood, soups, and some really good expat/western spots.

Also, Da Nang is off the normal backpackers route, so you avoid trashy elements and get much better experiences with the locals. The expat community is much smaller than HCMC, but that means people are generally much nicer and happier to meet other westerners.

For $350/month we have a brand new 1bd apartment with views of the sunrise over the beach. We are constantly reminding ourselves that we live here rather than just on a few day vacation. It is one of the most beautiful cities Iโ€™ve ever seen. HCMC is great, but the difference is a New York/Chicago like city vs San Francisco/Seattle like area. I prefer the latter.

Some videos to see what itโ€™s like:



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@don_lee | 5yr

I prefer Danang for the beaches, safety, cleanest and amazing food. Local people are very friendly and hospitable.

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@jonmyers | 5yr

I have lived in Ho Chi Minh City (also, referred to by its old name, Saigon) off and on now for about 3 years.

I love it here, and am here somewhat indefinitely.

We have large crew of nomads always passing through and more established entrepreneur expats. A typical night out can easily have 15 - 20 of us out.

There are literally 1,000s of coffee shops to work from. My friend James wrote this article on some of the best:

http://www.nomadicnotes.com/travel-blog/ho-chi-minh-city-cafes/

Awhile back, I wrote a Medium post about bootstrapping from Saigon:

As a new arrival into Saigon, I would recommend only living in District 1, the Central District.

Itโ€™s โ€œfairlyโ€ walkable depending on where you are at. You will meet a lot of other people, which should be a primary goal when settling in.

For location, I would recommend walking the alleys of Saigonโ€™s Japantown (the alleys of Thai Van Lung and Le Thanh Ton) and you will see lots of signs with rooms for rent that range from $200/ month and up.

A back up would be the street of 18A Nguyen Thi Minh Kai. Walk the street and look for the signs for rooms for rent, walk up and inquire.

I would strongly recommend not settling in the backpacker area in District 1, which goes by Pham Ngu Lao or Bui Vien Street. Most people who have had a โ€œbadโ€ experience in Vietnam - overpaying, scammed!, phone stolen or other petty crime - have had it happen there. Itโ€™s fun to visit, it would be a hassle filled shit hole to live in.

The other districts are great, but the city is overwhelming at first.

I live in District 2 and love it. There are lots of longer term expats in this district. However, I have been here for a while, ride a motorbike everyday and know quite a few people. There is fantastic housing stock in this district and I really lucked out on a house here.

But again, I would say District 1 only as a starting point.

Hope that helps.

Hit me up when you roll into town and I will introduce to the group.

Cheers.

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@eelcojellema | 5yr

Saigon without a doubt! Would look at d3, d5 or d7.

[why is there an 70 char minimum? Iโ€™ve nothing more to addโ€ฆ]

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Hello digital nomad!

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by @programmingmark | 5mo 4 months ago | 2 comments

Hello digital nomad!

I dream of being an independent digital nomad. But it feels very elusive & unattainable with my success rate. In full disclosure, whilst I have dreamed about making money online since high school; I have not earned a single cent making money online. $0, nada, zilch!! On the contrary, I have spent a lot of time & money on books, podcasts. Even though I have spent a lot of time reading/listening to others, I do not have anything to show for it!

I have made attempts in the past to start an online business, but these fizzle out quite quickly when I do not see traction especially when the goal I have set myself is too high.

Instead of reaching for the ultimate nomadic lifestyle goal, I want to start much smaller. Really small! I am simply looking to make $50 profit per month from a new online business. Thatโ€™s it.

I need some advice from you please!

  • Is $50 profit too low? How long did it take you to earn $50 profit per month?

  • What is a good way of achieving this goal?

Thanks
Mark
aka the $0 online business entrepreneur

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Are there any nomad meetups in Osaka?


in Osaka, Japan by @freddychanut | 5mo 5 months ago | 1 comment

Will be in Osaka this April/May and was curious to discover interesting groups/events.
I had a look at FB + Meetup but there doesnโ€™t seem to be much. Any advice on where to look?

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How do digital nomads pay tax?


by @rodriigovieira | 5mo 5 months ago | 19 comments

Hello everyone! Iโ€™m new here and probably this is a very newbie question, but it doesnโ€™t leave my head.

How do you, nomads, pay your taxes? I mean, if youโ€™re constantly traveling, how are you going to pay taxes for a certain country if you are going to stay there a short period of time?
Or do you return to your โ€œoriginal countryโ€ and then pay them?

By the way, this forum has very nice cool formatting features! :smile:

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How do digital nomads pay tax?


by @rodriigovieira | 5mo 5 months ago | 19 comments

Hello everyone! Iโ€™m new here and probably this is a very newbie question, but it doesnโ€™t leave my head.

How do you, nomads, pay your taxes? I mean, if youโ€™re constantly traveling, how are you going to pay taxes for a certain country if you are going to stay there a short period of time?
Or do you return to your โ€œoriginal countryโ€ and then pay them?

By the way, this forum has very nice cool formatting features! :smile:

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Are there nomad families here and how do you choose your next destination?


by @martinratinaud | 6mo 5 months ago | 4 comments

All members of my family has different needs and hobbies so how do you pick the perfect places?

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My first time nomad-ing... Spain or Portugal?


in Portugal by @jasraj | 6mo 5 months ago | 6 comments

Hey everyone,

Iโ€™m a freelance + nomad newbie, off for my 1st proper trip in May. Iโ€™m wanting to spend a month somewhere and go from there.

I just came back from Slovenia/Ljubljana and loved it there (just a week). I donโ€™t mind โ€œsleepierโ€ places par-say, as long as theyโ€™re close to a beach or nature of some kind. In fact, I kinda like places less-busy and a bit smaller/cosier.

Iโ€™m been swaying towards Porto, but have been impressed by the rave reviews Iโ€™ve seen for Valencia.

-> Have you every nomad-ed in a Spanish/Portuguese city? Iโ€™d love to know where and what you liked/disliked :slight_smile:

Thanks! :slight_smile:

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Central America - Where and what's next?


by @as11 | 6mo 5 months ago | 11 comments

Currently in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and heading to Santa Teressa, Costa Rica next week.
Then Aruba in the Caribbean Sea for Christmas and New Year.

However I feel I want to head back to Central America to bring living costs down, rather than staying in the Caribbean Sea among the expensive Islands.

This means I have around 2 - 2,5 month of unplanned travelling.
Any digital nomads who have ideas about where to head in that timeframe?

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How to save filter settings on Nomad List?


by @krzemian | 6mo 6 months ago | 3 comments

Hey, is there currently a way to save filter settings? I feel like it would be helpful for planning the trip as I have several ideas on what to target and would like to cycle between them

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Anyone know an accountant for Canadian nomads/expats?


by @noam_lightstone | 6mo 6 months ago | 16 comments

Hey guys, this was my first year as a Canadian nomad.

As far as I know of, Canadians donโ€™t pay taxes if they do not live in the country for 6 months.

But Iโ€™d like to talk to an accountant or someone who does Canadian taxes specifically for expats and nomads to get clear on the rules and for help on my return coming up.

Does anyone know someone who specializes in Canada who can help? Iโ€™ve seen plenty of US recommendations but none for us canucks.

Thanks guys!

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