Vietnam has a population of over 90 million. It is home to a rich diversity of people, languages, cultures, and landscapes.
Since 2000, Vietnam has experienced tremendous economic growth (one of the highest growth rates in the world). This growth has coincided with a dramatic increase in tourism.
Vietnam is fast becoming one of the top destinations for travelers and is hosting a growing number of English teachers.
Vietnam is home to many incredible sights such as Ha Long Bay (a world heritage site).
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, with their diverse food options, beautiful east meets west architecture, and massive shopping malls, will easily be within reach for the duration of your adventure.
Vietnam achieved full independence in AD 938, after a millennium of Chinese rule
During this time Buddhism emerged as the state religion
Vietnam expanded its territories to the south between the 11th and 18th centuries. Vietnam’sindependence was eventually taken from them by France in a 26-year period between 1859 and1885
The French rule continued until the outbreak of World War II, when the Japanese took over the country. This period brought famine and devastation to Vietnam, causing approximately two million deaths. Following World War II, the French reasserted themselves in Vietnam as the colonial powers, but were eventually driven out by Ho Chi Minh and the growing communist party.
In the late 1950s Vietnam was broken into North and South Vietnam, with the North a communist regime supported by China and The Soviet Union and the South, a republic run by a corrupt leader supported by the United States and other Western allies. The communists in North Vietnam immediately began attacks on the South supported by anti-government South Vietnamese citizens, who wanted the country to be unified as one country with a communist government.
The attacks started the Vietnam War, which saw heavy military involvement by the United States. This war, often called the ‘10,000 day war’, caused millions of deaths across the region.
North Vietnam eventually won the war and merged North and South Vietnam, forming the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Serious economic decline and mass poverty plagued Vietnam until December 1986, when new leadership replaced the “old guard” government.
Vietnam’s economy began to grow and the country experienced a period of rejuvenation.
Ho Chi Minh City
Formerly named Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam.
Saigon was the capital of Cochinchina during the French colonization of Vietnam. Between 1955 and 1975, Saigon was the capital of South Vietnam prior to becoming one nation.
Ho Chi Minh City is home to more than 9 million people, one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the world.
Beginning life as a small fishing village, Ho Chi Minh City was originally known as Prey Nokor, which translates to “Forest City”. There are tons of trees and parks that still dot the city.
Ho Chi Minh City is home to a dizzying variety of incredible shopping malls and entertainment complexes; it is a city buzzing with life and has a booming economy. It has a wealth of public and private transport options and numerous cinemas, theatres, museums, and beautiful restaurants. But one of the main ways to get around is still generally by motor scooter.
The winter/dry season in Vietnam is between November and April. This is due to monsoon winds blowing in from the northeast along the coast of China and across from the Gulf of Tonkin. This brings a high amount of moisture creating more of a dry climate than the summer or rainy seasons.
The average temperature is generally higher in the south than in the north, with less variation in overall temperature in the plains of the south. The climate in Ho Chi Minh City is tropical. It has two main seasons. A rainy season, which lasts between May and ends late October.
And the dry season which is between December and April. It’s worth noting that the average temperature is approximately 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) with small variations during the year.
Whilst it’s not the largest city in Vietnam, Hanoi is an extremely popular destination, not only as it’s the capital, but also its unique blend of ‘East meets West’ making Hanoi one of the most rapidly developing cities in Southeast Asia.
Hanoi is home to thousands of varieties of street food. No matter where you are in Hanoi, you’re not far from a delicious meal, or a comforting snack. Bun Cha (pork noodle soup) is one of the most popular dishes, and a distinctly northern dish.
Hanoi is perfect for those that like to get out there and discover. There are a huge number of museums, parks, and other cultural attractions that are perfect for downtime in-between teaching.
Similar to Ho Chi Minh City, the dry season is between April and November. However, during the winter it can feel rather cold!
Vietnam was highly influenced by Chinese culture, mainly due to 1000 years of Chinese rule. This influence has had an effect on Vietnamese politics, its government, ethics and its artistic output.
Other influences on Vietnamese culture are of European origin. Mainly due to the influence the French colonial period had during that time.
Vietnam is extremely diverse in its culture. Perhaps one of the most unique art forms that can be seen to this day in Vietnam is water puppetry.
Originating from the 10th century, this art is performed by professional puppeteers who are taught by elders in their rural homelands. Unlike the western puppetry we have seen, this is distinct in that the puppets stand in water and are controlled by rods underneath. Incredible stories are told with beautifully handcrafted puppets. It really has to be seen to be believed.
To be successful working in Vietnam it is key to maintain strong relationships with your Vietnamese colleagues.
Expect your work relationships to form part of an extended family and always treat them as such.
It is important to understand that the avoidance of conflict should be adhered to. Causing somebody to ‘lose face’ can lead to losing the support of your newly acquired work family. Always maintain a professional but open and caring attitude.
Vietnamese people expect to be treated with dignity and respect, at all times!
Vietnamese is based on the Latin alphabet and consists of 17 consonants and 12 vowels.
There are three main dialects of Vietnamese, Northern, Central and Southern.
The Northern dialect is accepted as standard. The main differences between the three are differing tones and consonants for many different words.
80 million people across the world speak Vietnamese in various forms. Due to its tonal foundations, it can be difficult to tackle at first but you will pick up a lot of essentials throughout your day-to-day life.
It is important to ensure correct pronunciation, especially with your tones to avoid confusion and/or embarrassment!
The Buddhist principle teaches one to follow a middle path, avoiding anything extreme and emphasizes personal well-being above material items or career achievement.
Foreign nationals visiting a Buddhist temple or a sacred place should behave in an appropriate manner, as local people may consider some actions as sacrilege.
As always, the best course of action is to follow the example set by the locals.
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