A friend once asked me to give her 100 reasons as to why living in Vietnam is better than living in a Western country. Here’s #21-40:
21) Incomparable Banking Interest Rates
At the time of writing this, most banks in Western countries are offering savings accounts with negligible annual interest rates, many as low as 0.01%; essentially nothing.
In Vietnam, every time I go walking around the city center of HCMC, every few blocks I see a sign in front of a bank advertising savings accounts paying out anywhere from 5-7% annual interest (if you’re investing VND).
If you put $200,000 worth of VND in a savings account in Vietnam then you can receive $14,000 worth of VND per year, enough to live well off of in Vietnam (if you know how to avoid paying artificially inflated expat prices).
Maybe you live in a Western country and have money sitting in the bank, in assets or other investments. Are you making a guaranteed 7% per year off that?
22) Easy for Foreigners to Open a Bank Account
I remember in Canada whenever I brought cash into the bank they’d always just grill me with questions until I’d say something along the lines of “alright, I’ll go take it to [insert competitor bank’s name here] then.” In which case they would immediately apologize and accept the deposit.
In Vietnam on the other hand, I’ve opened banks accounts at 3 different major banks with nothing more than a tourist visa and a passport. I’ve never been questioned as to the origin of my money or anything else like that.
There is one hurdle if you’re an American citizen and you want to open a Vietnamese bank account. I’ve heard that you have to fill out this Big Brother-esque form from the IRS; apparently, but not surprisingly, they like to have their tentacles all over the globe.
23) Low or No Banking Fees
When I was receiving international transfers payments from China into my Canadian bank account, I would have about 5% chopped off each month by mysterious fees and conversion rates that nobody could provide me with data for.
I think it was because it passed through a few intermediary banks, and they each wanted to stick their fat greedy fingers into the pie and take a piece of my money for nothing.
When I transfer USD from my American account to CAD in my Canadian account they f*ck me for 3.5%, even though it’s to and from the same bank.
I switched over to receiving international payments from China straight into my Vietnamese bank account. After that, I never lost more than 1.5% per transfer.
I use my Vietnamese bank account to withdraw money, transfer money, pay bills, buy groceries, shop online, order delivery and order taxis. Besides the 1.5% fee to receive an international transfer and the $10/year I pay for one of my accounts, I’ve never been charged a single bank fee in Vietnam.
24) Quick, Easy, Cheap Delivery
A recent case study in America found that when ordering delivery, they were paying about 50% more than they would have been eating in at the restaurant. Why? Well like most things with a Western marketing model, the price advertised often comes with like 4 different hidden fees added to it.
In this case:
- The base price of the food was raised on the delivery app compared to what it was dining in the restaurant.
- There was a few-dollar delivery fee.
- There was a few-dollar service fee.
- There was a “Regulation Fee“, whatever the f*ck that is.
- There was tax added on after.
So yeah, you’re paying quite a bit more to have food delivered to your door.
In Vietnam on the other hand, every time I use Grab Food or Shopee Food (formerly Foodie/NowVn), I actually generally pay about 15-25% less than I would in the restaurant? How? Well, let’s look at the average delivery fees in Vietnam compared to the top 5 fees listed above.
- The base price of the food on the delivery app is almost always the same as dining in at the restaurant.
- The delivery fee is generally around $1.00-$1.50.
- Sometimes there is a service fee of around $0.10- $0.25.
- “Regulation Fee” (??) In Vietnam, there generally aren’t stupid, obscure hidden fees like that.
- 95% of establishments in Vietnam include tax in the advertised price. The price advertised is usually the exact amount of money that will leave your wallet.
And then Grab Food (inside the Grab app) and ShopeeFood (formerly Foodie/NowVn) always have discounts that you can add to your order after, generally ranging from 15% to even 30% off of the price. I’m not exaggerating; try it out yourself if you don’t believe me.
HCMC and Hanoi have hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants on those apps; the discounts can be applied to most of them. If that restaurant has chosen not to accept discounts, then I just search for another restaurant with the same type of food.
25) Quick, Easy, Cheap Transportation
So when I was 19 I had a job on the other side of the city. My car broke down for a week and I had to take a taxi to get to work; otherwise, the train and bus would add about 5 hours to my day (and it was like -30 degrees Celcius that week).
I’d work 8 hours a day but I lost almost everything I earned each day to pay for the taxi ride to and from work. How is anyone ever expected to get ahead in those circumstances? Unfortunately, that’s only one example of thousands regarding that topic.
In Vietnam, I can be halfway across the city for a few bucks ($1-$4 depending on distance). Anytime, anywhere, 24/7, I can pull out my phone and have a Grab Bike come get me within minutes. If I’m with people, we can use a Grab Car; if we split the cost then it’s still only a few dollars per person.
How much does it cost you to get around the city in an Uber in America? About 5-10x more than what it costs to get around the city on a Grab Bike in Vietnam.
26) Ready-Made Healthy Food and Drinks Are Affordable
So within the last decade or so there’s been a big health trend in Western countries to eat healthier. This is great.
However, what is not good is when people take advantage of this to sell food and drinks containing basic ingredients at extortionate prices while marketing them as trendy and ultra-healthy.
Look at these Booster Juice prices in America:
What the f*ck is this?
What am I paying for? It’s an orange, some sugar and some ice. People brainwashed by consumerism are willing to give most of their money away just because something has a brand name on it; it’s insane.
The cheapest food in Western countries is fast food, processed food and unhealthy food. That’s why in Western countries poor people are generally fatter and less healthy than rich people.
In Vietnam, you can get fresh orange juice on almost any street for $0.50-$1.00. You can get a delicious bowl of noodles or a plate of rice containing a variety of different vegetables, a decent serving of grilled or boiled meat, and other healthy additives such as garlic or turmeric for $2-$3. In Vietnam, healthy local food is cheaper than unhealthy fast food.
27) Vietnamese-Style Restaurants
I’m just gunna put a mini-post inside a post for this one:
[“Tây” is Vietnamese for “West” or “Western”. It can be used as a noun or an adjective. The Vietnamese letter “â” is pronounced kind of like the short “u” sound in English.
“Trà” (said with downward intonation like you’re being stern) means tea.
“Đá” (said with upward intonation like you are excited) means ice. The letter “đ” in Vietnamese is pronounced like the letter “d” in English.
Adjectives come after nouns in Vietnamese.]
Get the Duolingo app (it’s free) if you wanna learn a bit of Vietnamese, I taught myself quite a bit with that.
28) Leading the World in Economic Growth
Pre-covid, In 2018 and 2019, Vietnam experienced over 7% GDP growth each year, making it the fastest-growing economy in the world in 2019.
After covid hit, Vietnam’s GDP’s growth in 2020 was 9th highest in the world at +2.9%, whereas every Western country in the world, except Ireland, experienced negative growth.
Vietnam still has quite a ways to go to catch up with the economic powerhouses of the world. But personally, I’d rather chill with the skinny underdog and watch him come up than hang around with the fat, spoiled playground bullies as they decline from their peak, throwing tantrums because they no longer can have hundreds of toys while the poor kids have none.
29) No “Alchohol Zones”
So in most Western countries, if you want to consume alcohol you need to be inside hidden away from public like a deviant. Even if you’re drinking outside, that patio probably has a wall of frosted glass surrounding it, separating the people unwinding and enjoying themselves from the rigid society outside where being too happy or relaxed does not equate to productivity.
In Vietnam, most bars have chairs on the sidewalk where you can drink, or the bar *is* chairs on the sidewalk.
One of my favorite things to do in Vietnam is to post up in a chair along Bui Vien Street in HCMC, Bach Dang Street in Danang, or Ta Hien Street in Hanoi on a beautiful day and shred some beers while watching the world go by. In situations such as this, you’ll usually meet friendly people too. People who are feeling as open and laid-back as you are at that time. I haven’t experienced that too much in a Western country.
30) Friendliness of Strangers
In Western countries, it’s rare that people will have a genuine interaction with strangers. A Westerner will play roles while working and while talking to employees of restaurants, shops, banks, etc throughout their day, but that’s not really a real interaction in my opinion.
A lot of Westerners don’t trust or feel connected with each other; consumerism tends to often create a sense of isolation from others and the community, with increased rates of loneliness, depression and anxiety.
In Vietnam on the other hand, travelers, expats and Vietnamese locals are much more open to strangers. I often go to bars solo after work and chill, listen to hip-hop and shred some beers. I generally end up meeting people without even moving from my favorite spot in the bar.
Although petty theft is fairly common in HCMC, physical violence is extremely rare in Vietnam. The US has 88.8 guns per 100 residents; Vietnam has 1.7.
In over 5 years in Vietnam, I have never been hit or assaulted in any way, not even a slap.
The only two times a Vietnamese person has slightly gotten into my face were times when I was really drunk and kind of had it coming (but actually not really, I was drunk in a bar but not hurting anything). Also, these were guys who had worked in a Western bar for years so I would hypothesize that the Western confrontational attitude had rubbed off on them a bit.
On the other hand, it’s not unusual to see a fight at a Western bar; many Westerners specifically go to bars looking for fights. Perhaps they’re unhappy with the way their lives have been going lately and want to try to make other people feel as unhappy as they are. Or perhaps the Western ultra-competitive mindset has wired their minds to perceive other people in society as adversaries. Or maybe they think that it’s the year 10,000BC and that fighting is the only way that they can attract the attention of a girl; I don’t f*cking know.
In Canada and in Vietnam, numerous times I’ve seen Westerners hurt each other. An English guy once threw a bottle of beer at my head in a bar in Thailand just because I looked at him. If you look at reviews of one of the most popular expat bars in Vietnam you’ll see numerous reports of fights. My buddy got punched at that bar basically just because he’s a friendly, outgoing, eccentric guy.
Anyway, f*ck all that. Thankfully the vast majority of Vietnamese see the nonnecessity and pointlessness of violence and so go out of their way to avoid violence. I hope that attitude rubs off on the Westerners who choose to visit and live here. Also, Westerners should understand that, unlike their home country, Vietnam is an extremely peaceful and nonviolent country, and that it is extremely selfish to bring violence of any kind into this place.
32) Less Trolls and Haters
Overall, the vast majority of Vietnamese try to avoid confrontation as much as possible, whereas many Westerners seem to seek it out in order to boost their egos and/or reinforce the paradigms that they have of the world.
Western society manufacturers numerous trolls (people who derive their entire sense of self-esteem and self-worth from insulting others online) and haters (people who are unhappy with their own personality or level of success and so try to knock down other people to a level beneath them).
In person, trolls and haters don’t often have the confidence to directly insult someone so many will use passive aggression to try and undermine people and attempt to make others doubt themselves. You can see this behavior from a very young age even; Western society mass-produces people who put each other down and step on each other to get ahead socially and economically.
Although Vietnamese locals have told me that there are people like this in Vietnam, I have personally only encountered a small fraction compared to the number of Western trolls and haters I have seen in my life.
33) Less Divided Society
If you’ve been following Western news that past two years, you’ll have seen that Covid has just straight-up made a lot of Westerners hate each other even more than they did before. Their minds have been shocked by the drastic changes that have suddenly impacted their lives and they need to tell themselves a simple and easy explanation that fits well into their schemas of the world and helps them sleep better at night.
Finding a scapegoat is psychologically the easiest way to come to terms with severe situations such as this. Many Westerns find it comfortable to simplistically create an “us against them” mentality based on political views, race, vaccination choice etc. Although categorizing and blaming different groups of people for problems is not a new phenomenon in Western society, the last 2 years have seen a massive increase in this type of behavior.
Besides the utter retardedness of trying to force the infinite complexities of the human personality into one of two categories as “right” or “wrong”, this type of polarized thinking is unhealthy and not conducive to the longevity of a prosperous society.
A society of people hating each other is not sustainable, which is why we are starting to see some Western countries slowly tearing themselves apart from the inside.
It’s quite rare to find massively in-your-face overly-opinionated Vietnamese people. Vietnamese society runs pretty smoothly organically, there’s not really too much of that annoying trend of everyone trying to contradict everyone else for every little thing.
34) Not Everyone is Trying to Manipulate Your Thinking to Sell You Sh*t
In a Western country, everything you do your mind is bombarded with visuals and audios trying to manipulate your thinking and sell you something. YouTube ads, Facebook ads, radio ads, popup ads, TV ads, websites, certain Facebook groups, employees of almost any establishment you walk into, telemarketers, sports, ads in bars, ads at entertainments events, streets, malls, etc, they all come at you with a fake smile and artificial emotions; it’s no wonder genuine interactions between human beings are so rare in a Western country.
Once or twice I’ve heard a Westerner bash Vietnam about how Vietnam uses “propaganda” related to covid or other things. Vietnamese “propaganda” (posters, billboards, TV programs and announcements over speakers in public areas) generally has the objective of encouraging people to cooperate and work together towards a common goal, such as the betterment of society, prosperity for all people in the country or mitigating deaths from covid.
The definition of propaganda is “communication that is primarily used to influence an audience and further an agenda”. To me, that sounds exactly like what modern-day Western advertising and marketing are.
In that case, people living in a Western country are exposed to propaganda at least 50% of the time that they are awake.
However, unlike the “propaganda” in Vietnam telling people to work together towards a common good, Western propaganda is essentially just trying to get you to endlessly consume sh*t, trying to convince you that you will be a happier, better or more “successful” human being somehow if you give them your money. There’s no endpoint to this.
Although Western-style advertising and marketing has been subversively creeping into the 2 major cities in Vietnam over the last decade (especially in tourist areas), Vietnam still retains genuineness and authenticity, actual character. You can have real interactions with other human beings without worrying about them having an ulterior motive of trying to sell you something.
35) Vietnam Has a Badass History
Since the founding of the first Vietnamese state in the 7th century BC, Vietnam has a history of stubbornly and effectively repelling invaders.
Through clever tactics and using Vietnam’s natural geography as an advantage, Vietnam has defeated occupying forces that were both larger and more technologically advanced. Straight-up situations of David outsmarting Goliath.
One of the most famous quotes in Vietnam, said by Vietnamese national hero Ho Chi Minh, goes, “Không có gì quý hơn độc lập, tự do” (“Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom“). I f*cking love that. Before I’d even heard of Vietnam I was trying to live my life that way (which resulted in me ending up in an American boarding from 13-15 years old, but that’s another story).
Vietnam has a history of repelling bullies, while most Western countries have a history of being bullies. I f*cking hate bullies personally and I hate people who try to control, manipulate and exploit other people. So I feel like Vietnam’s historical ideology and my own personality align well.
36) It’s Easy to Move Cities
Vietnam is a long, thin coastal country with a train line that extends that length. So it is very easy to move yourself, and your things, across the entire country.
Twice in Vietnam, I have moved to a different city halfway across the country. The last time, I brought 3 duffel bags, a flatscreen TV, a bicycle and a motorbike on the train with me. The whole thing cost me about $50 (including a bed on the train) and 24 hours, to completely relocate my life to a new city.
What if you moved cities in a Western country? I suppose if you have a vehicle it may not be too bad. But that’s a lot of time driving and a decent amount of cash you’ll probably be spending on gas.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, how much time and money would you be spending dealing with a moving company?
37) Acceptance of Foreigners
So imagine this for a second. In a Western country, there’s an English-speaking Facebook Group. Somebody from a foreign country posts a bunch of sentences in another language and then posts a link to his website. How do you think that would go down? The post would probably be removed at the very least. If it wasn’t taken down, then that dude would probably be insulted (I’ve seen it in expat groups many times).
I don’t even need to talk about how foreigners (or different people of any type) are sometimes treated in Western countries; I’m sure you already know.
5 years in Vietnam and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever encountered any form of discrimination.
Night markets are sick yooo. So much energy in the air and so many interesting things to see. You can walk through and sample a massive array of food for like $1 per stall. Seafood, sushi, roasted pork ribs, spring rolls, Vietnamese street pizza, Vietnamese savory pancakes, Japanese squid balls, rolled ice cream, so many things. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a halfway-hatched duck egg.
They’ve usually got live music going on too, and a decent-sized crowd of happy people taking photos among beautiful lights.
They sell a decent array of things too. I bought this knockoff electric razor for $10 at a night market 2.5 years ago and I still use it; same with my $10 knockoff Bose speaker and $15 fake Ray-Bans. Just because a product isn’t a legit brand name doesn’t automatically make it defective, but it does make it about 90% cheaper.
Night markets are an outstanding date option. My favorite one is in Da Nang, near the dragon bridge and river. It’s called Chợ Đêm Sơn Trà (hey look there’s “trà” (tea) again), pronounced kinda like “Chu Dam Sun Cha”.
The Hoi An night market just up the street from the popular bridge that beautiful lantern-lit boats are always cruising around is a nice night market too; quite romantic.
In Western countries, you’ve got the shopping mall. Not really special or romantic in my opinion, unless maybe you’re dating a hardcore golddigger.
So in Canada and America, people typically get steak dinners to celebrate special occasions. Steak dinner is pretty good (not for your wallet though), but wait until you try hotpot.
I. f*cking. love. hotpot. It’s so good.
Definitely my all-time favorite food, and it’s not really unhealthy because everything you’re eating is essentially boiled (not fried) in a sweet, sour and mildly spicy broth (if you choose Thai flavor). It’s not only delicious but it’s an experience too, because you’re cooking everything yourself.
Buffets are the best. Some even have conveyer belts where pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, sushi, mushrooms, noodles, eggs, fish, shrimp, shellfish and dozens of other things on plates go around the restaurant at a decent clip. You gotta quickly snatch plates off of the conveyer belt before it goes by, and then cook it in a pot built into the table; it’s manic and insanely fun.
The pork and beef are sliced into thin strips, kind of similar to bacon, but less fatty. This way, the meat fully absorbs the flavor of the broth and kind of just melts in your mouth as you eat it.
Other places have hotpot on the street where they bring you a case of bottled beer and a bucket of ice, and you just pay at the end for how many bottles you drank.
40) Vietnam Heals People
Maybe it’s because you don’t have all these unrealistic expectations placed on you by Western society.
Maybe it’s because people here aren’t always trying to judge you or change you.
Maybe it’s because you don’t have to play numerous different fake roles throughout the day; you are free to be yourself.
Maybe it’s the unconditional care, compassion, support and companionship that you’ll most likely receive if you ever get romantically involved with a Vietnamese local.
Maybe it’s the personal growth and discovery that you’ll go through when you submerge yourself into a world completely different from your own.
Either way, Vietnam undisputably has changed my life and made me a better person; I’ve been in Vietnam for most of my adult life. Psychologically, I feel like I grew up here.
Some people may think that they have issues with the way the world is, until they come to a place like Vietnam and realize that really, they just had issues with the way Western society is.
I know Vietnam has been a place where many Westerners have found a contentment that they couldn’t get back home.
41) You Tell Me
You tell me Reason #41. Either you’re lucky enough to already be here right now, or you’re hoping to come here in the near future. Either way, let’s hear what you think.
James | Mosaic Writing