Your move to Vietnam will take you to an elongated country in Southeast Asia, sharing borders with Laos, China, and Cambodia. Vietnam not only attracts visitors, tourists, and travelers. It has also become an attractive destination for expats.
The Vietnamese are usually very welcoming to foreigners and expats. However, although its people are hospitable, Vietnam was a country long occupied by foreign powers and the resulting warfare devastated it. The impact and influence of both can be seen across the country, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon as it was once known. After living through such a brutal and bitter history, the Vietnamese are very protective of their independence and national sovereignty.
Strong Variations in Climate Are Common
Vietnam is located between the Gulf of Thailand and the Gulf of Tonkin, in Southeast Asia. It stretches from China in the North to Cambodia in the South. Due to the country’s lengthy topography, you will, upon moving to Vietnam, soon find that the weather differs strongly depending on where you live.
In Vietnam’s North, you will be exposed to a monsoonal climate, with alternating dry and monsoon seasons. The South is tropical and hot all year round. The meteorological divide is the Pass of the Cloud, north of Da Nang.
If you are moving to Vietnam and the Mekong Delta, you will also experience quite a few typhoons in this area during the rainy season. These typhoons often cause flooding and severe damage.
A Politically Stable Country, Despite Its Troubled Past
After moving to Vietnam, expats will recognize that it is a densely populated country which still faces various economic challenges. Vietnam is a Socialist Republic that gained its independence from France in 1945. However, France occupied the country until its defeat against communist forces in 1954. Under the Geneva Accord of 1954, the country had to be divided between the communist North under Ho Chi Minh, and the anti-communist South under Ngo Dinh Diem. Then, between 1955 and the fall of Saigon in 1975, there was a war between the South (supported by US forces), and the North (supported by China and the USSR). The outcome was a victory for the North Vietnamese, and a reunification of the country under communist rule.
After the reunification, there was a decade of economic and political isolation, which brought hardship and extreme poverty to the Vietnamese. However, the Vietnamese government enacted the “doi moi” (renovation) of the country in 1986. They engaged in reforms to liberalize the economy, and to open the country to the world. Nowadays, Vietnam has been lifted out of a poor country status, and has signed agreements with a lot of countries, including the US. The communist leaders, however, maintain tight control over the politics of the country, even though it is possible to see a few small-scale demonstrations happening.
Although the economy is still dominated by state-owned businesses, the government has made several attempts to further economic liberalization and international integration. Moreover, there has been a new and significant move toward privatization. Beginning in early 2014, the government has been making plans to privatize more than 432 state-owned enterprises. Thus, expats are welcome if they bring a willingness to invest or sufficient professional qualifications to the table.