7 Best Places to Live in Vietnam and 3 to Avoid

A photo of a Vietnamese person in a traditional row boat making their way across a river filled with lotus flowers

Vietnam is a gorgeous country in Southeast Asia near the eastern edge of the Indochinese Peninsula. With 96 million residents, Vietnam explodes with culture, community, and warmth, making it an ideal expat destination.

Depending on where you live, you can see the beaches and snow in Vietnam’s tropical and mountainous regions. The low cost of living compared to the United States makes it accessible to many foreigners, and you can live comfortably in a city or countryside if you would like.

Here, we will discuss the seven best places to live in Vietnam for expats. We considered the safety, affordability, livability, walkability, crime rate, and expat community when making our list.

Key Takeaways

  • The best place for expats to live in Vietnam is Nha Trangk, as the people welcome visitors from around the world to enjoy their gorgeous scenery, it is affordable, and you can readily access other cities.
  • The best place for retirees is Hoi An, as you can enjoy a peaceful lifestyle without being completely isolated from an urban region.
  • Da Nang is an incredible location for people who want some urban amenities while retaining a sense of calm.
  • Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most fun cities in Vietnam and is a favorite destination for young expats looking to party or engage in business.
  • Hanoi is a beautiful city with a strong expat community, and it has tons of history and cultural significance.
  • Sa Pa is an excellent place for expats who want to sustain themselves in a rural area of Vietnam without being completely isolated from modern society.
  • For a French-influenced city that provides less culture shock than most of Vietnam, consider living in Da Lat.
  • Overall, Vietnam is a trending place for expats to move due to its affordability, safety, and beauty. The places to avoid are inhabited by indigenous peoples and closed-off communities, so they would not suit an expat well.

Best Places to Live in Vietnam for Expats

We have ranked the best places to live in Vietnam based on their perceived livability for Americans. We considered tolerance, expat resources, affordability, and amenities the most in our rankings.

1. Nha Trang

A photo of Nha Trang Beach in Vietnam. It shows a calm aqua blue ocean lapping against the shores of a small jetty. There are several small buildings and a ferry in the distance

Nha Trang is a southern city on the coast with massive mountains, crystal clear waters, and clean air. You can live on numerous islands, with the most popular being Vinpearl Land. They offer lots of delicious seafood and plenty of restaurants. Nha Trang is a touristy city with hotels and an international airport. However, you can live there for a mere $533/month, and they have plenty of employment opportunities.

This beach town does not have many startups, has average nightlife, and is humid and hot with little A/C. However, they are more LGBTQ+ and female-friendly than many Vietnamese cities, and they have decent racial tolerance. They have some English Centers but a more established Russian expat community. Residents give it a decent quality of life score.

  • Walkability: somewhat walkable
  • Crime Rate: 43.24 crime index
  • Number of Expats: moderate Russian expat population, many tourists

2. Hoi An

Hoi An, or the Ancient Town, is home to the Tra Que Vegetable Village, multiple beaches, and romantic architecture. It has a peaceful atmosphere, and it is near Da Nang if you miss the cityscape. More English Centers are opening, and it has various restaurants and career opportunities. Hoi An has strong air quality and decent safety levels, and it costs around $849/month to live there.

While Hoi An has decent LGBTQ+ and female friendliness, it does not have much nightlife, walkability, or racial tolerance. It has moderate safety levels and few startup opportunities. Overall, Hoi An is a much better destination for retirees looking to live in a relaxing, nature-oriented community.

  • Walkability: car-dependent
  • Crime Rate: 6.62 crime index
  • Number of Expats: considered transient as expats usually stay a few weeks to months

3. Da Nang

A photograph of Da Nang, Vietnam. It shows a small city which is surrounded by several high peaks, The sun is shining through a partially cloudy sky

Da Nang is a smaller city than Ho Chi Minh, but it still provides urban comforts in a cleaner and more organized fashion. You can access the beach or the Han River by day and explore many restaurants and a few clubs at night. Da Nang does not have many tourists, but the residents are friendly to expats. They have plenty of employment opportunities, decent air quality, and a walkable layout. Da Nang has delicious food and a growing expat community.

The cost of living in Da Nang is about $845/month. However, they are not LGBTQ+-friendly, are only somewhat female-friendly, and have moderate racial tolerance. There are not many startups, and the nightlife is not as vibrant as in other cities. While there is a high quality of life, Da Nang is not as fun as some more populated cities. Overall, Da Nang is an appealing destination for people who prefer a somewhat urban area without much hustle and bustle.

  • Walkability: exceptionally walkable
  • Crime Rate: 28.70 crime index
  • Number of Expats: small but growing expat population

4. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is an urban city in Southern Vietnam with over 8 million residents. With high internet speeds, great nightlife, safety, and many Western conveniences, tons of expats flock to the city formerly known as Saigon. They have a strong expat community and a relatively low cost of living of $786/month.

The business capital does have its downsides. It has a moderate crime rate higher than most of Vietnam, though most of it is non-violent. Furthermore, the city has poor air quality, low venture capital, and no nature. People are typically intolerant of other races and sexualities, but they are female-friendly. Nonetheless, people who live there have tons of fun exploring all that the city offers in its 12 districts.

You can find amenities like museums, malls, parks, cafes, and clubs, with new places popping up regularly. There are a decent number of startups, so you will always have some employment opportunities. 

  • Walkability: very walkable with a great train system
  • Crime Rate: 54.11 crime index
  • Number of Expats: over 100,000

5. Hanoi

A shot of the Hanoi, Vietnam cityscape. It shows dozens of mid level buildings on outcroppings of land that are surrounded by a large river

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is brimming with culture and history. It is an urban city in northern Vietnam with various restaurants, shopping centers, parks, and bars. Hanoi is not as modern as Ho Chi Minh City, but it still offers traditional food, employment opportunities, and decent air quality. This safe city has multiple expat neighborhoods and districts as well.

However, Hanoi is not LGBTQ+ or female-friendly, and it has little racial tolerance. Citizens are moderately friendly to foreigners, and there are few startups. The internet is slower, and the nightlife is droll. Nonetheless, it costs an affordable $757/month to live there, and residents report a decent quality of life.

  • Walkability: exceptionally walkable
  • Crime Rate: 37.65 crime index
  • Number of Expats: moderate, yet growing, population

6. Sa Pa

Sa Pa is a rural town with extensive mountain ranges, passes, hills, and valleys. You can find rice fields, hiking trails, and the highest peak in the Indochinese region at the Fansipan summit. Also, there are many ethnic minorities in Sa Pa, giving it a unique architectural and cultural flair. You can taste many cuisines and visit traditional markets. This French colonial town has few restaurants and houses, but it is somewhat touristy.

Living just outside of Sa Pa will let you live off the grid. You can grow crops, hunt for meat, build your home, and experience independent mountain life.  Sa Pa lacks startups and employment opportunities as most people sustain themselves. If you miss the city, you can quickly travel to Hanoi. 

It costs about $704/month to live in town, and the city is walkable with good air quality. There isn’t much internet, and the residents are not racially tolerant or LGBTQ+-friendly. It is moderately female-friendly.

  • Walkability: exceptionally walkable
  • Crime Rate: considered safe, no numerical crime index
  • Number of Expats: some French expats and plenty of tourists

7. Da Lat

A photograph of several tourists standing on top of Datanla Waterfall located just outside of Da Lat City in Vietnam. It shows a huge waterfall surrounded by lush green vegetation

Da Lat is a chilly city at a high altitude. The architecture has a strong French influence, making it an excellent choice for the expat who wants to ease into living in Asia. They grow plenty of coffee varieties and have a slower pace of life than the more urban regions. You can see gorgeous mountains and waterways and visit plenty of cafes. Furthermore, they have WiFi access, safety, and employment opportunities, as well as a strong expat community.

The Foggy City has poor racial tolerance and female and LGBTQ+ friendliness, but locals are extremely friendly to foreigners. The city has minimal nightlife and is most suitable for early birds who prefer a slow, relaxing lifestyle. Da Lat has okay air quality and a decent quality of life, and it costs $774/month.

  • Walkability: exceptionally walkable
  • Crime Rate: 35.15 crime index
  • Number of Expats: primarily French expats

Worst Places for Expats to Live in Vietnam

The worst places for expats to live are still great for a vacation or day trip, but they are built around closed-off and indigenous communities retaining their ancient cultures.

1. Tay Ninh

Tay Ninh is a southern city filled with Vietnamese culture. You can visit the Cao Dai Temple and walk to the Long Hoa Market. The small town has several hiking trails as well. While Tay Ninh is a welcoming and safe place to visit, it has few expats and opportunities for foreigners. The community centers around the natives and followers of Caodaism, so you will likely feel like you do not belong.

  • Walkability: moderately walkable
  • Crime Rate: considered safe, no numerical crime index
  • Number of Expats: very few

2. Kon Tum

Kon Tum is rich with culture as it is filled with small ethnic villages and indigenous tribes. They have some tourist activities like guided tours that take you to small tribes, and you can stay with them for the evening. Another tourist activity is the 1913 Montagnard Church.

While a quaint village, Kon Tum does not have much opportunity for expats. The city features indigenous, self-sustaining communities that practice ancient traditions. This Central Highlands village does make for an excellent vacation spot.

  • Walkability: moderately walkable
  • Crime Rate: considered safe, no numerical crime index
  • Number of Expats: very few, but some tourists

3. Can Tho

Can Tho is the fourth largest city in Vietnam in the Mekong Delta. It has tons of Buddhist pagodas and floating markets to shop. You can take a guided boat tour to visit the Cái Răng market. The Mekong Delta has beautiful rural views for tourists, and the locals all support each other. Can Tho has a developing tourism sector, but it is not fit for expats to live just yet.

  • Walkability: somewhat walkable
  • Crime Rate: considered safe, no numerical crime index
  • Number of Expats: very few, but some tourists

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions concerning the best places to live in Vietnam.

What Is the Nicest Neighborhood in Vietnam?

In our opinion, Nha Trang is the nicest place for expats to live in Vietnam. They are the most welcoming of different cultures and sexualities, the locals are kind to foreigners, and they have a well-developed tourism sector. You are likely to find employment and can enjoy the gorgeous beaches for a fraction of the cost of living of other neighborhoods in Vietnam.

Where Do Expats Live in Vietnam?

Expats primarily live in Ho Chi Minh City. Boasting over 100,000 expats, Ho Chi Minh City has English Centers and expat communities. You can enjoy a busy nightlife, engage in business ventures, and meet tons of new people.

Where Do the Wealthy Live in Vietnam?

The wealthiest city in Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City. While it does not have the highest cost of living on the list, many people spend more to live a comfortable lifestyle. It has the highest GDP and income per capita in the country at $5,131 in 2014.

What Is the Safest City in Vietnam?

The safest city in Vietnam is Hoi An. It has the smallest listed crime index we found, and people often lead peaceful lifestyles. Hoi An offers the beauty of nature while being located just outside of a city.

What Are the Bad Areas of Vietnam?

Overall, Vietnam is a relatively safe country. It has minimal violent crime, with the most rampant being pickpocketing in Ho Chi Minh City. The places to avoid are primarily inhabited by indigenous peoples who sustain themselves, so it would take far more work to adjust to the lifestyle there.

Related: Cheapest Property in Vietnam