Volunteer tips Vietnam

The comments below are from Lattitude volunteers who went on their placements in Vietnam in the last few years. We don’t necessarily recommend their suggestions but think it’s useful to share feedback from those who’ve been before.

What was the best thing you packed?

  • A small calculator that converts Vietnamese into Aussie dollars so I know how much I am paying for everything (you can get one from Kathmandu for about $15)
  • Teaching aids – Australian coins, postcards of your town (the kids get really excited about looking at things from Australia!). Presents for teachers and friends, phonetics cards and lots of stickers for the kids.
  • Photos of my friends and family
  • A waterproof overlay for my pack and a good pair of hiking boots
  • iPod & iPod speakers – CDs are ok but the players are pretty dodgy and the students often request songs which you can download onto an iPod
  • A light weight sleeping bag that packs up really small
  • Camera cord to upload photos to the internet, and therefore take more!
  • Probably a sleeping bag liner as it’s a very cool way to sleep in the extreme heat
  • My sewing kit definitely. The clothes are not made all that well here. I’ve had to stitch up a lot of my new clothes.


What is one thing you forgot to pack and wish you’d taken with you?

  • Hair straighteners
  • Bluetak. And some sort of map of Australia to explain where Tasmania is!
  • Vegemite, for me and Tim Tams, it won’t be long before you miss things like that!
  • Extra betadine, cold and flu tablets (its surprising how many of us have had colds/flu).
  • A hat – really important
  • Power adapter. I thought you would be able to get one here and thought I would save on space in the backpack but it has proven quite hard to find one here. Pack one!

How much money did you take and was it enough?

  • I took about $4,500AUD, it is definitely enough if you don’t go shopping all the time. I however don’t think it is enough for me to travel for a long period of time.
  • I put $3,000AUD on a Travelex Card and took $200 US dollars in cash. I get paid a bit over 1.5 million dong per/month but I get food provided. What I took was enough because I haven’t done any other travel while I’m here. You would need more if you were going to be booking flights or train tickets.
  • With around $4,000 you could last six months easy
  • I only budgeted $250 for my trip, and starved for a few months. Budget for at least $10 US per week for the money-conscious and twice that if you are a free-spender.
  • Around $800AUD, and complete with pocket money earned it was JUST enough. However, that was only for 3 months teaching.
  • The allowance we are given would cover living expenses if we were budgeting but I reckon it’s good to have about $2,000-$3,000 in the bank because the urge to shop is pretty hard to resist when you live in Hanoi.
Quick facts
Capital: Hanoi
Government: Republic
Language: Vietnamese
Population: 88.1 million
Religions: Buddhism
Timezone: GMT +7
Climate: climate, with humidity averaging 84 % throughout the year
Currency: đồng
"Discovering Vietnam and how radically different it is from England (I really did fall in love with it) has also made me want to travel more and explore the world and all it has to offer. I would never have been this adventurous had I not been on this placement; it’s really opened my eyes to the world."

Marianne, English teacher