Differences between living in Vietnam and the Philippines

This is Dan of Vagabond Awake. This is Qiang from Hobo Ventures. This is a machine transcription of what we both said in the above video.

In this report we discuss some of the Differences between living in Vietnam and the Philippines.

And today we want to talk about some of the differences in what it feels like being in Vietnam versus the Philippines. Yeah, And both are my favorite country. Yeah, they’re both great countries. So I left the United States in 2007 and I’ve lived in 67 countries so far I was traveling through Malaysia in 2016 when I met a beautiful runway model named Qiang.

We met in 2016 and in 2017, I was traveling with Dan. And until right now, we’re seven years together. So we, making reports, you know, based on our feet on the ground.

Yeah. So in both countries and many others, the Philippines and Vietnam, we put our feet on the ground and spent many, many months. For example, in the Philippines, we have like 20 cities there.

We’ve spent time in that [00:01:00] we wrote retired chief reports about. And in Vietnam, I think it’s around 15 cities. So these are not research done from far away. Our feet are on the ground and you’re getting. Our feelings or our experiences from and also many expats we’ve met as we travel through Vietnam and the Philippines.

So that’s what you’re getting.

So what is so special between the Philippines and Vietnam that why people want to retire over there? Or why people want to go there to see this country?

Yes. So in the Philippines, one of the biggest draws is nature. It has 7,000 islands, white sand beaches, and turquoise water.

Waterfalls, just very raw, beautiful nature. Also, it’s the visa is very easy there, which we’ll talk about in more detail also the cost of living is reasonable and they speak English and many people go there to find love.

True. And what about Vietnam? Vietnam has thousands of years of culture.

It has amazing food. And it, it has, it’s a very peaceful country, and it’s, it’s, it’s beautiful, well organized, and peaceful, I would say, very peaceful.

I would say it’s a very life, laid-back kind of style in Vietnam. Yeah. And why I’m saying that, because well, the beer is very cheap in these two countries.

Both of them, also, it’s like in the Philippines, you can get it, which is about like 50 cents of a beer in a local restaurant. It’s the same with Vietnam, also it’s about 40 cents in the local restaurant for the beer. And

Vietnam is the number two coffee exporter in the entire world.

Yes. You can see that.

The cafe culture here is very strong. Totally cafe culture. Okay. The next factor is the food and the restaurant as my specialty. Yeah. Well, in the Philippines, they have their cultural food, the local food is called Longganisa, which is chorizo. So it’s very delicious and every city, every province, every town has its own longganisa.

It’s very different. And also in Vietnam, because the culture is more about because they came and colonized our country. Yeah. Is it sailing that way? Yeah. Okay. And then so they have a very nice croissant. Yeah. Very, very nice croissants.

Yeah. And I would say Vietnam is known for having some of the most delicious and healthy food in the world.

Oh, yeah, yeah. I love, I love, you know,, the soup noodle here. Yeah, the noodle soups. And there are a lot of vegetarian choices in Vietnam. So it’s a great place for foodies, especially if you’re into healthy food.

Yeah. And also if you are looking for international food I would say that it’s, it’s will be more easy to get it in Vietnam, especially in the Da Nang, Nha Trang, Saigon, and also Hanoi. It’s very easy to go get those international food.

But in the Philippines, the international food is only in a big city like Makati, Cebu, Boracay. You will get very good international food. Right. Right.

So they have different lifestyles in the Philippine versus Vietnam. For example, in the Philippines, it’s, I would call it a mall culture.

They have big malls, and everyone goes to the malls. And they walk around, and people watch, and, and the malls are sort of, the mall, and the often, because there’s so many islands, many cities are on the, on or near the water. And they’ll have like a boardwalk. And so the locals all are out there at night walking and talking and socializing and also in the parks, I would say.

Why see the lifestyle between the Philippine and right now is you will see a Philippine, they are more into the more culture, especially in the weekend. You will see a lot of people that go to the mall, but. taste different than the Venom. You don’t see people hang out in the mall that much in the Venom.

They’re more in a cafe, drinking coffee, the park, and also they have the waterfronts, and also they have, you know, family gathering to go to those places. But Philippines also doing the same. In the weekend, they’re also going to the park, and also the Broadway. And then it’s all the family hanging out, you know, and also the waterfall place.

So only one thing is I was seeing this too, and also Vietnam is more on the exercise, more healthy lifestyle. When we go to the gym in the morning, you know, we go there like seven o’clock, you already see a bunch of people playing the badminton. Tennis playing tennis on the gym at six o’clock in the morning and also in the beach.

They are going to the swimming, you know, take the, the tool, like a floating thing, and then they go to the swimming on the beach, you know, so they are more on the exercise kind of thing that I see.

Yeah. Also in Vietnam, you’ll see people in groups meditating and doing calisthenics or aerobics on the beach or.

In parks, they’re very healthy. They’re into their health in Vietnam.

Yeah. And also I, the thing surprising me is Vietnam has their own electric car and they also export the electric car to the world. Yeah. And motorcycles. Or scooters.

Electric cars and scooters. Yeah. It’s called VinFast is the brand. And they are really good looking, aren’t they? Very beautiful looking car. And so, yeah, that surprised me, you know, that they have their own car, you know? Yeah. Yeah.

So one thing you’ll see. in the Philippines is retired expats for a number of reasons.

We’ll talk about the visa in a minute, but the Philippines speak English. So you’ll see a lot of American expats there. And they’re mainly in certain cities like Dumaguete, Makati Cebu. And Angeles City, and Boracay, you’ll see some also. Now, they’re everywhere. They’re in the provinces, too.

But, they’re more concentrated in those areas of the Philippines. Yeah. And in And in Vietnam, you’ll see expats also, but they’re more international, they’re from many different countries more, which you also see in the Philippines, but more international, I would say in Vietnam, and they’re in cities like Da Nang Ho Chi Minh Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Yeah, and also I see more international, like they are from Mexico City, they are from Russia, and they are from France, they’re mostly from a Europe country. And also the tourists on here, they’re also more international. I see more couples, and younger couples, and retirement couples visiting Vietnam than the Philippines.

In the Philippines, I see mostly the single men over there. Yeah, single men that are, are dating the the local women, which is one of the reasons that expats go to the Philippines. So next up is transportation.

In the Philippines they ride these big old jeeps. They’re called jeepneys, that’s sort of the public transportation. They also have tricycles, they have buses, and to get between islands, they have ferries, which you can put your motorcycle on or your car to move around the Philippines if you want to tour the Philippines.

In Vietnam, there are trains that go through the whole country, there are buses, there are minivans.

In both countries, you have GrabTaxi. Yeah, and so GrabTaxi is like an Uber. So if you come to Southeast Asia, you make sure you have a Grab app on your phone so you can go everywhere very easily. This is good for a beginner to visit these two countries. Yeah.

GrabTaxi is important for a number of reasons. One, you don’t have to negotiate the price.

Two, you don’t have to try to describe where it is you want to go with a local who may not understand your accent or your language. And it’s a fixed price. They pick you up where you’re standing, and drop you where you want to go. No hassle. So Grab is a big deal.

Number seven is the language.

Yeah, language. Many people come to the Philippines if they’re looking for English-speaking locals, that’s one of the things, one of the driving forces why there are so many expats in the Philippines.

In Vietnam they’ll speak more what I call like vacation English. Like when you’re in Mexico and you go to a vacation area, and they know how to get a check, or order for a beer, or ask where the restroom is, or tell you how much something costs.

That’s kind of the level of English you get in the expat areas of Vietnam. It’s like being in Mexico in terms of being able to communicate.

Do you have a problem with that in Vietnam?

No, actually, I prefer it. I prefer that level of of communication, and I know that sounds ridiculous, but let me explain why. Have you ever been in a coffee shop and in the U. S. or anywhere else in the world, Europe, where someone’s having a conversation about something in English that is really petty … that it just annoys you that you have to listen to it?

Often humans are having these sort of conversations that you don’t really even want to hear. And when you’re in Vietnam or in Mexico and places where you don’t understand what they’re talking about, it’s quite peaceful. You just live your life and you don’t have to worry about it. But when the time comes that you need to communicate something you need, it’s often a hand gesture.

Hold up your beer, ask for a check point to something and people know what you want or you just get your Google app out and type in the words. It’ll train it into the language that they speak, show it to them on your phone, or you can even use Google now that will translate live conversations between two people speaking different languages.

It’ll speak to them and they speak back. And so you can communicate like that. So honestly, I think limiting yourself to only English-speaking countries I wouldn’t do that. I love the whole world.

Me too. I don’t feel that English is so important because when we go to market, I was I don’t speak Vietnamese, even thought they thought I’m Vietnamese.

And I just point in a thing that I want. And then I asked like, how much, you know, like this. And then they will say, well, I say like, I, you know, don’t know. And then they just pick out the money note and show me how much I need to pay. And then I just take all my money and pay exactly the same money.

Well, sometimes you show a little less money and they take it. That’s only him, not me.

The next one is healthcare.

Yeah, so I’ll start with I’ll start with Vietnam. So I’ve been to the hospital in Vietnam for a checkup. I went to the FV hospital in Saigon. It must be five or six years ago at least. And it was first class on the machinery, the doctors, everything. They spoke English. I didn’t see any drop in quality of health care. I went to the FV hospital in Saigon. But that’s the only hospital I’ve been to in Vietnam. So I have to take the word of expats.

For example right now or recently we were in the city of Da Nang and we spoke to an expat there whose wife had a baby and it was C-section and they were in the hospital. I think it was for five or six days. The, wife was in a private room, food, doctors, surgery, all of it, everything.

Private room. The whole thing is 500 bucks. Not just the hospital, but the doctor, everything, the medicine. And he said, he said he felt that it was great medical care and he couldn’t believe what the bill was.

So, I couldn’t believe you that because it’s really cheaper than Malaysia. Yeah. Malaysia is one of the cheaper and one of the better ones too.

So yeah. So, and then we met another a few years ago when we were in Da Nang, we met a. A young woman who had had a surgery done on her foot in Saigon at the same hospital at the hospital. And she said it was 1200 bucks and it was like a five star resort. That’s the one I’ve been to. So I, you know, I concur with that.

The Philippines, the best hospitals are in the Makati area or Metro Manila, it’s also called, and, and, or Cebu. And then, and then the more midsize or smaller cities have, you know, depends on which city, but they have hospitals that’ll take care of most things.

But for some specialties, you’re probably going to want to go to Cebu or Manila. And we’ve been to the hospitals in Makati, Makati Center. Yeah. And we noticed it was kind of expensive.

It’s, it’s very expensive, the price of over there. Yeah, I mean, Chung’s talking about comparing it to Malaysian prices. You’ll find it’s probably cheaper than the U. S. in most cases, but it’s more expensive than other parts of Southeast Asia.

I can give some example, you know, like we, because we will take some travel vaccine. Yeah. You know, so we decided to take a travel vaccine in the Makati. Yeah. We take the hepatitis A and B, you know, the one shot, it cost us 100 USD.

Right, right. It’s ridiculous to me, but we have no choice because we do it very last minute. And when I go home and I find out the price, you know, it’s only for a shot is like 10 to maximum 20 USD. And we have a standardized of the travel vaccine in Malaysia.

That’s the price, even you are in a private hospital, the private clinic or government hospital, the price is all the same.

Right. So in, in much of Southeast Asia, the certainly Malaysia is a perfect example of that. The government takes care of its people instead of its medical establishment, like in the U S there’s no standardized pricing at all like that. And so Malaysia cares about its citizens and the politicians are taking care of their citizens.

And so I admire that. Yeah. Malaysia is one of the medical tourist country. People go there for medical purpose. Yeah. Yes. So let’s go to the next one. Okay.

The next one is grocery and the public market.

So the Philippines is 7,000 islands.

And not all the produce is grown on every island. As you can imagine, some are small, some are big. Yeah. Like, for example Luzon, which is the biggest island, There’s a city called Baguio and around Baguio, a bunch of fruits and vegetables are grown up there. And so in that city, you have crazy amounts of choices, really reasonable prices, but other parts of the Philippines, because I have to move it around on ferries and trucks and it takes a long time.

They lose some of the produce along the way. We’ve noticed that the produce isn’t quite as fresh in the Philippines as it is in other parts of Southeast Asia, and it can cost more because of all the transportation costs. True.

That’s why in Vietnam, we find that the produce is so beautiful and fresh, and I can get different kinds of vegetables, different kinds of fruits in the local market.

So there is a difference between these two countries about the public market and grocery store. Yeah, and you want to shop in a public market. It’s often an open air market or wet market because the floor around you is wet. But that’s where you’re going to get the best selection and the best prices in both countries.

You want to pretty much stay away from what I call the expat grocery stores, which have shopping carts and they are airconditioned with a clean vinyl floor. You’re going to pay. Sometimes you can pay double and triple in those places. So if budget is important to you, you want to shop in the public markets.

Next up, this very important, the next three topics that we want to cover.

So dating. Now Philippines is known for, many expats go to the Philippines to date and so, and one of the reasons is that the locals speak English there. It’s often not the same, same dialect the vocabulary can change a little bit, but the basic language is there.

And so dating is very popular in the Philippines. A lot of Westerners whether it’s Canada or Australia, the U. S., New Zealand Britain and the Europeans go there because many Europeans, as you know, speak English. And so it’s a place you can go and date fairly easily. And there’s a huge population there people living all over the Philippines.

So it’s not just in the cities. You can go to provinces anywhere in the Philippines throw a profile up or just meet people in public. It’s a natural place to go for dating and finding love and whether it’s in retirement or, or whatever.

The other thing is the age difference relationships are quite common in the Philippines.

So it’s not unusual to see an older person and a younger person together in the Philippines. And it’s quite accepted socially, Yeah, when we are traveling around the Philippines that I see a lot the age gap relationship over there, they are showing in the public.

But in Vietnam, that’s totally different. Yeah, I would say in Vietnam, when you’re walking around, you’ll see some, but you’re not going to see as many age different relationships. I think it’s maybe because it hasn’t been around so long. Vietnam is really just opened, you know, say 10, 15, 20 years ago. And so it’s kind of new to have expats there.

Foreigners are coming here, but it is not as common yet. It’s not as accepted, but you will see it. I would say that some bits of my experience is I still see there is a Foreigner dating a Vietnamese local, you know, they are more to the young people, but the age gap relationship is not, It’s hardly see that, but what I hear, they have a local Vietnamese girlfriend.

So that’s why I see they still have, but they’re not showing in the public.

Yes. Great point. Cause like almost every expat we talk to talks about who they’re dating, their girlfriend or whatever. But they’re not in public with them. So maybe it’s because it’s not socially accepted. Yes. They’re not walking around in public together.

Maybe that’s the difference. I would say that. Yeah. Because I’m from Asia. I know about Asia culture. Right. That’s between China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia. Yeah. That’s why I’m see, that’s that’s age gap relationship is, will not show public in Vietnam, China, or Malaysia.

Yes. The next one is about the online shopping.

Oh, that’s my thing that, you know sometimes you want to get something from overseas, it’s easy to shop in Shopee and Lazada and both place, both country, they have this service as well. And it’s very easy and nice.

And also that’s the massage, manicure, pedicure, haircut, everything is good in this two country. Yeah. They’re both great.

The last one is Visa.

So the Philippines has a better visa situation. You can show up in the Philippines. Many Western countries just show up and they stamp you for the first 30 days or 28 or whatever it is. 30 days. 30 days. And then and then you can just extend and you can extend and you can extend, over and over again, for up to 36 months.

The length of extension you can get on each visit to immigration depends on what area of the Philippines you’re in. It seems like immigration offices have different policy, but sometimes you can extend. For just a month, sometimes two months, some will let you extend for six months, and there’s some variance in that but 36 months without having to get a retirement visa or a work visa or a marriage visa, you can just, and then at the end of 36 months, you just fly to another country for a few days or a few weeks on a vacation or whatever, fly back in and the whole clock starts over again.

The thing is, you know, three year. I don’t believe that you don’t get out from Philippines for three years. Even in my own country, I get out every year. So, you’re probably aren’t even going to get to 36 months because you’re going to go, … Hey, I wonder what Vietnam’s like.  Hey, I wonder what Thailand’s like.

You’re going to be flying around. Remember these places are so close. They’re only like a hundred dollar airfare round trip, depending on which country you’re in and where you’re flying to. So it’s not really that complicated. It’s quite easy. Each time you return the 36 month clock starts over again.

Now, Vietnam’s a different story.

Yeah. So Vietnam doesn’t have a quote, “retirement visa” and the Philippines does have one, but no one bothers with it. They just stick with this 36 month thing. But the Vietnam doesn’t have one at all, but everywhere we go, we see these expats that have been here for three years, four years, five years. And it depends.

The visa policy changes from time to time. The worst it ever gets is doing 30 day visa runs, like we met some guy in Da Nang, and he does the 30 days visa run for two years, I think, and he’s still as retired in Da Nang.

In our reports for the cities in Vietnam you’ll see there’s little links to expat Facebook pages and you go to those and just start readind and asking people talking about visa and utilize it.

There’ve been people in Vietnam for 10, 15, 20 years that are doing visa runs. And now maybe 10 years ago they were doing a, a one year visa run or just changes. But so people stay in Vietnam. They don’t call it a retirement visa, but people retired.

All these things you will not find in the official website. True, and true of the Philippines too, right? They don’t have 36 month extension. It’s not on their webpage. It’s not on their webpage. And we learn it when we’re on the ground. Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground to get all this information.

It’s the same thing with Vietnam. Vietnam right now has a 90 day e-visa. Yeah. And how to get, to stay long term here? Just go to expat Facebook group, write your question or read the paper, writing a question with the answer.

On Facebook, people will tell you what they’re doing as long as they feel this is totally legitimate, but on the street with your feet on the ground, if you chat with expats, some of them will tell you stuff that’s not really approved by the Vietnamese government officially.

But people have different agents or different crazy things they are doing, and they stay for a long time, but they don’t talk about it in public media because they don’t want to be sent home for breaking some rules. So follow the rules or if you don’t like them, we’re real followers, but some people are not, they’ll just do whatever.

And that’s common in Asia, actually. Very common in Asia. Yeah. People just do whatever they can get some government official to get them to do. So we’re not recommending that, but just realize that the full story is not in the public domain.

Yes. That is the difference between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Yeah, but you won’t know which one you love till you come put your feet on the ground. And you won’t know which one, whether you’re going to want to stay or be a slow traveler, any of that. You have to come. Put your feet on the ground and see how it feels for you.

And tell us what you feel about these two countries.

If you’ve been there to live them long enough for a few months, you know, or you are living there right now and what makes you, that you stay and choose that country to be your retirement paradise.

Yeah. And we have people who watch our channel that are some of the most sophisticated travelers in the world.

So make sure you read the comments. And hear what people are saying. They’ll agree and disagree with us. And many of them are, know what they’re talking about.

So thank you so much for watching and we’ll see you in the next video.