Living in Central Vietnam
Direct flights now exist to many regional cities including: Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, and numerous cities in mainland China, Japan and Korea.
Within the Da Nang, Hoi An region there are various land transportation options available.
Taxis are numerous and relatively cheap and all are metered. As a rule of thumb, the larger the taxi the more expensive your ride will be, so flag down a smaller car if you have a small number of travellers. All major taxi companies offer a call-up service and many have English-speaking staff in this tourism-driven region. Major taxi companies in the central region include Mai Linh (nationwide), Vinasun (nationwide), Faifo (Hoi An) and Taxi Tien Sa (Da Nang).
Regular local bus services run between the two towns. Government-run bus services are cheap and basic but some tourism companies, such as Hoi An Express, offer more comfort in an air-conditioned minibus that, while more expensive than a government bus, is still cheaper than a taxi. Some shopping complexes in Danang offer a free shuttle service to and from Hoi An.
Private chauffeur-driven cars and minibuses can be hired by the hour in either town and charge using a calculation that combines time and distance travelled. Green Shoots can help connect you with a reputable chauffeur company if you require one. Self-drive rental is very rare in Vietnam.
Many people buy or hire their own motorbike. If you choose to do this, be aware that you must have a local Vietnamese driving license as well as local third-party insurance coverage.
The Vietnamese dong (VND) is a non-convertible currency, meaning that once you bring money into the country it can be difficult to take it back out (unless you have a paper trail showing that the money came from outside the country). The advantage of its non-convertible status is that the VND is pegged loosely to the US dollar and its value remains very stable against the world’s leading currency. If you move here for work and are paid in VND, you can be fairly confident that the value of your wage will be little changed against a US dollar comparator.
It is easy to access funds in Vietnam: ATMs are numerous and reliable, although many will only dispense small amounts of money in a single transaction (some as little as VND 2 million, around US$100) and they often empty out during the ten-day Lunar New Year holiday period, so remember to stock up on cash before the holiday begins.
HSBC is the only foreign bank to offer retail services in Central Vietnam. It has an office in Danang and offers accounts to foreigners. Many local banks offer the same.
For any relatively serious or chronic medical issues, we recommend you consult a doctor at the Family Medical Practice in Da Nang, which is staffed by international doctors and nurses, or visit the Hoan My hospital or Family Hospital, a recently-opened hospital that operates an international department. Both are in Danang and have direct billing arrangements with many major medical insurers.
Pharmacies in Vietnam carry many prescription drugs that can be bought over the counter. However, these may be sold under a brand name unfamiliar to you and are sometimes not stored appropriately. We therefore recommend that you carry with you any essential prescription medication that may not be available here.
Foreign medical service providers operating in Vietnam suggest that visitors to the country should be immunised against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tetanus, and Japanese encephalitis. Only in very remote parts of the country is malaria prevalent and we advise against taking anti-malarial drugs, as these can have strong and negative side effects. In the wet season, dengue is fairly common in and around Hoi An and Danang.
Personal safety: Vietnam is an extremely safe country for foreigners to visit and live in and attacks on personal safety are all-but unheard of. The only things you should look out for are drive-by snatching of handbags, phones and jewellery (particularly in HCMC) and petty theft, which can happen in bars where tourists gather and tends to increase before the Lunar New Year.
- Police 113
- Fire 114
- Ambulance 115
Your embassy (in Hanoi) or consulate (in Ho Chi Minh City) should also be able to offer assistance if you need help while in Vietnam. If your country has both, as a resident of the central region you are likely to fall under the management of the southern consulate.
If your country does not have an embassy or consulate in Vietnam, your safety and interests will be represented by another embassy. Ensure that you know which national government office inside Vietnam represents nationals from your country before you arrive.
Internet: Many foreigners arriving in the country comment that the speed and reliability of the Internet is higher and superior to that in many Western countries. Connection with overseas sites is reliant on a small number of underwater cables which are occasionally damaged and when this happens load speed can be reduced significantly, although usually only for a few days while the cable is repaired. Domestic sites are unaffected.
Most service providers offer a fixed monthly fee for unlimited Internet use, and some combine this with a Satellite television subscription. Green Shoots administrative staff can help you select a service provider if your landlord has not already installed these services for you.
Mobile phones: Very few Vietnamese people use landline telephones; indeed, many local businesses operate with only a mobile number. Mobile communication is cheap and coverage is good. If you intend to travel outside major urban areas you may opt to sign up with Viettel, a service provider owned by an army-affiliated company that has very good coverage, even in remote areas. Other providers, such as Mobifone and Vinaphone, may have poorer remote coverage but offer different pros and cons, such as weaker or poorer English-language communication with their customers, different monthly charges for unlimited 3G (most charge from VND50,000 to VND70,000/month) and possible upgrade to 4G.
Mobile phone SIM cards can be purchased and installed in your phone at any major phone retailer, where you can also register your phone number so that, if you travel overseas for a period of time and don’t use your phone while out of the country, your Vietnamese number will not be cancelled. Top-up credit can be purchased at most street-side mom and pop grocery shops or at phone retailers.
Central Vietnam in mid-summer can be extremely hot, sometimes reaching 40 degrees celsius or above with very high humidity. For much of the year, temperatures hover within the 30s, and humidity levels between 60% and 80%. In winter (usually just a few weeks long), temperatures drop to the lower 20s and sometimes into the teens. Autumn (October-December) is the rainy season, during which the region may experience major storms, some flooding, and occasionally typhoons. There is always ample warning if a typhoon is expected and families living in the area are able to make early preparations.
Parents & Green Shoots
Our Parent Group is independent of the school but works with management to support families within our community, organising parent get togethers and out-of-school events for students, and helping new families settle into Hoi An and Da Nang.
If you could like to contact our parent group, please contact us for their details.
We asked our parents what they want most for their children. This is what they told us. A Green Shoots, we are doing our very best to meet their needs and offer their children a happy, creative and caring learning experience.
As a parent, you are your child’s most important teacher and there are many ways you can help your child at school as well as at home. When parents are involved in their child’s education, children tend to perform better and be more motivated to do well academically. This parental involvement has been shown to be more important than parents’ past academic achievements, their financial situation, or a range of other external factors.
Ways in which you can support your child’s development at Green Shoots include:
- Meet your child’s teacher or teachers at the beginning of the school year and make informal contact throughout the year to follow your child’s progress. Green Shoots teaching staff send regular email updates to parents, explaining what their class has been studying and how students are progressing. As a parent, you are free to respond to these emails with follow-up questions and can also ask teachers for an appointment to discuss your child’s progress at any time during the school year.
- Attend Parent-Teacher conferences. These are offered twice a year for most grades (see our Assessment page for more information) and parents are encouraged to attend. In some instances, a teacher will request an interview with parents to discuss issues of particular concern, but Green Shoots’ promotes parent-teacher conference attendance by all families even when no specific request has been made, as these meetings allow families to build a rapport with our teaching staff and for teachers to better understand each child’s home environment.
- Demonstrate a positive attitude to learning: Children learn from our actions much more than from our words, so as parents our attitude to our child’s learning journey has a huge impact on his or her attitude to school. Show your child that you care about education, discuss issues of interest with your child, and model positive behaviours that your child can adopt.
- Encourage your child to read: Reading a little every day plays a hugely important role in the learning process, impacting the quality of learning across the curriculum. In addition, making reading fun encourages a life-long love of learning. If your child struggles to enjoy reading at home, you may like to try some of the tips offered here and here to make reading more fun.
- Talk to your child: Through conversation, children learn to communicate (both to listen and to be heard) and expand their vocabulary. Be sure to interact so that your child knows you are really hearing what he or she is saying, and ask questions about issues you have raised to ensure that your child is doing the same. Conversation within the family setting encourages children to think and express themselves while also raising self confidence.
- Encourage your child to be an independent learner: Being responsible for our own actions is a key component of success, whether at school or in the wider world. By helping your child to learn responsibility and independence, you are helping him or her succeed at all stages of life. Goals should be age appropriate and tasks manageable, broken into smaller component parts when needed. Once a goal has have set, or a routine established, parents must consistently enforce the rules that have been agreed if their child is to learn the importance of self discipline and begin to apply it.
- Assist with homework: Life is busy and we are not all able to sit down and oversee or assist with homework on a daily basis. However, must parents can still play an important role in the creation of a safe and secure homework regime. Ensure that your child has a clean, quiet, and comfortable place in which to do homework (preferably a clear desk space, not sitting on the bed or in front of a TV, for example). Help your child develop a regular homework timetable and make sure your child has had time to rest and eat something before beginning homework. We all work best at different times of day so try to establish a time that works for your child, although it is best to avoid study time too close to bedtime. If you are able to take a more active role in homework supervision and assistance, ideas for useful input include: assisting with difficult assignments, looking over completed assignments, offering ideas, and helping your child develop strong and consistent study habits.
- Help your child develop strong study skills and prepare for tests: As your child grows, in-school and external testing will play an increasingly important role in his or her education. Test taking requires very specific skills, which will be developed at school. Extra home-based support in this area can also strongly benefit student’s ability to cope with tests and exams. For ideas about how best to work with the school to develop your child’s exam preparation and exam taking skills, talk to his or her teacher/s.
- Volunteer with our parent group: Green Shoots is keen to build an active parent group, with parents from each section of the school (kindergarten, primary and secondary) getting involved in school activities. Doing so brings you closer to your child’s educational journey and gives you things to discuss with your child that are relevant to his or her daily experiences.
- Learn about additional resources and services available to your child and apply for those your child requires. Although Green Shoots is a relatively small school, we pay close attention to the provision of special services for students with unique learning needs and reach out to specialised service providers where their expertise might benefit a Green Shoots student.
News & Views
At Green Shoots, we feel it is important to keep you as up to date as we can. In December 2016 we introduced a monthly newsletter to do just that. You can follow our news below.
We also like to keep abreast of what our community thinks of us, and will add blogs and other commentaries to this page as we find them. Please contact us if you have news of views you’d like us to share.
Green Shoots sometimes plays host to families who are passing through Central Vietnam while experiencing a larger adventure. One such family, a mother and daughter duo, enjoyed their brief time with us so much they came back for more. You can read their story here and here.
In 2013, when we were starting out and had just a dozen students in our primary and secondary section, we invited a visiting family from America to join in our classes. They spent only an afternoon with us but Green Shoots stuck with them. Here is how Delaney remembered her day with us.
Green Shoots is trailblazing for other schools in the area. In this article, read how a nearby language school manager came to learn from our staff how he might better integrate eco-friendly learning into his TEFL classroom.