Advice from an English Teacher in Nha Trang, Vietnam

by Brian
(Nha Trang Viet Nam)

Never fancied to live in HCMC to dirty busy crazy people driving on the pavement at rush hour just mad. Great to visit for a few days always wonderful to get back to Nha Trang. A stunning beach resort very laid back outstanding beaches seafood etc

Wages in Nha Trang you are lucky to get $10. I do but I have been here 10 months and started on $7 an hour. At one point I was working 50 hours a week turned down no work mad dash from school to school every day. Soon stopped that.

As the previous writer said the schools will try to get the max out of you and give you the minimum. I get the feeling that foreign teachers are not well respected maybe because there are so many cowboys teaching good to see the government clamping down more work for the real teachers.

I attended an observation of a prospective school a few days ago they wanted me to cover half a dozen classes as one of their "English teachers" was going home for a few months. Gees oh how bad was this guy terrible and to cap it all he gave the class the option to finish 15 minutes early.

Understand this the Vietnamese work hard get paid little and sacrifice a lot to learn English most in the hope of getting a better job so they want as much for their money as they can so more like ending the class 10 minutes late than 15 minutes early. The arrogance or laziness or downright unprofessionalism of (Name Removed) always astounds me. Went for a few drinks with the guy afterwards nice bloke but this attitude "I can speak English so I can teach it" is nonsense.

I was a teacher in England for 17 years before I had to get away so much crap especially the students wish I had done it 10 years earlier teaching the Vietnamese is a joy especially compared with what I put up with back home. At my first observation before I gave my first demo I was shocked to see the Vietnamese TA hit one of the kids with a ruler!!! A proper smack as well, it’s the norm here one I do not practice much but!

Perhaps we were too quick to give up corporal punishment hmmm debatable I know one thing for sure the Vietnamese kids utterly respect their Vietnamese teachers. Okay they try it on with the foreign ones but like so much in Asia it’s all about face so dragging them out of classes in front of their friends for a quiet word does the trick nicely and no need for the stick!!

The real culture shock for me was how bent the government agencies are. If you have the money you can get pretty much what you want. Example it cost me 10m Dong and a huge amount of slogging and vast amounts of patience to get my work visa. Police doctors public office all wanted a little (in some cases a lot...the police) "lobby" money. The whole country operates on backhanders.

Seen 20 or 30 taxis the other week all pulled over by a bunch of highway cops all paying their dues it made me smile I just accept it now.

I needed my work permit to apply for an extended visa (2 years) if I got it by a certain date then I would pay $150 for the 2 years or another no re-entry for a 3 month visa (you can get up to 4 extensions like this until you have to leave the country for a day...Cambodia) for $60.

My application was submitted for final approval with a $100 tucked inside that way I ensured my application went straight to the top of the pile rather than being left for months. Without the help of my school and my Vietnamese friends getting a work permit would have been impossible ... so much red tape to get through.

One office sent me all the way to Ho Chi Minh City to their office there to get yet another red stamp (oh how they love to red stamp everything) only to be told by the guy in charge there that the rules changed at the beginning of the month (3 days ago) and that the guy in Nha Trang should have known. So, I was sent back no red stamp!!

OH the guy in Nha Trang was sorry but he still wanted 50 bucks to give me the red stamp. After 4 months of slogging and paying it paid off I got a three year work permit. The final piss take however was the UK consulate who demanded I turn up in person at the consulate in Ho Chi Minh City with my degrees to have them get and another bloody red stamp but they demanded $75 per stamp.

I had to get three do ... the math as our yank friends say. I asked why got a "just doing my job sir" Not so slow to catch onto where the money is to be made in.

In the end totally worth it. I feel more secure. I know I won’t be asked to leave the country. I get more respect as you need a proper teaching qualification to get the permit so if you have it the schools know you’re the real deal and subsequently are prepared to pay more.

But best of all is the teaching of the kids they said they are a joy and no matter how pissed of the school mangers make me it takes about 2 minutes with the kids to start me smiling again.

Mr. Brian


Reply from

It sounds as though the schools in Nha Trang are lucky to have you. Some great points. I don't remind people often enough the value of seniority in Vietnam.

The longer you stick around the higher your salary and the ease of getting other work.

There are so many reasons why I didn't get my work permit. I still don't have it but it is 'Seriously' underway.

I just really don't like the fact that I would have to change my work permit if I ever changed employers. A work permit allows you to work but you are less free to consider other positions.


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Feb 08, 2017
English Teacher in Nha Trang
by: Philip

You wrote "I have an associate diploma (undergraduate degree)"

I assume that you mean that you do not have a Bachelor's degree. Is your TEFL a 130 hour course with in class training? Celta is the one you (and they) want.

I worked in Nha Trang for the duration of my 12 month contract. I could not wait to get out of there. The ocean is beautiful but I found it a very boring place to live.

Dak Lak is an easy place to get a work permit. They make it very hard on the Cambodians, but not the English Speaking foreigners.

I would not be surprised if you were given a work permit in Dak Lak that was not honestly obtained. Many of the schools either bend the rules, lie on the application, or bribe the right people .... or all of the above.

You should easily get a work permit in Nha Trang, IF you can find a school willing to sponsor you. It is not so easy because of the lack of positions available and the amount of teachers in Saigon and Hanoi that want to relocate to Nha Trang.

I worked in Saigon for 3 years before getting the transfer to Nha Trang. The point is that the few schools in Nha Trang (Compared to Saigon/Hanoi) get so many applicants that they can afford to be very selective in who they hire.

Also, because of so many applicants, they cut the hours very tightly. 10 hours of class time per week is common.

BUT, It is possible for you to get a work permit in Nha Trang. All you need is a school willing to offer you hours. If you are going to try, do it now. The best time is just after the Vietnamese New Year (TeT).

You have experience but no degree and a weak TEFL (Compared with the CELTA they so covet). That means that your chances are less, and your only bargaining chip will be to work for less than everyone else.

My advice is to go for it, BUT, only if you have enough money in your savings to see you through at least 3 months. You are taking a big risk, but it is your risk to take.

Good Luck.


Feb 08, 2017
Working in Nha Trang
by: Tim


I have been living and teaching in Vietnam for nearly 1 and a half years.

I have an advanced certificate (information technology), an associate diploma (undergraduate degree)in business/microcomputing, and a TEFL.

I was able to get a work permit in Daklak province, which is apparently quite strict due to the threat of undocumented itinerant workers crossing the border from Cambodia (cannot verify this information).

I recently competed my contract and am thinking of relocating to Nha Trang (or surrounds) to be closer to the ocean.

Can anyone offer insight into the current work permit situation, and the likelihood of securing one, in Nha Trang?

Thanks in advance.

Oct 09, 2012
Air force
by: william frank

Got to nha trang jan 67 was in the air force in the 14 fms age shop. Was there till sep 69 when the base down sized. Got shipped to phu cat. Extended and got back to nha trang in the c-123k and mc-30 black bird squadron in age.Left 1971. I really enjoyed the people and base. Lived off base

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