Life in Thai Nguyen
The character of the city, when you start exploring there’s lots of good places to drink and shop. The proximity to Hanoi. It’s a lot more peaceful and quiet compared to big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, but it still has things to do. It’s got a big university so has a young and creative vibe.
How busy is the city and how the quality of life?
It’s still a city so it can get a little busy but overall a lot less busy than bigger cities. The quality of life is good, we don’t get stuck in traffic for hours on end like we used to do when we lived in Ho Chi Minh City. We can walk to work and walk to coffee shops and just generally have a wander around so it’s a very walk able city too. It’s a lot more relaxed and slow paced. We also live near a supermarket and a market and have a kitchen in our APAX apartment so are able to cook and eat well.
We don’t often eat out as we enjoy being able to cook for ourselves as there are many markets nearby but there is a great Japanese restaurant called Osaka, which has sushi and some other Western food. There’s also a good hotpot place near our apartment and lots of places for great street food.
Any nice cafes around? What’s the nightlife like (if applicable)?
There are so many great tea and coffee places around that have a really cool atmosphere and nice decor. The woodhouse, Dutra coffee, 22 cafe, C.cake, Gang no.24, Ngam, Tasty Juicy.. just to name a few!.
As for nightlife there are a couple nightclubs that we’ve been to, but also a really great bar near our apartment called Sole pub. There’s someone there that speaks really good English and we’ve become friends with and they make really fancy cocktails and have an extensive menu.
In our free time we like to read, watch movies and cook when we’re at home. There are a few gyms but we like to exercise at home because a lot of the gyms’ opening hours don’t suit us. We have a list of coffee shops to visit (searching the Thai Nguyen tag on Instagram has helped us find loads of cool places!) and generally have a wander around. There are some nice spots for shopping and also a cinema that’s really cheap and shows English films. We also go to Hanoi every few weeks as it’s around 1.5 hours away by minibus.
Are there any places that is a must see, any major tourist attractions?
There is a lake just outside the city called Núi Cốc Lake. We made contact with an organisation that does free tours to the tea plantations which are really beautiful, and they also took us to Cua Tu stream which is a great spot for swimming and has a waterfall. Phoang Hoang Cave is also really impressive.
The center is located right in the city and is easily accessible, around a 20-30 minute walk or a short drive from the Apax housing. There are places nearby to get food and a drink at lunch time.
Driving itself is fine as most of the roads are quite quiet, Izzy drove in Ho Chi Minh City before. Having said that, we choose to walk most of the time. Renting a bike is a lot harder than in big cities though so we found that quite difficult. Previous teachers have brought their bikes over from Hanoi.
The center is very nice, modern and clean with four classrooms. The CMs are really helpful and help us out when we need it and the other Vietnamese staff such as the cleaners are so friendly and we always chat - even if we can’t understand each other! The kids have a lot of personality and often want to stay and talk before and after class.
There’s not a lot of Westerners here so Vietnamese people are always friendly to us and like to practice their English. We have made a few Vietnamese friends and who have shown us around the city and shown us where to eat and drink.
There is time to focus on yourself a bit more and pick up new and past hobbies, that we haven’t had time for in the past. With the right mindset it pushes you to explore new places independently (and not just google where to go!) and push you out of your comfort zone. We have gotten the chance to build relationships with people that don’t necessarily speak our language and have gotten the chance to experience Vietnam in a way not many other people will have gotten the chance to.