Let’s tackle one thing at a time. To begin with, let’s talk about your language skills. Like most people, it’s quite troublesome as you try your best to communicate with the locals in Vietnam. Now think about what ways you can get through this. Firstly, you can either learn the language, duh. Or the easier way could be to use some sort of apps to help you with the translation. Or maybe you don't worry about communication issues at all and you just want to enjoy your vacation as much as possible in Vietnam. So either way, depending on your purpose, it's important to know what you want so that you can choose what's the right thing for you to do.
1. Making Language Friends
As mentioned, there are multiple ways to do this so let’s talk about how you can actually learn the language first. If you are living long-term in Vietnam or Saigon to be specific, it’s a no-brainer that you have to learn a little bit of Vietnamese get through the day. So to start, you might want to equip yourself with tools that actually help you succeed.
The first tool is Duolingo, an app you can download onto your phone. It’s convenient and easy to use. When you are waiting in line or enjoy your free time, it’s good to pull out your phone once in a while to learn Vietnamese for 10-15 minutes. That’s it. Easy peasy.
The second tool you might want to use is (you guessed it) Tinder. I know what you are thinking “I used it every day so tell me something new.” Well as the saying goes “life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated” by Confucius, not everything has to be complicated so use what you are already familiar with. So how to use Tinder to your advantage in terms of learning a new language?
It’s quite simple. Just imagine talking to every girl or guy that is more than happy to hold a long meaningful conversation with you because they either want to date you or to practice their language skills with you. Of course, the reality might show you otherwise but most really do want to practice their English so it’s a win-win for both of you as long as you keep it under control.
1-2. Where to learn Vietnamese
Remember it is just the first step. If you want to advance your Vietnamese and it’s something you want to get serious about. So here are my recommendations. Make friends with the locals by joining the English clubs for a free conversational exchange like these:
Coffee Talk English
200, D5 Street, Ward 25, Binh Thanh District, HCMC
ME Cafe - Nguyen Hue
Floor 3, 40E Ngo Duc Ke, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC
Lingo Connector (Free tour guide for travelers)
195 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, Phuong 17, Binh Thanh Ward, HCMC
Or join paid Vietnamese classes to deepen your language skills. And of course, don’t forget to make some friends with like-minded people and practise with them outside the classrooms.
Saigon Language School
280a Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC
Faculty of Vietnamese Studies
10-12 Alley 7 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC
However, if you would like to learn Vietnamese remotely in the comfort of your home, then this can be another option for you.
123 Vietnamese Center
Visit here https://123vietnamese.com/ for more information
2. Making Sports Friends
As you slowly learn the language, you wonder what there is to talk about with the locals. Why not start with sports? That’s right, sports. Think about it. Anyone from any country would be familiar with sports including you. Maybe you are not born for it but at least it could be your very first conversation starter in Vietnam. To give you more insights, many Vietnamese enjoy sports such as soccer, badminton, basketball and table tennis.
From here, you can create more relevant stories and experiences with your Vietnamese friends by actually joining, competing and bonding with them in soccer matches or celebrating the winning team in the tournament at the sports clubs and bars. And hey, you are not only now capable of making more meaningful connections with the locals but also getting fit at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone, right? Here is a list of places you can play or watch sports games with the locals.
2-2. Where To Play Sports
Saigon Sports Club
514B Huynh Tan Phat, Binh Thuan Ward, District 7, HCMC
CockyBuffalo Gym/Sports Gears Multishop
174 - 176, 178 Ha Huy Tap, Tan Phong, District 7, HCMC
Hockey Shop Vietnam
5-48,(@ 83 Quoc Huong) Thao Dien, District 2, HCMC
VITA (Vietnamese International Tennis Academy)
146 Nguyen Van Huong Street, Thao Dien, District 2, HCMC
32 Nguyen Thi Thap, Tan Hung, District 7, HCMC
2-3. Where To Watch Sports
Guru Sports Bar
10 Ky Dong, District 3, HCMC
The Orient Pub
41 Vo Truong Toan, Thao Dien, District 2, HCMC
Champion Sport Bar
03 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, HCMC
3. Making Close Friends
Now you've made a decent amount of friends. What should you do next? Well if you’re like many other ex-pats or travelers, you probably don’t just stay in Vietnam to have fun but rather, to have more meaningful relationships with Vietnamese people and to learn more about their culture. Therefore, I will conclude with all the interesting places I know for you to hang out and deepen your relationships with them.
3-2. Musical Hangouts
Sax n Art Jazz Club
28 Le Loi, Ben Nghe, District 1, HCMC
8 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe, District 1, HCMC
Lost Boys Hideout
147/2A, 3C Le Van Luong, Tan Kieng, District 7, HCMC
3-3. Social Club SaigonA relaxing hideout for the more sophisticated!
MGallery Saigon, 76-78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC
3-4. Interesting Public Attractions
Ben Thanh Market
Duong Le Loi, Ben Thanh, District 1, HCMC
Nguyen Hue Walking Street
22 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe, District 1, HCMC
Saigon Central Post Office
2 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, HCMC
Rach Thay Tieu, Tan Phu, District 7, HCMC
And much, much more!