So, you’ve just decided to go on this new adventure. Bought a ticket, packed your bags, waiting for your flight. Or maybe you’re already in your hostel, or crashing on a friends sofa? Well, what the situation, now would be the right time for you to start downloading a few of the most useful apps you’ll need for everyday life in Vietnam. From food to accommodation to shopping and language learning, we’ve got you covered. So whether you’re just arriving in Vietnam or have been living there for a while, here’s a list of the best apps for expats living in Vietnam.
More than a messaging up. Part chat app, part shopping app, part payment app. It’s not quite the same as WeChat just yet, but just install it. You’ll thank me later.
If there was any one app you should absolutely have, it should be Grab. You will most probably be using this every day, or at the very least every other week, when you’re crawling out of the bar at 4AM. Try to download it before you arrive and save yourself from getting harassed by the touts at the airport. With Grab, you can order taxis/motorbikes, get food delivery, and even flowers! They’ve even started marketing themselves as the “Everyday Everything App”. It’s a really great app and very handy for day to day life. Link it with your credit card, for even more convenience. The best part is, you can use not just around Vietnam, but in the rest of South East Asia.
Sure it’s a bit of a one trick pony, but it’s by far the best app for cellphone services. As of the time of writing (2022) none of the other apps from mobile phone providers will have the same level of functionality (reloading credits, scanning through the different data plans, etc), or have their interface be presented in English. Save yourself the long-term headache and just grab a MobiFone simcard right at the airport, and subscribe to a local data plan. It’s incredibly cheap.
Banking in Vietnam is never fun. Believe me, it’s sometimes downright nightmarish. But with Timo, it’s a little less painful. The app is available in both English and Vietnamese, and you can use it to manage the vast majority of day to day banking requirements (bank transfers, utility payments, manage your cards, etc). There’s even the option to load up your mobile credits from inside the Timo app. The bank itself doesn’t have a lot of branches, but that’s not surprising – they’re designed to be the most tech-forward bank, and it shows in their interface. Customer service will be the best of all the banks here. Who else has a coffee shop in the waiting area?
It would be a pretty tall order to try and list down all the sports teams and activities in town, but we’ll certainly try. Having said that, there’s also an app that already does this, and quite well! Reclub is an app designed to help people connect with different sports teams and activities in HCMC. You can use it to find things like football, running, swimming, basketball, and even dodgeball. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always create your own group or event. Best part? It’s free!
Food is everywhere in Vietnam. Restaurant food is delicious. Street food is everywhere, and cheap… and yes, delicious. But every now and then you might want to just go do a bit of home cooking. Supermarkets here wouldn’t necessarily be the best way to spend an afternoon, especially during packed weekends. So, If you’re looking for an app that will make your life in Vietnam easier, Chopp is it. Download it now, and invite us for that home cooked meal. This app is designed for grocery convenience, with a clean interface, and convenient scheduling. Customer service is really good as well.
Surprisingly, not a lot of expats have heard about this app, so you can thank me later. Btaskee will cover all of your home servicing requirements, from cleaning, to laundry, to home cooked meals. It’s almost like you’ve got a Vietnamese auntie for rent, and she will feed you what you want, clean your house, do the laundry. Fresh meals every day if you wanted to! Interface is quite straightforward, but they do have some minimum hours for cleaning. Which is only fair in my opinion. They do a really good job.
This is fast becoming the Amazon of South East Asia. Sure, they’ve still got a long way to go, but the range of options and quality of service have improved a lot vs launch day. They’ve now pretty much anything you can think of: fresh food, electronics, various types of clothes – both socially appropriate and otherwise. Deliveries are mostly on time, and the prices are generally good (watch out for those promos!). If there’s one thing to be wary of, it’s fake products and low quality items from China. But with a bit of common sense, and an eye for reviews, you should be fine.
Notable Mentions: Tiki, Shopee.
Healthcare is probably one of the last things on your mind when you move to a new country. But it’s something that you should be aware of, and prepared for. Especially if you’re not used to the local air (pollution levels in Saigon are no joke). Docosan is one of the best apps for just this reason: it gives you access to doctors, pharmacies and hospitals in both English and Vietnamese. You’ll never feel too lost when it comes to your health again. Plus, their customer service is top notch. They will help book, coordinate, and in many situations can even support with translation. Don’t limit yourself to just “expat clinics” that are designed to squeeze money out of you. Local facilities will oftentimes be just as good, for less than half the price.
As a foreigner, you’re most probably going to be renting an apartment. If you’re planning on living here for a while, chances are you will be moving your base every year or two. And unless you’re extremely lucky, it’s not always going to be in the heart of District 1. You might have to haul loads of items between D2 and D7, or (gasp!) D9 and Binh Tan. Well, fret not. AhaMove is basically Grab, but for trucks. You can book a truck, driver and helpers for just about any kind of move, and they have various packages that cater to your needs. Prices are surprisingly affordable, and the quality of service is surprisingly ok!
This needs no introduction. For all of you single expats out there, Tinder is your best friend (or worst enemy). It’s a dating app that connects you with people in your area. Swipe left if you’re not interested, swipe right if you are. If someone swipes right on you, it’s a match! It’s a great way to meet “new local friends”. Wink wink. But yeah, you’d be surprised at how big the “community” is, here in Communist Vietnam.
This one is a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning, because it’s so darn useful. With the standalone app, you can type in or speak your phrases, and it will give you a translation. You can also use the camera function for live translation. The quality off the translation isn’t always good – Vietnamese isn’t necessarily a “major” language just yet, but it’s getting there. Great for day to day use!
If you’re looking to learn Vietnamese, Duolingo is your best bet. It’s one of the more polished options available for learning Tieng Viet, and it’s actually a really fun app that gamifies language learning by turning it into a sort of “quest”. You earn points for every lesson you complete, and there are various badges and awards to be won. The phrases and sentences can oftentimes make zero sense, but hey, it’s free. Can’t complain with free.
Notable Mention: LTL FlexiClasses. They don’t have an app, but they’re so going I’m going to write about them in a separate post.
Living in Vietnam means eating Vietnamese food. End of story. But if you’re looking for some variety, or want to explore the best that Saigon has to offer, Foody is your BFF. It’s an app that connects you with local restaurants, and gives you access to reviews, menus and photos (as well as directions). You can even order food directly from the app. It’s a great way to discover new places, and to avoid crappy tourist traps.
So there you have it, our top apps for living in Vietnam. Whether you’re looking for healthcare, moving help or just dating advice, we’ve got you covered. If you have any other recommendations, be sure to let us know in the comments below!