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Living Vietnam

What’s it Like Living in Saigon, Vietnam

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When you tell people you’re moving to Vietnam, they look at you like you’re crazy. Aren’t you afraid of crime and stuff and won’t you miss living in the United States?

Fortunately for me, all of my friends already know I’m off the reservation and no one gave me any static about the move.

People are asking me, “What’s it like living in Vietnam?”

Vietnam is a geographically diverse country. Like California, you can go out to an exotic nightclub, enjoy great dining, or chill at the beach.

I’ve been visiting as many of Vietnam’s great towns and cities as possible, and even took a several hours motobike ride down the coast.

Thus far I’ve been to:

  • Phong Nha – a national park with Jurassic park like scenery.
  • Nha Trang (entry forthcoming) – a beach town with cool sea breezes and a chill vibe.
  • Hoi An (Motorbiking from Hue to Hoi An) – a beach town where you can also get custom suits made.
  • Hanoi – full of hippies and backpackers.
  • Saigon – I live here!

I’ve set up residence in Ho Chi Minh City (also called Saigon).

Saigon is a major metropolitan area with 8 million people. You can find anything in Saigon, as illustrated in a day in the life of Mike Cernovich.

  • Wake up in 3-story mansion in quiet, almost rural area.
  • Go to cafe with large tables, great coffee, great breakfast, and excellent wifi.
  • Get a massage. (Happy endings are less common than you’d think; those types of massage parlors are in the backpacker district, which I avoid.)
  • Hit the gym. (Vietnamese gyms are lacking in the heavy weight department, as dumb bells top off at 80 pounds. But the gyms are spacious and clean)
  • Grab a fresh-pressed beet-and-carrot juice for some post-workout recovery.
  • Stop by supermarket for food or anything else needed at home.

Nearly half of the 8 million people living in Saigon are under 35, giving the city a youthful vibe. (NY Times, “36 Hours in Ho Chi Minh City.”)

That energy is felt in the cafe scene, which runs deep. (James Clark, “The incredible cafe scene of Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam.”)

This looks like a cozy living room. It’s actually Cucuta Coffee, one of Saigon’s incredible cafes.

Mike Cernovich coffee

An English breakfast in Vietnam.

English breakfast Saigon

Meet the chefs.

street food Saigon

You can find street food to cook yourself.

IMG_6753

Or you can enjoy some sashimi at an elegant Japanese fusion restaurant.

sashimi Saigon

Which Cuban cigar would you like to enjoy after dinner?

Cuban cigar Saigon Vietnam

Some call me a douchebag. I call myself a man who enjoys life.

Mike Cernovich cigar

 

I’ll be writing more about Saigon in the coming weeks.

This is a huge city with several different districts, each of which have their own character.

Feel free to post any questions or comments you have in the comments below.

P.S. If you like these travel pics, check out Mike Cernovich’s Instagram.

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43 Comments
  • Sounds wonderful, Mike.

    Wish I could live that life right now. Gotta fight off this cancer first, then the sky’s the limit.

    Cheers.

    • Mike

      Oh man, get well soon! When you’re better the first coffee or juice is on me!

      • Wayne sloan

        Im goin there for first time next month is it worth it?? Not as gd as thailand maybe ?

  • Vy

    Great to hear that you are adjusting to Vietnam quite well! Currently, I’m residing in Northern Thailand. I’m currently following your advices on working out, dieting, and juicing tip from the fit-juice ebook. I’m feeling better everyday and will post an update in a few months. I often visit Vietnam every year since my family are from there. Hope to meet up with you in Vietnam in the near future. Thanks for being a good role model for men Mike!

    Cheers,
    Vy

    • Mike

      Thanks for the note, Vy. Keep up the great work!

  • sway

    Do you speak the local language? If no, how does that affect your enjoyment?

    • Mike

      I do not. It’s not needed. Lots of people understand English, Google maps and other apps give you addresses of places to go. There’s Trip Advisor and other sites to gain info from.

      • sway

        Awesome, thanks! You might just see me take a vacation there sometime soon.

  • Ben

    Very cool! Looks enjoyable. I am happy to see you are settling into your new life. I like this site, very nice pictures as well.

    Best of luck.
    Ben

    • Mike

      Thanks, Ben.

  • Hi Mike,

    I know you from your video where you challenge Gawker to a boxing match, that was great and hilarious.

    I’ve heard from travelers that some countries don’t tax foreign income. So if you have a 100% online business, you don’t pay any income tax. I was wondering if Vietnam was one of those.

    Good luck in your adventures there, looking forward to hear them.

    • Mike

      I won’t have to pay taxes to Vietnam. However, the United States is one of only two countries to tax income worldwide. It’s called global or worldwide taxation of income. I’ll still have to pay taxes to the U.S.

  • Wow, looks like a really nice place to live. What I was wondering, even though it might sound like a dumb question: Do you still manage to get TRT there? If yes, is it more complicated than in the US?

    • Mike

      Easier.

      • Interesting! Anyways – happy to see you live such a good life. Very inspiring!

        • Mike

          Thanks, Bernhard.

  • Thank you for sharing theses positives emotions and places and ….. enjoy your good- life, you deserve it.

    • Mike

      Thank you for the kind words, Guillaume.

  • Ray

    Mike…ran into your blog (and you) today and I consider it a belated birthday present.

    I’d like to pay you for 30 minutes of your time (via Skype). All I want to ask you is about life in Saigon.

    Thanks.

    Ray

    • Mike

      Thanks, Ray! As a general rule I don’t do consulting. What specific questions do you have? If there are a bunch, maybe we can make an exception to the rule.

  • Jesse

    How much monthly loot (USD) would it take to live there in similar digs as yours?

    • Mike

      Depends on exact place. Housing is probably 30% the cost as in Los Angeles. You can get a lot of bang for your buck.

      • Joe

        Mike
        I bet its hard to drop 2k a Month for everything?

        Last but not least-
        For us Americans living abroad-
        What do you do for healthcare (hospitalization, accident coverage, prescriptions, etc)? How does it work for an American- do you need to be a Vietnamese national or can you get coverage through an American company?
        Thanks

        • Mike

          You pay for healthcare out of pocket, which costs much less than U.S. The U.S. has highest healthcare costs in the world.

          You could spend 2K a month and live a comfortable lifestyle or considerably more.

  • How do you get around the visa issues? I imagine you can’t stay in Vietnam for as long as you like, or is that particular country an exception?

    • Mike

      I have to leave every 3 months. Which is fine, as I’m traveling a lot while in Southeast Asia.

  • Ryan

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been following you at Danger & Play for awhile and had seen at one point you made a trip to Saigon but didn’t know you were living here.

    I came to Asia for the first time last year and started a business importing to the US & Canada mostly from Thailand. I just got to Saigon for the first time and will be here for two weeks but really dig it and may come back for 3 months.

    It would be cool to grab a coffee with you and talk shop at some point (before starting my current biz I did SEO for big companies).

    Let me know if there’s a good way to get in touch.

    – Ryan

    • Mike

      I’m down to grab coffee. I’m in District 2.

      • Ryan

        Cool, I’m in District 1 now haven’t seen much of 2 yet but down to check it out.

        Best way to get in touch? D&P contact form? Or you should be able to see my email from the comment submission

  • Daniel

    Congratulations Mike! Thanks for all you do.

    • Mike

      Thank you, Daniel.

  • Jim

    Mike I just learned of US Navy maps and a site called Zetatalk. Dude when the poll shift happens Vietnam will be screwed. I’m sure you can swim but not to that good. I’d be thinking Montana/Indiana/Kentucky off the grid cabin and AK-47 for the coming times man.

  • Carl

    Mike, thanks for this info.

    I am a researcher who has been self-employed for over a year now. With the contracts I have now, I can live pretty much live anywhere with a good internet connection and living costs under $2000. I’ve been considering a couple of African cities I’ve lived in before, along with other places I’ve heard good things about (Panama City, Rio, etc)…. but now definitely want to check out Ho Chi Minh City. I have some trips for work that will probably help me decide by the end of the year.

    Thanks.

  • Roxie

    So, how is your fiancee enjoying life in Vietnam? I don’t see mention of your beloved. And your pup? Who’s taking care of him?

    • Dog is great, being taken care of my his “grandparents.” Girl is doing great, too. Life is going well right now…Makes me wonder if it’s calm before storm.

  • Charles from NJ

    Mike: thanks for a great website. Could I trouble you to give me a general idea of the cost of decent cigars in Vietnam? Don’t have to be Cuban, but if that’s the only ones you know, fine. Prices can be singles, boxes, whatever, I’m an avid cigar smoker so I’ll figure it out. Thanks

  • Brenda

    I am interested in moving out there, I have a 14 year old Asian daughter (adopted) and a small dog, can i bring my dog with us? and will my daughter like it there, is there lots to do for kids?
    Thank you Brenda

  • mike

    isnt it socialist though?? arent there rations of stuff? or no?

  • Bill Goodman

    Great Blog Mike. What about using Google Voice? Or receiving texts from US on a cell phone in Saigon? I noticed T mobile does not allow Vietnam to be on their international plan so what do you use to receive USA texts to your cell phone without having it be a local Saigon number? Any ways about it?
    Thanks!

  • Hi admin, i must say you have high quality posts here. Your website should go viral.
    You need initial traffic only. How to get it? Search for: Mertiso’s tips go
    viral

  • Pastor Larry Chapman

    Hello Mike, I live in Mexico now, and plan to move to Vietnam. Who could I contact for long term rental. I live by myself and like to do most of my own cooking. I am 66 but good health. I have the visa under control. Of course I do not know anyone there. I will be on a budget of $2000.00 per month. Thank you for any information you could provide me.

Living Vietnam

Cigars in Saigon

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Once upon a time in America a man could sit down with complete strangers and set aside the cares of the world.

Some men were CEOs, others were blue collar workers, and some of us were students. All were welcome and status did not matter.

Even women were welcome, and in fact the sight of a woman smoking a cigar was seen as a unicorn.

In the cigar lounge there was a certain brotherhood. Some even called it the “brotherhood of the leaf.”

I smoked cigars with Axl Rose and helped David Arquette choose the best cigars for his home humidor. In a cigar lounge, no one is a celebrity or rich guy. Everyone was equal.

I fell out of the cigar scene as smoking restrictions became more severe.

In an effort to protect workers’ health, California enacted various draconian smoking bans. No one would be allowed to smoke indoors, even if the employees had no issues with inhaling second-hand cigar smoke. (I happen to enjoy it!)

Even owners were prohibited from working around cigars. In a nation of obese people, you’d think we’d have bigger issues to address than cigar lounges.

Some of us viewed attacks on cigar lounges as a broader attack on masculinity. Men would go to the lounge to “get away from it all,” to kick our feet up in peace and quiet.

I’ve re-discovered my love of cigars in Saigon.

Like many Americans, I’ve learned the “communist countries” my government told me to fear offer more freedom than the land of the free and home of the brave.

My two favorite cigar lounges in Saigon are SIQAR and the Saigon Cigar Club.

As any cigar aficionado knows, there are more counterfeit Cuban cigars circulating than there are authentic ones. It was thus of paramount importance for me to interview the owners of the respective cigar lounges.

Last week I had a detailed discussion about cigar sources and counterfeits with the owner of the Saigon Cigar Club.

Today I had the pleasure to discuss cigars with the owners of SIQAR and can confirm their cigars are authentic. They order from a reliable source and unboxed a sealed box of Cohiba Behike, two of which I enjoyed.

(FYI, I don’t do sponsored posts or talk to anyone before reviewing their establishment. This is entirely unpaid.)

Drinking a Vietnamese milk coffee while writing and smoking.

milk coffee vietnam cigars

“A cigar oughtt not to be smoked solely with the mouth, but with the hand, the eyes, and with the Spirit.” – Zino Davidoff

A cigar is smoked with the soul

A fresh box of Cohiba Behike at SIQAR in Saigon.

Cohiba Behike Saigon SIQAR

SIQAR’s humidor is well stocked with a selection of Dominican cigars like Fuente and Padron as well as Cuban cigars.

SIQAR humidor Saigon Cuban cigars

The Saigon Cigar Club has a full selection of whisky and Cuban cigars.

whiskey and Cuban Cigars

Women are welcome at cigar lounges, too.

Cigars and women in Saigon Vietnam

One life. Enjoy!

IMG_7776

For more information, check out SIQAR on Facebook and the Saigon Cigar Club’s website.

Do you smoke cigars?

If so, what’s your favorite cigar?

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Living Vietnam

A Day (and Night) in the Life of Saigon

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I’ve travelled enough to not get goo-goo eyes for each new city. We all know the type, “OMG! THIS PLACE IS AMAZING I AM GOING TO LIVE HERE.”

Well. Oh my.

Saigon is amazing. I. Live. Here.

Saigon has a vibe as all cities do.

Saigon has a fair amount of chaos and disarray, which excites me. I approach each new day without expectations.

Here are some photographs of Saigon I’ve taken.

Enjoy!

Saigon is humanity.

Light traffic in Saigon

Saigon is narrow streets.

Saigon street

Saigon is work.

Coffe shop and cafe in Saigon

Saigon is a lot of coffee.

Vietnamese coffee Saigon

Saigon is traffic.

Moto in Saigon

Saigon is new games.

Chinese chess

Saigon is walking.

Saigon streets

Saigon is riding.

shark moto bike saigon

Saigon is good food.

pho in Saigon Vietnam

Saigon is service.

The Saigon Cigar Club

Saigon is open air.

Tran Hung Dao statue Saigon

Saigon is water.

Saigon river at sunset

Saigon is a city.

Saigon sunset city skyline

Saigon is life.

Saigon is whatever you want it to be.

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Living Vietnam

Enjoying the Beaches of Hội An, Vietnam

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The “motorcycle gang” started off in Huế en route to Hội An, and the trip was worth it. Hoi An was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited. The weather was cool and breezy.

Wikipedia will tell you all the high-brow facts of Hoi An. For example, “Hội An is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Hội An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century.”

We came for the beaches, custom suits, and swag bags.

I’ve been to many of the world’s best beaches like Cabo and Miami, and of course I lived in Los Angeles for over a decade.

While there isn’t a party scene, the beaches of Vietnam are equally beautiful.

Hoi An Vietnam beach

Check out this coastline.

hoi an beach

You can also shop for custom suits and leather travel bags in Hoi An.

 I had food poisoning and didn’t get a suit made, unlike these two handsome men.

custom suits hoi an vietnam

I’ll be back later in the year for a custom tailor job.

I was able to pick up a handmade leather bag.

In “money see, monkey do” fashion, all four of us bought a leather travel bag.

leather travel bag

You got a problem, bro?

cow hoi an

Old Town Hoi An by day.

old town hoi an boats

Old Town Hoi An by night.

old town hoi an at night

Looking at city lights reflecting off of the water while enjoying a cool breeze is one of life’s simple pleasures.

old town hoi an lake night

We stayed at the Alma Courtyard in Hoi An. The stay included a huge breakfast spread and a massage.

The view of Alma Courtyard during the day.

Alma Courtyard Hoi An Vietnam

Time to unwind.

alma courtyard hoi an at night

It’s a long and winding road.

long and winding road hoi an

Some travel by oxen.

oxen hoi an

Others by boat.

boats hoi an vietnam

And still others travel by bike.

scooter hoi an vietnam

By the way, I enabled comments. You’re welcome to post any comments or questions below.

You can also check out my other websites.

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