Published: August 3rd 2009August 3rd 2009
One of the best places to spot foreigners, mainly cos it's listed in the Lonely Planet. Has some good live music and is good when sat at the bar late at night.
The Rat on the Road expat guide to Haiphong
So it's come to out attention that our travel blog for Haiphong has a new purpose. As well as updating all of you friends and family out there about what we are up to and showing you photos of our lives, it is being found by people in the UK and elsewhere who are thinking of moving to Haiphong. A few people have contacted us through it, and become part of our happy little group of Haiphong pals.
The other day we were all in Maxim's cafe, drinking some beer, when a guy came up to us who recognised us. He was relocating to Haiphong from Holland and had been using our blog to find out more about the city.
It's great that our random ramblings can be some use to people. So, if you are reading this because you are considering a move to Haiphong, and quite frankly, you can hardly find any information about it on the internet....... Hello.
Hope we are giving you helpful information.
And get in touch. We look forward to meeting you.
Giang guitar bar
One of our favourite drinking haunts. Good people watching and great music.
photos on this blog we are going to introduce you to come of the nightspots of Haiphong. There are some funny rumours about nightlife in Haiphong going around, which put people off coming. When Apollo teachers arrive from training in Hanoi they tend to have been told that Haiphong is a fishing village,
everywhere closes early and you can't get a beer after 10.30pm.
Which is just not true.
For a start, Haiphong is the third biggest city in Vietnam, after Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.
I mean, Haiphong is no Ho Chi Minh City. It's not like living in Bangkok. If you want all night clubbing among lots of Westerners, it's not for you.
But if you want to live in a smaller city, have an interesting experience, to get to know about Vietnamese culture, meet some friendly Vietnamese people who are not just after your money or trying to rip you off, if you want to save some money whilst having a great quality of life but along with lots of life's little luxuries - come to Haiphong.
And the people watching is amazing!
Some places do close early. But
Great food: pizzas, mexican, steak.......
plus red wine.
and they speak English and deliver.
there are also bars that stay open past midnight. There are nightclubs. You can drink cocktails. You can dance and watch live music.
You can eat Italian, Thai and Mexican food. There is a multiplex cinema that shows films in English. There is a bowling alley and a number of supermarkets that sell food from home. We just pigged out on fresh bread, cold meats, extra mature cheddar and pimento stuffed olives. I might wash it down with a nice glass of red wine later.
It's a good place to save money. The cost of living is low and when you spend a lot of time drinking 10p a glass beer hoi in the street, it's not that easy to spend all of your wage.
There are friendly groups of expats here. They come in three varieties - English teachers at the three big schools (Apollo, VATC and Tynedale) and the 3 or so small schools, people who work in shipping (who are usually Dutch or Scandinavian) and people who work in the fashion industry. Most of us know each other so there are several bars and
Some friends in Giang Guitar
Kris, Alex who works in fashion, Nathan, a teacher at another school and Suzanne, a teacher at a different school again.
You'll find us here most Sundays!
restaurants you can go to and almost guarantee that someone else you know will turn up to chat to. In a big city where there are loads of expats and travellers, you are a face in the crowd. When new people move to Haiphong, they stick out and get befriended by others very quickly.
There's even an expat night at the Harbour View Hotel if you are finding it hard to meet folk.
If you want a big city night out, it's easy to get to Hanoi - just two hours down the road, or Ho Chi Minh City - a 2 hour flight. If you want to chill on a tropical island and have a night out with backpackers, Cat Ba Island is a mere 45 minute boat ride away.
You will get stared at. Almost constantly. We joke that there is no way we could do anything even vaguely wrong here because there is someone watching us all the time. We walk the same route to work every day, and every day the same people stare, shout and laugh. We get followed around Big C supermarket whenever we go there. People stand next to us
Kris in Big Man Beer
enjoying a half litre of stout
in the aisle and try to look as if they are just browsing the goods, just so they can take a shifty look in our trolley to see what we have buying. We like to stand in the feminine product aisle just to see how many men will try and browse there just to stare at us.
It can grate on you. Particularly when you have had a busy day and are tired.
But you are sometimes one of the only Westerners they have ever seen, except on TV. They haven't seen many people who look like us. We sometimes wonder if we look smaller in real life, the same way famous people from the TV do when you see them in the street. The only thing they have seen with a face as hairy as Kris's is a bear. That's probably one of the things they shout at us in Vietnamese. "Oi! Hairy bear face "
And anyone who can speak any English at all wants to talk to you to practise their English. So it's really easy to meet Vietnamese people in bars, beer hoi's and just randomly in the street. They just plonk
another lounge-type bar with live music every night
themselves down next to you for a chat, or stop you as you are walking home. We've started hiding our phones when people start talking to us, or the next thing is that they have our phone numbers and are phoning us at 6am to ask if we have eaten breakfast yet!
We are regularly invited to students' houses for dinner, and taken out to restaurants and karaoke.
Big City, Small City
Our friends and family and regular readers of this blog will remember that we came to Vietnam to move to Ho Chi Minh City. We wanted to live in another big city like Bangkok, which we love. We had done our research and even had lots of job interviews lined up. We got stuck in Bangkok when the protesters took over the airport, missed the interviews and started running out of money. Apollo got in touch and offered us a full time job in Haiphong. We didn't know anything about the place. But it was a full time job so we accepted.
It has turned out to be one the best accidents ever. We are very happy
a great Thai place. It's pricey but yummy.
here. We have a great place to live, lovely friends and a great lifestyle. We really like the city and are regulars in many of the nightspots on this blog. Plus, we have saved a lot of money. We save more than one wage every month. I don't think that would have been possible in a big city like Ho Chi Minh.
There are more photos below