Let’s say you’ve decided the 4-week, ‘In-class’ TESOL course at AVSE is the best fit for you. Making new friends, socialising, and the idea of spending an extended period in an exotic location like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Phnom Penh is far more appealing than doing a Virtual or Self-paced TESOL course – as good as they may be. It’s commendable that you’ve got this far with your decision making process, but how will you nail down which of AVSE’s 3 locations is right for you? Will the weather in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom influence your decision? Are English teaching jobs in Vietnam, more plentiful than Cambodia? Is the TESOL course with AVSE the same at each location? The decision is yours to make, but a helping hand is a good thing and that’s what we’ll offer on this page. As a starting point, here are some key metrics that might help with your decision making.

Key metrics

MetricHanoiHo Chi Minh CityPhnom Penh
Size3,329 km²2,061 km² 679km²
Population8 million9 million1.5 million
Median age30.930.925.6
Predominant religionBuddhistBuddhistBuddhist
Seasonstraditional 4 seasons2 seasons x wet + dry2 seasons x wet + dry
Weather (copy and paste the link)shorturl.at/dfnvIshorturl.at/ejpI6shorturl.at/gyKW5
Apartment per month x easy commute  x 1 bedroomUS $350.00US $400.00US $380.00
Single person x average monthly costs (excluding rent)US $450.00US $420.00US $470.00
Average foreign teacher salaries per monthUS $1400.00 (+/-)US $1400.00 (+/-)US $1350.00 (+/-)
Savings capacity (after all expenses)50% (+/-)50% (+/-)50% (+/-)

 ‘Take aways’ from the Key metrics Table

 The population of Phnom Penh is substantially lower than both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

  • Buddhism is the predominant religion in all three cities
  • While Hanoi has the traditional four seasons, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh have two – wet and dry
  • Overall living costs are similar in each of the three cities
  • English teaching jobs in Vietnam attract a slightly higher salary compared to Cambodia.

Did turning your mind to the key metrics lead you to making a decision about which city, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Phnom Penh is the best place for you to start your teaching journey? Yes? No? Let’s look at some other factors just in case you haven’t nailed down a TESOL destination yet.

 Each location is unique

 Here’s some great news! AVSE’s In-class TESOL/TEFL ‘package’ – internationally recognised course, complimentary accommodation and ‘hands-on’ job help – is exactly the same in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh.  This means that your preparation for English teaching jobs in Vietnam or Cambodia is the same. Oh dear! On reflection, perhaps it’s not great news because there is a flip side to the TESOL package being a ‘mirror image’ regardless of the destination – it’s doesn’t immediately invite drawing a line through a city on the basis that you’ll get a better deal elsewhere.

While AVSE’s TESOL/TEFL package is the same in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, the reality is the three cities are uniquely different. Here’s some more information about them that might help you make a decision.

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam and the seat of government is best known for history, culture and the arts. It’s vibrant, alive and dazzling to the eyes, especially at night. Hanoi is a great city to walk around with lakes and parks in abundance. There’s something new to see around pretty much every corner in Hanoi. Old buildings from the French era next to modern skyscrapers, people selling all kinds of wares on the sidewalk, street art, open air dancing, the list goes on. It’s fair to say that many TESOL students over the past decade have fallen in love with Hanoi. It’s the kind of place where people go – and stay.

Here are three quirky facts about Hanoi to share with your friends:

  1. The chap who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York, Alexandre Gustav Eiffel, also designed the Long Bien Bridge in
  1. The words ‘ha’ and ‘noi’ (hanoi) in Vietnamese mean ‘inside rivers’ in English. What’s the connection? Hanoi is situated between the Nhue River and the Red River.
  1. The world’s longest Mosaic Mural (according to the Guinness Book of Records) is located in Hanoi.

Ho Chi Minh City is the ‘engine room’ of Vietnam, the business and financial hub with a population close to 9 million. It’s also a hub for foreigners pursuing English teaching jobs in Vietnam with the motivation being lifestyle and financial rewards. Interestingly, there was a TESOL student at AVSE late last year who described everyday life in Ho Chi Minh City as being ‘organised mayhem’. The description has merit. While it’s true to say that traffic and noise are palpable in Ho Chi Minh City, the place has many endearing features. There are more quaint coffee shops than any other city in the world.  If you like to meander around markets, Ho Chi Minh City will be your version of paradise. The key to loving Ho Chi Minh City is to take whatever time is necessary to adapt.

Here are three quirky facts about Ho Chi Minh City to share with your friends:

  1. In 2019 it was (conservatively) estimated that there were 5 million motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City.
  1. What we know today as ‘Ho Chi Minh City’ was originally named ‘Gia Dinh’ (by Vietnamese) and then ‘Saigon’ during the French colonial period.
  1. Ho Chi Minh City consists of 24 ‘Districts’ (suburbs). Binh Tan District has the highest population, followed by Go Vap District, where AVSE is located. Can Gio District has the lowest population followed by District 2.

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is a city on the march with a level of growth envied by most developed countries. Now, open for business, the transformation of Cambodia from a rural backwater to an economic powerhouse over the past decade is miraculous. AVSE-TESOL has been on the ground in Cambodia for over 3 years, allowing us to witness much of the transformation first-hand.  In many ways, Cambodia is the last frontier for teaching English abroad, which means there are fewer foreigners and terrific opportunities for TESOL qualified ESL teachers.

Here are three quirky facts about Phnom Penh to share with your friends:

  1. The name ‘Phnom Penh’ derives from the 14th century, Wat Phnom Temple (enter from Baksei Cham Krong Street, Phnom Penh – also known as Street 94), located within walking distance of the Riverside entertainment precinct.
  1. According to data published by the World Health Organisation in 2018, the life expectancy of a Cambodian male is 67.3 years and a Cambodian female is 71.2 years.
  1. The Cambodian flag is the only one in the world that has an image of a building.

Regardless of where you choose to complete the In-class TESOL/TEFL training programme at AVSE – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Phnom Penh – you will receive the same high-quality, educational, immersive experience, inclusions and optional extras. As someone who has invested in quality training, you will be in a strong position for the best English teaching jobs in Vietnam or Cambodia. Importantly, you will also receive the same warm welcome from AVSE staff on the ground and local people. In Vietnam and Cambodia, professional teachers are highly respected, so, perhaps for the first time in your life, you’ll be treated like a movie star and it will be your time to shine.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that if you’re unable to travel to Vietnam or Cambodia to complete the 4-week In-class TESOL programme at AVSE, our Virtual or Self-paced TESOL programme will prepare you equally well for English teaching jobs in Vietnam or Cambodia.

Exotic Vietnam