Yes it is.

Is Saigon really the best city to live in South East Asia ?

8 weeks in Saigon

As so many people claimed that Saigon is THE place to be in South East Asia both to live and to bootstrap your company, I really wanted to give it a try ! I landed there Mid-November 2015 and left Mid-January 2016.

Context : My startup, Bubble, a mobile app for comic book lovers, was launched in private invitation in October 2015. We were in a : “User bootstrapping” phase, meaning we were looking as hard as we can to get early adopters, ge them to use our app, and talk to us. Now we officially launched on the App Store at the end January, 2016.

My objectives :

  • Meet the startup ecosystem and local entrepreneurs
  • Discover Vietnamese culture and local people
  • Test the efficiency of remote working with two of my partners being in Paris (- 6h) and the other in NYC (-12h).
  • Experience travel advantages : creativity, imagination, meeting new people
  • Spend part of the winter in a warm place :).

So what are the outcomes ?

(Yes, I have a bullet point pathological issue) :

  • Arrival : City is overwhelming at first, you will hate it. The traffic, the pollution, the heat, it is is really aggressive. But as soon as the jetlag is gone and you jump on your rented motorbike, you dive into the amazing urban flow of the city : So much positive energy, dynamism, good food, nice people, various districts with nice spirit. BUT definitely : avoid being a pedestrian.
Bubble traffic jam ???
  • Cost of life : one can easily live with 1,000 USD per month. For that amount you really live well : a comfy furnished & serviced room, restaurants, street food, coworking space + sports and other leisure activities.
My street : 18A Thi Minh Khai
  • Wifi and coffee paradise : here are some pictures of my favorite coffee places. It is just so easy to find a place to sit and to work and the bandwidth is incredible in most places.
Work cafe in Bitexco tower
  • Startup ecosystem : not very English-speaking, not structured and not well centralised but one can easily feel that something is happening, it is booming, it is evolving super fast. Strangely there are very few English-speaking tech meetups. I felt I saw the emerged part of the iceberg as I did not have a chance to meet many local Vietnamese startups.
  • Networking : Not easy in the beginning but thanks to the active of French Tech Viet network I quickly met the key people that made me discover Saigon in many ways.
  • Coworking spaces : Dreamplex, the Work, and Le Tipi. I had the chance to meet Kevin and then Sylvain, cofounder @Officience and after a 5-minute discussion he told me : “Well you can come and work at Le Tipi, our coworking space for startupers, whenever your want, for free”. Yes, free. Stunning isn’t it ? Officience, the company that hosts LeTipi is quite inspiring as they continuously try to innovate in many ways, at an organisation and human level. More about Le Tipi and their coworking space spirit.
  • Working remotely with my team : quite difficult, especially with my teammate in NYC because of the 12-hour difference.
  • Discussing with our users in France : quite difficult because of time difference and phone technical issues (Skype to mobile phone does not always work well, even with a fine wifi connection)
  • Local culture and people : Vietnamese are really welcoming, smiling and they do everything to make you comfortable. It is an old and rich culture that did not forget its past and looks forward in a very positive and energetic way. If you’re a foodie you will love it as the food, in the streets or in restaurants, is fantastic.
Highly recommended

Well, 2 months is definitely too short. If you are going to Saigon and you feel you need to get some insights let me know, I’d be happy to help.

Special thanks to Kevin, Sylvain, Lou, Vianney and Van, as well as Officience who contributed to make my life great in Saigon.