Chances are you plan on travelling while living in Vietnam. I know that was a primary reason why I wanted to teach abroad, I wanted to see the world. I picked Southeast Asia because I had never been before. It was a whole new area to see and explore. Plus, I knew traveling here would be cheap and that your money goes a long way. I was a bit surprised when I learned that I only got two weeks of unpaid leave for the year. Learning this I knew I had to plan out my trips carefully to maximize my time off. This blog is will tell you how to travel with a teaching schedule.
In Hanoi I’m given two days off a week. Rarely teachers get a weekend day off. The weekends are when we have most of our classes because our students are free during the weekends. So your off days are probably going to be during the week. I have Mondays and Fridays off which isn’t the most convenient for travelling. I highly recommend fighting to get two consecutive days off that way it will be easier for you to take short trips. During the week we teach at night so you’ll be able to travel back to Hanoi the day of if your not too far away from Hanoi.
I finished my classes early Sunday and don’t’ teach until Tuesday night. I often leave Sunday afternoon, arrive at my destination that night then have all of Monday to explore and soak in as much as I can before heading back to Hanoi Tuesday morning. This makes for quick trips but I plan well and am able to see the main attractions in one day. If needed I take Tuesday’s off for some trips.
Hanoi is an awesome location, it’s right in the middle of so many amazing places. Many backpackers come in and out of Hanoi to see the destinations surrounding it. Cat Ba Island and Ha Long Bay are three hours east of Hanoi. Sapa and Ha Giang are each about six hours north and northwest of the city. Then you have Ninh Binh 3 hours south. There are also a couple day trips you can do just north of Hanoi. With so many places to see just in northern Vietnam you’ll have your hands full for a good majority of your time teaching in Hanoi.
In my opinion, Cat Ba Island and Ninh Binh can be done in 1-2 days. Both destinations are close enough to get to and you’ll be able to see the highlights in a short period. If you’re doing a Ha Long Bay cruise get an extra day. Shoot for a 3 days 2 night cruise. A one night cruise is too rushed and you’ll regret not having the extra day. Sapa and Ha Giang are destinations you’ll need more time for. People go to Sapa for trekking and Ha Giang for motorbiking. I recommend 4-5 days for both. You can take a sleeper bus to all of these destinations and is a good idea if you’re trying to maximize your leave days.
There are many holidays that you’ll be given one or two days off but the big one is TET Holiday (the Chinese Lunar New Year). You get 10 days off for TET! Make sure you have a plan set ahead of time prices tend to increase the closer you get to February. I went to Bali and Mayalsia this year and had a great time. It’s a good opportunity to make it out of Vietnam and see what’s out there.
Two weeks of vacation might not sound like a lot but if you plan accordingly you can make the most of your days off and allocate your leave appropriately. Don’t waste this experience get out there and travel! Some days might be rough but these are experiences you’ll remember the rest of your life.