TMBA 175 (TTR30) – Why Location Independent Entrepreneurs Love Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

TMBA 175 (TTR30) – Why Location Independent Entrepreneurs Love Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam post image

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It’s time for another Tropical Talk Radio podcast, which gets published every Friday afternoon (Hong Kong time). Here’s the link to subscribe in iTunes if you haven’t already done so. In this week’s episode Dan runs down David Hehenberger from Shopping Cart Labs in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.  The guys talk pros and cons for Ho Chi Minh City as a hotspot for location independent entrepreneurs.

Listen to this episode and hear about:

  • Financial plans for living in Ho Chi Minh City for bootstrappers, ballers and families alike.
  • The cultural differences in Saigon that could have profound effects on your lifestyle.
  • How you can balance food, city life, coffee shops and travel expenses to live on $1,500 or less a month.

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Episode length: 26:26

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Hope you have a great weekend!



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As requested, here’s some pics from David:

2013-01-22 11.14.44

2013-01-23 22.17.13

2013-02-01 16.23.13

Published on 03.15.13
  • Rich

    Yeah!!! Fell in love with the Hoch on my five-day visa run. The People, food, city, coffee shops… itching to get back there. Cool that there’s a bit of a nomad/ lifestyle biz crowd there.

  • Dan

    rock on Rich! Thanks for taking a listen.

  • Great ep you guys.

    I am going to do an extended visa run in 2 months and have been tossing up 3 cities (Bali, SG, Hoch) but you have decided it for me!

    See you all in Ho Chi Minh city at the end of May!

  • Loved the talk!
    Good to hear David again and it sounds like he’s really enjoying the place :)

  • Dan

    Cheers, thanks Adrian! David was pretty good with podcasting IMO!

  • Dan

    Thanks DT, let me know when you depart I’ll send you the “map” :)

  • Chris

    You forget about the insanely cheap 3g plans. Best plan I had so far (quality wise) for 50.000 Dong (2.5 US-Dollars) flat for a whole month.

  • Damn, you’re making me feel guilty (and a little jealous) at my passing glance through Saigon.

  • Dan

    Next time we MUST collaborate on this ! :D

  • Dan

    Great point Chris… was hugely surprised by this. Cheapest I’ve seen in Asia.

  • Good thing about mixing up “Ga” and “Ca” is both the chicken and fish in Vietnam is awesome so you can’t go wrong. Your pronunciation is pretty damn good, Dan.

  • Always interesting to hear about the latest fave city you guys come up with.

    Re Aussie internet: I have 14.5Mbps down and 0.8 up today. :( Fastest I can get right now. We are on naked ADSL2+ right now, which is what most people in our city do it they want fast internet. We have a cable application in the works – apparently in about 4 weeks they will confirm if we can get it. Which is hilarious as our neighbours have cable and the cable is literally behind our house. The new 4g is pretty speedy in town, 60 down 30 up but I live about 30mins from the CBD so there’s no coverage here

  • Dan

    haha… good point, in fact I’ll take both !

  • Dan

    Thanks! I enjoy this sort of supreme geekery as well. Rest assured we’ll find future places! :D

    Very surprising for other westerners to hear about the Aus webz situation, but 14.5 can get the job done. Who uses upload anyway? :P

  • lol only when you do live screencast webinars and upload videos… not like that’s my core business or anything. I usually do upload during the day, so it’s not so bad cause everyone is asleep in the US. Apparently our area will be fibreoptic soon, but I’m not holding my breath (seeing as though it’s taken so long to even get the ISPs to look at cable!)

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  • Thanks for the cost breakdown! Overall my general impression is that HCMC still fits the overview you guys did awhile back of the pros and cons of living in Bali/HCMC/Bangkok/ChiangMai. The podcast was very interesting and really made me want to visit Vietnam and Thailand again!

  • What is needed to supplement this episode is lifestyle pics from David. That way people can see what his costs are buying him and that way they can make a comparison with their current situation.

  • Dan

    yes that is correct… the one thing we would have said differently is that it is totally possible to live here on 750 bucks a month. Like very easily doable, even though david is ballin’ out at 1500 bucks a month.

  • Dan

    good point…. i’ll ask him now.

  • Dan

    I added some pics to the post!!! Also here’s some instagrams:

  • Swati

    Hey Dan, is there an email address to get in touch with you?

  • Dan

    dan at tropical mba dot com

  • Taylor White

    @ Dan,

    I have been on the road mostly in Latin America since early 2007 — and a few thoughts come to mind lately.

    1) I hear you talking about “business centers” lately in SE Asia — most recently in HCM. Would it be common to rent a place like David’s above to sleep — and then conduct work mostly in business centers daily (if you dont wanna sit in cafe’s all day). If so, what might be a daily/weekly/monthly price of that — and what is included?

    2) I have tried getting solopreneurs together in Latin America — mostly Panama City, Panama/Medellin, Colombia/Lima, Peru/Buenos Aires, Argentina (although much smaller community than SE Asia for sure) — and instead of each person renting out a place like David’s above — as an example — pooling resources and renting out better places in a few locations — completely furnished with daily maids, cooks, people to run errands, fastest internet, etc. You would be spending about the same amount of money — however you would be getting much better places — and have a 24/7 access to like minded people.

    Maybe its being done in SE Asia — but, why not get a small trusted group together and rent out larger places on longer terms leases in the most desirable places — Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Bali, HCM, Cambodia, etc — where you would stay for a period of time and then go on to the next place.

    Knowing personally how hard it is dealing with staying in countries on a tourist visa — it would make “visa runs” all the better.

    Surely there could be at least 12 trusted people to prepay year leases in a few popular locations — and be able to roam from fat pad to fat pad every so often when desired.

    If 12 people could designate $500 per month — its $72,000. If you got 4 places in 4 different countries — you have about $18,000 for the year in each place. Surely $1500 per month, per location, could get some nice pads all decked out as desired.

    3) Would be great if sometime soon you could designate a show or two to popular beach areas in SE Asia. Thai, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines beaches come to mind. Pattaya, Koh Sumui, Nha Trang, Boracay — not everyone wants to be in each countries capital.

    Great shows,

    Taylor White

  • Dan

    Hey Taylor,

    1) YES. There are many co-working spaces and businesses like Regis that provide cubicles and meeting rooms, prices range from 75/mo to 300/mo.

    2) COST and LIFESTYLE OVERHEAD. Managed apartments and hotels are so cheap that managing long term shared leases isn’t worth the cost when you can rock up to a luxury hotel for 50 bucks a night, or rent a place monthly for 400 bucks.

    3) WOULD LOVE TO! Sounds like a fun project for this year :)

  • Taylor White

    Word — I am in the Dominican Republic currently with internet up and down speeds less than 1 mbps — hearing about HCM makes me all giddy.


  • Dan


  • Steve

    Must say, I can’t remember the last time I worked on my laptop outside the hotel in Bangkok. The cafe culture and wifi speeds sure make it hard to ignore HCMC. Thanks for the info. Started to map out a trip because of it.

  • Dan

    :) Yeah man BKK seems to be oddly lagging in this respect, although there seems to be a recent surge of ballin’ co-working spots and of course decent 3G is a bit of a gamechanger if you’ve got a phone that tethers. this one thing really changed my last cafe experience in thailand.

  • Steve

    Nice, might have to toss my crappy little “travel” phone and get one with a little juice. Thks.

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  • In HCM and I like it! I see the potential in being here!

  • Dan

    Rock on !

  • Jacob Marlfoyle

    I have been traveling throughout Vietnam and so I ve
    been in many towns and villages at
    night. But i must confess that Saigon is the best place for “by night” atmosphere . Vietnam is a country
    abounding with wondrous and diverse natural beauty .It is the beautiful place
    and the most popular travel destinations in the world.

  • Dan

    agreed! :D

  • Brian

    Especially excited for my upcoming stay in HCMC now, thx for the insights! However I don’t agree with $1500/month as bootstrapping… that’s baller territory for this part of the world. I lived on less than that in New York City ($1200) for years. In SE Asia haven’t spent more than $1000/month in any country (incl travel, rent, and all expenditures). Curious to know what others feel is the threshold between baller and bootstrap in SE Asia?

  • Dan

    Nice! I like your style Brian. The thing that tends to blow people out is traveling, going home, convenience….

  • dchun

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