Retiring To Asia: Explore A Tree Change In Vietnam & Check Out The North!

Jeff Gill


Most of us are familiar with a Sea Change, when looking to move close to the coastline to live or retire, but have you ever considered a “tree change?”
The name suggests that you are seeking out a mountainous region, a regional or smaller community or a few acres on a rural property, in which to retire to on a semi or full-time basis.
Most of the central highland’s mountain range traces down the western side of Vietnam. It borders Laos and consists mainly of lush, uninhabited jungle, made famous by the fierce battles that took place by the opposing sides who fought one another in the Vietnam war (1967 to 1973).
Vietnam Full
As such, to find such a rich vein of tree change possibilities within Vietnam, one must venture north as our above map highlights. This northern region of Vietnam is its most mountainous.


Known as the “town of clouds”, Sapa is an alluring pocket of Northwest Vietnam. It mesmerizes travellers by the beauty of iconic cascading terraced rice fields, lush valleys, and emerald mountains side by side.
Endowed by nature, Sapa is one of the most enchanting destinations in the country.


The town of Sa Pa lies at an elevation of about 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) elevation. The climate is moderate and rainy in summer (May to August), foggy and cold with occasional snowfalls in winter.
The warmest months are July and August, and the coldest months are December and January. Snow falls in some years on the highest peaks, and yes, it can snow in the tropics!!
Average temperature for Sa Pa town is 15.3 °C (59.5 °F), with a maximum of 29.6 °C (85.3 °F) and a minimum of −6.1 °C (21.0 °F).
The flanks of the mountains are very steep, and many areas are almost inaccessible on foot.
Between Fansipan mountain and Sa Pa town, lies the Muong Hoa valley, terraced for wet rice agriculture over a millennium, and it makes for some stunning scenic photos, as we can see above.
Lifestyles here are little changed to those a century or so ago, which is great for enjoying a more genteel paced retirement lifestyle.


Cao BangLao CaiBa BeThan Uyen
Ha GiangThac BaMai ChauDong Van
Sin HoSon LaNghia LoBan Gioc
Bac HaDien Bien PhuLai ChauMeo vac
Even though Vietnam has a fast-growing population of over 75 million people, the remote north contains many hidden gems, amongst the small rural and regional villages.
Do yourself a favour, hire a motorbike or car and explore the many possibilities that may await you.
I can guarantee that more than one of these will take your fancy, as you traverse through the region.


A major tourist destination in Vietnam, Hanoi offers well-preserved French colonial architecture, many religious sites (dedicated to Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism and Taoism), several historical landmarks of Vietnamese imperial periods, and a large number of museums.
Hannoi Vietnam
The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long in Ba Dinh District (pictured above) was recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Hanoi is a landlocked area in northern Vietnam, situated on the Red River delta, 90 km (56 mi) from the coast. It has three basic kinds of terrain, the delta, the midland, and the mountainous zones.
The city experiences the typical climate of northern Vietnam, with four distinct seasons. Summer, from May to September, is characterized by hot and humid weather with abundant rainfall, and few dry days. Hot, dry conditions caused by westerly winds during summer are rare.
Shopoholics beware, Hanoi has a myriad of traditional street and floating markets, to entice you!
Hanoi has aspects of a tropical monsoon climate due to being in the tropics like most of SE Asia with the monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate bringing plenty of rain (1,257 mm or 50 inches).
I can guarantee that more than one of these will take your fancy, as you traverse through the region.
As the cultural, political, and historical hub of the colonial French empire of Indochina, it is home to 8.3 million people making it the second largest city behind Ho Chi Minh City (9.3 million).


When compared to Sydney the cost of living in Sa Pa and Hanoi is 56% and 53% cheaper respectively, and with Melbourne this reduces, ever so slightly, to a 54% and 51% cheaper cost comparison.
As a monthly rental cost guide, we would expect you should be paying the following in rent:
Inside CBD1 BR2 BR3 BR
Outside CBD1 BR2 BR3 BR


Use and compare our unique Cost of Living Calculator to see what cost of living savings may be possible for you. Entering your own tailored data, you can produce multiple scenario reports to assist you better make informed retirement decisions.
With 40 Australian cities / towns / regions to select from, we should have your location or a near equivalent, available to compare with the above 2 Vietnamese locations.
For a more thorough and comprehensive comparison of the SE Asian region, you can select to compare up to 46 additional SE Asian popular retirement locations, located within the six countries of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and of course, Vietnam.


Feel free to contact the team here at Retire to Asia on 1800 961 277 or in**@re**********.au to continue to learn more about this under rated region.
We would be more than happy to chat or email with you along with encouraging you to navigate our recently revamped website.
Note:   This is the 6th edition of our 14-part SE Asian sea change and tree change series.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

Jeff Gill

Jeff Gill

With 25 years of travel experience to 73+ countries including SE Asia, Jeff now enjoys helping others retire there. He invites you to experience the people, culture, food and amazing landscapes of the SE Asia region for yourselves.

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