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Education for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City: A Comprehensive Guide


Whether you’re in the planning stages of relocating to Saigon with your family or have recently arrived as an expat, navigating the educational landscape for your children is a significant aspect of the transition.

This comprehensive guide is tailored to address your questions and concerns, providing insights into public education, international schools, preschool options, and various considerations related to your children’s educational journey in the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh City.


Public Education vs. International Schools in Vietnam


Curriculum Diversity

In Vietnam, the public education system, managed by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), comprises kindergartens, primary, secondary, and high schools.

Lessons are conducted in Vietnamese, primarily serving local children.

On the flip side, international schools, a relatively new sector, offer a range of curricula including British, American, Australian, French, German, Russian, Korean, and generic ‘international’ programs.



In urban Vietnam, school fees for different educational levels vary, reflecting the diverse economic conditions and regional considerations.

  • For preschool students and urban primary school students, the yearly tuition fees range from VNฤ1,200,000 to VNฤ6,480,000 per student (approximately $50 to $270 USD).
  • As students progress to lower-secondary schools, the fees increase, ranging from VNฤ1,200,000 to VNฤ7,800,000 per year ($50 to $325 USD).
  • High school tuition fees for urban students further vary, ranging from VNฤ1,320,000 to VNฤ7,800,000 annually ($55 to $325 USD).

But overall annual expenses for local schools can be as high as 12,000,000 VND to 24,000,000 VND ($500 to $1000) in Ho Chi Minh City when including all costs.

As for kindergartens, monthly costs range from around 12,000,000 VND to 60,000,000 VND per year ($500 to $3000)

In contrast, international schools in Vietnam have a wider price range.

On average, annual tuition fees for international schools vary from $10,000 to $40,000. While local schools are more economical, international schools provide an English-medium alternative, state-of-the-art facilities, and diverse curricular offerings.


Preschools and Early Learning

For young learners aged approximately 2 to 5 years old, Ho Chi Minh City offers a range of preschools, nurseries, and playgroups.

Families can choose from international school-affiliated preschools and specialized centers like SmartKids International Childcare Centers. Additionally, options such as Reggio Emilia and Montessori-inspired programs contribute to the diverse early learning landscape.


Overview of International Schools in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City boasts a dynamic international school scene, attracting expats and affluent local families. Here’s an overview of some notable institutions:

1. British International School (BIS)
– Founded: 1997
– Curriculum: British National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate (IB)
– Grades: Nursery to Year 13
– Tuition: $21,000 to $33,000 per year

2. International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC)
– Curriculum: American-style with Advanced Placement (AP) and IB programs
– Grades: Early Years to Grade 12
– Tuition: $20,300 to $33,600 per year

3. Australian International School (AIS)
– Curriculum: Australian
– Grades: Early Years to Year 12
– Tuition: $16,500 to $30,800 per year

4. Saigon South International School (SSIS)
– Curriculum: American-style with IB program
– Grades: Early Childhood to Grade 12
– Tuition: $18,000 to $32,000 per year

5. International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP)
– Established: 2012
– Curriculum: American-style
– Grades: Early Years to Grade 12
– Tuition: $17,000 to $27,500 per year

6. European International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS)
– Curriculum: International Baccalaureate (IB)
– Grades: Early Years to Grade 12
– Tuition: $16,700 to $27,400 per year

7. German School (DSHCM)
– Curriculum: German education from kindergarten to Grade 12
– Programs: International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP)
– Accreditation: Recognized as an official German School Abroad


Education for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City: A Comprehensive Guide 1

For a deeper insight, please read our article “International Schools in District 2“.

If you are looking for information about studying in Saigon, refer to “Best Universities in Ho Chi Minh City


Other Considerations

Schedules and Holidays

In Vietnam, the typical local school day spans from 7 AM to 11 AM, and from 1 PM to 4 PM or 5 PM, Monday through Friday, with some schools also holding classes on Saturday mornings. Students enjoy a 30-minute break in the morning and afternoon to recharge.

The school year, running from September to May, is punctuated by holidays such as Tet, Independence Day, World Labor Day, Hung Kings Commemoration Day, and Teachersโ€™ Day. Summers last around three months, from June to August, though the school year may start earlier in August.

International schools, such as ISHCMC, follow a slightly different schedule.ย The primary school starts at 7:45 am and finishes at 3:05 pm, while the secondary school begins at 8:45 am and concludes at 3:30 pm. As for the academic year, it usually starts in early August and ends in early June.


School Transportation

Education for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City: A Comprehensive Guide 2

In Ho Chi Minh City, the commute to school is often facilitated by family cars or dedicated school transportation services. Many international schools provide the convenience of school transport, ensuring a safe and reliable journey for students.

Families can opt for the ease of school-provided transportation, saving time and ensuring a secure commute for their children. This additional service is a common offering among international schools, further enhancing the overall educational experience for both parents and students.


Special Needs Students

In Saigon, both public and international schools, such as Steps Special School and International School Saigon Pearl, provide tailored services for students with special needs.

Saigonchildren supports children with disabilities through its Special Needs Education Programme (SNEP), focusing on autism education, early intervention, and collaboration with specialists across Vietnam.

International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP) offers a Special Education Need (SEN) program, providing individualized plans for students with various needs. ISSP, fully accredited and offering the IB PYP, ensures comprehensive development focusing on effective learning at students’ own pace. The SEN program at ISSP involves cooperation with parents, experienced teachers, and regular training on safeguarding and child protection policies.



When it comes to after-school tutoring, local options like Everest Education and International Tutor Group are available, typically charging between 15 to 50 USD per hour.

For a personalized and budget-friendly tutoring experience, consider l’Atelier An Phu. Nestled in Thao Dien, District 2, Thu Duc City, we offer engaging and effective tutoring services starting at just 13 USD per hour (320,000 VND). Curious? Come visit us โ€“ the first class is on the house! Experience quality education tailored to your needs at l’Atelier An Phu.



Education for Expats in Ho Chi Minh City: A Comprehensive Guide 3

Both local Vietnamese schools and international schools in Vietnam adhere to a mandatory school uniform policy, reflecting the country’s emphasis on discipline, unity, and a sense of identity.

In local schools, uniforms are typically simple and standardized, often consisting of white shirts and navy blue trousers or skirts. These uniforms not only promote equality among students but also serve as a symbol of Vietnam’s commitment to education.

International schools, while also requiring uniforms, may adopt a more diverse approach, reflecting the multicultural nature of their student body. Uniforms in international schools often feature the school’s emblem or logo, adding a distinctive touch.



Navigating the educational landscape in Ho Chi Minh City involves considering the rich diversity of options, understanding the distinctions between public and international schools, and addressing specific needs for preschoolers and special-needs students.

As families embark on this educational journey, the guide aims to provide a holistic view of the available choices, ensuring a smooth integration into the educational tapestry of Saigon.

Welcome to the vibrant world of education in Ho Chi Minh City with l’Atelier!

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