July in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Spend 4 weeks in Vietnam for part of your July winter break studying fine art or photography! Immerse yourself in the local culture of Vietnam, experience the history and culinary delights while interacting with the locals. There is never a shortage of things to do and see in Vietnam!

Program Overview

Once known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is always buzzing with energy and activity. HCMC, the largest city in Vietnam, houses a unique culture of its own as it draws influences from both Asian and Western traditions. HCMC breathes life and vitality into its citizens whose visitors can’t help but come along for the ride. Be it the gorgeous beaches, exquisite architecture, historic war memorials, exotic culinary sensations and incredibly friendly people, Vietnam has it all and you can experience it all while gaining academic credit for a course towards your degree!

You can start getting excited about:

Cultural Immersion
What is amazing about HCMC is despite its high-octane commercially driven personality, it harbours an artistic blend of both modern and ancient cultures. From classy hotels, a unique coffee culture, a growing art scene, and upscale restaurants to authentic street food stalls and boutiques, students are sure to experience something new every day. Previously occupied by the Chinese and colonised by the French, HCMC plays host to many historic icons such as museums, churches, temples and war memorials that shouldn’t be missed! Your CISaustralia Site Director will be there to support you, provide local travel and restaurant tips, and assist you in immersing yourself in the local culture.

Your New University in Vietnam
Set in the south of the city, RMIT University is located 7km from the city centre providing an escape from the fast-paced lifestyle of Ho Chi Minh City. RMIT has campus-wide wireless technology giving students access to academic resources anytime, anyplace. The very modern Recreation and Events complex provides students with a wide range of recreational facilities, the chance to stay fit and healthy, unwind after your studies and meet new friends.

An International Welcome
Part of the Melbourne-based university, RMIT Vietnam brings to the heart of Asia a globalised study environment and a world-renowned education. Your class will be taught in English but you will be immersed with local Vietnamese students. Vietnam and RMIT are both known for their hospitality, and the students at RMIT are always keen to meet other international students from around the globe. With over 60 student-run clubs and societies, students will have the chance to be involved in a huge range of activities, including sports and fitness, various activities and events on campus, volunteer programs and more!


Local Vietnamese Buddies
As part of the program, students will engage with local Vietnamese buddies – an exciting, culturally immersive way to get to know the RMIT campus and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese buddies will help students get familiar with the local neighbourhood, learn about the city subway and train systems, get to know the university and its facilities, learn about Vietnamese culture and start exploring the wonders of HCMC. The program will also include a one-day excursion and city tour.

Take further advantage of your time in this unique city by asking your CISaustralia Site Director or local Vietnamese buddies about local events, activities, restaurants, daily excursions and other travel opportunities. An abundance of colourful festivals take place in Vietnam year-round and are another reason visitors from around the globe flock to this beautiful country. Festivals are a wonderful way to learn about the local beliefs and customs. It’s highly recommended that you make an effort to participate in local events and festivals while in HCMC, however, festivals aren’t the only way to absorb the culture.

Our Site Director can assist further with culture and travel related questions in Vietnam. Here are a few recommendations to start:

Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is a vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands, home to floating markets, Khmer pagodas and villages surrounded by rice paddies. Boats are the main means of transportation, and tours of the region often start in nearby Ho Chi Minh City or Can Tho, a bustling town in the heart of the delta.

Ha Long Bay
Located just 3 hours outside of Hanoi, Ha Long Bay is a must see if you visit the north of Vietnam. Imagine 2,000 or more islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and you have a vision of breathtaking beauty. Take a day trip or spend 2-3 days cruising this amazing aqua wonderland. See local village life, buy fresh seafood from local fisherman and have it cooked before your eyes. Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, and legend claims the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains.

Sapa ranks along Ha Long Bay and Hoi An in terms of attracting international tourists from around the world. Its natural beauty and surrounding attractions are breathtaking. Bring your hiking shoes and camera – there are plenty of opportunities to go hiking and take that memorable image of Vietnam.

A O Show at the Saigon Opera House
Giant woven baskets turn into flamingos and crabs, among other imaginative creatures and contraptions, thanks to the clever performers behind the A O Show. Visit the historic Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City for this sophisticated cultural show featuring traditional music, dance and acrobatics. Beautiful choreography and stunning optical illusions lend to a story about how a rural Vietnamese community adapts to urbanisation.

Fine Arts Museum
Not far from the Ben Thành Market, housed in a Chinese-influenced yellow and white colonial-era mansion, the Fine Arts Museum offers an extensive insight into Vietnamese aesthetics ranging from the country’s earliest civilisations to the present day. Exhibits include anything from sculpture and paintings to pottery and abstract art.

Jade Emperor Pagoda
This is one of the most spectacularly atmospheric temples in Ho Chi Minh City, stuffed with statues of phantasmal divinities and grotesque heroes that were built in 1909 in honour of the supreme Taoist god (the Jade Emperor or King of Heaven). Incense fills the air and woodcarvings line the walls. Its roof is etched with elaborate tile work, and the temple’s statues, depicting characters from both Buddhist and Taoist lore, are made from reinforced papier mâché.

Chu Chi Tunnels
The Chu Chi Tunnels are part of a massive war museum that offers a sneak-peek at the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948. Located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the historical site is comprised of more than 120km of underground tunnels with several trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals and command centres.

Choose Your Course

During your July in Vietnam program you will take a course at RMIT University, an Asian campus of Melbourne-based university RMIT – one of Australia’s largest and most prestigious universities. Established in 2000, RMIT was the first international university in Vietnam. With an internationally-focused curriculum, international students are enthusiastically welcomed by bilingual Vietnamese students and both local and international professors. RMIT offers programs instructed in English for international students.

2020 Course Offerings:

  • An Introduction to Contemporary Vietnamese Fine Art
  • Vietnamese Photography Studio: Ho Chi Minh City through the Lens

Course Load: 1 course worth 12 RMIT credits (equivalent to 3 US credits or 7.5 ECTS credits).

  • Depending on your Australian university, “courses” may be referred to as “subjects” or “units”.
  • Each course/subject/unit you undertake on a CISaustralia program is designed to be a full-time, semester course that has been condensed to fit into an intensive, short-term program. As such, for any 1 course you study abroad, you should receive the credit points for 1 full-time course/subject/unit at your Australian university.
  • Many universities work off of a 1-for-1 equivalency (1 course abroad = 1 course in Australia), but ultimately credit approval is the decision of your faculty and Australian university.
  • CISaustralia strongly recommends that you have any overseas courses pre-approved for academic credit before you depart for your program. Some documentation that may be useful are the course outline/syllabus, program overview and the contact hours.
  • Although you will only take 1 course on the program, it is best to get 2-3 courses approved by your university before you go overseas. This gives you some flexibility. Why not consider opting for an interesting elective if your degree allows?
  • Your CISaustralia Program Advisor can assist with any questions or details your university needs to make a decision.

Academic Requirement: To qualify for this program, students must be in good academic standing with a GPA of 4.5 (out of 7) or equivalent. If your current GPA falls below the requirement, you may still be considered for the program but will need to be prepared to provide supporting documentation. Please contact us to discuss your situation and we will work with you to help find another suitable program if required.

Course Descriptions:

CREDITS: 12 RMIT credit points

Cultural demarcations of global influence are increasingly fluid. However, innovative creative practices have formed in locations that only decades ago were viewed as primitive or outside the mainstream. These new approaches are now positively influencing Western practices and ideas.

Vietnam’s relatively recent emergence onto the international art scene reflects its rapid cultural, economic and technological change. The intersection of its rich and turbulent history with new international influences and a globalized art market has provided inspiration for a number of challenging and provocative artists.

This course will direct your own learning by identifying and investigating the cultural, historical, and contemporary aspects and practice of contemporary Vietnamese art. Your knowledge and sensibility of art culture will be developed through site visits and ongoing reflection on your experiences. Both will be important in helping inform your own piece of creative work or visual diary, and further your understanding and interest in contemporary fine art.

CREDITS: 12 RMIT credit points

Students will develop photographic ideas and skills by investigating the cultural, historical and aesthetic qualities of modern Ho Chi Minh City. Students will develop their knowledge and personal approach through active engagement with the city, including gallery visits, excursions and on-site projects. Reflection on the many aspects of the study experience will inform student’s own photographic collection, produced during their immersive time in Vietnam.


As part of your orientation, together with the help of the CISausralia Site Director and local Vietnamese buddies, CIS participants will start getting familiar with their local neighbourhood, learn about the city subway and train systems, get to know the university campus and its facilities, meet faculty and staff, learn about Vietnamese culture and start exploring the wonders of HCMC. Your July in Vietnam program will include a one-day excursion and city tour.

Program excursions may vary from year to year, but here are a couple of sample activities students may participate in as part of the program:

  • Market and City Tour: Orient yourself to your new city! Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is known for its vibrant and buzzing pace. Take a day and see some of what it has to offer. Tour old colonial architecture like the Notre-Dame Cathedral (yes, Vietnam has one too!) or the Old Post Office and bargain your way through some of Southeast Asia’s best street markets.
  • Mekong Delta: The Mekong River, one of the world’s longest river systems, meets the South China Sea. The river is home to more than just fish – the Mekong basin is one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth. Explore the natural and human-made beauty at the delta, from the rice paddies to the floating markets and pagodas.

There are also an endless number of other activities students can partake in on their own, both in HCMC and the surrounding areas:

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon: Built in the late 1800s, this brick, neo-Romanesque church with a 40m-high square tower is an icon that enlivens the heart of HCMC’s government quarter and is truly a historic marvel and French colonial beauty.
  • Bitexco Financial Tower: Commonly known as the Saigon Skydeck, this 68-storey skyscraper stands 262 metres high at the centre of the city’s CBD. Soar up to the 49th floor and get an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city’s skyline. The sunset from up there is a sight you don’t want to miss!
  • Ben Thành Market: Head over to these markets to grab some cheap street food, traditional clothing and exquisite cultural souvenirs. With over 3,000 stalls, Ben Thành has pretty much everything you can find. Be sure to put your haggling hat on since being a tourist, you may be asked to pay prices far above what locals would pay.
  • War Remnants Museum: One of the most visited in the country, this museum showcases the brutality of the Vietnam War with exhibits such as helicopters, bombers and tanks supported with text and pictures that tell of the horrific tales. Definitely not for the squeamish!
  • Ho Chi Minh Square: Ho Chi Minh Square can be found in the middle of District 1 right in the city centre. It is surrounded by beautiful French colonial style buildings. On this square you will find a statue of Uncle Ho, which was placed to honour the 100th birthday of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee (City Hall). The City Hall is a popular place for tourists to take pictures and is especially beautiful around dusk, when many of the landmarks are lit by soft lighting.
  • Bonsai River cruise: Cruise along the Saigon River and watch the city lights at sunset by the deck of a traditional 19th century dragon boat. A perfect and truly relaxing way to end an exhausting day!


Ho Chi Minh City  
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is a city in southern Vietnam famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War. It’s also known for its French colonial landmarks, including the Notre-Dame Cathedral, made entirely of materials imported from France, and the 19th-century Central Post Office. Food stalls line the city’s streets, especially around bustling Ben Thành Market.

HCMC is a city of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with great energy. A chaotic whirl, the city breathes life and vitality into all who settle there, and visitors cannot help but tag along for the ride. The ghosts of the past live on in buildings that one generation ago witnessed a city in turmoil, but now the real beauty of the former Saigon’s urban collage blends these two worlds into one exciting mass.

For a country that is only slightly larger than Italy, this is one little nation that is choc-full of geographic and cultural diversity. Surrounded by stunning coastline and full of bright green mountains, breathtaking national parks and dynamic cities, Vietnam is a travel destination that many aspire to visit. It boasts a veritable smorgasbord of cultural interests, as well as one of the world’s very best cuisines. Vietnam really is a country that has it all.

Vietnam’s cultural diversity stems from its fascinating history. In the northern region, Chinese occupation left a strong cultural influence on architecture, religion and cuisine. But head south and you’ll see that the Indian culture has left a lasting impression. In between the two, you’ll find French colonial characteristics that are still apparent with distinctive yellow pastel-coloured architecture of its villas and administrative buildings, as well as a passion for the quintessential baguette. While you’re trekking the mountainous regions, wave a friendly ‘chào’ to the 50+ hill tribes who continue to live isolated from conventional society.

The University

RMIT University Vietnam, South Saigon campus, is an Asian campus of Melbourne-based university RMIT – one of Australia’s largest and most prestigious universities. Established in 2000, RMIT was the first international university in Vietnam. RMIT Vietnam’s campus is a purpose-built, contemporary educational facility with education quality governed and assessed to Australian standards. The University is home to more than 6,000 students, primarily local Vietnamese.

The university is located in the education district of HCMC, about 7km from the city centre (about a 15-minute taxi ride or 25-minute bus ride) and offers programs from Business and Management to Design, Photography and Fashion.

With an internationally-focused curriculum, international students are enthusiastically welcomed by bilingual Vietnamese students and both local and international professors. Local RMIT students are globally minded, warm, welcoming and eager to learn from and share with international students. The program is designed so that interpersonal connections between Vietnamese and CIS students can be easily made. Students on this program have the chance to learn the local language, history and culture first-hand in an incredible setting.


Participants on this program will be provided with either a single bedroom in a shared apartment or a single apartment, pending availability. We suggest students accept their CISaustralia Program Offer early to secure their place and accommodation. Apartments are modest, but always safe, clean and in good residential neighbourhoods.

Apartment amenities typically include a mini kitchen, refrigerator, microwave, aircon, Wi-Fi, TV, bathroom, toilet, double bed, desk, chair, all linen and utensils, plus weekly cleaning.

Program Fee & Dates

July 2020
Application Deadline07 April 2020
Arrival Date20 June 2020
Departure Date18 July 2020
Program Fee A$ 4,999
OS-HELP A$ 9,399


Program fees include the following:
  • Tuition fees
  • CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Visa assistance
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • Airport pick-up (on specified program arrival date within designated arrival times)
  • Orientation
  • Accommodation
  • City tour
  • At least one full-day cultural excursion or equivalent
  • Local Vietnamese student buddy program
  • Sports and recreation facilities
  • Access to RMIT English language library
  • CISaustralia 24/7 on-site support – Site Director
  • RMIT official academic transcript
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Participation (available on request)

What is not included:

  • Flights
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Vaccinations (if required)
  • Meals (unless mentioned above)
  • Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)

Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork.

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.

Adventure Awaits

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