Vietnamese Apps for Intrigue
Foody.vn (free) – The fresh new Vietnamese version of Yelp that just came out late last year already has an iPhone app and is one of the biggest competitors for diadiemanuong.com (literally “placesto-eat-and-drink”.com) but conveniently has an English version. The website and app is still bug-infested, but users are flocking to the site and the content keeps getting better.

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Karaoke Vietnam (free) – If you’re one of those folks who gets dragged out to karaoke with your Vietnamese friends but you’re secretly waiting for someone to hand over the remote and the songbook, instead just fire up Karaoke Vietnam and you’ll have all the numbers and songs, and even some of the lyrics all in one place. Less waiting, more singing.

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Lich Van Nien and VietCal (free) – To keep track of Tet and other lunar dates and/or know exactly when to visit which side of the family, Lich Van Nien’s got tons of info on dates and holidays (including all the superstitious stuff) and VietCal is the simple Vietnamese calendar that you whip out to check which lunar month it is.

Vietnamese English Dictionary by Cole Zhu (US$5.99) – Six bucks may sound like a lot for an iPhone app, but this is the best Vietnamese-English (and vice versa) dictionary I’ve found in the App store. You don’t need to type in diacritics and it always has multiple definitions and
alternatives for the Vietnamese or English words you’re looking for. It’s made talking with all my Vietnamese friends a lot easier.

International Apps for Survival
Google Maps (free) – If you updated to iOS, then you probably got stuck with Apple Maps. Luckily, Google Maps has just come out with its native iPhone app. It’s much better than the original, before it got kicked out by Tim Cook, and now even has local city bus routes. A big advantage for walkers.

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Foursquare (free) – Even though Google Maps is nice and updated, Foursquare, in my opinion, is still the king of finding cool new spots to wine, dine and hang out (even if Foody.vn is going to catch up with it by the end of next year). There’s a ton of users and they’ve been populating the content on the site for the last two years. The app has also gotten sleeker so it’s easier to find new locations.

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TripAdvisor (free) – Although I’m not a big fan of TripAdvisor (apparently a lot of ad agencies buy good reviews for locations), the app is still useful for checking up on locations if you’re hankering for a weekend trip out in Da Lat, Nha Trang or Mui Ne. Although you can’t completely trust their content, at least they’ve got a lot of it, and that’s always helpful to give you a good idea of the landscape you’re about to adventure into.

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Bio: Anh-Minh Do writes as the lead blogger at TechInAsia.com for Vietnam focusing on technology startups, trends and companies. Minh also organizes events at Evecoo.vn.