For many Vietnamese who were trapped in the four corners of their homes during the strict social distancing last year, the short-form video-sharing app TikTok became a significant part of the routine. As a matter of fact, DataPortal revealed that there are 39.9 million active TikTok users in Vietnam — that’s about 40% of the entire population.
A separate survey conducted by DecisionLab also showed that the fourth quarter of 2021 saw the unequivocal domination of TikTok in the short-video category. Among Gen Z users, TikTok made a whopping jump of 13% points compared to 2019, when the app was introduced in Vietnam, with 50% of Vietnamese Gen Z now using TikTok for short-video content. The growth rate of TikTok’s popularity is slower for older generations. TikTok gained 2% and 4% for Gen X and Millennial users respectively.
Along with the platform’s increasing popularity are the growing numbers of new forms of “celebrities” and “influencers” who’ve become so familiar with the Vietnamese audience. Many of these now-famous content creators use the platform to exhibit their talents, make people laugh, do little pranks, and express themselves in no more than three minutes.
Amazingly, TikTok also allowed expats to connect deeper with the country they now call home. Here are five of the most famous foreign TikTokers who create content that show their love for Vietnam and its people.
Rufino Aybar (@rufinoaybar)
@rufinoaybar Up đến lúc nào Tiên đồng ý thì thôi 😭 @missgrandvn.thuytien ♬ original sound - Rufino Aybar
With 2.6 million followers on TikTok, Rufino Aybar is no stranger to many young people in Vietnam. Born in 1998, this Spanish boy has spent his whole life in Vietnam. In his videos, he shared that when he was just four years old, his father got divorced and left everything in Spain to come to Vietnam. Therefore, except for his Western appearance, Aybar is no different from an ordinary Vietnamese.
In addition to being a famous TikToker, he is also known for being an academic achiever. In 2016, he enrolled in the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, one of the top universities in this country. He chose to pursue International Law as he thinks it can be a useful tool to preserve peace and security in the world. After four years of studying, last year, he graduated as the valedictorian of his batch.
Many Vietnamese follow Rufino Aybar for his funny anecdotes and comments about his daily life. When Nguyen Thuc Thuy Tien won Miss Grand International, he posted a short video expressing his intention to propose to her, which has attracted attention from the public. Most people think it is hilarious to see an expat who supports Vietnam with such dedication.
Will in Vietnam (@willinvietnam)
@willinvietnam Người pháp biết ốc sên vì chỉ là nước Châu Âu cũng ăn 🐌😅 #fyp #vietnam #willinvietnam #vtmgr #ocsen #ngonmieng ♬ Sài Gòn Đau Lòng Quá (Mee Remix) - Hứa Kim Tuyền, Hoàng Duyên
Will in Vietnam is actually Will Courageux, a French man who fell in love with Vietnam's food and culture. When you visit his TikTok page, you’d find it hard to not be tempted by all the appetizing dishes in his timeline. He has eaten almost all Vietnamese food imaginable — from beef jerky with lemon juice to Ong Tho milk-dipped bread, raw instant noodles and Hao Hao salted fruits. Viewers favor his contents as he never shies away from strange foods.
One of his favorite dishes is banh mi, emphasizing that he can eat it every day. Different from French baguettes, Vietnamese banh mi can be filled with several ingredients such as vegetables, eggs, meat, and sausages. Before moving to Hanoi, Will spent his time in Ho Chi Minh City. For him, while living in the southern metropolis may be suitable for the young, he prefers living in Hanoi, where he can experience the authentic lifestyle of the local people.
Anh Nga Ngố (@anhngangovn)
Hướng dẫn giao tiếp tiếng Việt như người bản xứ 🤓♬ Primal Fear - Drama Effect - Dave James
Our next TikTok celebrity came from Russia, named Peter Dgplv. Originally, he came to Vietnam for business purposes. But as lockdown set in for many months, he began learning Vietnamese. That was how his TikTok career started. At first, he only uploaded his practice videos on TikTok to spare up his phone storage. His videos impressed many youngsters with his knowledge of Vietnamese Internet slang.
Because Peter is mostly interested in online culture, he tries to learn this language by getting to know its slang. From time to time, he surprises his viewers by speaking the phrases fluently in his content. Some of his viewers commented, “He knows so much! We must make him Vietnamese.” At present, he is still continuously sharpening his Vietnamese speaking skills, and hopefully will be able to use it in real life when he speaks with the locals.
Sonya Firsova (@sonyafirst)
@sonyafirst #tây #vietnam #superfanzvn #tiktokvietnam #phúquốc #kiêngiang #kiengiang #phuquoc #noplastic #viet #fyp #fy #bobien #giup #dondepongoelojo #ăn #bien ♬ Sao Cha Không (Bố Già OST) - Phan Mạnh Quỳnh
The Firsova sisters (Sonya Firsova and Viola Firsova) are already a familiar name to many Hanoians as they often appear near Guom Lake on weekends night, singing Vietnamese songs. Since they were little, they have been traveling the world to broaden their knowledge and explore various cultures. At first, Firsova thought that they would only stay in Vietnam for a few months. But after visiting multiple countries, they realized they did not want to settle anywhere other than Vietnam.
On her TikTok account, Sonya uploaded many videos of her trying out Vietnamese food. Yet, among her most trending ones, one particular video stood out. It is her video cleaning up Phu Quoc Beach, which has already amassed 2.7 million views. During her trip there, Sonya supported local people in picking trash in the area. Many Vietnamese thought her acts were admirable and should serve as inspiration to others to be more socially and environmentally responsible.
Becky ở Việt Nam (@beckyovietnam)
@beckyovietnam Xe vẫn rất tốt nhưng không như T mong đợi. :’) #vtmgr #xuhuong #tiktokvietnam #funny #fyp #xyzbca ♬ Đứng hình 5s - Em Gái Bay
Starting her TikTok journey in 2020, Becky has now gained around 136k followers and over 3 million likes. Coming from England, her videos focus on the differences between two cultures. Earlier this year, she shared an experience of trying a limousine in Vietnam. Opposed to her expectations, a minibus showed up. Although she was surprised, she still felt that the services were comfortable.
Living in Vietnam for four years now, her Vietnamese has improved day by day. She provides both English and Vietnamese subtitles in her content. Unlike many popular foreigners, Becky is living in Ha Long, instead of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.