As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. It is always essential to learn even just a bit about a place’s traditions and cultural practices when you are touring. No matter where you go, there will always be some do’s and don’t be that will ensure you a much enjoyable trip.

Vietnam is an Asian country with plentiful of social rules and obligations. However, you do not need to learn all of them when you travel to Vietnam. Here are the top eight to help you survive during your time in Vietnam!

Handshakes and smile

When meeting someone new, Vietnamese people tend to give the other person a warm smile and a welcoming handshake. It is also usual that people shake with both hands and give you a light bow to show respect. If you meet with an elder, the person may not extend their hand. In this case, just a polite greeting and a bow will do.

Handshakes

Handshake

Vocal greetings

They are also generally accepted. When greeting someone, people usually say “Xin chao”, meaning “hello”. It is pronounced like “seen chow”, but with some tones to it. Vietnamese people do not usually mind if foreigners cannot quite pronounce the words, but would be glad if you could.  After all, Vietnamese is a tonal language so it is hard to pronounce the words correctly.

Dress

People have become more open about this but again, that is mostly the young generation. Our advice is still to dress modestly. Bring your nice outfits. Shorts, tank tops, and skirts are okay. But avoid too revealing or ridiculous clothes as it may be considered inappropriate on the streets. I know it is hot in Vietnam for many foreigners but just do as the locals do and blend in as much as possible.

Cover your shoulders and knees

Cover your shoulders and knees

It is also important to note that short and revealing clothes are not allowed in temples and mosques. Though some places may prepare something for visitors, both local and international, to wear, it is still a safe choice to wear your own clothes. Bring a scarf to wrap it around your body when entering these places. Another thing to bring is a pair of light-weighted long trousers. It is super helpful in this situation and maybe even on the planes too, when it can be freezing cold sometimes.

When eating

As you may already know, Vietnam is an Asian country with its main staple being rice. Vietnamese people eat with chopsticks and use rice bowls. When eating, you should hold the rice bowl in your hand. If you eat from a rice bowl on the table, some people may consider it to be a lazy act.

Hold bowl of rice in your hand

Hold bowl of rice in your hand

Also, food is placed on dishes on the table. It is normal that you have to take food from the dishes and help yourself.

Tea

Tea offer is usually made at the reception. It is to show the hospitality of the Vietnamese people so it is preferred that you do not refuse it. It might taste good to some, but not all foreigners. Also, if you know that your stomach does not react well to this drink, just kindly refuse it and tell the other person the reason.

Taking and giving

Vietnamese children are usually taught to take and give objects with both hands. It is seen as a way to show respect for the other person, especially if that is an older one.  That is why, when you come to Vietnam, you should also follow this rule and try to take and give things with both hands.

Gifts

Women always love a beautiful bouquet of flowers. For men and children, they usually prefer something a bit practical and can be used in daily life.

A flower bouquet

A flower bouquet

If you choose to deliver in some sorts of wrapping, please choose bright colors for your wrapping. And do not give handkerchiefs. Vietnamese consider them to be a symbol of a sad farewell.

Haggling

It is seen as a part of Vietnamese culture. You can always ask for a “better price” when in markets and some small shops. Try out your luck and negotiation skills! Most of the times, you might get the item offered at a lower price than the initial one.