Vietnam is known for its diverse culture and fun-loving people. Divided into three parts, this long trip is a chance for anyone to learn about a whole new culture with a history of more than a thousand year. If you are coming to Vietnam for the first time, a basic knowledge of the local customs can help you engage with the people you meet in a friendly, positive way. Here are some tips for you to get started.

1. Greet in the right way

Vietnamese people greet each other by saying “Xin Chao” (xin chow). You would not want to just say “Chao” and receive a not-so-happy-look from people because they use “Chao” only to people who are close to each other such as friends. However, if you want to use “Chao” then you should add “you” after it. It can be understood as “Hello to you”. This way, it actually sounds more friendly than “Xin Chao” but the tricky part is that it depends on who you are talking to, you have to use different words to call them.

For example:

Old enough to be your aunt-Femaleco
Old enough to be your grandmother-Femaleba
Old enough to be your uncle-Malechu
Old enough to be your grandfather-Maleng


2. Be careful when visiting temples or someone’s house

When you enter someone’s house, you should take your shoes off and put them outside the door, unless the owner tells you to wear them in. Another very important thing is Vietnamese families keep altars in their shops and homes, including some at ground level: Don’t step over these ground altars or walk around directly in front of them since that means you dishonor their Saints.

When visiting temples, you should wear modest clothing, especially no mini skirt or short pants allowed and always remove your shoes and hat. You can carry shoes with you, but just don’t wear them on your feet.

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3. Ask before taking photographs

There are so many beautiful photo opportunities in Vietnam and most people will be fine with you taking their photo but respect their privacy and always ask before you lift your camera up. Taking photos this way offers the same level of respect to your subjects as you would apply to yourself, and it can be a unique and fascinating opportunity to learn a bit about someone’s life.

4. Eat like a Vietnamese

Mealtimes in Vietnam are all about sharing. Most meals come out as an assortment of shared dishes, with small rice bowls and chopsticks for each person. Pass dishes at the table with both hands or your right hand (not the left) and hold your spoon in your left hand if you’re eating soup. Don’t stick your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl, this reminds Vietnamese of the two burning joss sticks used for funerals and is considered as unlucky. Also, don’t play with your chopsticks. Avoid clicking the bowl or hitting the table with your chopsticks. Leaving a significant amount of rice in your bowl is considered wasteful, therefore, don’t get more rice than you think you can finish.

It is good hospitality for a host to offer you food, refill your glass and put the best bits of a dish into your bowl. If you want to stop eating, simply repeat politely that you’re very full. Unlike a lot of countries which prefer to share the bill after the meal, in most social gatherings in Vietnam, the person who makes the invitation is the one who pays the bill. Otherwise, the most senior person is the one who pays.

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5. Be a master at bargaining

When you want to shop in Vietnam, remember to always bargain. However, you haggle and bargain for prices but do not make the price so low that you offend the seller. For example, if the seller is asking you to pay 100,000VND for an item, do not say 20,000VND as the price is too low. Politely you could ask for 50% of what the seller asked, such as 50,000VND, and this would be considered the beginning of the bargaining. Depending on the item and the quality, you could expect to end up somewhere around 75,000VND.

Now that you know what to expect and how to show respect to the locals, it is time to start planning the trip. For more useful tips, check out our website We are also gladly to help you save your precious time by helping you choose the destinations you want to spend your vacation at. Check out our packages and fascinating walking tour in Hanoi for more information.


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