Traveling to a new country is likely to be really fun and exciting, but it is also going to be an adjustment. You might find yourself wondering "What does this Vietnamese phrase mean?" or "Why do the Vietnamese do that?" in response to some Vietnamese habits.
So as to save you from stress, we will share some of the most common things to keep in mind about Vietnamese and Vietnamese unique culture before you arrive.
Learn a bit of Vietnamese
It is highly recommended to learn some Vietnamese — even the most rudimentary. It will make your trip much easier and of course, more interesting. Many Vietnamese are as interested in knowing about your culture as you are about ours. Why don’t we meet on a middle ground even if it means using a translator?
Shake hand to greet a Vietnamese
Shake hand to greet a Vietnamese
The Vietnamese are a reserved society, so physical contact with a member of the opposite sex, except a handshake, in public is frowned upon. That is the reason why on your Vietnam tours, you may come across couples holding hands but not hugging or kissing. Vietnamese do not hug or kiss each other as greetings. It is typical to shake hands both when greeting and when saying goodbye. Get ready to extend your arm and give a good firm handshake!
Credit card is not always king
Even though Vietnam is pretty high-fashioned when it comes to handling money, there are still a lot of shops and eateries in this country that will only accept cash. However, for public transport, especially bus and short-journey train rides, always have cash with you.
Tipping is not customary in Vietnam and leaving a local restaurant without a generous tip is not considered hugely disrespectful. But in areas around high-class hotels, this social custom has become the norm. A service fee included in these much more high-end services ranges from 5% to 15%. If you do not have Vietnamese money ready, do not hesitate to use US$ to tip them!
If your day’s itinerary includes visiting temples, pagodas, and other historic sites, take care to dress conservatively. Shorts, short skirts, together with bare arms and shoulders are not suitable. Showing the proper respect is always in good taste, and many popular temples in Vietnam apply strict dress codes to visitors.
Offer some gifts to your host’s family
If you are invited to the host’s family for a meal, celebration, or special occasion, something typical from your country – usually food, fruits, chocolate, or liquors – makes excellent gifts. A gift for children or an elderly parent is also not a bad idea. As the black paper is considered unlucky and associated with funerals Vietnam, make sure to always wrap your gift in colorful paper.
Don’t be shy about asking for help
Don’t be shy about asking questions and soliciting advice. The Vietnamese are unbelievably friendly, hospitable, polite, and willing to give you a hand.
Eat with chopsticks
Expect to eat with chopsticks
In Vietnam, the style of dining is chopsticks and rice bowls with some serving dishes placed in the center of the table. Though the hosts will usually invite everyone to begin helping themselves, expect them to pick out choice morsels for you.
Eat your entire meal
In Russia, eat your entire meal means that you do not get enough food and are still hungry. Funnily enough, in Vietnam, leave some food and eating all your rice is considered polite. This act also shows your host that you love your meal.
Do not speak in a loud tone in crowded and public places
This particular “don’t” is pretty universal. Just like in most countries around the world, speaking in a loud tone with excessive gestures whether in a restaurant or at a bus stop is frowned upon in Vietnam. It is not only considered rude and offensive but it is also distracting for other people.
Traveling to Vietnam and navigating its large number of wonders can be a little tricky for the uninitiated; to say that this beautiful country is culturally very different from what you have long been used to in your hometown. Understanding Vietnam through its popular culture will only ever offer skin-deep insights.