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Travel to Vietnam: Do’s and Don’ts when visiting Vietnam

Posted By: Sao La Tours / Vietnam Travel Guides
It might be a new experience when you travel to Vietnam, and if that’s the case, it’s important to learn about the local customs and etiquette.

It might be a totally new experience when you travel to Vietnam, and if that’s the case, it’s important to learn more about the local customs and etiquette to avoid misunderstandings. To minimize your culture shocks before visiting Vietnam, below Sao La Tours’ will provide you with useful tips so that you can enjoy your trip in Vietnam to its fullest.

What you should do when visiting Vietnam

Dress appropriately

Tourists in Vietnam are encouraged to dress more conservatively, especially if you come to temples and pagodas. In sacred places like these, make sure that your arms and legs are all covered. Although the Vietnamese are now more open-minded than they were before, you might still make a bad impression by wearing skimpy clothes in public.

Dress appropriately when visiting sacred places in Vietnam

Dress appropriately when visiting sacred places in Vietnam (Source: Collected)

Be careful with jewelry and cash

If you’re wearing too much unnecessary jewelry, you might become a target for the thieves and pickpockets. That’s why you may want to remove any extra bling if possible. In case you’re bringing a lot of cash, it’s recommended to divide them different parts and keep them in various safe places.

Keep your bag safe

By holding your bag in front of you instead of wearing it on your back, you can keep an eye on your belongings more easily. Beware of the drive-by bag snatchers while strolling through the streets.

Negotiate before buying

Before getting on a motorbike/taxi or buying anything on the streets, you should always negotiate and confirm the price with the sellers.

Ask before taking a photo

Never take a photo of the locals without asking. Some Vietnamese may feel uncomfortable or they will ask for payment after you have taken a photo of them. It’s also a matter of politeness to ask before you shoot.

Use chopsticks the right way

If you’re going to eat with chopsticks, you need to learn how to use them the right way. Never stick the chopsticks straight up in your bowl of rice, as it’s considered rude and a sign of bad luck (the chopsticks in that position symbolize two burning incense for funerals).

Learn to use chopsticks correctly when you travel to Vietnam

Learn to use chopsticks correctly when you travel to Vietnam (Source: Collected)

Ask before exchanging money

Only exchange money in the banks, otherwise it will be illegal. Always ask and confirm the exchange rate beforehand.

What you shouldn’t do when visiting Vietnam

Take photos of anything military related

Taking photos of any military equipment or installations is totally forbidden. You might end up in jail if you commit this mistake.

Point your feet towards an altar

When sitting in sacred places or in front of a family altar, it’s considered disrespectful to point your feet towards the altar. You should also avoid pointing your finger or turn your back to the altars. The locals in Vietnam are spiritual and you’ll make a very bad impression if you do these actions.

Hesitate when crossing the streets

The streets in Vietnam can be crowded and quite scary, especially for those who are visiting the country for the first time. It’s essential for you to keep calm and observe carefully when crossing a road. Never be hesitant, panic or suddenly stop in the middle of the road.

Don’t be hesitant when crossing the roads in Vietnam

Don’t be hesitant when crossing the roads in Vietnam (Source: Collected)

Enter someone’s house with shoes on

You should always remember to take your shoes off before entering a local’s house. It’s a sign of respect and it also helps to keep the owner’s house clean.

Travel to Vietnam: Etiquette and tips to remember

Greetings and visiting

When greeting the locals in Vietnam, just simply say “Xin chào” (Hello) and slightly bow your head. You can also shake their hands, but this is only appropriate amongst men. Physical contact when it comes to greeting the seniors or opposite sex is not encouraged.

The influence of Confucianism in Vietnam

Chinese culture has a strong influence on Vietnamese culture. That’s why the way of thinking, society and culture of Vietnam still bear the mark of Confucianism – a system of behaviors and ethics inspired by Confucius (a Chinese philosopher). Confucianism dignifies the virtuous qualities such as humility or altruism, and it affects every relationship of the Vietnamese.

Vietnamese dining etiquette

There are also special etiquettes when you’re dining in Vietnam. For example, a bowl of rice should never be filled to the brim as it represents offerings for the ancestors. Before eating, you should say “Mời mọi người”, which is an equal way of saying “Bon Appetit”.

Vietnamese gift giving etiquette

If you’re invited to a local Vietnamese house, it’s considered polite to bring along small gifts such as fruit or flowers. However, try not to give the locals anything in black color or yellow flowers, as these represent bad luck. When receiving or passing anything, use your two hands instead of one. This is how you show your respect to the giver/receiver.

Tipping etiquette

It’s not mandatory to tip in Vietnam but it’s still encouraged. The boat peddlers, drivers, tour guides, artists and street vendors in Vietnam work hard to make a living, and you could show them your appreciation with a generous tip.

Tipping is still appreciated when you travel to Vietnam

Tipping is still appreciated when you travel to Vietnam (Source: Collected)

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. It’s important to learn about the customs and etiquettes in Vietnam so that you don’t get yourself unnecessary trouble. Travel to Vietnam might require some research, that’s why Sao La Tours is always here to help you plan your trip to the smallest detail. Contact us for more information about prices, destinations and many more.

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