Etiquette and Taboo in Vietnam

Vietnamese people are very particular about etiquette, from greetings to hospitality, from eating habits to traditional folk customs, they are unique. More and more people like to go on holiday, and Vietnam is a popular destination in Southeast Asia. So, what are the specific etiquette and taboo in Vietnam?




1. Greetings in Vietnam

Vietnamese people place a lot of importance on greetings in their spiritual lives. It is a form of communal expression in addition to good manners in communication. With over a thousand years of historical and cultural heritage, greetings indicate national characteristics like respecting elders, teachers, or other social ties. A greeting in Vietnamese is not a straightforward sentence. There are numerous methods to express that you are wishing them a good day. Let's take a quick look at Vietnam greeting and etiquette if you are considering taking a local tour of the country.


  • Vietnamese pay special attention to etiquette and politeness in their daily life. They always greet each other warmly and the simplest way is to nod your head. Vietnamese people generally greet each other by joining hands and bowing slightly to each other.


  • Vietnamese at social gatherings and guests meet prefer a conventional handshake generally. Western customs like hugging or kissing the cheeks are frowned upon. Some ethnic minorities such as Miao and Yao people make a slight bow with both hands folded in front of the body to express respect.


  • When greeting one another, men gently shakes hands and bow slightly. When greeting women, they bow slightly and nod. When greeting someone of authority clasp both hands.


  • Say hello by saying “Xin Chao”(seen chow). Some people just say, “Chao” but that is better for people you are familiar with. When talking to strangers or someone older than you, it is better to say “Xin Chao” to show respect.


  • For seniors, use "Chao anh," "Chao chi," "Chao co," "Chao chu," etc.


  • Only those who are older than you use these expressions. Just keep in mind to pronounce "Chao anh" and "Chao chu" if the audience is male. Let's say "Chao chi" or "Chao co" if they are female.


  • "Chao em" to younger individuals


  • Say "Chao em" when you meet younger people. If they are younger or the same age as you, do not use that.


2. Dress Code in Vietnam

Depending on where you go in Vietnam, there are many different clothing codes. For instance, the north of Vietnam tends to be a little more conservative and traditional than the south.
Since there is no official dress code in Vietnam, locals are completely used to seeing tourists there dressed in ways that they typically wouldn't wear in public. However, dressing a bit more modestly and similarly to the natives is a sign of respect, and you can get better service as a consequence.


Central post office


Dress conservatively wherever possible, especially ladies out there. Modest dress is considered the norm in Vietnam. The dress code is more relaxed in major cities but do yourself a favor - don’t wear booty shorts to the fish market. Shorts should only be worn at the beach.


When visiting some recognized formal occasions such as temples and churches, try not to wear too casually. It is better to wear long sleeve clothes and long shorts and avoid exposed shirts. Hats are not usually worn inside churches or temples.


The weather in Vietnam varies considerably by season, so it's important to research the local weather before traveling there. What to wear in Vietnam will also depend on the season. If you’re visiting in the rainy season, it's better to bring some clothing that can dry out quickly cause Vietnam can be very humid during this time.


Contrarily, winter is usually dry. Summer clothes are still required in the south of Vietnam, but in the north, it will be cool. You'll need thermal underwear and a lightweight jacket. Dress warmly in the highlands because it can get quite chilly.


3. Public Customs in Vietnam

Don't talk about sensitive topics in public with Vietnamese, such as the Vietnam War and politics altogether. The Vietnamese have mixed feelings about the "American war," and are understandably averse to bringing it up in the presence of American citizens.


4. Taboo in Vietnam

Vietnamese people also have many taboos, which should be paid attention to in public communication, daily life and tourism.


1) Body

Do not touch someone’s head, even child.

Do not touch anyone on the shoulder.

Do not stand with your hands on your hips.

Do not cross your arms on your chest.

Do not touch a member of the opposite sex.

Do not pass anything over someone's head and pass items with both hands.

Do not point your feet at any sacred object or site.

Remove your shoes before entering a home


2) Public Behavior

Do not lost your temple in public or when bargaining for a purchase.

Avoid public displays of affection with a member of the opposite sex.

Do not wear revealing swimwear such as bikinis

Do not take photos of three people. Do not take photos of military installations or anything to do with the military.

Do not drink tap water, preferably drink boiled water or bottled water.


5. Useful Vietnam Language and English Translation

Vietnamese English
Xin Chào Hello
Cảm ơn.    Thank You
Vâng Yes
Không No
Xin lỗi. Sorry
Tạm biệt. Bye Bye
Cứu tôi! Help me!
Cẩn thận! Be careful!
Tôi không hiểu. I don't understand.
Nhà vệ xinh ở đâu? Where is the toilet?
Bao nhiêu tiền? How much?
Đắt quá. Too expensive.
Tôi sẽ gọi cảnh sát/công an. I will call the police.
Tôi bị lạc. I got lost.
Tôi ốm rồi. I’ m sick.
Không sao No problem
Tôi bị mất cái ví. I lost my wallet.
Ệnh Viện Hospital
Thanh tuán. Check Out
Đường này ở đâu? Where is this road?

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