Vietnamese etiquette tips for travelers

Vietnamese etiquette tips for travelers

Traveling to a new country can be a bit intimidating, especially when you have no idea about the customs and etiquettes. That’s why we created this little guide ‘Vietnamese etiquette tips for travelers’. This will ensure you have a smooth transition in Vietnam and you’ll hopefully learn a few new things about this beautiful country. Whether you’re traveling, going here for work or just want to learn more about Vietnam, it’s always helpful to know the etiquettes when arriving to a new country. So take a look at the Vietnamese etiquette tips for travelers and let us know what you think!

Young traveler with backpack reading a map at old quarter in Hanoi, Vietnam

Avoid public displays of affection

The Vietnamese are usually not shy when it comes to showing affection to friends and family, but when it comes to the opposite sex or a love interest, it’s usually a no-no. Of course, it’s more common in the big cities to see couples holding hands or such, but if you go to the countryside for example, you should always respect the local culture and avoid showing public displays of affection. It’s just not normal in their culture to do so and it’s also disrespectful in a way.

Use your hand and don’t point with your finger

Pointing with your finger in Vietnam is a sign of disrespect, like in many other places in the world. So if you want to point at something and want to be polite, use your pinky finger. You can also point with an open hand, palm facing down.

Don’t touch someone’s head

The head is sacred and should therefore not be touched. Don’t ruffle anyone’s hair and avoid touching someone’s head directly. If you do it, you’ll be considered rude.

Don’t pat someone on the back

In some countries in the world, it’s encouraging to pat someone on the back. Not in Vietnam! If you’re not close friends to that person, you shouldn’t pat someone on the back. If you haven’t earned the person’s trust, the person might get a feeling that you disrespect them if you pat them on the back. Not an impression you want to leave to the locals.

If you are invited to someone’s home you…

Should bring something. It can be anything from fruit, flowers, sweets or incense, but it’s very common to gift them a present. The present should be wrapped in colorful paper as well, preferably red since it’s the color of luck. Avoid giving anything that’s black, chrysanthemums or yellow flowers.

When you’re seated, you should think of…

Passing your dishes with both hands. It might seem odd, but it’s a sign of respect. You should also always let the oldest person sit first. When you are being served food, you should try to finish everything on the plate since it shows that you enjoyed the meal and that you’re not wasting it. If you’re eating a bowl of pho soup for example, people usually slurp. This can be really annoying in some places, but in Vietnam it’s a sign of showing that you’re enjoying the food. The louder, the better!

Dress modestly

Yes, it might be burning hot, but you shouldn’t walk around in a bikini in the cities. Vietnam is still quite a conservative country so the people tend to dress modestly and conservatively. They might not say anything about the way you’re dressed, but you’re not leaving the best impression by walking into temples and pagodas with your shortest shorts and tank tops. It’s very rude to visit such holy places while being dressed inappropriately. So if you’re at the beach, dress however you want to, but once you’ve left the beach, it’s important to think about what you’re wearing. Always respect the local culture and etiquettes.

Don’t take photos with three people

If you’ve just found two newfound friends, you might have to take two photos because it’s considered bad luck in Vietnam to take a photo with three people in it. So you might want to avoid that. Otherwise, the locals like to pose for photographs, but it’s always important to ask for consent and tell them what you will use the photo for. Don’t just take photos, but make sure to be polite and ask them first. Even if the answer is most likely yes, it’s still a way of showing respect.

Now that you know a few important etiquettes to think of while traveling in Vietnam, you’re ready to go! But before you start packing your bags, make sure to apply for the Vietnam visa. Depending on your nationality, you can apply for either the Visa on Arrival or the E-Visa. Both are online visas that you can easily obtain by filling out an online application form. There are pros and cons with both of the visas so make sure you choose the one that’s better suited for you. You also have the option to go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. They will then help you with your visa application and make sure that you apply for the right type of visa.

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