When travelling to a country with a very different culture, one concern is that we may accidentally cause offence!
Well, we've got your back!
Here's our brief guide to travel etiquette in Vietnam:
• Dress conservatively, covering chest and legs.
• When entering a temple or any other sacred place, you’ll also need to cover your arms, and any tattoos you may be sporting!
• You should also avoid wearing old t-shirts into a sacred place such as a temple or pagoda, as a mark of respect.
• If you’re invited in to a local's home, remember to remove your shoes when entering.
• Don’t wear too much jewellery – this is regarded as a rather vulgar way to flaunt wealth.
• Of course, PDAs (public displays of affection) will generally be discouraged on a school trip, but it’s worth letting everyone know that anything more than holding hands in public is very much frowned upon in Vietnam.
• When you pay for something, or give someone a gift, always offer it with both hands – this is seen as a mark of respect.
• Heads are seen as sacred in Vietnamese culture – do not touch a Vietnamese’s head and don’t pass anything over anyone’s head.
• Avoid pointing the soles of your feet at anyone – this is considered very disrespectful.
• Do not point with your finger, instead gesture with your whole hand.
• And try not to stand with hands on hips or arms crossed against the chest.
• Hopefully this won’t come up, but try not to lose your temper in public - doing so will cause the person you’re angry at to lose face, which is taken very seriously in East Asian cultures.
• If you’d like to give a Vietnamese a gift, perhaps because you’ve been invited into their home, good choices include fruits, sweets, flowers or incense.
• Do not give handkerchiefs, yellow flowers or chrysanthemums, or anything black.
• Learn to use chopsticks!
• Try to finish everything on your plate.
• When you’ve finished, rest your chopsticks on top of the rice bowl – and never leave them sticking up in the air.
• If you’re eating soup, hold your spoon in your left hand.
• Never take a Vietnamese person’s picture without first asking permission.
Learn some Vietnamese! Basic phrases include:
o Hello – xin chao
o Goodbye – tam biet
o My name is… - ten toi la…
o How are you – ban co khoe khong?
o Thank you – cam on
o Thank you very much – cam on rat nhieu
o Sorry/excuse me – xin loi
o Can you help me? – Ban co the giup toi duoc khong?
o You’re welcome – khong co gi
o Do you speak English? – Ban co noi duoc tieng Anh khong?
o I don’t understand – Toi khong hieu