Halsbury Travel

Travel Etiquette in...Vietnam!

Posted in: History

Download an A4 handout of this guide »

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:


1. Clothing

• 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. 


2. Demeanour

• 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.

3. Gifts


• 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. 


4. Eating

• 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. 


5. Photography

• Never take a Vietnamese’s picture without first asking permission. 

6. Language


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

Not booked your school trip to Vietnam yet? Check out Zoe and James trip diary, before chatting to them about the options available!


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