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Culture, Customs, and Etiquette,  Travel Considerations

7 Etiquettes in Vietnamese Culture for Travelers to Keep in Mind

The communication in Vietnam culture should be acknowledged in both verbal and non-verbal aspects. Today, you are going to find out several special things that need to pay attention to.

1.    Displaying affection is not recommended


Holding hands is acceptable (Source: Google)

It is normal to see couples in Western countries, such as America, France, or Germany showing intimacy in public with kisses and hugs. Nevertheless, you will hardly see that in Vietnam. Vietnamese society is still a little conservative and no one wants to see couples making out in public.

Besides kissing and hugging, holding hands or walking arm in arm is acceptable. This also applies to your communication with the locals. You may shake hands or simply say hello to a Vietnamese that you have just met. But kissing on their cheeks, hugging, or displaying affection are not recommended.

2.    Always ask before taking pictures


Ask before taking pictures (Source: Google)

When traveling with local people, you can be considered impolite if you take pictures without asking their permission. In Vietnam culture, not all locals are comfortable with their presence on pictures, especially women. They are afraid that they may not look gorgeous enough.

And their image can possibly be spoiled in case you publish that photograph to your social media. This may become worse when you travel to some remote mountainous area in Vietnam. A large number of citizens there are not familiar with cameras and can get you into trouble.

3.    Pay attention to some table manners


Avoid spilling sauce (Source: Google)

Table manners are relatively crucial in communication in Vietnam. International travelers are often excused when violating some rules. However, in numerous people’s mind, particularly Vietnamese old folks’, table manners reveal whether a person is well-educated or not.

Therefore, there are several things you should bear in mind:

  • When having a meal with the elderly, you ought to invite them to eat first and start your meal after they take the first bite.
  • Avoid spilling sauces when you pick up food with chopsticks.
  • Try not to show your teeth and cover your mouth if you have to use toothpicks.
  • Do not plunge your chopsticks into your bowl of rice because this reminds others of funerals.

4.    Do not make the locals lose their faces


Save face for both parties (Source: Google)

Similar to table manners, the face is not less important in Vietnam culture. In fact, if you make a Vietnamese lose his face, you can get yourself into a fist fight. Hence, it is best not to do anything causing awkwardness for both of you and the other one.

This includes to control your temper in public and not to excessively argue about some issue. For example, when having conflicts or cultural clashes with a local friend, you can attempt to talk about a different topic.

Or in case you visit a shop or a street restaurant, you should not bargain too much or pay your bill with high-valued currencies. The shopkeepers may not have enough change to give you, which cause them uncomfortable.

5.    Show your respect for sacred places


Respect sacred places (Source: Google)

Sacred places are not only temples and pagodas but also the worship room in the house. As you may know, most Vietnamese worship Buddha and their primogenitors in their home. And their statues, as well as pictures, are placed on the altar.

That is why you need to show your esteem to them if you want to maintain a strong rapport with your local friends. What you should do is not to say offensive words or point your fingers or toes towards the altar.

6.    Do not brag about yourself


Avoid wearing jewels (Source: Google)

Modesty is always highly appreciated in Vietnam culture. Hence, the local citizens usually do not have much fondness for people who usually show off about themselves.

Understanding your position and keeping your wealth to yourself when communicating with the Vietnamese are suggested. Furthermore, it is best not to adorn yourself with too many jewels. You may cause others unpleasant and attract burglars.

7.    Avoid political issues


President Ho Chi Minh (Source: Google)

Politics is a sensitive issue in Vietnam. The local people hardly ever talk about it. Movies, songs, or broadcast shows never mention it as well. Thus, you can discuss anything apart from politics with a Vietnamese.

Some topics you should dodge are the Vietnamese war and the recent conflicts between Vietnam and China. And the most important thing is not to insult late President Ho Chi Minh. He was a great revolutionary who set the Vietnamese free in the past. So the local citizens will take what you say seriously.

Khanh Huyen

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