Culture, Customs, and Etiquette

The Three Most Extraordinary Traits in Vietnam History and Culture

There are three distinct regions in Vietnam, including Northern, Central, and Southern area. Therefore, Vietnam history and culture vary from area to area. Today, let’s discover this wonderful country from some different angles.


All three regions in Vietnam have different backgrounds, making the Vietnam history and culture unique.

Northern Vietnam was famous for being the land of dragons. It all started with a myth about King Ly Thai To looking for a new capital. Legend has it that he saw a golden dragon appear and fly up high when traveling to the Red River. Therefore, he believed that Northern Vietnam was appointed by the Gods to become the new capital, carrying the most important mission of the country.

Since then, hardly any invaders could take over it. Even when the Nguyen Dynasty moved the capital to Hue City, Northern Vietnam was still the leader in the field of economy, art, commerce, and culture. In short, it was the heart of the entire Vietnamese race.

Central Vietnam was a little different although it used to be the capital of Vietnam. It was the place where a collection of Cham polities resided. As a result, the culture here strongly reflected the traits of Cham ethnic groups. Also, located between Northern and Southern Vietnam, this region was considered a stopping point while the ancient Vietnamese migrated to the South.

Comparing to Northern and Central Vietnam, Southern Vietnam was completely dissimilar. Having been the first region where French colonialism invaded in 1859, Southern Vietnam accepted Western culture the earliest in the country. This is probably why it quickly became more modern and dynamic than the other regions in Vietnam.


Due to distinctive backgrounds, the citizens’ lifestyle, as well as personality in these regions, are different. You can clearly see the Vietnam history and culture when communicating with people from all three divisions.

Northern Vietnam in general and Hanoi City, in particular, has rich culture and traditions. The citizens are significantly influenced by Confucianism. So they are polite, paternalistic, rigorous, punctilious, frugal, and take rituals seriously. The soil here is not as fertile as that in Southern Vietnam. But it is not so barren compared to that in Central Vietnam. Everything is sufficient for the people’s needs.


Women in three regions (Source: Google)

Thus, most people there enjoy a life in the slow lane. Unlike Northern Vietnam, the Central region does not have favorable conditions and often suffer from storms as well as floods. The life here is relatively difficult. Hence, the people in Central Vietnam are even more frugal than those in Northern Vietnam and incredibly strong-willed. Their circumstances foster them to overcome hardships and be ambitious.

Among the three regions, people in Southern Vietnam seem to be the most open-minded and candid. Perhaps, it is because they came into contact with Western culture a long time ago. Furthermore, their soil is fruitful and products are abundant. So they hardly have to worry about how to make a living. Consequently, they are less frugal and don’t think much about the accumulation of wealth.


People always say that trying the food of a country is one of the best ways to discover its culture. Therefore, understanding the differences among the gastronomies of three regions can be a good way to learn about Vietnam history and culture.

The food of each region in Vietnam resembles the common personality of its citizens. Most dishes in Northern Vietnam have a mild taste and utilize many ingredients. They are frugal, pure, and noble, which usually have a combination of sour and sweet flavors. Every dish is simple but extremely elegant. Some that you may want to try are Pho, Bun Cha, and West Lake Shrimp Cakes.


Noodles in three regions (Source: Google)

People from Central Vietnam tend to love spicy food more than those from Northern Vietnam. The dishes here are diverse and each local area has its own style of cooking. If you have an opportunity to try them, you will see that they are quite sophisticated and appearance-focused. Spices, especially chilli peppers, are inevitable in these dishes. They create exclusive flavors that can never be mistaken with those of other regions.

In contrast to the food from Central Vietnam, dishes from Southern Vietnam are plain and easy to make. They are often prepared with sugar or sweet vegetables. Also, coconut juice is a common ingredient that cooks use to create the natural sweetness and greasiness for the food. Southern Vietnam is popular for dishes to eat between meals, such as Pha Lau, Mixed Rice Paper, and Fried Flour Cake.

Khánh Huyền

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