travelingtips - DOS & DON'TS - -HIGHLIGHTS OF VIETNAM - | travelingtips




1. In daily etiquette:

- The traditional greeting gestures are head nodding or Buddhist’s praying

- The handshake is becoming more common for both men and women

- Show respect in terms of gesture and use of words to the senior and officers

- Go Vietnamese way when handling a bill of food or drinks with peers and friends: my treat this time and yours next time or vice versa

- Initiate to offer something though you know that the other (s) may not take it or you may not do it.

- Keep your feet on the ground where they belong to

- Stay calm and smile when the locals make mistakes to you

- Bring some gifts when visiting a private household, staying at someone’s house, asking for some help, or showing gratitude

2. In eating:

- Practice eating with chopsticks (in Vietnam and China)

- Always wait till the last person is seated and hold his/her chopsticks and bowl, then start eating

- It’s allowed to make noise when eating

- It’s polite and hospitable to help others to food and drinks, especially when you are the host

- It’s polite to leave some food on the plates though you may enjoy it very much or you may be still hungry

- It’s polite and proper to empty your own bowl completely

- It’s polite to share your snacks with your relatives and friends around you

3. In dressing:

- Bring light clothes, some long pants, shirts with sleeves, shorts, T-shirts, swimming suits etc except in the Winter (December to March).

- Take off your hats and shoes when entering a private house, some temples, pagodas, mosques, home stays or shops

- Take off your hats, sun glasses when talking with the senior or VIP

- Wear long pants or knee - long shorts, shirt or T-shirt with sleeves when visiting Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, some temples, pagodas, or churches

- Wear black or white when attending a funeral

4. In traffic:

- Give continuous signals by hands and lights of asking for the priority when turning or crossing the road and keep moving on.

- Watch out for autos while on the zebra crossing

- Take your priority when you are first and it’s clear enough to turn or get in/out of the roundabout

- Bargaining is a must when shopping at markets or shops but rarely in supermarkets

- Bring your own medication for normal stomach problems, headache, cold, insect bites, etc.

- Tipping is not customary throughout the country, but will be highly appreciated by guides, drivers, hotel and restaurant staff.


- Never carry more money than you need when walking around the streets.

- Do not wear large amounts of jewelry. There are two reasons for not doing this: (1) It is considered impolite to flaunt wealth in public; (2) It is more likely that you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatcher.

- When taking a ride by motorbike taxi (xe om) make sure your bag, if any, is not on display or easy to grab. Bag snatches, although still rare, are probably the most likely crime a tourist would encounter, and it raises the probability immensely if you are tailing a camera or a laptop in the wind.
- Don't wear singlet, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive.

- Avoid giving empty water bottles, sweets and candies or pens to the local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages. You cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner, and the people have no access to dental health. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community.
- Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone’s house.

- Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security. Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.

- Physical displays of affection between lovers in public are frowned upon. That’s why you may come across couples holding hands but not hugging or kissing.

- Losing your temper in Vietnam means a loss of face. Keep a cool head and remain polite, you’ll have a greater chance of getting what you want.

- Remember, this is Vietnam, a developing country, and things don’t quite work as you are maybe used to. Don’t be paranoid about your safety; just be aware of your surroundings.
The above advice is meant to help you have a perfect trip to Vietnam.
Do not be overly paranoid though. Generally, Vietnamese people are very appreciative if they see you trying to abide by their customs, and very forgiving if you get it wrong or forget. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded.

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