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Local Etiquette

Aug 13, 2023

By Custom Asia Travel

Embracing Cultural Courtesy: Navigating Local Etiquette in Vietnam

When embarking on a journey to Vietnam, you're not just exploring a new destination; you're immersing yourself in a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions. To ensure a respectful and harmonious experience, it's essential to acquaint yourself with the local etiquette. This guide will shed light on the intricacies of Vietnamese customs, enabling you to engage with locals in a genuine and considerate manner.

1. Accepting with Respect: The simple act of receiving or giving items holds cultural significance. When offered something, whether it's a gift, a business card, or a cup of tea, use both hands. This gesture reflects your appreciation and acknowledges the value of the exchange.

2. Shoes Off, Heart Open: As you step into someone's home or a place of worship, the tradition of removing your shoes is a sign of reverence. It signifies leaving impurities and worries at the doorstep. Embrace this practice with humility, and don't hesitate to ask if you're unsure.

3. Capturing Moments: The vibrant streets and warm smiles of Vietnam are irresistible for any photographer. However, it's courteous to seek permission before taking photos of locals, especially in rural or intimate settings. Engage with a friendly smile and a respectful gesture, and many will gladly oblige.

4. Mindful Dressing: When visiting temples, pagodas, or cultural sites, dress modestly. Ensure your shoulders and knees are covered as a mark of respect. Carrying a scarf or a shawl is a handy way to honor this custom while staying comfortable.

5. Greetings and Gestures: A friendly "xin chao" (pronounced sin chow) for "hello" and "cam on" (pronounced kahm uhn) for "thank you" go a long way. A slight bow or a nod accompanies these greetings, adding a touch of authenticity to your interactions.

6. Dining Decorum: Sharing a meal with locals is a wonderful opportunity to connect. Wait for the host to invite you to start eating, and never leave your chopsticks upright in your bowl, as it resembles incense sticks at a funeral. Place them across your bowl or on a chopstick holder.

7. Public Displays of Affection: While Vietnamese people are warm and welcoming, public displays of affection, such as hugging or kissing, are generally considered inappropriate. Respect local norms by saving such gestures for more private settings.

8. Respecting Elders: In Vietnamese culture, age is revered. When addressing elders, a small bow or a nod shows deference. Allow them to initiate physical contact, as some may prefer not to shake hands.

By embracing these cultural nuances, you'll not only foster positive interactions but also gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty and depth of Vietnam's cultural heritage. Remember, genuine curiosity and an open heart will always be your best companions as you embark on this remarkable journey of discovery.

Local Etiquette


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