Using chopsticks in Vietnam what you should know

Chopsticks in Vietnam are a popular item frequently used in meals.

In this article, Vietnamdrive will introduce to you the unique features of using chopsticks of the Vietnamese people.

You will also find the way how to use them, what to avoid, and more.

Let’s go to see…

chopsticks in vietnam
Using chopsticks in Vietnam |©Vietnamdrive

The origin of using chopsticks in Vietnam

Vietnamese culture has a very strong community character. Everyone in the family shares the same big plate and rice cooker although they have their own small dish.

In the past, people used their hands to pick up food. However, it is because Vietnam is an agricultural country, hands were often used to work with soil and fertilizers. So, this way was not polite and unsanitary. 

In order to be better at taking food, people would use bamboo sticks instead of their fingers when eating.

Gradually, the Vietnamese people have created normal bamboo sticks to become the more beautiful chopsticks used in the community until nowadays.

With the development of society, even though spoons and forks have come to the local people. However, the use of chopsticks in Vietnam has become an irreplaceable habit and is one of the beauties of Vietnamese culture.

bamboo chopsticks
Bamboo chopsticks | ©terimakasih0/pixabay

How to use chopsticks:

The Vietnamese learn how to use chopsticks when they are still babies. So, almost all the locals are very expert to manage chopsticks to pick up the food.

Here is the way to control them.

  1. Choose the same type and the same appearance as a pair of chopsticks.
  2. Arrange the two ends of the chopsticks evenly.
  3. Only touch the upper first part of the chopsticks.
  4. The thumb and little finger hold a chopstick stably.
  5. The remaining three fingers and the thumb hold the second chopstick (as shown below), the second can move flexibly.
how to use chopsticks
How to use chopsticks |©Vietnamdrive

Usually, a pair of chopsticks has one small head and one big. The small head is for eating, and one big is for holding.

You may practice for a few days, you can control the chopsticks easily. 

When you have a plan to travel to Vietnam, you should learn how to use them. It is because you can find no forks or knives in plenty of local restaurants.

Types of chopsticks in Vietnam

asian bamboo chopsticks
Bamboo chopsticks

Bamboo chopsticks in Vietnam are still very popular, cheap, and easy to make.

One can use locally available bamboo trees to create chopsticks for the family.

Therefore, bamboo chopsticks are very popular in Vietnamese villages, where there are many bamboo trees available.

Bamboo chopsticks are also divided into two types: disposable and reusable.

The disposable type has just appeared recently when the demand for use in picnics, large parties, like weddings in Vietnam.

The reusable chopsticks are preferred in homes. People use old bamboo and make them more careful, so these bamboo chopsticks can be washed after eating to use for the next time.

vietnamese wooden chopsticks
Vietnamese wooden chopsticks |©Vietnamdrive

The second most popular type is wooden chopsticks made from a machine. The wooden chopsticks can be used over and over again.

About 30 years ago, wooden chopsticks were only used by wealthy families. These chopsticks are painted and encrusted with pearls look very nice.

Today, wooden chopsticks are also very popular in restaurants in Vietnam, as they have been mass-produced. However, these chopsticks are not beautifully decorated like the old ones.

These wooden chopsticks usually have one round and one square end. The round head is used to pick up food, the square head is for holding.

If in the family, when inviting the guests, owners often use wooden chopsticks for guests instead of bamboo chopsticks, because they look better and more polite.

vietnamese coconut chopsticks
Vietnamese coconut chopsticks | @goduabentre

The next kind of chopstick is coconut ones made from the coconut tree, which are well-known in the regions of Mekong Delta.

Coconut chopsticks look beautiful but cannot use for a long time. Also, they are less strong than other kinds.

The fourth type is stainless-steel chopsticks, which are uncommon and unpopular.

Although the inox chopsticks look very nice, they are very difficult to use to pick up food. Therefore, this type of chopsticks is only used for decoration.

Meaning of chopsticks

The chopsticks are used as a pair. One stick will stand steady while the other moves, proving the harmony of yin and yang between the passive and active elements.

vietnamese chopsticks
Vietnamese chopsticks in a daily meal |©Vietnamdrive

In the family, the education to use chopsticks is also an important thing. Vietnamese people believe that the style of managing chopsticks in meals or at parties also shows the educational level of a person.

Specifically, the bunch of chopsticks is a symbol of the public community in the Vietnamese culture because it is too hard to break all of a bunch once.

A nice and fit pair of chopsticks also presents the good relationship between wife and husband in the family. Two people need to lean to each other to live, like a pair of chopsticks when we cannot use only one stick.

Chopsticks present in almost every meal of the Vietnamese. The chopsticks are like an outstretched arm used to grab food when only one big plate in the middle of the table for everyone.

Vietnamese chopsticks show family love because they are used to not only pick up food for themselves but also share food with their loved ones.

The Vietnamese teach their children to manage chopsticks early, which can create dexterity for hands.

vietnam chopsticks
Vietnam chopsticks | ©Vietnamdrive

Rules when using chopsticks in Vietnam

It is not good to use unfit chopsticks because the wrong chopsticks refer to the disproportionate family. The husband and wife are not getting along.

Do not put the chopsticks diagonally, it’s better they are parallel.

Do not suck the chopsticks because it is impolite.

Do not move the chopsticks around or point to other eaters.

When picking up the food, don’t mix the food plate to find something you like. Take from the top to the bottom.

Do not put chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, because this is equivalent to getting incenses into an urn to make offerings to the deceased.

Do not touch the chopsticks into the dipping sauce or stir into the soup bowl.

Avoid dropping the chopsticks when eating to show a skillful person.

Avoid using chopsticks to point at other people’s faces. Because when it happens, it means someone is talking a bad thing to another.

Their children learn that do not knock chopsticks on the bowl, which can create the sound of calling a hungry ghost to come home.

In a daily meal or party, invite or wait for the oldest person to hold the chopsticks to get food. Then, the younger can follow. This rule shows politeness in the way of respecting the older.

At the beginning of the meal, especially in a traditional way, before serving for themselves, people use clean chopsticks to pick up food to invite others.

During a meal, when one wants to offer someone food, it is usually polite to turn around the tip of the chopsticks to pick the foodstuff for the other.

After a meal, please put chopsticks down neatly, not let the chopsticks become staggered or skewed.

These things are small notes, but if you do not pay attention, they also make you worse in the eyes of others.

Chopsticks Vietnam
Chopsticks in Vietnam | ©Vietnamdrive

3 frequently asked questions about chopsticks

Where can I buy chopsticks in Vietnam?
You can easy to find chopsticks in almost locals markets in Vietnam. Just come to the markets, and ask anyone who is very happy to show you a place to get it.

Can I give the Vietnamese the chopsticks as a gift?
You should not do this. It is because in the Vietnamese culture when the people receive chopsticks, they feel that they will get more burden to worry about eating and food.

How much for one pair of chopsticks?
Around 30,000VND = 1.5 USD for a bunch of bamboo or wooden chopsticks. The Vietnamese people often sell a bunch of 10 pairs, not one. Unless the chopsticks are decorated beautifully with a high price.


Conclusion

Chopsticks are more than just a tool to pick up food. Using chopsticks in Vietnam also shows the ingenuity, attention, and sophistication in the culture.

Although chopsticks are small items, they contain a long history and deep philosophies in the Vietnamese family.

Using chopsticks in Vietnam also becomes a tool for parents to teach their children the first lessons about order and respect.

Although the culture of eating and drinking in Vietnam is different from the various regions, the general point is that they all use chopsticks, creating community cohesion.

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.