Must-know Dos and Don’ts in Vietnam for Tourists

You are planning to travel to Vietnam! You worry about dos and don’ts in this country to integrate into the culture and daily life here. We will help you answer this question with the most basic answers.

do and do not in vietnam

1. The top 11 don’ts in Vietnam

1.1. When you meet a cute-looking baby, you should not compliment them with nice words, such as adorable, beautiful, or chubby.

Many people seem to think that this goes against the rules of communication. In reality, in Vietnamese life, it has become regulated again.

According to the beliefs of most Vietnamese mothers, praising their babies for being fat and beautiful can bring bad luck to them.

Problems can come after compliments, such as illness, anorexia, etc. Because of that concept, it’s better not to compliment any child you see!

1.2. Wearing clothes that are too short when visiting temples, pagodas, or spiritual places is not recommended.

For Vietnamese people, these places are considered sacred places. Therefore, to ensure respect, remember not to wear short, skin-revealing, or impolite outfits when going to these locations.

1.3. Don’t sit too long in local restaurants.

Vietnamese people only go to restaurants to enjoy food. When they need space to sit together or discuss any issues, they will come to cafes or pubs.

Therefore, sitting too long in a local restaurant often does not receive satisfaction from the owner. If you need to sit longer than normal to discuss something with your friends, please go to a cafe or to a restaurant that specializes in serving tourists!

1.4. Don’t ask about magical feng shui items that Vietnamese people hang in their homes, such as paper talismans or bagua mirrors on the door.

According to the Asian point of view, every house needs to follow certain feng shui rules. If, unfortunately, the house commits some bad points, they will use feng shui items to neutralize, ward off, or exorcise evil spirits.

And the owners really don’t want anyone asking about those items. It is because they believe that the effectiveness of the talisman will decrease if someone asks about it.

1.5. Do not bring flowers when visiting families who have just given birth.

Vietnamese people believe that flowers bring many lucky and fresh colors. But at the same time, it is also an indispensable offering when offering and commemorating the deceased.

When a woman gives birth, she faces many risks, life-threatening. Therefore, any action that creates associations with death is avoided. Bringing flowers to the house of a person who has a new baby also becomes a taboo in Vietnam.

1.6. You should not wear a lot of jewelry when going out.

This issue is not related to any cultural or spiritual concept. But simply for your own safety. When you carry too many valuables on your body, you can become a target of rogue social elements. Therefore, to avoid being robbed or pickpocketed, you should only wear jewelry that has purely aesthetic value; it is not valuable – such as gold.

1.7. Be careful with ice dishes.

Vietnam is located in a tropical climate zone. Winter is not too cold, and summer is long and hot. Therefore, ice has become an indispensable ingredient in many tasty dishes and drinks, such as tea, sugarcane juice, soft drinks, beer, coffee, etc.

However, we advise you to be careful with this issue of hygiene and safety for this type of food. This attention will help your stomach avoid some unnecessary trouble during your trip.

1.8. Do not speak bad words to Vietnamese people or certain customs in front of a Vietnamese person.

This thing may appear to many countries or people, not just Vietnam. But there is something interesting here, as Vietnamese people sometimes still have the habit of saying tough things to each other.

However, they do not accept bad words for any Vietnamese person from a foreigner. So, if you accidentally stand between two Vietnamese people talking badly about each other, it’s better to stay away from this conversation.

1.9. Avoid giving large denominations to pay for small payments.

No matter what item you choose to buy, whether it has a high or low price, the seller will welcome you.

However, using large denominations to pay for small amounts, such as 500,000 VND for something under 50,000 VND or 200,000 VND for items under 20,000 VND, can make the seller uncomfortable and troublesome.

Perhaps, they don’t like to calculate and return you a large amount of change because this can easily cause confusion and chaos. Thus, preparing a few small banknotes is ready to use when you need to pay for a water bottle, for example. 

1.10. Don’t ask about political views because it can lead to unnecessary arguments.

Each individual, nation, and country has its own options on political issues. You may be curious about the political regime in the country you are visiting.

However, to make every moment of your vacation enjoyable, you should avoid asking too much about this issue with any local people, even your tour guide; although he/she can answer you, it’s not a good idea to do so.

1.11. The national flag and President Ho Chi Minh are always sacred symbols of Vietnam.

Therefore, when traveling to this country, you should never act disrespectfully towards the national flag and the image of Uncle Ho Chi Minh. Not only does it cause you to face unpleasant looks and anger from people, but you also have to get into trouble with the local government.

2. The top dos in Vietnam

2.1. Bring a small gift when visiting someone else’s home.

Bringing a gift is not required. However, a small gift, such as candy, chocolate for children, and a delicious tea package or a fresh fruit basket for older people, is always a good thing to do.

A gift is a way to show your care to the family members you visit. It not only brings joy to the homeowner but also tells your courtesy.

2.2. Ask in advance for all services from restaurants to taxis.

Local authorities strictly try to control unreasonable price gouging and fraud; however, occasionally, a few rogue cases still take advantage of tourists’ confusion to make illegal profits.

It is better to ask the price of all the services you want to use, which can help you avoid the unpleasant feelings of being deceived. Of course, you also have the right to choose to use or not use any service if you feel the price is unreasonable.

2.3. If invited to a party, you should sit in the position where the host wants you to sit.

According to Vietnamese tradition, a sitting place at the banquet table often represents that person’s role and position in the family.

For example, the elders and high-ranked people in the family or clan often sit at the most solemn tables. On the contrary, descendants will sit further away.

Therefore, it’s to make sure that your sitting site does not cause misunderstandings, you should ask the host where you can sit or sit in the chair the host suggests for you.

2.4. Ask permission from the person you want to take a picture of them or their private home.

Many people don’t want you to take photos of them, so if you want to take a picture of a person or any private items, you need to ask permission from the owner.

Vietnamese law has regulations on violating personal images, especially images of children under 12 years old. So, asking permission before taking photos is something you should do.

2.5. Bring some cash.

Nowadays, credit cards have become popular in Vietnam. However, cash payment still prevails in many situations. In particular, people still prioritize using cash at markets or trading stalls and with small payments. So, placing cash in your pocket will be useful during your trip to Vietnam.

2.6. Bid when buying an item at the market, but do not bargain for small items priced under 20,000 VND, such as bottles of water and small bags of cakes.

The stall owners often offer a price higher than the actual price for most items sold in Vietnamese markets. The purpose is for the bargaining activity to take place as an indispensable cultural practice. It also opens up opportunities for buyers and sellers to communicate more with each other. Whether the buyer is a tourist or a local, you need to learn how to bargain to buy at a good price.

However, for small items priced under 20,000 VND, such as bottles of water or snack packs, you should not bargain. Usually, the price the seller offers for these items is the price they want to sell them for. If you feel it is not reasonable, you can choose another stall.

2.7. Carefully check the money denominations before paying to avoid confusion.

Vietnamese money has bills with widely separated denominations, but the appearance is very similar. For example, a note with a face value of 20,000 VND looks very similar to a face value of 500,000 VND. Or the 10,000 VND banknotes have the same color as the 200,000 VND, at first glance.

In addition, Vietnamese currency has too many “0” numbers, which can easily cause confusion for first-time visitors. Confusion between denominations of 10,000 VND and 100,000 VND occurs often because of the difference in the number “0”.

Therefore, carefully checking the money you use is always necessary. Especially with large denominations like 500,000 VND, you should keep it separate to avoid confusion.

2.8. Take off your shoes before entering the house.

Vietnamese people usually do not have the habit of wearing shoes or slippers in their houses. Maybe some people won’t say anything, but most of them don’t like it when you bring shoes or sandals into their home. Thus, remember to take off your shoes and sandals before entering someone’s house – that is a good gesture.

With these dos and don’ts, we told you, we believe that you will confidently integrate into the culture when traveling to Vietnam. You will have a wonderful stay here, and contact us if you need further assistance.

Please fill out the form to contact us for any requests! Or Whatsapp +84 934 889 667 to our phone! Thank you!


    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.