How to travel in Vietnam when knowing only English

English is an international language which is popular to use in many countries. How is English in Vietnam? Although English is still a second language for the Vietnamese, it is used widely. To know more about this one, you may read this article to have more confidence to travel to Vietnam and to avoid meeting barriers when you visit this beautiful country.

English People traveling in Vietnam
With the locals – Photo: @marchioniju

The roles of English in Vietnam

In Vietnam, Vietnamese is the official language, but English takes a very important role in the life of the local people. It is used in many fields including tourism, technology, international meetings… And, English is the second language to communicate in modern life in Vietnam.

English is taught at most of the secondary and high schools, learning centers in Vietnam. Despite that, not many students can communicate with English-speaking people well because of the different ways to teach and learn this language. There are plenty of reasons for causing this problem; the top issue is that they focus too much on grammar.

With the strong development of the internet, many people can learn and tell English nowadays. And, Vietnam is listed as one of the top countries increasing large numbers of learners and using English as the second language.

Can you visit Vietnam with knowing only English?

The short answer is absolute yes.

Many people in Vietnam can speak English, most of them work in tourism sectors in almost big cities in Vietnam including Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Hoi An, Ninh Binh… So, when you travel to Vietnam in these places, it is easy to have good communications with the local people.

However, English in Vietnam still is a second language, people in the countryside, mountainous areas, or remote places cannot know any words of a foreign language. Thus, it may be difficult for you to travel to these destinations.

One thing is needed to know the pronunciation of some Vietnamese people is hard to hear, which may cause misunderstanding and difficulty to speak to them. Therefore, foreigners need careful to tell them and should speak slowly and clearly.

Ways to communicate with the Vietnamese when they cannot speak English

Vietnam is an impressive country with beautiful landscapes in the ranges of mountains or the countryside. Thus, when you travel to Vietnam, surely you will come to these areas. How can you tell the local people when they cannot speak English? In this part, we will give you some useful tips to avoid language barriers.

  1. Body langue is one of the useful means of communication. You can use it to tell easy things or show what you need.
  2. Google translate is convenient to translate what you want to tell into the local language. But, in this way, you may have the internet to connect with your phone all the time. In the mountainous villages or the countryside, you can have difficulties. So, check the next tip, please!
  3. Download and install one of an offline dictionary or always a pocket dictionary with the English-Vietnamese language is very very useful.
  4. The Vietnamese people often smile, and you may smile with most of the people at almost of situations (but not all the time).
  5. Hire a tourist guide to go with you. You can book them through travel agents in Vietnam. To book this service is easy to reserve online. But, this method costs you more than the others.

 Some popular words in Vietnamese translated from English

Learn common words and sentences in Vietnamese before discovering Vietnam is fun and interesting when you try to speak to the local people. Here is the list of useful words and sentences.

  • Xin Chao = Hello. Vietnamese people do not say “Xin chao buoi sang/chieu/toi” = “Good morning/afternoon/evening”. But, they say “Ngu ngon nhe!” = Good night!
  • Tam biet! = Goodbye!
  • Bao nhieu? = How much? This is good when you go shopping in Vietnam. It seems many sellers can sell a little lower price when you can say some Vietnamese words.
  • Giam gia di! = Please, discount it!
  • Dat qua = Too expensive!
  • Toilet/Nha ve sinh o dau? = Where is the toilet?
  • Toi muon tinh tien = May I pay the bill?
  • Ngon qua = Very delicious

Above are some tips about English in Vietnam which can help you when you travel to Vietnam. You should not worry about using English in this nation. Keep peace in mind and overcome language barriers to explore the attractive nature, deep culture and daily life of the local people. We hope you will have good memories during your holidays in Vietnam. Are you ready to visit it? And, share with us what you get here, please!

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.