Vietnamese culture may have similarities to other Southeast Asian Cultures but they also have their own etiquette. As per the family, the Vietnamese culture still follows the patriarchal settings where in men are more favored than women and wives needs to be submissive to their husbands. Women are allowed to work in Vietnam to help out with the expenses in the household. Like most Southeast Asian culture, close family ties is visible.
When greeting Vietnamese, saying hello or “xin chao” will make a local delighted. It is viewed as an effort in reaching out to them since English is relatively a new language for Vietnamese.
Most of the time, you cannot hear Vietnamese saying sorry when they bumped into you in crowded places. This is due to the belief that both parties are at fault. When asking direction, people from the Northern part may tend to use the finger in showing the way while the rest of Vietnamese use the index finger. But when handing object to other person, locals always use both of their hands. Walk straightly and avoid eye contact when walking in crowded places.
A cup of tea, hot or cold, will be served upon sitting on the establishment. Whether you order or not, the tea is for free. Also, a small dish of salt looking condiment will be served, though it is advisable not to take most of it because it is all monosodium glutamate (MSG ). Vietnamese eat with chopsticks and rice bowls. There is no preferred way in handling the sticks and the rice bowls. You may even use a spoon if you have difficulty. Just wait for the host to tell you that you can start eating. You may finish eating anytime, but they would prefer if eat longer with them as if viewed as you liked the food and the company.
When visiting a house, an offer of tea at the reception is a ritual to show hospitality and showed never be declined to express gratitude and respect to the host.
Police officers are highly regarded in the society. Thus, answering them courteously will be the best way to handle any issue. Not much of them can speak English so it may be difficult to communicate but they usually let you go if you are respectful.
When dressing up, Vietnamese dress up very well. Either men or women are expected to wear conservative clothes. Men are usually clean shaved and women’s hair should be fixed neatly.
Most importantly, Vietnamese has high sense of national pride. Being ignorant about their history will be taken as offensive act. Make sure to at least know that they ousted both French and Americans out of their country.
Also, it helpful to bear in my mind that when a Vietnamese says “yes” it doesn’t always means “yes”. And when they tell you “Don’t worry. No problem.” you should start assessing everything because this is when there is actually a problem which may be bigger than you expected.