The Vietnamese as a nation are a proud race of people and are hugely welcoming and accepting to foreign visitors. This means you could be treated as if you’re royalty, the likelihood of this probably depends on whether you’re related to the royal family. However, the Vietnamese cultural identity and traditions are intricate and travellers will find the following forms of etiquette will bring respect from the locals:
- Respect your elders and address the eldest in a group first. Elderly people always have the right of way in Vietnamese society and should be treated with great respect. It’s a bit like giving up your seat on the tube, but not because a sign says you should.
- When giving or receiving business cards make sure you use both of your hands. This action shows respect to people and in turn presents you as a respectful person.
- In business meetings begin with small talk and enquire about their families and personal lives before discussing any business matter. The Vietnamese need to know more about you, in a casual way, before they discuss business. Pretend you’re there for a friendly catch-up, minus the hi-fives and chewing gum.
- When dining with a Vietnamese family wait for the head or the eldest to start eating before you do. Vietnamese often serve you food into your rice bowl. This is an act of hospitality. It doesn’t matter how good the food looks, don’t dig in ’till everyone else does, just to be sure.
- Always take your shoes off when entering a Vietnamese home. This also means you need to remember to wear socks, unless you prefer going commando below the ankles.
- Never show your anger. This causes huge embarrassment to yourself but also to your friends. Saving face is extremely important in Vietnamese society. If you are not happy with something discuss the issue in a calm and respectful manner. Showing anger or shouting will have the opposite effect to what you wish to achieve and will only reflect poorly upon you. We’re hoping that your trip to Vietnam is so amazing that you won’t even feel the need to be angry.
- Despite much of Vietnam becoming modernised many of the traditions still stand, especially when it comes to showing affection for the opposite sex. Romantic liaisons in public are generally frowned upon, and whilst a kiss or a hug with your partner is considered acceptable in the main cities of Hanoi and Saigon it is a social taboo elsewhere. When meeting with Vietnamese of the opposite sex a handshake is considered the standard greeting. A kiss on the cheek is not recommended and will only cause embarrassment. Note to self: I am not in Europe. I am not in Europe. I am not in Europe.
- Tipping for service is not expected in Vietnam but is most certainly appreciated. A tip of one or two dollars for a meal or a dollar to a driver can be a substantial bonus in a country where the annual average income is only $ US500. You should tip at your own discretion.
Experience the true culture and tradition in Vietnam by staying at The Nam Hai in beautiful Hoi An, one of Vietnam’s popular tourist destinations. The pretty villas are available from £392 per night and the staff will be happy to help you with all of your queries.