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Vietnam Travel Guide

Quick Facts and Taboos

Capital:            Hanoi

Government:   Socialist Republic

Currency:        Đồng (₫)

Area total:       331,690km²

Land:               325,360km²

Water:              4,200km²

Population:     90,549,390 (2011 est.)

Language:       Vietnamese (official), minority languages

Religion:       Buddhism (mainly Mahayana, with smaller numbers of Theravada), Taoism, Confucianism, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Christian (predominantly Roman Catholic, some Protestant), indigenous beliefs, Muslim

Electricity:       220V/50Hz (American plug in south, European plug in north)

Country code: +84

Time Zone:      UTC +7

The Family

- Vietnamese life revolves around the family. 

- The Vietnamese family consists of the nuclear as well as the extended family.

- It is not uncommon for three generations to be living together under one roof.

- In Confucian tradition, the father is the head of the family and it is his responsibility to provide food, clothing and shelter and make important decisions. 

- Within the same tradition it is believed that after someone dies their spirit lives on. Descendents will "worship" their ancestors to ensure their good favour. On the anniversary of a person's death, ceremonies are held in their memory. They are also remembered during certain lunar festivals and souls are consulted prior to important decisions or occasions such as a birth or a wedding.


- As with many other Asian nations, the concept of face is extremely important to the Vietnamese. 

- Face is a tricky concept to explain but can be roughly described a quality that reflects a person's reputation, dignity, and prestige. 

- It is possible to lose face, save face or give face to another person. 

- Companies as well as individuals can have face or lose face.

- For foreigners it is important to be aware that you may unintentionally cause a loss of face so it is important to be aware of your words and actions. Understanding how face is lost, saved or given is critical. 

- Someone can be given face by complimenting them for their hospitality or business acumen. Accusing someone of poor performance or reprimanding them publicly will lead to a loss of face. 


- As with most group-orientated societies there are also hierarchical structures.

- In Vietnam these are very much based upon age and status. 

- This derives from Confucianism, which emphasizes social order. Everyone is seen as having a distinct place and role within the hierarchical structure, be it the family or workplace. 

- An obvious example is seen in social situations where the oldest person in a group is greeted or served first. 

- Within the family the head would be responsible for making decisions and approving marriages.

Etiquette and Customs in Vietnam

Vietnamese society has a fair amount of public etiquette. The following are some of the more common points: 

- Avoid public displays of affection with a member of the opposite sex. 

- Do not touch someone's head. 

- Pass items with both hands. 

- Do not point with your finger - use your hand.

- Do not stand with your hands on your hips. 

- Do not cross your arms on your chest. 

- Do not pass anything over someone's head. 

- Do not touch anyone on the shoulder. 

- Do not touch a member of the opposite sex. 

- Shorts should only be worn at the beach.

Dining Etiquette

If invited to a Vietnamese home:

- Bring fruit, sweets, flowers, fruit, or incense. 

- Gifts should be wrapped in colourful paper. 

- Do not give handkerchiefs, anything black, yellow flowers or chrysanthemums.

Table Manners

- Wait to be shown where to sit. 

- The oldest person should sit first. 

- Pass dishes with both hands. 

- The most common utensils are chopsticks and a flat spoon.

- Chopsticks should be placed on the table or a chopstick rest after every few mouthfuls or when breaking to drink or speak. 

- People hold bowls close to their faces. 

- Hold the spoon in your left hand while eating soup. 

- Meals are typically served family-style. 

- Try to finish everything on your plate. 

- When you are finished eating, rest your chopsticks on top of your rice bowl. 

- Cover your mouth when using a toothpick.



Quick, Facts, and, Taboos, in, Vietnam,
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Giấy chứng nhận đăng ký kinh doanh số: 0104731205 do Sở kế hoạch và đầu tư TP Hà Nội cấp ngày 03/06/2010
Giấy phép lữ hành Quốc Tế số: 01-687/2014/TCDL-GP LHQT

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