How to behave in Vietnam

This article focuses on the good manners that will enrich your visit to Vietnam


To greet, most of the time we just say hello orally, one can also shake hands. It is rare that Vietnamese kiss when they meet.

Always call by first name (for a friend or a new acquaintance). The name is usually the last word composing the full name. For example: Nguyen Van An (Nguyen = Family name; Van = Middle name; An = First name)

Do not greet a Vietnamese by clasping two hands and leaning because the Vietnamese use this movement to the pagoda.

In a conversation

Most Vietnamese are very friendly, but that does not mean that we can address them without paying attention to respect certain rules.

Do not be surprised if during a conversation, a Vietnamese may ask topics that seem very personal (you are married, how old you are).

Losing composure will be an affront to Vietnamese. If a situation is difficult to manage, maintain your cool without raising your tone which would only worsen the situation.

At table

Accept the use of toothpicks. Some use in a very demonstrative way while others will do so more discreetly.

Accept that the dishes arrive not in order or the way you can imagine. A dish that is similar to an entry will probably happen after a meal. It’s almost a constant.

Do not blow your nose at the table

Never plant chopsticks in a bowl of rice. This is indeed a ritual that is made for the dead.

Gestures and behavior

Do not call a Vietnamese by hand pointing of hand facing up, this gesture is considered a lack of education. Hand facing down is acceptable.

When visiting pagodas or temples, do not wait to be told. If your shoes dragging on the ground, it is a sign that you must remove them.

Call a spade a spade: Explicitly call out something as it is, by its right name and nature. Do not be shocked by what we tell about you or your country.

The Vietnamese have great respect for the elder. When you meet the elderly, lower your head when making your greeting or simply smiling.


They are common in the tourism sector in Vietnam but are not required and vary based on the level of satisfaction of services provided. Tips are usually given to guides, drivers, porters, janitors in hotels. Please be aware that denying a tip and then accepting is often part of a ritual. It is advisable not to give too small tips. It is better to give nothing than to give too small fee, which may be offensive.

Here is the current practice of gratuities for guides and drivers in Vietnam:

For a group of more than 4 people, the basis criterion is 2-3USD per person per day for the guide and 1-2USD per person per day for driver.

For a group of less than 4 people, the basis criterion is 3-5USD per person per day for the guide and 2-3USD per person per day for driver

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