Vietnam Travel15 Culture Shocks Americans Will Experience in Vietnam

Kaylin6 months ago28
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Whether you’re a first-time traveler or a seasoned world explorer, it’s always important to be prepared for culture shock. Culture shock is defined as “the feeling of disorientation experienced when one enters an unfamiliar culture.” In other words, it’s the feeling you get when you’re in a place where everything is new and different.

vietnam culture shock

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photo: Hải Nguyễn

Vietnam is a country with a rich history and diverse culture. From the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City to the stunning beaches of Phu Quoc, there’s something for everyone in Vietnam. However, as an American, you may find yourself experiencing some culture shock during your travels. To help you prepare, here are 15 culture shocks you may experience in Vietnam.

1. The Language Barrier

One of the first culture shocks you may experience in Vietnam is the language barrier. While English is slowly becoming more common, it’s still not widely spoken throughout the country. This can make communication difficult, especially if you don’t know any Vietnamese.

2. The Food

vietnamese food

photo: Hải Nguyễn

Another culture shock you may experience in Vietnam is the food. Vietnamese cuisine is very different from American cuisine.  From strange new flavors to unfamiliar ingredients, it can take some time to get used to the food in Vietnam.

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3. The Weather

Another thing that may come as a shock to Americans traveling to Vietnam is the weather. The country has a tropical climate, which means it’s hot and humid all year round. If you’re not used to the heat, you may find yourself feeling uncomfortable.

4. The Crowds

One of the most shocking things about Vietnam is the crowds. The country is incredibly densely populated especially in the big cities, which means that there are always people around. If you’re not used to being around large crowds of people, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed.

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5. The Traffic

vietnam traffic

photo: Valentin

Another culture shock Americans may experience in Vietnam is the traffic. The streets are always packed with scooters and cars, and it can be difficult to cross the street without getting hit. If you’re not used to the chaotic traffic, you may find yourself feeling frazzled.

6. The Currency

Another thing that may come as a shock to Americans in Vietnam is the currency. The currency in Vietnam is called the Dong, and it’s very different from the US Dollar. One US Dollar is equal to about 23,000 Dong. This can make things confusing, especially when you’re trying to figure out how much something costs.

7. The Cost of Living

Another thing that may come as a shock to Americans is the cost of living in Vietnam. The country is very affordable, especially if you’re used to living in a Western country. However, some things are more expensive than others.

8. The Healthcare

Healthcare in Vietnam is a bit different than what Americans are used to. The quality of care is generally good, but it can be expensive if you don’t have insurance. Additionally, many hospitals require payment upfront, so it’s important to have cash on hand in case of an emergency.

9. Take Off Your Shoes

In Vietnam and most countries in Asia, it is customary to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home as a sign of respect. This practice is based on the belief that shoes carry dirt and negative energy from the outside world, which should not be brought into the sacred space of someone’s home. When visiting a Vietnamese home, you should look for a shoe rack or area near the entrance where you can place your shoes. Overall, taking off your shoes is a small but important gesture of respect when visiting someone’s home in Vietnam.

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10. The Work Culture

The work culture in Vietnam is also different than what Americans are used to. In general, Vietnamese people work long hours and take fewer vacation days than Americans. Additionally, the concept of “face time” is very important in Vietnamese culture, which means that workers are expected to be present at the office even if they’re not working. However, break time is usually two hours long and some employees are allowed to take naps at work.

11. The Dating Scene

vietnam dating

photo: Hoàng Chương

The dating scene in Vietnam is also different than what Americans are used to. In general, Vietnamese people date within their social circles. This means that if you’re not introduced to someone through a friend or family member, it can be difficult to meet new people. Additionally, many Vietnamese people are not comfortable with public displays of affection, so you may need to tone down your PDA if you’re dating someone from Vietnam.

12. The Sound of Horns Honking Constantly

One of the most culture shocks Americans may experience when visiting Vietnam is the constant sound of horns honking. In Vietnam, it’s considered impolite to honk your horn unless you’re in an emergency. However, many drivers ignore this rule and honk their horns constantly. If you’re not used to the noise, it can be very jarring.

13. The Smell of Incense

smell of insense

photo: Dương Nhân

Another culture shock Americans may experience in Vietnam is the smell of incense. In Vietnam, it’s customary to burn incense in temples and homes as a way to ward off evil spirits. However, the smell of burning incense can be very strong, especially if you’re not used to it.

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14. The Lack of Personal Space

Another culture shock Americans may experience in Vietnam is the lack of personal space. In Vietnam, it’s not uncommon for people to stand close to each other, even if they’re not familiar with one another. In a crowded restaurant, you may find yourself elbow-to-elbow with the person next to you. If you’re not used to being in close proximity to others, it can be a bit uncomfortable.

15. The Toilets

Vietnam’s toilets can definitely be a culture shock for Americans who are used to modern western bathrooms. In Vietnam, toilets can range from squat toilets to western-style sit-down toilets. Squat toilets are common in public restrooms, and they require a different technique for using them. Instead of sitting down, users must squat over a hole in the ground. For many Americans, this can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience. Additionally, some public restrooms in Vietnam may not have toilet paper or soap available, so it’s important to carry tissues and hand sanitizer when visiting these facilities. However, it’s worth noting that many hotels and restaurants in Vietnam have western-style toilets with all the modern amenities, so it’s not all bad news.

Overall, there are many cultural differences between Vietnam and the United States. When visiting or moving to a foreign country, it’s important to be open-minded and willing to accept the culture shock that comes with it. It’s also important to enjoy the experience and not let the culture shock get in the way of your enjoyment. So, if you’re planning to visit or move to Vietnam, be prepared for some cultural differences, but also make sure to enjoy all that Vietnam has to offer!

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FarEastExplorer
Member

can also provide a unique and enriching experience. Exploring the bustling streets filled with motorbikes and indulging in the tantalizing street food can be an adventure in itself. Embracing the close-knit family values and learning the art of bargaining in the markets can offer a glimpse into the vibrant Vietnamese way of life. Adapting to the traditional toilet system and understanding the importance of saving face can foster a deeper appreciation for the cultural nuances of this captivating country.

TheDunns7
Member

I can already imagine the look on an American’s face when they encounter a squat toilet for the first time in Vietnam, talk about a real shock to the system!

hanoihottie
Member

It’s always fascinating to learn about different cultures and their unique customs, and this article does an excellent job of highlighting some of the differences that Americans may encounter when traveling to Vietnam. It’s great to see that the article encourages travelers to approach these differences with an open mind and a willingness to learn, which is the best way to truly appreciate and respect other cultures.

SonLaStorm
Member

article provides a helpful guide for Americans planning to travel to Vietnam, as it highlights some of the key cultural differences they may encounter. It’s important for travelers to be open-minded and adaptable, as they navigate these differences and learn to appreciate the unique aspects of Vietnamese culture.

yogi88
Member

I remember my first trip to Vietnam and being completely stunned by the sheer number of motorbikes on the road. It’s like a never-ending parade of two-wheeled vehicles! And don’t even get me started on the squat toilets, let’s just say it was an experience I won’t soon forget. But despite these culture shocks, I fell in love with the country and can’t wait to go back and explore even more.

gamer_girl_2005
Member

Oh dude, I can definitely relate! The amount of motorbikes in Vietnam is crazy! It’s like a never-ending flow of two-wheeled chaos. You really have to keep your eyes wide and be ready to dodge those bikes whenever you cross the street. It’s all part of the thrill though!

Umph
Guest
Umph

It’s important to embrace cultural differences when traveling, and this article provides useful insights for Americans visiting Vietnam; did you know that Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashews in the world?

MusicLoverVN
Member

Visiting Vietnam can be a great way to explore a new culture, and this article provides a great overview of the potential culture shocks you may encounter.

DreamChamped92
Guest
DreamChamped92

I’m amazed by the cultural differences between Vietnam and the United States. It’s always interesting to learn about different cultures and how they shape our everyday lives.

ConicalHatCrew
Member

Exploring Vietnam is a great way to gain insight into a culture unlike our own. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience!

gamer_girl_2005
Member

It sounds like Vietnam has a lot of interesting cultural differences that can make for an exciting and eye-opening experience!

AaliyahCarter07
Member

I’m glad you had a great time in Vietnam! It sounds like it was a really eye-opening experience for you. I’m sure a lot of Americans would love to visit Vietnam and experience the culture for themselves.

PlumeyDreamer76
Guest
PlumeyDreamer76

@AaliyahCarter07

I’m sure a lot of Americans would love to visit Vietnam and experience the culture for themselves.

roktop354tk5n904
Guest
roktop354tk5n904

Well, ain’t that just the bee’s knees! I reckon there’s a whole bunch of Americans out there who are just itching to hop on a plane and get a taste of that Vietnamese culture. And who can blame ’em? Vietnam’s got a whole lotta charm and surprises in store for anyone willing to take the plunge. From the bustling streets of Hanoi to the serene beauty of Ha Long Bay, there’s no shortage of culture shocks waiting to knock their socks off! So, buckle up and get ready for the ride of a lifetime, my friend!

1988TQ
Member

Well, isn’t that just fantastic! I tell you what, Vietnam is a whole different ballgame, my friend. From the lively streets of Hanoi to the breathtaking beauty of Ha Long Bay, there’s a whole world of culture shocks waiting to blow your socks off! But let me tell you, it’s all part of the adventure. So buckle up, embrace the unknown, and get ready to have your mind blown by the incredible sights, sounds, and flavors Vietnam has to offer. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! And remember, the best way to truly experience a new culture is with an adventurous spirit and an empty stomach. Enjoy the ride!

CommentChamp
Member

I can’t believe how different Vietnam is from America!

VpopFrenzy
Member

I was surprised to learn that Americans will experience culture shocks in Vietnam, according to a new study. The study found that Vietnamese people are more open and friendly than Americans and are more likely to share their culture with visitors. I’m curious to see how this will play out in reality.

mlemmlemz
Guest
mlemmlemz

I’m American and I’ve been living in Vietnam for over a year now

PhoTastic
Member

From what I understand, the poverty seems to be the hardest part for people to grasp when they come from places like America where even the poor have access to clean water and free toilet and shower options. 

tricky
Guest
tricky

I’m definitely going to have to remember to take off my shoes before entering someone’s home in Vietnam.

BiN22
Guest
BiN22

I wonder how I would react if I experienced these culture shocks as an American visiting Vietnam. It would be such a fascinating experience!

homeg1rl
Member

The heat and humidity hands down will shock anyone who has never been to a place like Vietnam. There are other areas that are just as hot if not hotter but they are not common places Americans travel to.

aodaii
Member

@homeg1rl I agree. I thought this when I saw the thread title. Nothing is more shocking than being in a high humidity, high heat area. I think the only area that compares to it in America is Florida and even then it is not as bad. 

TeresaNguyen
Member

The weather is the most shocking but if you know that going in, sadly, you are still in for a rude awakening. This is why it is best to go during the cooler months where humidity is lower. Crowds are only shocking to people that have never been to or lived in cities in America. And I can tell you first hand, the education system in America should be a cultural shock to anyone visiting. It is embarrassing. 

NhonQueen
Member

It’s true that the weather in Vietnam can be quite shocking, especially if you’re not used to the humidity. Even if you know about it beforehand, experiencing it firsthand can still be a bit of a rude awakening. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan your visit during the cooler months when the humidity is lower. As for the education system, it’s interesting to hear your perspective. While I can’t speak for everyone, I understand that there can be differences between education systems in different countries. It’s always fascinating to explore and learn about these cultural differences.

BritishBurton
Member

This article is spot on. The heat and humidity in Vietnam can be intense, but it’s all worth it for the delicious food and breathtaking scenery.

amandagibbs
Guest
amandagibbs

I hope they take the time to learn and appreciate the local customs.

lemondrops777
Guest
lemondrops777

Looks like Americans are in for a wild ride when they visit Vietnam! From traffic to toilets, this article covers it all. Better start practicing my squatting skills now!

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