If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, congratulations! You’re in for a treat. This Southeast Asian country is filled with natural beauty, friendly people, and delicious food. To help you make the most of your trip, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts for Vietnam travel. Read on to learn more!
Do: Learn Some Vietnamese Phrases
One of the best ways to make a good impression on the locals is to learn some basic Vietnamese phrases. Even if you only know how to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “goodbye,” you’ll find that people will appreciate your efforts. Plus, it can be helpful when you need to ask for directions or order food. A few other useful phrases to know are “excuse me,” “I don’t understand,” and “how much does this cost?”
Don’t: Rely on English
While most people in Vietnam’s cities speak at least some English, don’t count on being able to get by solely on English. In rural areas, English is much less common. If you can master even a few basic Vietnamese phrases, you’ll find that your trip is much more enjoyable. Plus, speaking the local language is always appreciated by the locals. They may even go out of their way to help you if they see that you’re trying to learn their language.
Do: Dress conservatively
photo: Tri Vo
When packing for your trip, be sure to pack clothes that are modest and conservative. This is especially important if you plan on visiting any religious sites such as temples or pagodas. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and cover up more rather than less. Wear long pants or skirts and shirts that cover your shoulders. And if you do want to visit a religious site, be sure to check whether there are any specific dress requirements before you go.
Don’t: Take photos of people without permission
In Vietnam, it’s considered rude to take photos of people without their permission. If you want to take a photo of someone, simply ask first. Most people will be happy to pose for a photo, but it’s always best to get their permission beforehand.
Haggling is a way of life in Vietnam. Whether you’re buying souvenirs at a market or taking a taxi, don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price. It’s expected that you will haggle, so don’t worry about offending anyone. Start by offering a lower price than what you’re willing to pay and then let the seller counter with a higher price. From there, you can continue to negotiate until you reach a mutually agreeable price.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see trash on the streets or even in rural areas. To help keep Vietnam clean, be sure to dispose of your trash properly. If there’s no garbage can around, carry your trash with you until you find one. And when possible, recycle.
Do: Sample the local cuisine
photo: Natalia Mok
One of the best parts about traveling is trying new foods. And in Vietnam, there’s no shortage of delicious dishes to try. From pho and spring rolls to banh mi and bun cha, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So be sure to sample as many different dishes as you can. You might even find a new favorite!
Don’t: Drink the tap water
Tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink. To avoid getting sick, be sure to only drink bottled water. And when brushing your teeth, be sure to use bottled water as well. It’s also a good idea to avoid ice in your drinks. While it’s usually safe, there’s always a chance that the ice could be made from tap water.
Do: Use sunscreen
Vietnam is a tropical country, so the sun can be quite strong, especially during the summer months. To protect your skin, be sure to wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30. And don’t forget to reapply throughout the day, especially if you’re sweating or swimming.
Don’t: Leave your valuables unattended
When exploring Vietnam, it’s important to be cautious with your belongings. Be sure to keep your valuables close to you and never leave them unattended, even for a moment. This includes things like your passport, money, and credit cards. When possible, carry your valuables in a secure place such as a money belt or shoulder bag. And if you’re carrying a backpack, be sure to keep it close to you at all times.
Do: Try new things
photo: Albin Biju
One of the best parts about travel is trying new things. So, go ahead and order that strange-sounding dish on the menu or take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Vietnamese food. Embrace everything that Vietnam has to offer and you’re sure to have a trip that you’ll never forget.
Don’t: Forget to enjoy yourself!
Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! Vietnam is an amazing country with so much to see and do. So, relax, take your time, and savor every moment.
We hope this list of dos and don’ts has been helpful as you plan your trip to Vietnam! Just remember to dress modestly, learn some basic Vietnamese phrases, and avoid taking photos of military personnel or sensitive infrastructure. If you do all of that, we guarantee you’ll have a great time!