Vietnamese people for long have been worldly famed for their grace, politeness, generosity and hospitality. Once coming to the country, the locals are so friendly that you can rest assured that they will make every possible effort to make your trip as enjoyable as possible. And expatriates who reside in Vietnam for study or work are normally not so astonished when they are invited to visit and dine with a local family that they have just got acquainted. That’s simply the inherent hospitality of the Vietnamese.

Generally speaking, Vietnamese people are careful in their dress, especially in public areas. In order to avoid this culturally sensitive matter, foreign travelers are strongly advised to put on proper dress when they are out. For example, when visiting a local temple or pagoda, you should never put on short-sleeved shirt or pants. Instead, a long-sleeved and shoulder-covered shirt and long pants will be much more appreciated. Do keep in mind that, no matter how open-minded and care-free you are, others around you may be judgmental. When you are in Rome , just do as the Romans do. 

Do’s

1) Always make sure that you keep a local map with you whenever you are out. The roads and streets in Vietnam may be complicated for foreigners. Some travelers even described the traffic system in Vietnam as “crazy” because sometimes you do not know where to cross the street. Thus, a good map will help. You can get a local map from the reception counter in your hotel, but most hotels provide local map in guest rooms. In addition, be noted that you have the business card of your hotel, particularly when you want to take a taxi because most local drivers can not speak English, let alone other foreign languages.

2) Do drink a lot of water during your trip. During the summer days in Vietnam , you are advised to take at least 2 litters of water per day. In case of drinking too much tea, coffee or other alcohol, you should increase your water intake as it will help you dehydrate. Drink adequate water, but remember that you should take bottled water only. During the tour, you will be provided with sufficient bottled water by the travel agents. And most hotels provide two bottles of water in the room; more can be available upon request. Do not drink tap water because it is extremely harmful to your health.

3) Dress discreetly. Vietnamese people are, to a large extent, conservative in their dressing style. Travelers are advised not to put on too much revealing cloths that show off too much skin as you may become the target of stares by the locals, particularly when you visit a local pagoda, temple or other religiously sensitive places. And don’t forget to leave your shoes at the front door when entering someone’s house. 

4) No ostentation of jewelry, money and other valuables. Taking too much money, jewelry and other valuables will risk yourself be the target of thieves or pocket pickers. And whenever you want to go out, remember to keep your valuable things in your hotel room’s deposit box.

5) Ask for permission before taking any photo. When you want to take picture of someone, do not forget to ask for his/her permission first. In case of disapproval, do not insist on taking the picture or offer any money. This should also be kept in mind when you visit military sites.

6) Do clearly know the rate before exchange any money.

7) Do withdraw money from recognized and safe places only.    

Don’ts

1) Do not rush as you cross the street. Just be aware of where you can cross and the surrounding.

2) Do not give money to beggars on the streets or tourist destinations. If you want to help local people, there are a number of philanthropic organizations. You can contact them easily. Further more, donation boxes are available in some large hotels where you can put your money in, instead of directly giving to beggars as, by doing so, you are just promoting the begging culture by which the travel environment in Vietnam have been soiled.

3) Do not sleep or sit with your feet pointing towards the altar or shrine when you are in somebody’s house.

4) Do not loose your temper in public or markets, particularly when you are negotiating a bargain as it is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. In all situations, you are strongly advised to maintain a courtesy and happy demeanor. If you treat everybody well, you will be well-treated.

5) Do not try to take pictures of military installations or any military-related sites. By doing so, you can be in breach of national defense.

6) Do not take cameras into ethnic minority villages as it is considered a serious intrusion of local culture.

7) Do not go out alone too late at night, particularly to desolate places.