As a foreign traveler, it’s easy to come across cultural conflicts with the indigenous lifestyles. However, instead of arguing and making a mess, what you should do is to be aware of the difference and admire the native culture so that you can really engage in the local life and avoid disapproving glim of the residents. To achieve that, we are happy to introduce you to 8 common mistakes visitors often make during their journey to Vietnam.
#1: Unaware of Vietnamese Table Manners
In both the Western and Eastern world, dining etiquettes are of the utmost importance. The thing is, there is a huge gap between them. Therefore, when you have a meal either in a Vietnamese restaurant or at a local’s home, try to follow these rules:
- In Vietnam, people use chopsticks rather than forks and knives, so if your chopstick skill is minus, it’s better-off asking the host for forks or spoons, or you can bring your own utensils.
- When not in use, place your chopsticks in the holder. Never stick them vertically in the middle of the rice bowl, which is deemed as offerings for the dead.
- Before beginning to have meals, the Vietnamese people do say things like “Bon Appetit” to wish everyone enjoy the food. So, you may say: “Mời anh/chị” or “Mời mọi người”.
- You should hold your bowl close to your mouth while eating to prevent food spoiling.
- Remember to pass the dishes with both hands. Using one side is considered disregard, especially when dining with older generations.
- You should finish all the food in your plate to express respect for the cook.
#2: Unacceptable Public Behaviors In Vietnam
Like many Asian countries, Vietnam owns quite a conservative opinion as to public affection. So, kissing and cuddling on the street or in the park will leave a negative impression on the local residents’ eyes. Still, holding hands, hugging is fine. Just make sure you are not bothering anyone else.
Littering is also unacceptable. Try to find a dust bin or bring your trash back to the accommodation.
Another thing is you shouldn’t speak loudly in public places. Nor should you smoke in shared areas.
#3: Unaware Of Religions
The dominant religion in Vietnam is Buddhism, so chances are that you may come across a wide range of temples and pagodas in this country. When paying them a visit, there are several things you should keep in mind:
- Dress appropriately. Don’t put on short clothes which show a lot of skin. It is regarded as disrespectful to the Buddha.
- In any religious places, keep your voice low. It enhances the peace and serenity of the temples.
- Some places don’t allow for photo taking, so you should look out for the sign or ask the monks before taking pictures.
- When you get inside the worshipping houses, don’t forget to take off your shoes.
- If you want to practice some religious rites such as burn the incense sticks or say your prayers, observe how other inhabitants do and imitate them.
#4: Disrespect To National Heros
Vietnam has a rich history of more than a thousand years. For most of the time in the past, they had to fight against many foreign troops to protect liberty, so national heroes such as Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap are highly worshipped. It will be a serious offense when you make fun of them. Also, when mentioning the Vietnamese war, try to keep an objective view.
#5: Cross The Street Without Paying Attention
One of the most “freaking-out” experiences foreigners have in Vietnam must be crossing the street. The traffic here, particularly in big cities, is more than a mess. That’s why it’s difficult and dangerous when you want to pass the street.
The best way is to find a walking bridge or tunnel. But when there is none of them, you may kindly ask the locals for a favor. Don’t be shy or embarrassed.
#6: Neglect Your Personal Belongings While On The Streets
Petty thefts are a common problem in tourist attractions, so you would want to keep an eye on your luggage while on the streets. The advice here is to never store your money in one pocket. Keep separate sums in different bags so that you can have a backup when one is lost.
Moreover, it’s also safer to leave important things like passports, ID card in the hotel if you plan to be outside for all day.
#7: Get On A Random Taxi or Motorbike
Taxi drivers can overcharge you by going a long way or turning off the meter counter. So, we highly recommend you use cab booking apps such as Grab to know the fare before your ride and avoid travel scams.
>>> 8 Common Travel Scams In Vietnam And How To Advoid
#8: Skip On Street Food
Last but not least, this may be the most forgetful experience if you don’t have the street food in this foodie heaven. Despite the limited space in the street vendors, they offer the most original flavors of Vietnamese dishes.
But wait, there’s not all!
The price of street food is super affordable. You can easily get full for only $1.