Guidebook Behave like a local

Live like a Local

Behave like a local

Vietnam's culture demands that you observe certain strictures, writes Michael Aquino in Trip Savvy, “although the Vietnamese are generally very forgiving of unintentional faux pas.” Here are his etiquette tips:

Dress conservatively: “The Vietnamese are generally modest about clothing and look askance at visitors wearing far too little in public … this goes double for visiting temples and pagodas - keep your arms and legs covered, and hide as much bare skin as you can.”

Don't show off; keep a low profile: “Flaunting wealth is impolite … don't carry more money than you need when walking in public … don't wear too much jewelry.”

Don't talk about the War: “Avoid talking about politics altogether … the Vietnamese have mixed feelings about the "American war", and are understandably averse to bringing it up in the presence of American citizens.”

Don't cause Vietnamese to ‘lose face’: “Avoid behavior that causes embarrassment to another party, and holds back behavior that can be misconstrued as overly aggressive … don't force money on other parties … don't wheedle or insist … most importantly, don't lose your temper in public; try to be cool and collected whenever possible.”

Don't be too camera-happy: “Ask people's permission before you take their picture -- not all of them want their picture taken.”

Eating and drinking: “In most traditional Vietnamese restaurants, you'll be seated at a table with several dishes placed in the centre … the food in the middle of the table belongs to everyone … use the serving spoon … don't use the same utensils you put in your mouth to pick up from the communal food dish in the middle … do not stick the chopsticks in the bowl, or upright in the rice … to signal that you're done with your meal, place the chopsticks across the top of the bowl instead … leaving a significant amount of rice in your bowl is considered wasteful … be as noisy as you like … go ahead and drink, but not to excess.”

You know you’re in Vietnam, explains Joe Batruny on the Matador Network, when ...

You spend the night drinking on a tiny plastic stool: “imagine tiny, red or blue plastic chairs arranged on the sidewalk and street like an oversized game of music chairs … then your bia hơi arrives (what’s bia hơi? A beer found all over Vietnam, brewed daily and served up street-side) … before you know it, you’ll find yourself spending an hour or two nightly on tiny chairs, knocking back bia hơi with friends and strangers alike.”

You quickly learn not to bat an eyelash at public urination: “it might be surprising the first or second time you see someone pull their pants down and start using the restroom in a public area (street, square, you name it), but you’ll quickly get over it.”

You get a haircut on the side of the road: “who needs barbershops when you have barbers running their businesses street-side? Walk up. Get a haircut. Pay. Walk off. Sure, you might become a tourist attraction for the 10 to 15 minutes that you’re getting your haircut, but it’s worth the experience.”

You’ll indulge in karaoke: “you’ll go out, have beers, hang out with some people, and drunkenly belt out tunes all night.”

Live like a Local
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