Vietnamese Etiquette


Vietnam is one of the oldest Southeast Asian countries. Vietnam’s prolonged fight for freedom has instilled a strong sense of self respect in its people. In fact the Vietnamese are extremely simple and down to earth people who know how to respect other individuals and expect the same from them. Vietnam is a country, rich in culture and traditions and is very particular about their codes of social interaction. Needless to say that Vietnamese etiquette is actually a reflection of the culture of Vietnam and the lifestyle of the Vietnamese as a whole.

Vietnamese Social Etiquettes:

  • They avoid loud conversations and using too many gestures as it is considered very rude.
  • Pointing fingers or calling anyone with fingers pointed upward is impolite. – Rather you should use your entire hand with fingers placed downwards.
  • The Vietnamese are not too fond of any kind of physical contact in public, especially with the opposite sex.
  • They bow down to show respect specially to an elderly person
  • They generally do not shake hands with an older person. The young generally shake both hands, if at all they do.
  • Only the elderly touches a child’s head.
  • They use both their hands when passing on any object.
  • According to Vietnamese etiquette standing with arms on the hips is considered ill-mannered.
  • Crossing ones arms on the chest is also a very rude gesture.

Social Visits and Gifts in Vietnam

– If you plan to visit a Vietnamese family then it is considered polite if you bring a gift for the host especially the woman in the family.
– Packing the gift items in colorful paper is appreciated.
– Ideal gift items include sweets, flowers, fruits, incense or items for daily use.
– Never present handkerchiefs or anything black as a gift, because it is considered ominous.

Vietnamese Table Etiquette

  • You should wait until you are showed your seat at the table.
  • The elderly usually sit before the others.
  • The Vietnamese use chopsticks and rice bowls as their eating utensils.
  • The Chopsticks must be kept on the table or a chopstick rest after taking a few mouthfuls and at the end of the meal.
  • The rice bowls should be held up closer to the mouth otherwise it is considered idleness.
  • Vietnamese etiquette demands that spoons should be held with the left hand while eating soup.
  • It is polite to finish every food item on the platter.
  • Toothpicks should be used with the mouth covered.

Business Etiquettes in Vietnam

  • The Vietnamese are extremely punctual for business meetings and look for the same from others.
  • They appreciate formal dressing in official programs.
  • They shake hands at the beginning and end of meetings, but it is not done among the opposite sex.
  • They exchange business cards on the very first encounter.
  • The entire dealing should be done very politely, without any sort of hostility because the Vietnamese are peace loving and look down upon any kind of temper flares.

There is surely a long list of Vietnamese etiquette, and codes of conduct, but all are meant to uphold the peace and harmony of the society. Being very simple themselves the Vietnamese expect the same love and affection from their visitors