How to behave during a trip to Vietnam?
The Vietnamese are always very polite and discreet. It may be that there are sometimes misunderstandings and problems of understanding but there is no point in getting angry, especially in front of the public. The one who gets angry is rude, and the one who receives the invective feels humiliated.
In Vietnam it is often said: “In front of the world, one teaches his son, and, on the pillow, his wife”.
Discretion is one of the qualities of the Vietnamese, except sometimes on well-watered occasions.
Dress must be respectful of the country’s habits. Visitors come from far away, so they need to bring their proper clothes. One should not walk around shirtless, likewise bare shoulders for ladies. We will be frowned upon and judged incorrect.
Mini-skirts are disco or evening outfits, not outfits for daytime visits, especially pagodas or temples… Mini-long skirts or pants are preferred, and the Bermudas are tolerated. Very short shorts are considered indecent.
The Vietnamese expect pagodas and temples to be respected by an attitude and a discreet outfit. It is best to take off your shoes when entering religious monuments, as well as entering a homestay when invited.
If the Vietnamese receive you at home in their pyjamas, do not be offended, it is a sign of friendly hospitality.
In the past, the Vietnamese protected themselves from many dangers, some of which have disappeared today. There are, however, some traces of this defensive attitude here and there in the country.
These customs are due on the one hand to superstition, on the other hand to the still limited level of education or sometimes to a delicate intention towards someone. For this phenomenon, it is difficult to find an adequate explanation. There are certain customs, and certain rituals that are still observed throughout the country; others are in a few regions. It is not useless, in our opinion, to mention some of them are still widely practised to help foreign tourists, avoid regrettable incidents during their stay in Vietnam.
In front of the children
In France, when you are next to someone who sneezes, you say to him: “to your wishes” or to your wishes” as the case may be. In Vietnam, when a child sneezes, he is wished: “rice, salt!”, “longevity”, “hundred years”.
When he has the pharynx hindered by a fishbone, we turn slightly the tray on which the dishes are placed, without the others seeing it, or we take a large baguette and hit the kitchen tripod.
If parents appreciate complimenting their children, never put your hand on a child’s head, or congratulate a young mother on the beauty of an infant. Faced with any young baby, it is better not to say anything. Praising it would risk arousing the jealousy of evil geniuses who would then attack the child.
To console someone who has lost a large sum of money or valuables, they are usually told: “Good replaces man”
The way Vietnamese speak is extremely rich and pictorial. They prefer to use figurative periphrases. Instead of asking a young girl, “When are you getting married?” it would be like, “When will you invite me (give me) to chew betel? Understanding and very delicate, the girl replies: “Sir, no one deigns their eyes on me!”
For a person who returns to his native village, after a long absence, and who, in the conversation with the villagers, asks for information about a certain person he knew; if he is told, “Well, well! God forbid, he is now singing the song “the fish”. He immediately understands singing the song “the fish” means begging him, sitting at the end of the market, reaching out and saying: “Have mercy on me, sir, madam, the fish lives thanks to water, my thanks to you!”
In the countryside, especially in some mountainous regions, there are still some taboos. The woman who has just given birth in her room should not talk to people from the outside, for fear of making a slip of the tongue, later. It is therefore not recommended for a foreign person to enter the house where there is a woman in childbirth.
We do not like that an unknown person gives birth in his house. A woman expecting her first child refrains from picking fruit, lest the other fruits in the tree are damaged.
It is especially not recommended for pregnant women to go to the dead or to follow a funeral procession.
When a child sleeps, do not put anything on his face, lest his spirits no longer recognize him, when he wakes up.
At the table
At the table, we wait for the oldest people to take their chopsticks. Out of respect, the youngest invites his elders to eat in turn, starting with the dean.
After eating, you have to put the chopsticks on the bowl, saying: “Excuse me, but, I have eaten enough”. One is not afraid to be rude to the mistress of the house when one says: “I have eaten enough”, because it means: “I ate very well”.
When you are served food, it is good to say: “Thank you, sir, madam…” by advancing your bowl to receive some. Especially avoid taking food with your chopsticks. This would cause a quarrel between the one offering you the food and another person before the end of the meal. When pushing the rice from the bowl into your mouth with the chopsticks, avoid making noise by rubbing the chopsticks against the bowl. You would be considered rude. Eat in the correct way.
If you are invited to take yet another cup of alcohol, and you do not want it anymore, you will refuse, waving your hand. Do not (spill the cup) put your cup upside down, for fear of causing a quarrel at the end of the meal.
Pupils should not eat gratin di riz, for fear of being unintelligent; of rooster paws, lest their hands tremble when they write. Some parents, on the day of their children’s exam, steam glutinous rice with bean (mung) so that they succeed; because dô(mung bean) in Vietnamese also means “to succeed”. No student eats bananas before the exam, because it is slippery, i.e. They will be refused.
In Vietnam, all dishes are served at the same time on the tray. In summer, in every meal. There is often a large bowl of soup for everyone.
The spoon to take vegetables or the solid part of the soup. We will be frowned upon if we swallow broth, making noise.