Vietnam Do’s & Don’ts

The Vietnamese are very appreciative if they see you trying to abide by their customs, and very forgiving when you get it wrong, but just in case here is a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts for traveling in Vietnam.

 

Don’t:

  • Wear shorts or old T-shirts to visit a Pagoda, they won’t let you in. Be sure to dress conservatively and dress for the occasion, you are after all visiting a piece of history
  • Sit with your feet pointing towards a family altar if you are staying in someone’s house.
  • Take pictures of anything to do with the military, this can be considered a breach of national security and trust us, you don’t want to see the inside of a Vietnamese jail.
  • Take video cameras into the small villages, it is considered very intrusive and they’ll be too polite to ask you to stop filming.
  • Display any personal displays of affection! Just don’t do it. Find a hostel, hotel, whatever suits – but anything beyond holding hands is seriously frowned upon.
  • Expect to sleep late as Vietnam starts moving at 6am and the noise can be overwhelming.

Do:

  • Dress conservatively, especially you ladies out there. The dress code is more relaxed in major cities but do yourself (and the Vietnamese) a favor – don’t wear booty shorts to the fish market.
  • Drink loads of water as you’re wandering around checking out the sights. The heat can be oppressive and heat stroke can be a real killjoy, so take our advice and drink up (water that is)!
  • Hold your bag in front of you and wrap it around a limb when riding in a Cyclo – bag snatching is a big problem and if you are looking at a Pagoda there’s a good chance someone’s looking at your bag.
  • If you’re invited into a local’s home (which is really the only way to travel), be sure to take your shoes off at the entrance.
  • Travel by train, it’s one of the best ways to see the country through the eyes of the locals (prepare for the trains to be late and smelly – but that’s part of the charm, right?)
  • Carry a bit of toilet paper with you at all times – we won’t go into detail – just trust us.
  • Make sure that you have a hotel/hostel business card from the reception desk. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi or cyclo much easier.
  • Do expect to pay less for a beer than a bottle of water – but remember our hydration tip above!