Here is some advice for the first-time visitor to Vietnam
DO'S & DON'TS
– In Vietnam, it’s fine to wear shorts. When visiting temples, you should avoid wearing tank tops or revealing bare shoulders or thighs. Bring a shawl to cover your legs if you enter the temple or otherwise avoid going to the main prayer room.
– Asia is very casual, so you won’t need any formal clothes. We do recommend bringing one or 2 collared shirts if you plan to dine at a formal restaurant.
– When you shake hands, shake with 2 hands holding the other person you are greeting.
– Hugging is a show of close friendship and does not mean anything more than that.
– People of the same sex holding hands is a show of close friendship like brothers and sisters and does not mean anything more than that. The same with arms over the shoulders or hand on the lap.
– Do try local foods but make sure it’s cooked.
– Do try to say a few words in Vietnamese like Hello or Thank you. Vietnamese people love to smile when they hear you try to speak their language.
– Do take lots of pictures – people don’t mind. Just don’t take pictures of military installations or police officers.
– Do take a taxi when you need to get around town as they are air-conditioned and run on a meter. Some reputable taxis in Hanoi are Hanoi Taxi and Noi Bai Taxi. In Ho Chi Minh City look for Vinasun, Mai Linh Taxi, and Vina Taxi. Make sure you know how to read the meter as there are many zeros and you might pay for more than the actual cost. Usual cost starts at 12,000 VND (1 USD~17,000 VND).
- Do please be sure that the meter is on, and use your smartphone to take a picture of the cab license plate in case of any trouble.
- Do Keep your valuables and passport in the safety box at the hotel. Carry a copy of your passport.
- Do not point your finger at a person unless you mean to offend them. When you call someone to you your palms should face down and pull towards you. Do not have your hands facing up flipping towards you when you want someone to come to you as it’s disrespectful.
– Women do not always necessarily shake hands with men and usually, a nod of acknowledgment will do fine. Only shake hands with women if they extend their hands first.
– Don’t ever take cyclos (bicycle cabs) in Ho Chi Minh City as you will be most likely be cheated by pedicab drivers. They will start an argument with you at the end of the trip and demand 3 times the price you agreed on.
– Don’t eat food on the sidewalk unless it’s cooked hot.
– As you cross the street DO NOT STEP BACK while you are in the middle of the street. Move forward steadily and do not make sudden moves.
- Do not deal with street vendors or people who want to polish your shoes if you would like to be left alone. Just shake your head and keep walking. Sometimes it may seem impolite but it’s the best way to move on your way without hassle.
- Phone, camera or bag snatching can happen in the larger cities, especially by thieves on motorbikes. Please be aware not to wear your purse facing the street or slung across your chest when out walking.