Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in Southeast Asia. It is safe to travel there and the country is full of wonders. Vietnamese people are very gracious, polite and generous and appreciate visitors who travel to Vietnam abiding by their customs. Tourists on Vietnam tours usually complain about over-aggressive street vendors, tour operators with a bad attitude and dangerous driving. However, with a cool head and sensible planning, one can avoid these problems. There are some do’s and don’ts to bear in mind when visiting Vietnam.
Do not wear shorts or old T-shirts to visit a Pagoda, they won’t let you in. It is considered extremely rude and offensive. Be sure to dress conservatively and dress for the occasion, you are after all visiting a piece of history
Do not sit with your feet pointing towards a family altar if you are staying in someone’s house.
Do not 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.
Do not take video cameras into the small villages, it is considered very intrusive and they’ll be too polite to ask you to stop filming.
Do not 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.
Do not expect to sleep late as Vietnam starts moving at 6am and the noise can be overwhelming.
Do not touch someone’s head and point with your finger.
Do not sit until shown where to sit. The oldest person sits first.
Losing your temper in Vietnam means a loss of face. Keep a cool head and remain polite, you’ll have a greater chance of getting what you want.
Dress conservatively. Do not wear shorts, dresses, skirts or tops with no necklines and bare shoulders to Temples or Pagodas. 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 lots of water.
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.
Keep your valuables, such as cash, credit cards and airline tickets in a safe place.
If you’re invited into a local’s home 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!