Apart from amazing scenery, a traveler coming to a different country should study its culture, too. This helps you avoid unexpected embarrassments as well as adapt well to the environment that you will live in a few days.
In Asian countries in general and Vietnam in particular, age is an important factor influencing how you are treated. The older you are, the more respect people show to you. When talking to an older person, you should speak politely and softly. Hierarchical terms are also used. At home, the elders are always served first and you shouldn’t leave if they have not finished, even when you did. At work, their opinions are highly appreciated and have a strong influence on the final decision.
Vietnamese people are friendly and hospitable. By saying hello and shaking hands while maintaining a smiling face, you can express your excitement already. People don’t give each other a hug or kiss when they meet for the first time. Especially, people of different genders don’t prefer physical contact if they are strangers.
The cuisine is diverse from region to region. While Northern taste is quite mild and subtle, Central people prefer sweet and spicy food and Southern people like adding sugar in every dish. However, there is one common spice in almost all dishes – fish sauce – traditional source for Vietnamese. And they eat rice in every meal. There are so many types of noodles and noodle soups that even local people don’t know all. One of the most famous kinds is Pho- ranked 28th out of 50 most delicious foods in the world by CNN Go.
People use chopsticks and spoons on the table instead of a knife and fork. And if a group of people come together, they often share all portions, not order individual’s set.
Tipping is not necessary. If you feel the service is excellent, you can leave an extra or don’t ask for change. It’s a generous manner. However, if you don’t, it’s still fine, and you are not criticized or judged. People often give tips at the hotel, luxury restaurant or spa.
Now Vietnamese’s dressing is like the Western style. Traditional costumes are seen in performances and parades only. Ao Dai might be the national dress that you can see the most when women wear on special occasions like wedding, ceremony, formal event and outdoor photo-shoot. Sometimes, you also capture high school girls in white Ao Dai on streets because it’s the required uniform in a lot of schools.
Folk songs vary in forms from quan ho, xoan, xam to bai choi, ca tru, trau van, nha nhac, etc. Nha nhac is a popular genre that originated and developed in Tran and Nguyen Dynasties. It is considered imperial music; therefore, you can enjoy performances in opera houses, museums and tourist attractions in Hue especially. Besides, ca tru- an ancient chamber music genre is well-known as the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. All these songs are featured by traditional music instruments like dan bau, dan nhi, dan tranh, etc. Some forms of opera such as cai luong, tuong, cheo or famous shows like water puppet are worth watching, too.