to be Popular in Vietnam!
are a friendly and peaceful people. We extend a warm welcome
to foreigners, and are very pleased that you want to come
to our country. We understand that you’ll find it as hard
to understand us as we do to make sense of the ways you
think and behave.
we recognise that your culture is different to ours, we’re
happy to accept the ways you behave and dress even though
they would normally not be acceptable for us. We also acknowledge
that there are some things that we do that you don’t like
– heavy smoking, men urinating in the street, the incessant
noise and so on. We haven’t had much time to develop our social
behaviour, but we’re doing our best to improve things.
get on well with us, please....
don't tell us how to run our country!
Although we’re not particularly politically inclined, we are
very patriotic and resent it when some visitors regard our
country as 'backward' or criticize our system of government.
The 'human rights' debate is not one-sided, nor is it as simple
as some Western observers seem to think. Despite what some
of the guide books say, it’s not 'taboo' to discuss politics
in Vietnam, but we don't like critical proselytizing. We know
we’re not perfect, but we paid a very high price for our independence
and won the right to run our country how we wish.
Although not specifically prohibited, nudity is culturally
unacceptable for us. Vietnamese women are embarrassed by 'sexy'
swimsuits and topless sunbathing. Our mode of dress is generally
casual, but you'll notice that we take care of our appearance
when we visit temples and pagodas We feel uncomfortable when
you wear skimpy clothes, shorts and so.
don't expect 'Western-style' politeness
Some aspects of our behaviour may seem to be rude or unfriendly.
For example, we don't understand the invisible 'no contact'
comfort zone that people from the West automatically observe.
Pushing and shoving in queues and on crowded pavements is
commonplace, so please feel free to join in!
local people avoid eye contact. We know that in your countries,
this is regarded as an indication of shiftiness or dishonesty,
but in Vietnam, it’s a combination of shyness and respect.
be fair and reasonable
When you try to buy things, you're bound to be asked to pay
an inflated price in markets, from street sellers, and so
on. We know that a few Vietnamese people will try to cheat
you (they do it to us as well). However, the vast majority
of street sellers and traders aren't trying to rip you off
- an obviously inflated price is an invitation to barter.
We love haggling! Be good-humoured and enjoy the game - once
you get used to it, you'll find you can do the same thing
in your own country!
we’re unhappy when some visitors regard bartering as a challenge
to drive the price down as far as possible. Even in the cities,
most of our people are still very poor, and many people selling
goods in the streets earn only a couple of dollars a day.
You re in a powerful position - please pay a fair price, not
the cheapest possible.
don't get cross
No matter how frustrating a particular situation might be,
getting angry guarantees that achieving your objective will
be more difficult. 'The customer is always right' adage definitely
doesn't apply in Vietnam. Aggressive complaining will usually
be met with a wall of indifference.
think before you complain
It’s traditional that when a Vietnamese employee makes a mistake
- an error with your meal order or damaging your laundry,
for example – he or she is responsible for the cost. If you
demand a refund or refuse to pay, the money will probably
come out the pocket of the person who made the error, not
the business. A matter of principle for an irate tourist can
cost a hapless employee a month's wages, his or her job, or
try a bit of Vietnamese!
We know that our language is difficult to learn, but we really
like it when you try a few words, even if it’s just ‘hello’
and ‘goodbye’. When we laugh at your attempts, it’s pleasure
and appreciation, not ridicule.
important of all, please ...
laugh and smile as much as possible!
Good humour will go a long way to resolving practically all
problems between us. Laugh a lot, and don't take things too
seriously – it’s the Vietnamese way!