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  Artiklar > Reseberättelser > How to behave in Vietnam:

How to behave in Vietnam

Publicerad: 2006-08-01 00.00

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General Advice About Travelling in Vietnam

Vietnamese people are very gracious, polite and generous and will make every effort to make guests feel comfortable. Do not be surprised if somebody you have just met invites you home to meet the family and friends. These are the experiences that will enrich your visit to Vietnam.

From the worker's simple outfits in the rice fields to western style business suits in the city, the Vietnamese are conservative in their dress. Visitors wearing shorts are tolerated, even though you may see many shirtless Vietnamese men in shorts.

Wear conservative clothing if you visit a culturally sensitive area such as a temple or pagoda -- the less bare skin the better.

Keep in mind that, although tolerant, people may be judgmental. Unfortunately you cannot expect hospitality at every turn and you may experience problems with petty theft and pick pockets. This is more prevalent in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Nha Trang. In other areas, especially in the north, reports of these activities are extremely minimal. It is not something to be paranoid about but be aware of your surroundings.

Below is a list of do's and don'ts to help you avoid some of the social taboos during your visit. Take heed of these pointers and you will be rewarded with a culturally and socially enriching experience.


What You Should Do :

Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Most 4-star hotels have in-room safes, otherwise ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility.

Take a hotel business card from the reception desk before venturing out from your hotel. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi or cyclo much easier.

Carry a roll of toilet paper in your daypack on long excursions from your base hotel. You never know when you might need it!

Dress appropriately. Not only for the prevailing weather, but also not to cause offence to the local people. Vietnamese have conservative dress codes, and it is only in larger cities that these codes are a little more relaxed. Do not wear revealing clothing.

If invited into a Vietnamese home, always remove your shoes at the front door when entering.

Ask for permission when taking a photograph of someone. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes.

Drink plenty of bottled water. During the summer months you should be drinking a minimum of 2 litres per day. If you drink tea, coffee and alcohol you should increase your water intake accordingly as these will help to dehydrate you.


Things Not To Do in Vietnam :

Offer money or push the issue.

Never carry more money than you need when walking around the streets.

Do not wear large amounts of jewellery. There are two reasons for not doing this
(1) It is considered impolite to flaunt wealth in public
(2) It is more likely that you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatcher.

Don't be paranoid about your security, just be aware of your surroundings.

Don't wear singlets, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive.

Avoid giving empty water bottles, sweets and candies or pens to the local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages. You cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner, and the people have no access to dental health. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community.

Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone’s house.

Never lose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanour and you will be reciprocated with the same.

Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.

Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.

The above advice is meant to help you have a perfect trip to Vietnam.

Do not be overly paranoid though. Generally, Vietnamese people are very appreciative if they see you trying to abide by their customs, and very forgiving if you get it wrong or forget. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded.


Vietnamese Table Manners

Should you have the rare privilege of dining as a guest in a Vietnamese home, you will enter into an environment where manners and etiquette are far more important (or at least more detailed) than in most western countries.

A few hints...

Generally, rice will be served at a meal and then the host will give a signal to begin eating. Wait until that happens before tasting anything.

You will likely be considered the guest of honor. As such, the first and the best will go to you. Sample it. Then share.

Using Chopsticks

When holding chopsticks, the further your hand is from the food end of your chopsticks, the more accomplished you are considered to be. Young children move their hands far down toward the food end of the chopsticks. Adults usually don't.

In Vietnamese, chopsticks are doi dua. Saying the English word is considered crude.

Try not to let your chopsticks touch your mouth. Only the food should touch your mouth.

Only pick up one piece of food at a time. Chopsticks are not shovels.

Always place the food on your plate or in your rice bowl first; then pick it back up and eat it. Never eat directly from the serving plate.

Do not use your chopsticks as spears.

If you find yourself in danger of death by either starvation or embarrassment, it is perfectly acceptable to confess your inadequacy and ask for a fork. But confess your inadequacy; don't just ask for a fork...

You will likely be considered the guest of honor. As such, the first and the best will go to you. Sample it. Then share.

Vietnamese dining is a social occasion. Be prepared for constant interaction. If the meal is particularly formal, you are unlikely to be allowed to serve yourself. Your host will make sure you have ample food.

Don't take a second helping of anything until you have tried a helping of each dish. In the southern areas of the country, a "helping" is about one tablespoon.

Compliment the cook on each dish after you have tasted it.

The meat is the most important (and the most costly) ingredient in any meal. Leave some of it for others.

It is polite to use both hands when offering something or passing something. The same is true for accepting something. The Vietnamese will nod at each other as the pass a dish.

Do NOT hunt and peck to find the "good stuff" on a serving plate. Doing so will leave your guests with a low opinion of you.

Never return a piece of food from your plate to the serving dish.

Unlike most Western countries, it is NOT okay to turn down a second or third helping. To do so might be considered an insult. Begin early to talk about how FULL you are and then reluctantly agree to the seconds (and thirds) your host offers you.

If you don't know what to do, say so.

Finally, if you have been invited in advance to a meal in a Vietnamese home, bring a present. Sweets are common. So is tea or coffee. Flowers will also do; but be aware that white is the color of death in Vietnam.

Av:  horsemandk

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