Cultural Adjustment Tips for Moving to Vietnam

Moving to a new country is always an adventure. It’s exciting, but it can also be challenging as you navigate unfamiliar customs, traditions, and ways of life. If you’re planning a move to Vietnam, is here to help make your transition as smooth as possible with these essential cultural adjustment tips.

Embrace the Pace of Life

Finding balance in life – Creating a life that allows for both work and relaxation.

One of the first things you’ll notice about life in Vietnam is the slower, more relaxed pace compared to Western countries.

Pace of lifeSlower, relaxed
Attitudepatient, go-with-the-flow
LifestyleLaid-back, emphasis on enjoying the moment

Adjusting to this new rhythm takes some getting used to, but try to embrace it. Be patient, go with the flow, and appreciate the Vietnamese emphasis on enjoying the present moment rather than always rushing to the next thing.

Master the Art of Bargaining

Making eye contact during negotiation – Projecting confidence and sincerity

In Vietnam, bargaining is a way of life, especially at markets and small shops.

BargainingOccurrenceCommon at markets and small shops
BargainingApproachFriendly, good-natured
BargainingExpectationsExpected, part of the shopping experience

Don’t be shy to engage in some friendly haggling – it’s expected and part of the fun! Start your offer low, around 50% of the listed price, then work your way up through good-natured negotiation until you reach a price you’re both happy with. With some practice, you’ll be bargaining like a local in no time.

Respect Local Customs and Traditions

Observing etiquette at religious site – Dressing and behaving appropriately in sacred places

Vietnam is a country with a rich cultural heritage and deep respect for customs and traditions.

Traditions to be aware of:

  • Removing shoes before entering homes and temples
  • Dressing modestly, especially when visiting religious sites
  • Using both hands when giving or receiving items
  • Avoiding public displays of affection

By making an effort to honor these practices, you demonstrate respect and cultural sensitivity, which goes a long way in building positive relationships with locals.

Learn Some Vietnamese

Saying “Xin lỗi” (Excuse me) – Showing courtesy in crowded spaces

While many young people in cities speak some English, learning at least basic Vietnamese is incredibly helpful (and appreciated) when adjusting to life here.

Key phrases to know:

  • Xin chào (sin chow) – Hello
  • Cảm ơn (kahm uhn) – Thank you
  • Không (khome) – No
  • Vâng (vung) – Yes
  • Tôi tên là… (thoy thane la…) – My name is…

Don’t be afraid to try out your Vietnamese, even if your tones and pronunciation aren’t perfect. Locals are patient and encouraging with foreigners learning their language. The effort alone can open doors and deepen your immersion in Vietnamese life.

Indulge in the Incredible Cuisine

Trying new Vietnamese dishes with open-mindedness – Embracing culinary adventures in Vietnam

Vietnamese food is renowned worldwide for its fresh flavors, fascinating fusions, and incredible value. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find delicious dishes to try.

Must-try items include:

  • Phở – iconic noodle soup with meat and herbs
  • Bánh mì – baguette sandwiches packed with savory fillings
  • Gỏi cuốn – fresh spring rolls with pork, shrimp, vegetables and rice noodles
  • Cà phê sữa đá – iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk

Be open-minded and adventurous in your food explorations. Eat where the locals eat – sidewalk stalls, markets, small restaurants. Not only is the food amazing, sharing a meal is one of the best ways to connect with people and immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture.

Build a Support Network

Reaching out for a handshake – Taking initiative to connect with others.

Adjusting to a new culture is both rewarding and challenging. Having a strong support network is key to thriving through the ups and downs.

Tips for building connections:

  • Join expat groups and attend events/meetups
  • Say yes to invitations and opportunities to socialize
  • Take language classes or join clubs to meet locals and fellow foreigners
  • Find an intercultural mentor or buddy to navigate tricky situations

Remember, you’re not alone in this experience. Lean on your network for support, advice, and friendship as you navigate your new life in Vietnam.

Keep an Open Mind

Above all, approach your new life in Vietnam with an open mind. Things will be different than what you’re used to – and that’s okay! Embrace the differences, the quirks, the initially unfamiliar.

Key mindsets:

  • Be curious rather than judgmental
  • Assume positive intent in confusing situations
  • Find humor in miscommunications and missteps
  • View challenges as opportunities for growth

With an open, adaptable attitude, you’ll find yourself falling in love with Vietnam’s charms and settling into a fulfilling life here in no time.

Let Be Your Guide

At, we’re passionate about supporting foreigners making the exciting leap to live and work in Vietnam. We know the ins-and-outs of getting settled here, and we’re committed to being a resource for you every step of the way.

For personalized guidance and support in your transition, give us a call or reach out on Zalo or WhatsApp. We’ll give you our fullest attention and share detailed advice gleaned from years of experience helping expats thrive in Vietnam.


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We can’t wait to be part of your adventure and to welcome you to your amazing new life in Vietnam. Together, we’ll ensure your cultural adjustment is as smooth, supported, and fulfilling as possible. Reach out today – we’re here for you!

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