Vietnamese Etiquette Tips for Expats

As an expat in Vietnam, navigating the intricacies of local etiquette can be challenging. At, we understand the importance of cultural awareness for a smooth transition into your new life. In this article, we’ll share essential Vietnamese etiquette tips to help you make a positive impression and build strong relationships with locals.

Greeting and Respect

Greeting etiquette in business meetings – Making a professional first impression

In Vietnam, respect is paramount. When greeting someone, use “xin chào” (pronounced “sin chow”) followed by the appropriate pronoun. For example, “anh” for an older man, “chị” for an older woman, and “bạn” for someone your age. Vietnamese people highly value respect for elders, so always show deference to those older than you.

Dress Code

smart casual dress code for men
Smart casual dress code for men – Balancing style and professionalism
for men

Vietnamese people tend to dress modestly, especially in professional settings. Men should wear collared shirts and trousers, while women should opt for conservative dresses or blouses with skirts or trousers. Avoid revealing clothing or shorts in formal situations.

Dining Etiquette

person using chopsticks to pick up food, not spearing
Using chopsticks – Picking up food, not spearing or stabbing

When dining with Vietnamese colleagues or friends, remember these tips:

  • Wait for the host to invite you to start eating
  • Use chopsticks to pick up food and bring the bowl close to your mouth
  • Avoid sticking your chopsticks upright in your bowl, as it resembles incense offerings for the deceased
  • Try a little bit of everything offered to show appreciation

Gift Giving

gift wrapped in colorful paper with a bow
Beautifully wrapped gift – Presentation enhances the gift-giving experience.

Gift giving is common in Vietnam, particularly during holidays like Tết (Vietnamese New Year). When giving gifts, consider these guidelines:

  • Wrap gifts in colorful paper, but avoid black or white, which are associated with funerals
  • Present gifts with both hands as a sign of respect
  • Open gifts later, not in the presence of the giver

Body Language

 person bumping fists with a smile
Positive and friendly gesture – Expressing enthusiasm or camaraderie

Be mindful of your body language in Vietnam:

  • Avoid touching someone’s head, as it is considered sacred
  • Refrain from public displays of affection, which are frowned upon
  • Use both hands when giving or receiving business cards, documents, or gifts

Building Relationships

handshake between people of different generations
Intergenerational respect – Building positive relationships across age groups

Building strong relationships is crucial for success in Vietnam. Take the time to get to know your Vietnamese colleagues and friends. Attend social events, join in on karaoke sessions, and show interest in their lives and culture. Genuine connections will go a long way in both personal and professional spheres.

Expat Online Communities and Resources

person browsing an expat website
Expat websites – Information on living abroad

Adjusting to life in a new country can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. Expat online communities and resources provide valuable support and information for those living in Vietnam. These platforms offer a wealth of knowledge, from practical advice on housing and healthcare to insider tips on the best restaurants and hidden gems.

Expat online communities provide support and information for expats in Vietnam Online resources offer practical advice on housing, healthcare, and more Expat communities share

insider tips on restaurants and hidden gems

Connecting with fellow expats who have already navigated the challenges of settling in Vietnam can be incredibly helpful. They can offer firsthand insights, answer your questions, and provide a sense of community in your new home. Whether you’re seeking advice on visa requirements, recommendations for language classes, or simply looking to make new friends, expat online communities are an invaluable resource. Don’t hesitate to reach out and tap into the collective knowledge of those who have gone before you. Read more about Expat online communities and resources for Vietnam.

At, we’re committed to supporting expats in their journey to successfully integrate into Vietnamese society. For personalized assistance and detailed advice, contact us via phone, Zalo, or WhatsApp. Our knowledgeable team is here to help you thrive in your new life in Vietnam.

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