Everything You Should Know About Vietnamese People

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Vietnamese people are friendly and hospitable. Since Vietnam is a diverse country, Vietnamese values and beliefs, as well as their language and culture, are also diverse. But one common denominator among them is that they love to smile and are genuinely interested in getting to know their foreign visitors. 

Although they are geographically labeled as Southeast Asians, several years of Chinese rule have made the Vietnamese to be culturally closer to East Asians, most specifically their immediate neighbors in the north, the Southern Chinese. 

In fact, the “Nam” from Vietnam comes from an ancient word that means “South”. If you’re traveling to Vietnam soon, here’s everything you need to know about the Vietnamese people, including their culture.

Vietnam Facts

The nature of Vietnam is simply breathtaking.
The nature of Vietnam is simply breathtaking.

Vietnam is a very diverse country - from the scenic mountains, stunning beaches, sleepy rural villages to busy and chaotic streets, the country is not like any other place on Earth. 

In the past, the very mention of Vietnam brings up images of a war-torn place, but nowadays, the country is fast becoming one of Southeast Asia’s top travel destinations, and this is for a good reason. 

The country has everything that every traveler could ever wish for - unique cultural experiences, mouthwatering foods, epic adventures, and historical sights.

Vietnam has a history as rich and diverse as the country itself. The American War may have captured the attention of the world. But several centuries before that, the country was already invaded by the Chinese, the Mongols, and the Khmers. 

Soon after, the French came and influenced the country’s culture, educational system, architecture, and food. The French influences are still very evident throughout the country today. 

Vietnamese Culture Facts

Vietnam is renowned for its hospitality and friendly people with genuine smiles.
Vietnam is renowned for its hospitality and friendly people with genuine smiles.

The Vietnamese people are a unique mix of cultures, yet there are some common traits among them. Here are some of the most interesting Vietnamese culture facts.

Hospitality - Vietnam’s most precious treasure is its people. Anywhere you go in the country; you’ll be welcomed with friendly and welcoming smiles. This is because the Vietnamese culture values the family and community a lot. In fact, most visitors to the country often praise Vietnamese hospitality.

Interesting read: 7 tips to meeting Vietnamese girls written by digital nomad blogger A Farang Abroad.

Gratitude - One of the most interesting facts about Vietnamese culture is that people are often reluctant to accept help from others because they consider gratitude as debt. Lauding someone in his presence is often regarded as a form of flattery and sometimes, mockery. This is applicable in the Vietnamese work culture too, where someone who is complimented for specific achievements would usually show his modesty by passing the compliment to others. 

Confucianism - the manner in which the Vietnamese people would communicate with each other is highly influenced by Confucianism. Confucianism’s leading principle is leniency and benevolence among the people. It emphasizes unity and reciprocity, which is of great importance in Vietnamese society up until today.

Family culture - the Vietnamese family culture still retains a myriad of the country’s long-standing traditions. For instance, the elders are expected to educate the younger members of the family, and in return, the children are expected to show respect to the elderly. Furthermore, the younger siblings must obey their older siblings at all times, and the uncles and aunties are treated as part of the family.

Vietnamese Cuisine

Vietnamese people love to make various food with rice; this is Chao soup.
Vietnamese people love to make various food with rice; this is Chao soup.

One of the best ways to learn more about the country is to discover its cuisine. Just like the country itself, Vietnamese cuisine is also very diverse. 

The country is divided into three distinct sections - Central, Northern, and Southern, and the cooking style in each region is different from each other in terms of flavors, tastes, and ingredients.   

Joining a local food tour, such as the Saigon street food tour is the best way to discover the food culture of Vietnam. But if you prefer to discover it on your own, here are some of the best Vietnamese dishes that you definitely should give a try:

Banh cam - this is a Vietnamese sesame ball that’s a favorite street snack in Vietnam. The outer shell is golden brown in color and filled with sesame seeds while the inside is soft and chewy.

Banh Chung – this is a Vietnamese sticky rice cake with yellow mung beans and pork as a filling. Ban Chung is said to play an essential part in the Vietnamese family culture, as it brings people together. It’s often made in a bunch to be shared by a group of family and friends.

Canh Chua soup – this is a Vietnamese sweet & sour catfish soup that’s made in a tamarind-flavored broth with pineapples, tomatoes, and several other ingredients. This is mostly served in several restaurants in Vietnam.

Gỏi cuốn - this spring roll is a famous Vietnamese dish that’s traditionally made of prawn, pork, and some vegetables, and then wrapped in a transparent rice paper.

Pho - this is perhaps the most famous of all Vietnamese foods. This popular Vietnamese soup is made of chewy rice noodles with some meat and a few herbs.

Banh mi – this is another famous Vietnamese street snack that you’ll see being sold in various food stalls in Vietnam. Banh mi is a sandwich where the filling is made of pickled vegetables with some meat, such as chicken and pork.

Ca Phe Trung - this is a coffee made of egg yolks, and some say it tastes like tiramisu. The best place to get a cup of ca phe trung is in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

Best Places to See in Vietnam

One of the best views of Hanoi.
One of the best views of Hanoi.

Vietnam is a vast country with plenty of interesting sights and attractions to see. It may not be possible to see everything in one regular vacation, but there are a few places that you should include in your itinerary if you want to experience the real spirit of the Vietnamese people in the best possible way. 

Read more: Alternative Way to Experience Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

So here are some of the best places to see in Vietnam:

Hue - this Vietnamese city is located in the central part of the country, and many travelers would visit Hue to witness the massive Imperial Enclosure that was built during the 19th century to house the emperor’s residence. 

Hanoi - the capital of Vietnam may be one of the busiest cities in the country, but it has a unique charm to it. The streets of Hanoi are filled with ancient old buildings with French and European influences that bore witness to the country’s colorful history. Learn about interesting things to do in Hanoi and immerse yourself in a rich Vietnamese culture.

Mekong Delta - the Mekong Delta is in the southern part of Vietnam and consists of a vast maze of rivers, paddy fields, and swamplands. Aside from the Mekong Delta floating market, the place is also famous for the Khmer Pagoda. You shouldn't miss Can Tho while traveling around Mekong Delta. Read this interesting guide to Can Tho and start planning your trip around there! 

Hoi An - this coastal town is no doubt, one of the most romantic places in Vietnam. Its old town quarter is surrounded by centuries-old merchant houses that were built in the early 15th century.

Ho Chi Minh City – formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s commercial hub and where you will see some of the country’s most famous attractions, such as the War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace, Chu Chi tunnels, and more. Like Hanoi, the street food culture in Ho Chi Minh is also a joy to explore.

Da Nang - if you want to enjoy some of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches, you should visit the coastal city of Da Nang. Aside from the beaches, the city is also famous for the Marble Mountain, a cluster of marble hills with temples and caves. If you're traveling around the country, don't forget to visit the most stunning bays in Vietnam.


The food and sights in Vietnam are all great, but the country’s best asset is its people. For as long as you respect the country’s culture, tradition, and religion, the Vietnamese people will surely welcome you to their country with arms wide open.

Carolyn Boston freelance content writer for aSabbatical.com
Travelling the world on a budget for several years without having a hefty savings account.