You had better greet residents in their native language, which is “Xin Chao!” for “Hello!” and always use “Cam on!” for “Thank you!” along with a bent head when you get something from them. It shows how much you respect and how grateful you feel. When it comes to greetings, there are no differences to the way western people greeting each other.
When visiting sacred places, you should cover your tattoos with some piece of clothes. Vietnamese people think that those who owning tattoos are “bad” and “evil”. It even looks quite bad especially on girls’ bodies (according to Vietnamese customs). In addition, entering Churches, Temples or any other holy or spiritual places, you should dress smartly and modestly. You should cover your breast, legs and arms as most of locals are fairly conservative.
Always keep your receipt when you do some shopping or park your bike/ motorbike/car. Your shopping basket sometimes will be checked after payment. Besides, getting the motorbike/car/bike park without the ticket is almost impossible or very troublesome.
Bargain as much as you can. The longer you haggle, the better price you get. If someone would not like to negotiate the price with you, just leave it and look for another one. Bargaining is a fairly interesting experience.
Do learn to use chopsticks when having your meal in Vietnam. Try to finish everything on your plate, and rest your chopsticks on top of your rice bowl when finishing eating. Hold the spoon in your left hand while eating soup.
Drink plenty of bottled water, especially when walking around for sightseeing. Do expect to pay less for the local beer than for a bottle of water.
You had better take medical insurance before your travel. The price for medical care services in Vietnam is ridiculously expensive.
Do change money from a recognized moneychanger to get preferential prices.
Do not give handkerchiefs, anything black, yellow flowers or chrysanthemums as a gift. Bring fruits, sweets, flowers as a gift if invited to a Vietnamese home.
Do not wear valuable jewelers and show off your expensive iPod/phone/clothes in streets. Also, do not carry large amount of money and never leave your bags unattended. If not, you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatchers.
Do not rush residents. They hate it. They take their time and there is no rush for them. If you have to wait 10 minutes for your coffee, just deal with it, do not scream or show how unsatisfied you are for people take things slow and easy.
Do not cause the Vietnamese to “lose face”. The concept of “saving face” is extremely important in East Asian social relationships in general and in Vietnam in particular. Never lose your temper. Losing your temper in Vietnam means a loss of face, and then locals won’t speak to you again or will not respect you as the way you wish. Do not show off; just keep a low profile and a cool head, and remain polite.
If you travel with your girlfriend or boyfriend, do not show in public how much you love each other. Kissing, touching or holding hands may be perceived inappropriately.
There are things you should never do in Vietnam in order not to insult, ridicule or offend someone by accident. There are also things you should always do as a sign of respect and gratitude. Some of these dos and donts might sometimes save your life, make your journey nicer and smoother, and offer the real side of Vietnam.