Join Our Newsletter

Please fill your email below to receive ABROADER's newsletter

Custom and Etiquette in Viet Nam

Custom And Etiquette In Viet Nam

Understanding the core values that Vietnamese people believe in can be a great way for you to adapt to Vietnamese culture. Vietnamese culture share several similarities with other Asian countries in terms of family values as well as some hierachial structures.

1. The Family

Vietnamese life revolves around the family.

  • The Vietnamese family consists of the nuclear as well as the extended family.
  • It is not uncommon for three generations to be living together under one roof.
  • In Confucian tradition, the father is the head of the family and it is his responsibility to provide food, clothing and shelter and make important decisions.
  • Within the same tradition it is believed that after someone dies their spirit lives on. Descendents will "worship" their ancestors to ensure their good favour. On the anniversary of a person's death, ceremonies are held in their memory. They are also remembered during certain lunar festivals and souls are consulted prior to important decisions or occasions such as a birth or a wedding.

2. Face

As with many other Asian nations, the concept of face is extremely important to the Vietnamese.

  • Face is a tricky concept to explain but can be roughly described a quality that reflects a person's reputation, dignity, and prestige.
  • It is possible to lose face, save face or give face to another person.
  • Companies as well as individuals can have face or lose face.
  • For foreigners it is important to be aware that you may unintentionally cause a loss of face so it is important to be aware of your words and actions. Understanding how face is lost, saved or given is critical.
  • Someone can be given face by complimenting them for their hospitality or business acumen. Accusing someone of poor performance or reprimanding them publicly will lead to a loss of face

3. Hierarchy

  • As with most group-orientated societies there are also hierarchical structures.
  • In Vietnam these are very much based upon age and status.
  • This derives from Confucianism, which emphasizes social order. Everyone is seen as having a distinct place and role within the hierarchical structure, be it the family or workplace.
  • An obvious example is seen in social situations where the oldest person in a group is greeted or served first.
  • Within the family the head would be responsible for making decisions and approving marriages.

Some more guidelines that helps you be more engaged with local people

  • Dress modestly and remove hats when going into religious and other culturally, historically important places.
  • Do not wear shoes inside the house
  • Be humble and respectful. Avoid showing blatant criticism, but rather, show your curiosity and provide constructive questions and comments. Always ask if you do not understand certain behaviours/ food etc. rather than shutting it down completely. On the other hand, if you are invited to try local food that you are allergic to or not comfortable with, you can refuse nicely.
  • Community is a central value. This translates to paying respect to elder people, parents, older siblings and ancestors; and priority to family. It is also common for more than 2 generations, for example grandparents, parents and grandchildren to live together. Other tips include: When eating, wait for other people to start and observe. Keep a low profile by dressing modestly.
  • Don’t be too defensive if Vietnamese people ask about your age, marriage status and income. This is normal social questions even for the first time meeting. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to and explain nicely why.
  • Show strong affection in public. PDA is especially frowned upon by older generation - kissing is a no-no! Away from the major urban centres it is also more traditional. However it is also quite common to see friends of the same sex holding hands - sometimes it just means they are good friends!
  • When a Vietnamese make a mistake and he/she is told you will often see them smile. Don’t be angry when you complain to a Vietnamese and receive a smiling face with an apology. They might smile because they feel embarrassed or they are not sure how to respond, the smile is meant to soften the situation but does not mean their apologies are not genuine.
  • If you are invited to a Vietnamse family, when you arrive the families might ask you to go for a face wash or a shower. This doesn’t mean that they think you are smelly or dirty but this is their way of showing hospitality, or “Make yourself at home”.
  • In reality there are a lot of grey areas to navigate in cross-cultural communication. It is challenging for sure, but also interesting and self-growing. On your first few days here we will have some more orientation on this, as well as Q&A.
  • It is still not enough though, and you will learn and grow a lot from experiencing it in reality in the coming weeks. When in doubt, please be open and share with our program coordinator for support.
I am satisfied with the internship in Vietnam provided by ABROADER Vietnam. The internship placement was ideal and my local buddy was great. During the internship I worked at Ho Chi Minh Hospital of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. At the host organization, I was clear about the responsibilities & rules expected to accomplish & follow. I had a lot of supervisors who were all very caring. The doctors there were very gracious and explained a lot of cases to me; all in all I was well equipped to perform the job at my best.

Andrew Nguyen

Surgical Internship ,University of Oregon, USA

The service provided by ABROADER Vietnam is really good. Especially until I get used to living here, I asked support from ABROADER so much. Now I can manage my own life by myself thanks to them.

Sohei Chikama

IT Internship ,Chuo University, Japan

The placement I received was great. ABROADER Vietnam has helped me the whole way! I would recommend this program if they are looking to go somewhere completely different and cool!

Cole McDougall

Optometry Internship ,South Dakota State University, USA

I feel satisfied about the services provided by ABROADER Vietnam while I was here; almost everything was sorted out before arrival so there was definitely no messing around with organizing things. The accommodation they provided me was good but I personally prefer one that is closer to my place of work. Before starting my internship in Vietnam, I was informed of the work that I will be doing and the skills involved, therefore there was time allowed for me to learn certain CAD programs to help my work. As for the workplace environment, the company where I got an engineering internship in Vietnam was a company that is in the Aerospace Engineering field, all the employees here helped me settle in by talking to me at work and sitting with me at lunch times. I got on well with my co-workers and my supervisor and they were there to help during my internship. Regarding my responsibilities in the company, I felt like even though it was not the most critical work, it sure was of great use to the company. If there is one thing I would recommend them do for the new interns the next time was to have them go on a welcoming tour to show off the office facilities e.g toilet, kitchen appliances available etc which makes it easier for them to navigate around the office. Beside this, I think I am overall very satisfied with my internship placement and the services provided by ABROADER Vietnam and I would highly recommend it.

Jake Thompson

Electrical Engineering Internship ,University of Exeter, England

I would say that it is best for people who are trying to learn outside of their own country. I had a wonderful time spending time by learning their culture, exploring places that you have been before. Getting to know well how to be responsible once in a while. Learning the language was a little tough but was able to understand with the help of the local buddies. The working environment in Vietnam is actually pretty good. The food was quite interesting to me as most of the people like seafood instead of poultry. Overall, I would say people need to visit these places to understand more about the world where their own country is not only a place to gain opportunities. In your life, this might be a chance to give it a shot if you get this opportunity.

Sunil Bharat

Aeroplan Engineering Internship ,Republic Polytechnic, Singapore

I am grateful to everyone who has helped organize my internship in Vietnam this summer. I am grateful to ABROADER for finding me the best placement that I could ever hope for and for being so caring, accountable and responsive during my whole internship duration. I am grateful to my supervisor and all the coworkers at my host organization for being so hard-working, responsible, encouraging and supportive. Without their kindness and support, my holistic learning experience while in Vietnam would not be that worthwhile. I would definitely recommend this internship in Vietnam program to anyone that is interested in doing an internship abroad.

Bryant Chu

Culinary Internship ,Master’s Degree at Stanford University, USA

The program coordinator and local buddies were the best and they contributed greatly to the amazing experience of studying abroad. I loved how caring the program coordinator was, whenever I have slight health problems, she was always available to make everything okay. The local buddies were always readily available and eager to interact with us. The activities within the program were planned and well-coordinated. Activities were fun and informative and they were great opportunities getting to know the city, Vietnamese culture. They all contributed in a positive and supportive fashion to my overall study experience.

Wilson Deng

Vietnam Global Seminar Study Tour ,University of California, San Diego, USA

I have always been an extremely shy person, when I was small, my face would turn red and I even cried in front of people. Now that I’m a grown up, I want to become more confident, make friends and talk with them like other people do after one-month internship here in Vietnam.

Miho Matsui

Education Internship ,Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan

The study tour was a great was to experience Vietnam. The academic industry visits provided insights into how the manufacturing industry operates in SE Asia, relevant to our engineering course on Control Systems. Then many cultural experiences helped out understanding of the Vietnamese people and how the modern country has been shaped through the conflicts of the 20th century. Visiting the Mekong Delta was a highlight of the trip, living at a homestead and preparing/cooking a tradition Vietnamese meal was amazing. Overall the local buddies that helped us on our trip were amazing, providing us an insight into Vietnam through the eyes of other young adults.

Nicholas Zander

Electrical Engineering and Computing Study Tour ,University of Newcastle, Australia

I just wanted to say a Warm Thanks to the ABROADER team for creating an amazing experience for Zach. Kasia and your team went above and beyond and should be so proud of bringing the amazing experience of living in Vietnam to my son. Your buddy program was amazing and we met his Buddy several times. He even came to the airport at 7 AM this past Saturday as Zach left Vietnam. Zach learned so much about Vietnam this summer - about its amazing culture, food, how people live and of course Grab, and the crazy life of the traffic. This family has fallen in love with Vietnam.

Barry Vlessing

Business Development Internship ,Zachary Vlessing's Father