During your trip to Vietnam, you will have to adopt certain behaviors in order to be a respectful tourist. Here, the rice fields of Mù Cang Chải, in the province of Yên Bái. AdobeStock/Sasin TIPCHAI

Are you planning a trip to Vietnam? The Southeast Asian country has certain habits and customs that should be known as a tourist.

Its capital Hanoi, its Halong Bay, its former imperial city Hue, its rice fields… Tempted by Vietnam, this territory covered three-quarters by mountains and hills? The country with famous culinary specialties (from Phở to Nem via Bò bún and Bánh mi) has its own rules of politeness. Taking off your shoes at the entrance of houses, public displays of affection, dress code… Overview of what you can and what is not recommended to do in the country bordering China, Laos and Cambodia.

How to behave in the public space in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, limit displays of affection towards your partner when you are in public. Irene Heidrich / stock.adobe.com

It is advisable, to respect the local mores, to observe a perfect calm in any situation. The Vietnamese appreciate quietude: avoid outbursts of anger and great outpourings of joy. In the same register, limit the demonstrations of affection towards your companion or your partner when you are in public.

Also get into the habit of taking off your shoes as soon as you enter a house or a place of worship – unless your host instructs you otherwise. If you receive or are given an object, grab hold of it using both hands. For example, to circulate a dish at the table, do not use only one of your hands. Some gestures may also offend the Vietnamese. Thus, do not point your finger at a person or an object. Concerning the consumption of alcohol and tobacco in the public space, it is considered impolite.

Finally, in temples and pagodas, in addition to taking off your shoes at the entrance, one rule is law: never point your feet in the direction of a representation of Buddha or an altar.

How to behave in the restaurant?

In Vietnam, grab and pass dishes using both hands in restaurants. AdobeStock/norikko

A golden rule must govern your dinners or lunches: never leave your chopsticks planted in your dishes – even less in the rice. The Vietnamese see it as a reference to incense sticks being burned for the dead. Leaving his chopsticks stuck in the rice is, for them, ” a lack of respect for ancestors and local culture “says Virginie Gerbault, from Asia, who organizes trips to Vietnam.

Also keep in mind that you have to wait until the oldest person at the table has started eating before grabbing your chopsticks. Also take care to leave him the choice pieces, including “ chicken legs or neck “. At the beginning of the meal, you can launch a “Chúc ngon miệng” (“Bon appetit”) to the assembly. At the end, opt for “Cảm ơn” (“Thank you”). During the meal, do not blow your nose: This may be seen as a violation of food etiquette and personal hygiene “, further details Virginie Gerbault.

What attitude to adopt towards the Vietnamese?

Several habits and customs will make you a respectful interlocutor during your interactions with the Vietnamese. Here in Hoi An town. AdobeStock/Viktor Nemeth

When traveling in Vietnam, also be sure to be respectful of the locals you will be interacting with. To greet someone, you can give them a “Xin chào”. It is the most common greeting in the country and it can be used at any time of the day. On the other hand, handshakes and kisses are to be avoided, as are any form of physical contact. A simple tilt of the head is sufficient.

Generally speaking, looking someone in the eye is considered a sign of respect. This does not mean, either, that you must stare at everyone you meet in a prolonged or excessive way. Finally, do not be offended if you are asked your age. Elderly people are highly respected in Vietnam: your interlocutor simply wants to determine the attitude he should adopt. Moreover, when you discuss with a group of people, speak rather to the oldest person.

Finally, note that some regions have their own traditions. For example, a tree branch hanging on the door of a house can mean that a particular event, such as a birth or a bereavement, is taking place there. The family residing there does not wish to be disturbed.

What dress for a tourist in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, it will be necessary to adopt a decent dress, especially in places of worship. AdobeStock/tongpatong

In Vietnam, as a tourist, dress decently and respectfully. So, prefer outfits where your shoulders are covered.

Finally, avoid revealing clothes and outfits that are too tight. Especially in places of worship and in rural areas: outfits that show a lot of skin will be perceived as disrespectful.