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Vietnamese Culture: The Beautiful Traditions Your History Textbooks Never Taught You

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. ?

There’s lots to celebrate about Vietnam and Vietnamese culture. But if you’re like me, the first time you heard the word Vietnam, it had less to do with the country itself and more to do with politics and war.

Behind the veils of what has been portrayed about Vietnam in films, media, and books, you’ll find the same thing in Vietnamese culture that you’ll find in any country: people, culture, food, and traditions.

Celebrating Vietnam Beyond War and Politics

What follows is not necessarily the facts you’ll find in history textbooks. It’s my attempt to celebrate the rich culture that Vietnam has to offer, all whilst not overlooking the bizarre components that may have you scratching your head in disbelief.

This account is based on my personal experience, having spent 6 years living and traveling in Vietnam, and nearly a decade living with a Vietnamese partner.

Am I biased? Sure, but not in the ways you may think. Like any group of people, Vietnamese culture has its pros and cons. Often, Vietnamese people will ask me, “Bạn có thích sống ở Việt Nam không?

“Do you like living in Vietnam?”

My reply is always the same.

Không thích thì đã không ở đây rồi!

“If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t stay [here]!”

Why An American Chose To Live In Vietnam

When I graduated from university in 2013, I was eager to travel the world. Young and adventurous, I yearned to visit the most unique and exotic parts of the globe.

When it came to places to explore, my list came down to Latin America, Africa, and South East Asia.

I chose South East Asia since it was the only place I’d never been to. I chose Vietnam because I knew there was a huge curiosity about it.

At the time, I had a dream to have my own travel TV show. My plan was this: learn Vietnamese and immerse myself in the culture so I could learn as much as possible and become the “expert” on Vietnam. Then, one day CNN or BBC would call me and ask me to be the host of their new travel TV show.

Well, life had other plans for me. I never got my own travel TV show, but I managed to get on several Vietnamese TV programs, find a Vietnamese partner, and pick up the language. Here I am, almost a decade later, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned about this wonderful and exotic country.

Vietnamese Values: War and Moving On

“Are Vietnamese people bitter towards Americans?” is perhaps the most common question I get asked when I tell Americans that I live in Vietnam. It’s a valid question, so we’ll tackle it right off the bat: No, Vietnamese people don’t feel bitterness towards Americans or America because of the war.

Now, I can’t vouch for all 100 million Vietnamese citizens, but I’ve personally never had anyone show signs of bitterness towards me that is anyhow related to the war. In general, Vietnamese people seem to be very stoic about the past.

For example, my father-in-law is a member of the communist party and also served in the war. As far as I know, he’s never spoken to his family about the war. Not once.

When I asked him about it, he said, “Oh, that’s the past, no need to talk about it.”

“But do you feel angry about Americans?” I pressed.

“No,” he replied. “War is war.”

10 months after moving to Vietnam, I had another emotional encounter with a war veteran deep in the mountains of North West Vietnam.

I was visiting a remote Hmong ethnic group and I happened to find myself alone with a middle-aged man, drinking tea inside his humble home. On the wall hung photos of his family, so I began to ask about them.

He pointed to his wife and children and shared their names.

“Do you have any siblings?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “All of them died in the war.”

My heart sank and I became overflooded with guilt.

“The American war?” I asked.

“Yes,” he responded.

He was calm, I was the one who could barely hold back my tears.

“And your parents?” I asked.

“Also dead. The War. Everyone died. Except me.”

I froze. Part of me suddenly started to fear for my life. Another part of me wanted to erupt into tears. He looked so relaxed and calm, I didn’t sense any anger coming from him. Hiding my tears, I summoned another question.

“Do you hate America?”

“No,” he replied earnestly. “War is war.”

How Vietnamese People Deal With The Past

This story beautifully illustrates how Vietnamese people seem to think about war and the past. “War is war. The past is the past. What’s the point in holding onto anger? Let’s move on.”

If a Vietnamese person wanted to hold a grudge against any nation, it wouldn’t be America. Sure, America was rather disruptive for some time, but so were the Japanese and also the French. Still, Vietnamese people seem to be more grateful for the influences these nations left behind.

Before colonialism, Vietnam was under Chinese rule for over 1,000 years. Most Vietnamese people care more about that. If Vietnam were an elementary school of students, America was an annoying substitute teacher, while China was the dominating principal.

In short, Vietnamese people are quick to forget about the past and move on. So let’s take a page out of their book and move on to the more colorful aspects of Vietnamese culture, starting with the topic that may make your mouth water.

Vietnamese Food: Phở, Bánh Mì, & Beyond

My wife, being the proud Vietnamese person that she is, is rather firm in her belief that Vietnamese cuisine is the best in the world. I confess I have had a hard time proving her wrong.

Vietnamese food seems to continue to blow up all over the world, and I’m not the slightest bit surprised. Not only is Vietnamese food delicious, but it’s also much healthier than most other cuisines. Most meals consist of a nice balance between protein, starch, and vegetables.

Vietnamese dishes are rarely deep fried and are often stir fried instead. Main dishes are almost always served with rice and veggies, so the oily dishes never dominate the meal.

But Vietnamese food is not perfectly healthy. Most dishes and sauces include a high amount of refined sugar. On top of that, MSG, an artificial flavor enhancer, is also a common ingredient in many dishes. For these two reasons, there are very few traditional Vietnamese restaurants I dine at.

I believe the most important thing to note about Vietnamese cuisine is the freshness. This is why my wife and I have never walked out of a Vietnamese restaurant in the USA satisfied: the food isn’t nearly as fresh.

Even the cheapest street food vendors go to the market every morning to get their ingredients fresh. They know that if they don’t, customers won’t come back.

True story, it took me over 5 years to convince my wife that it’s okay to eat leftovers! Many Vietnamese housewives go to the market every morning, and some even go more than once a day. Vietnamese people value freshness way more than nutritional value.

The Variety of 3,000 Vietnamese Dishes

The variety of Vietnamese dishes seems to be endless. I once heard a story about an ancient Vietnamese king who was so obsessed with novelty and food that his chef was never allowed to serve the same dish twice.

I’m not sure if this tale is true, but Google suggests that there are over 3,000 different Vietnamese dishes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a low estimate.

It seems to me that no matter your starting point if you were to drive 30 minutes in any direction, you’re bound to stumble upon a new local dish that can’t be found in any other part of the country. It’s pretty fascinating.

Traditional Vietnamese Medicine & Food

One fascinating thing I recently learned is that according to Vietnamese traditional medicine, every food has an energetic impact on the stomach that lies on the scale of yin (cooling) and yang (heating).

Some foods are neutral, but all foods lie somewhere on the spectrum. This stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine. This balance is good for digestion and helps maintain a light stomach and comfortable body. It also prevents indigestion and heaviness.

So, Vietnamese dishes aren’t just optimized solely for taste and nutrition, they also maintain a yin-yang balance. This is especially the case for traditional dishes that have been passed on for many generations.
For example, duck meat is cooling to the body, so it is eaten with ginger fish sauce, which is heating.

Most of my Vietnamese friends know whether a food is yin or yang intuitively, and it’s not until I question them do they put a label on it. I find this utterly fascinating. When I hold this philosophy up against 99% of the meals I grew up eating in America, the dishes are… you guessed it, extremely unbalanced when examined through this system.

Food & Family Life In Vietnam

In Vietnam, all meals are eaten as a family and shared family style. In lieu of a prayer or a “bon appetit”, it is customary for the youngest member of the family to “invite” the elders when the meal begins. Thus, the youngest will address each family member individually and say “I invite you” xin mời. They start with the oldest person and then go from oldest to youngest. But when it comes to the younger ones, they do not invite them to eat, instead they just say “Eat!”, em ăn đi!.

I appreciate the sentiment of this tradition when done with presence. However, in most cases, the elder who is being invited by the child doesn’t really acknowledge the invitation and digs right into the food. It’s as if I were to bow and say, “Father, I invite you to this meal” and then he just chews and says, “Yeah… whatever…”

If you ever want to impress a Vietnamese host, say con/em mời cả nhà “I invite the entire family” just as the meal is beginning. Also, the younger ones at the table show respect by waiting for the elders to eat first. No one starts to before the oldest person is holding their chopsticks and starts grabbing dishes.

Also, while Koreans often use metal chopsticks, Vietnamese people only use chopsticks made from coconut, bamboo, and wood.

Rice & Greetings In Vietnamese Culture

Rice is by far the most common food eaten in Vietnam. In fact, I’ve yet to encounter another Asian culture that loves rice as much as Vietnamese people.

Rice is usually served for lunch and dinner, breakfast often being soup or a bánh mì sandwich. Rice is also one of the most common words you’ll hear in everyday greetings.

People in Vietnam rarely ask how you are doing or how you are feeling. The two most common questions you’ll hear are ăn cơm chưa?, “Have you eaten rice yet?” and Đi đâu? “Where are you going?”.

In general, if you are in motion, they’ll ask the latter. If you’re stationary, they’ll ask the former.

In this context, rice represents any meal. If I just ate a pizza, I would respond by saying dạ, ăn rồi “yes, [I have] eaten already.”

Sticky rice is used for special occasions/celebrations/ making traditional “cakes” while normal rice is for every day. Sticky rice is heavier on the stomach (longer to digest) and hot for the body. Vietnamese don’t eat sticky rice too often, as it is said to cause acne or hinder the healing process for certain wounds.

Confucianism In Vietnam

Vietnam has been heavily influenced by Confucianism, which means much of the culture is based on family ties, social status, and the concept of “face.”

Because social status and harmony are so crucial to Vietnamese society, your “face” – or how others see you – matters a great deal. “Saving face” means working to keep a positive reputation while staying in line with societal standards. This holds true at work, in your personal life, relationships, and everything. It can often mean compromising the truth or blatantly telling a white lie in order to save your reputation.

The strict gender roles advocated by Confucianism are also still embedded in Vietnamese culture. According to Confucianism, a woman’s duty was to her husband, wifely responsibilities, family duties, and household chores. But it doesn’t stop there. A woman’s duty is to serve three different male figures her entire life. First, her father, then her husband, and finally her son(s).

Because of these deeply embedded beliefs and cultural expectations, it is very rare for a Vietnamese man to marry a non-Vietnamese woman. On the other hand, it is very common for a Vietnamese woman, especially those interested in the feminist movement, to marry a non-Vietnamese (or Western) man.

From a Western perspective, it may appear that Vietnamese women are seen more as employees. But like many other Asian cultures, love is often associated with sacrifice.

In general, Vietnamese people believe that the more one sacrifices, the more loving they are being. The Vietnamese word for “duty” is nhiệm vụ, which translates to “responsibility” + “service”. So while it may appear to one person as a heavy obligation, the duty to one’s family is also seen as an act of service.

Also, if a parent sacrifices their own needs and desires in order to provide opportunities for the child (which is very common here), it is seen as the greatest act of love. Because of this, most kids are conditioned to feel eternally grateful and indebted to their parents.

Vietnamese Culture & Expressions Of Love

It’s nearly unthinkable to say “I love you” to a family member in Vietnamese culture. Most people have gone their entire lives without saying it from their children or hearing it from their parents. Hugging is also very uncommon, and more likely to occur with friends rather than family.

In Vietnam, love is expressed more through actions and deeds: providing financial support, doing laundry, cooking, etc. Children are expected to show that they love their parents by being respectful/obedient, performing well in school, and staying out of trouble. Parents show their love by feeding their children, providing opportunities, and being there whenever they need help. There’s still a lot of love within the family structure, but it’s rarely expressed through words or physical intimacy.

Directness in Vietnamese Culture

It won’t take you more than a few days of being in Vietnam to be asked some very personal questions. Aside from the basic questions: “Have you eaten yet?” and “Where are you going?”, Vietnamese people tend to ask questions that are considered inappropriate or rude in the West.

For example, Vietnamese people will ask you early in a conversation how old you are. This is done for a very good reason. Embedded in the Vietnamese language is a hierarchy, and if the person you are talking to doesn’t know your age, they won’t know how to address you using the proper pronoun.

Because of this, Vietnamese people seem to hold very little insecurities about their age. If anything, they actually want people to know how old they are, as it demands more respect. In general, the older they are, the more proud they become. Those who are hesitant to share their exact age do so because they are embarrassed by how young they are.

But the personal questions don’t stop at age. It’s common for people to ask you if you own or rent your home, and how much you pay for rent, and some will even ask you how much your monthly income is. They’ll also ask you if you have a husband/wife yet. Then, they will try to hurry you into getting married and having babies by making comments or jokes.

Vietnamese Culture: Family Values And Children

Personally, most of the above questions don’t faze me anymore, but there is one that I still feel uncomfortable answering: “Why don’t you have kids yet?”

Actually, let me clarify. The question that comes first is “Do you have kids yet?” Có con chưa?.
They’re not asking “Do you have kids?” it’s “Do you have kids yet?”

When I say no, most can hardly believe it. It’s like showing them I have 11 fingers. At this point, they stop asking me questions and begin to make demands.

They advise me to go and make a baby and tell me all about how much fun kids are and that the only way to be happy is to have children. In traditional Vietnamese culture, you’re not fully recognised as an acceptable woman/human being until you bear children. So, the thought of not wanting children is unfathomable to most Vietnamese people.

Vietnamese Holidays & Celebrations

The biggest holiday, by a long shot, is Tết, the Chinese New Year. It’s basically Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, all combined into one. It’s really the only holiday where one is expected to return to their hometown and visit family.

Traditions around Tết include a massive spring cleaning of the house. Families also visit the cemetery in order to clean up the tombstones of their ancestors as well as make their offerings.

Vietnamese people believe that ancestors (their spirits) will come back home and enjoy Tet with their living family members. So, the daughters-in-law (women in the house) will have to prepare 3 trays of offering meals in the 1st 3 days of the new year to offer to the returning spirits.

One of the traditional foods around this time is called bánh tét. It is typically cooked over a wooden fire for 12 hours straight. This invites families to stay up late hanging out around the fire.

Gifts are not typically given for this holiday, but money is. It’s called “lucky money”, and it’s given only by elders to the young ones who have yet to get jobs and therefore don’t have their own money.

Families typically enjoy one or more large meals together to celebrate. Then, in the days following the New Year, it’s common to visit friends and family and wish them a happy new year.

Besides Tết, there are also rituals that take place twice a month according to the lunar calendar on the new moon mùng một, as well as the full moon, ngày rằm.

For this, an altar is set up filled with food, fruit, incense, and decorations. Then, prayers and offerings are made to the ancestors in the spirit world. The custom is to light the insights and then bow three times before placing them on the altar. It’s also common for Vietnamese Buddhists to eat vegan or vegetarian for the day of these moon celebrations.

Vietnamese Spiritual Beliefs & Honoring Their Ancestors

Vietnamese people believe that their ancestors are still able to enjoy whatever offerings are placed on the altar. So, you’ll often see beer and cigarettes on altars if that’s what they think their dead relatives would want. If there’s ever an altar made in my honor, I hope they put durian fruit on it!

They also believe that by burning something, it’s able to transcend dimensions and deliver these goods to their relatives who have passed away. So, often they will burn paper money as a way to give money to their dead relatives.

[Side note: I’m not sure what use of paper money is to spirits living in another realm. If there is life after death, I really hope it doesn’t include taxes! That being said, I know that this act is done with good intentions and a way of expressing love and respect to their ancestors. And if what the Vietnamese believe is true, their dead ancestors are probably way wealthier than mine.]

Birthdays were not celebrated until very recently. My in-laws don’t even know their exact birthdate, and my wife never celebrated her birthday until she was 23. Some celebrate the first birthday called a thôi nôi, when the baby no longer using the cradle. The child may receive gifts and clothes on this occasion.

A lot of elderly people don’t know their birthdays either, and some don’t even remember the exact year they were born. It’s not that they forgot, they just never needed to know the exact date.

Anniversaries are also not celebrated in Vietnam, only by a small percentage of the young generation. I’ve noticed that personal celebrations aren’t very common in Vietnam. Graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. are not highlighted as much as they are in the West. I believe this because in Vietnamese culture, there isn’t a strong value placed on the individual.

Vietnamese Customs & Cultural Values

There are lots of unique Vietnamese customs that are quite different from Western countries. Here are some of the most important Vietnamese customs to know:

When entering a house, take your shoes off at the door or beforehand. It’s unacceptable to track dirt into someone’s home. Leave your shoes by the front door.

Traditionally speaking, you must always greet the elders each time you enter the home and you must always say goodbye each time you leave.

It is considered polite to use two hands when giving or receiving money. However, it’s not necessary to touch the money with both hands. If you are giving money with your right hand, it’s common and acceptable to place your other hand on your right forearm or elbow.

If you’re offered something from someone who is older than you, take it with both hands to show respect and gratitude.

Like other Asian countries, you won’t say “God bless you” when someone sneezes. You’ll mostly ignore it.

Bathrooms in Vietnam, even in homes, are quite different. Showers are not often in stalls, and toilets are often “squatting toilets” — or holes in the floor.

Because the toilets are different and the plumbing not the same as in some Western countries, toilet paper is also a rarity. Instead, a water hose is used to rinse one’s private parts. If there is toilet paper, you’ll need to throw it away in a bin, not the toilet.

It’s also very rare to find a dishwasher, oven, or microwave in a Vietnamese kitchen:

Vietnamese Driving Culture

Vietnam is the land of motorbikes (and scooters). In 2019 it was estimated that there were over 45 million motorbikes registered in the country, and big cities like Saigon reportedly get flooded with 8.5 million motorbikes every single day.

The way people drive in Vietnam is also unique and rather chaotic. There are laws and rules, but most people do not follow them. Road crashes are a leading cause of death in Vietnam.

It is not uncommon to see 5 people on one motorscooter driving on the opposite side of the road without helmets, although traffic police are gradually getting stricter. People also often drive on the pavement with one hand busy writing a text message.

The rules are essentially this: “Try to get to your destination as fast as possible without colliding with another vehicle”.

Vehicles on the roads seem to function more like creatures in the deep sea: the bigger animals move along freely as they wish and the smaller animals must stay out of their way to ensure survival.

The streets are not only busy and crowded, but they are incredibly noisy. Lots of vehicles make a loud noise anytime their turning signal is on. Mobile street vendors often ride around blasting music or sales announcements as well. And, of course, there’s a ridiculous amount of honking.

Honking is used not only to express frustration towards other drivers, but more commonly as a medium to clear your way, just like an ambulance makes way with a siren. It’s as if they are using their horns as a bat would send out sound signals, but mostly for the sake of informing the environment of their presence.

People even honk when they are the only bike or car on the road to make sure kids and animals playing in the street up ahead know to stand clear. In a nutshell, Vietnamese streets are some of the noisiest in the world. And while it’s dangerous and chaotic, somehow it seems to work.

Vietnamese Cultural Superstitions

Vietnamese people are very superstitious. If you sneeze, it is believed that it is because someone is talking about you. It is also believed to be bad luck to cut the hair growing on a mole.

Many shop owners light incense and pray every morning asking the spirits for a good sales day. The first customer of the day is said to set the tone, so if you are the first customer to walk into a shop and you don’t buy anything, they believe that their entire day will now have bad luck.

The same goes for the new year. The first guest that enters your home is considered an indicator of the fortunes to come, so if your guest is rude, drunk, or not well-behaved, then it is believed it will create bad luck for the entire year.

Vietnamese people also have some interesting behaviors in how they treat their children. When an infant is born, Vietnamese people will often whisper insults to the baby, but in a loving tone.

“Aw, you are such an ugly little baby,” they will say.

Why? They believe that there are spirits lurking around looking for beautiful babies to curse, so they are careful not to use any positive words that may attract the evil spirits.

Humility is a virtue in Vietnamese culture, so compliments rarely come once the spirits are no longer a perceived threat. Vietnamese parents do not want their children to feel proud or arrogant, so many Vietnamese children grow up without getting any compliments or words of praise from their parents. This probably has many long-term psychological effects on the child. Fortunately, talk therapy is slowly making its way into the younger generations.

Vietnamese Values: Homes & Decoration

If you walked into 99% of Vietnamese homes, one of the first things you may ask is, “So, where do they keep their stuff?” The answer is simple: they don’t have any stuff. Vietnamese people are as minimalistic as they get.

Bookshelves? I’ve never seen one in a traditional Vietnamese house (though I’m sure teachers and professors have them). Wine collection? Forget it. (Vietnamese people prefer beer anyway) Old photo gallery? No way. Fancy cutlery for special occasions? Nope, they use what they have and get rid of everything else. Houses are kept clean and carry only essential and practical items. The only thing people store in bulk is hot water, made to prepare tea.

Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that Vietnamese furniture is optimized for looks rather than comfort. Often the beds are barely padded, and many couches and tables have no cushions. Vietnamese people are certainly not creatures of comfort.

I also believe Vietnamese people are the best sleepers in the world. You’ll often see construction workers taking a nap on the side of the concrete sidewalk in the scorching heat (and amidst the loud noises in traffic) taking an afternoon rest after lunch. I find this incredible and often find myself wishing I had such sleeping abilities!

Vietnamese Homes: The Ancestral Altars

Unless the family is Christian or Catholic, one thing you will always find in a Vietnamese home is an altar. Vietnamese altars usually include pictures of deceased family members, simple decorations, offerings, and several incense holders.

A lot of homes will also have a miniature altar in the kitchen as well. No matter how poor the family is or how small the living quarters are, having an altar is of the utmost importance. The alters are cleaned just once a year, during the Tết (“New Year”) preparations.

I’ve lodged in remote homes deep in the mountains that didn’t even have running water or bathrooms in their homes, but each house still had an ancestral altar. Admittedly, I was pretty flustered when I discovered that I had to put my stuff on the floor and that the only table in the room was off-limits.

Most homes in Vietnam are multi-generational. One thing I admire about this is that the grandparents play a huge role in the raising of the children. When the parents go to work, the grandparents will take care of the young children who have yet to begin school.

It’s also customary for the woman to move in with the husband’s family when they get married and take on the duties of the house and family. But the opposite will rarely happen for men. Only recently it could happen that a woman’s family is very rich and they only have one daughter, then the man may move into her family.

Traditionally speaking, it’s the responsibility of the eldest male in the family to take care of the parents.

Vietnamese On Death, Funerals, And Ghosts

Vietnamese people have no fear of monsters, but nearly everyone believes in ghosts and many people are afraid of them. One time, a woman I was dating said she couldn’t hang out because she had to stay home with her grandma. Her grandma was so afraid of ghosts that she didn’t want to be home alone. I couldn’t make something like this up!

Funerals often take place at someone’s home and last about 3 days. They start at 5:30 in the morning and blast loud chants throughout the entire event. White is worn by all those in mourning and it is customary to bring white flowers or money to the family that is grieving.

The plumeria flower, also known as frangipani, is often planted near cemeteries and is associated with death because its branches are said to look like fingers.

Because of their strong belief in the afterlife, most Vietnamese people do not fear death. Compared to Western culture, people do not appear uncomfortable when talking about the subject of death.

Interesting Facts About Vietnamese Culture

Most women believe the whiter the skin, the more beautiful they will look. Thus, many women cover up and are afraid of direct sunlight. Even when it’s 40 degrees Celsius outside, they’ll wear sweatshirts, pants, gloves, scarves, and clothes to protect every inch of their skin.

The way to say “cheers” is by counting to three and then yelling “yo!”, một hai ba, dô  means “all enter, all in”. Or, people may say “100%”, indicating that everyone should drink 100% of their drink! Needless to say, this leads to a lot of binge drinking.

Traditional weddings often end with karaoke, but include no dancing.

Vietnamese people are early risers. If you get to the market by 7 AM, you’re late. Public schools typically start at 7:00 AM, and the beach is most crowded between 4:30-and 6 AM. As soon as the sun comes up, everyone leaves for fear of getting tan. A mid-day resting hour (or more) is also common, even in big cities.

While Vietnam is technically a Communist country, it has a big culture of capitalism. Lots of homes have shops on the first floor that face the street. In general, Vietnamese people are very entrepreneurial and not at all shy about selling. Bargaining is a big part of the culture, so don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price when you go shopping.

More Fun Facts About Vietnamese Culture

When you have a hiccup, men drink 7 sips of water while women would do 9.
The numbers differ because Vietnamese people believe a man has 7 spirits and a woman has 9.

Vietnamese people do not use teeth floss. However, toothpicks are commonly used at the end of each meal to clean one’s teeth.

On big national holidays, everyone is required to place a Vietnamese flag in front of their house to show their patriotism.

Vietnamese people are master crammers. The Vietnamese word for cram is nhét. Whether it’s people, luggage, clothing, or food, they certainly know how to pack a lot of things into a tight space. It’s not uncommon for a family of 4 or 5 to share one bed and bedroom.

They can even do this with conversation. Often people will have a three-line conversation while someone is driving by. In my culture, if I was driving by someone, I would just say “hello”. In Vietnam, they’ll ask you a question and expect an answer, and probably yell their reply to your answer as they are speeding off into the distance.

Vietnamese people also enjoy talking on the road while driving…to other people on bikes! Two or more motorbikes will often ride side by side on the road while having a conversation with each other.

So Much to Vietnamese Culture

There’s so much to Vietnamese culture, and I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about it. If you’ve made it to the end, hopefully, you’ve learned a few things about the Vietnamese people and their way of living.

Writing this piece was a nice way for me to reflect on the beautiful things I’ve learned while living here, and it was a bit surprising to realize how much I’ve learned about Vietnamese people! So I thank you for coming on this journey with me, and I hope you enjoyed reading.

Naturally, you can learn a lot about Vietnamese culture by learning the language. To visit our archive of Vietnamese articles, click here.

author headshot

Jeremy Ginsburg

Copywriter & Coach

Jeremy is an email copywriter and musician. Born in America, he has lived in South East Asia since 2013. Jeremy is also passionate about self-healing, cooking, and learning about cultures.

Speaks: English, Vietnamese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Hebrew

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