Etiquette traveling in Vietnam
1. How should I dress wile traveling in Vietnam?
Appropriate dress differs from North to South. Southern Vietnam is tropical year around and people dress comfortably and casually. Light weight cotton and wool fabrics will be comfortable at any time of year. While they may resist wrinkles, synthetics, cottons, and blends are miserably hot.
Generally, short pants are inappropriate anywhere but a beach resort or a farm, and you will look like a foolish tourist on the streets of most cities. Jeans are almost always fashionable except for business occasions. Further, in any business setting never where shorts even if they are cut from the finest Italian fabric.
Winter (November through April) can be cool in Hanoi, and a coat may be necessary. Dress here is a bit more formal and conservative than the fashionable South.
2. How should I dress to visit a specific place like a temple or a pagoda?
Never wear shorts, dresses of skirts, of tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive.
3. What are the Do's?
Before venturing out from your hotel, make sure you do have a hotel business card with you. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi or cyclo much easier!
For longer excursions from your hotel, it is always a good idea to carry a roll of toilet paper in your pack or purse. You never know when you will need it!
Please always dress appropriately. Not only for the Vietnam climate, but also to not cause offense to the local people. Vietnamese (and many tourist sites) have conservative dress codes. It is only in larger cities, like Saigon that these codes are relaxed a little.
Always leave your excess cash, airline tickets, passports and valuables in the hotel’s safety deposit box.
Do drink plenty of bottled water. During the summer months you should be drinking a minimum of 2 liters per day. If you drink tea, coffee, or alcohol you should increase you water intake accordingly as these will dehydrate you.
Always be aware when entering someone’s home as at some homes you must please remove your shoes at the front door.
Please always ask permission first when taking a photograph of someone. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes. Please do not push the issue or offer money. Furthermore, there are some times when you shouldn’t even ask.
4. What are the Don'ts?
Please don’t wear shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive.
Please don’t give sweets and candies to the local children when trekking through ethnic minority villages. Many of these people do not have access to dental health. If you would like to give pens/paper, ask your guide to introduce you to the local school and give them to the teacher for distribution.
Please don’t sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar in someone’s house.
Please don’t venture out from your hotel with more cash than you really need for that day. It is not something to be paranoid about, simply do not make yourself a target for pickpockets or drive-by bag snatchers in the big cities. Ho Chi Minh City seems to be a little worse than anywhere else in Vietnam is. On the whole it is one of the safest countries you could wish to travel in.
Please don’t loose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanor and you will be reciprocated with the same.
Please don’t try and take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.
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