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How to avoid being considered rude in Vietnam

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In Vietnam, most people do not kiss the cheek to greet, so avoid that and simply shake hands

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In Vietnam, there are a few things that are considered rude. Here are a few examples:

Pointing at someone with your finger is considered impolite. Instead, use your hand to gesture and point.
Speaking loudly or using vulgar language is considered disrespectful.
Showing your feet or the soles of your shoes can be considered impolite, as it is believed to be dirty and disrespectful.
Not removing your shoes before entering someone's home is considered impolite.
Not accepting food or drink offered to you can be considered impolite.
Not giving appropriate respect to elders and those in positions of authority is considered disrespectful.
It's important to remember that cultural norms can vary and it's always a good idea to ask a local for advice to avoid any unintentional rudeness.

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Being loud, egotistical, bragging about yourself, being disrespectful to elders, failing to be humble or grateful. Anytime you come before a family elder you must show concern and consideration for them, if you fail in this people will tend to think you are a pretty selfish and arrogant person. Vietnamese learn to have these traits from the time they are very young.

In fact in Vietnam the elderly are regarded so highly that if you approach one or even come near an elderly person, people will watch you carefully to make sure you do not get out of line at anytime but if they see you show respect to the one person they care the most about then you have a good chance of being accepted without regard to any other fault you may have.

How you treat the elderly is how to gain acceptance or turn people against you, remember that.

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Generally speaking, Vietnamese people are incredibly forgiving. They’ve seen foreigners do some pretty idiotic things, so whatever errant blunders you end up committing really won’t upset them all that much. Besides, a smile and an apology are universal. To keep you from catching flak from locals, here are some things you should avoid doing in Vietnam.

Wearing skimpy clothes in temples and pagodas
Paying with large notes
Not purchasing anything when you’re the first customer of the day in a shop
Wrongfully accusing somebody of shortchanging you
Showing admiration for China
Tossing money about like it means nothing to you
Making public displays of affection
Losing your temper
Keeping your shoes on when you go into a home
Telling everyone to hurry up
Do not speak badly or criticize the life & times of Ho Chi Minh

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I've visited Vietnam sparsely throughout my childhood and have done a trip from South to North by myself.

Automatically, if you are a foreigner, you will most likely be exempt by most if not all of these inadequately "rude" behaviors

Not asking to pay

When going out, it is usually the person whom "invites" you is the one who pays. This is not limited to restaurants, it could be hotels, tours, or any other activities that you all do together. Even so, you should always offer to pay, otherwise you will be perceived as greedy. Although, I've noticed that this trend is phasing out with the new generation, they would rather go Dutch.

Giving money (Tipping)

When you tip someone for their services, you should say "here's some money for coffee". If you present someone with money without saying anything, they will think that you are looking down on them. This goes for any type of services: waiters, street vendors, taxi, etc.

Drinking by yourself

Whether you're drinking Rựu Vang (wine) in the north or Bia (beer) in the south, you should never drink alone when you are with company. Usually one person will raise their glass when:

they want to give a toast.
to compliment a remarkable statement that had been said

Then, everybody will cheer and drink together. Every. Single. Time.

Eating before the elders

When there are elders present, you should use your chopsticks and pick the most special item on the table (usually meat) and place it in their bowl and (optionally) say "mời bác/chú/cô/etc" (here you go sir/ma'm, etc). Eating before the elders is a big no no. This applies to anyone older: your parents, boss, or that friend who is 2 months older than you.

That's all I can think of right now. Like I've mentioned, foreigners are not expected to know or follow this rubric. But if you do learn them and other cultural knacks along the way, the local Vietnamese will be very impressed and happy that you know and respect their culture.

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