Vietnam is a country with long-standing history and culture. Here are some cultural practices tourist should know before traveling to Vietnam.

1. Worshiping ancestors

What is Vietnamese worshiping ancestors?

Worshiping ancestors typically takes place yearly on the day that the family member passed away. It could be viewed as the day of remembrance. In Vietnam, usually, a family will have in their house an altar of the passed away family members. The core meaning of this ceremony is to remember about and show respect to one’s root.

How is Vietnamese worshiping ancestors done?

On the day of death of the person, the family members will buy flowers, food, fruits, and rice wine; light up the essence; and gather at the altar to relive the memories of the passed away person or to pray that the person’s soul will protect and bless his/her family.

Worshiping ancestor customs

2. Communication

How do Vietnamese communicate?

In general, Vietnamese people highly value modesty, humility and harmony with other people. Vietnamese culture seriously concern with status and age. Younger people are expected to show great respect to the elders or people with higher social status verbally and non-verbally. However, in cases of peer to peer communication, people still show respect to the other person by talking to them as to an older person. Some practices are giving and receiving items with both hand, beginning talking with “Da/ Vang” (Yes/ Please), let the elder sit first in the table or enter house/car first, etc.

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Showing respect to the elders is highly valued in Vietnam

3. Wedding

How wedding in Vietnam is done?

Wedding ceremony is one of the most important ceremonies in Vietnam. It was influenced by Confucian and Buddhist ideologies. A Vietnamese wedding ceremony include of several steps: asking permission to receive the bride, receiving the bride at her house, and bringing the bride to the groom’s house. The day and time of each step is usually chosen by a reputable fortune-teller or Buddhist.

Asking permission to receive the bride Ceremony

4. Taboo

What do Vietnamese consider unlucky?

There are many taboos in Vietnamese culture and here are some of the most well-known ones. There are some dishes believed to bring bad luck if ate in the beginning of the month, year, or before any important activities, such as squid, duck, balut, dog meat, shrimp, banana,… Or on Tet (Lunar New Year), there are many activities Vietnamese do not do, for example, cleaning their house or floor, borrowing money, saying negative things,…Taboos usually rooted in myth and superstition and they are still being considered but not too importantly nowadays.

Squids bring bad luck in the beginning of the month

5. Dining customs

How does meal served in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, meals are usually served family-style. It is unlike in Western countries where each person has their own plate and the portion of their own food. In Vietnam, when you go to eat out as a group, lots of the food will be served on plate and the whole group will share the dishes together. Each person will have his/her own bowl and use utensil to get the food from the shared-plate and eat. To make it easier to understand, it is similar to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner between family where the dishes are shared. On the other hand, for some dishes, you will have your own portion/ serving such as noodle, Banh Mi,..

Family style meal

6. Superstition

What is superstition in Vietnam?

Vietnam is heavily influenced by Confusion and Buddhism. However, the majority Vietnamese is very superstitious and believe the conclusion of fortune-tellers and many Buddhist about life events, good lucks and bad lucks,… For example, according to lunar calendar and zodiac, a man born in the year of the Tiger should not marry a woman born in the year of the Horse because the two zodiacs are incompatible.

Why do some Vietnamese believe in superstition?

In Vietnam, superstitions sometimes are passed down from one generation to the next as well as traditions and customs. It is fair to say that ignorance plays a role in Vietnamese accepting these superstition due to not having good knowledge or scientific methods for clarity, hence, believing in it without checking for proofs could lead to dangerous results.

Fortune telling in Vietnam

7. Festivals and ceremonies

What are some festivals in Vietnam?

Throughout the year, Vietnamese has many important festivals. Each festival usually followed by the date of lunar calendar and has it own ceremony. Some of the biggest and most important festivals are Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year), Lunar New Year Eve, Hung King Festival, Mid-autumn Festival, Wandering Souls Day, Perfume Festival, Hoi An Lantern Festival, Buddha’s Birthday…

Mid-autumn festival

8. Funeral

How is funeral ceremony taken place in Vietnam?

Vietnamese consider the heart and effort putting into one’s funeral is the most important one, therefore, funeral in Vietnam follows by a complicated ceremony with rituals and customs. The first stage is “Nhap Quan” when the death body is cleaned to enter the coffin. The second stage of the funeral is when guests (friends and relatives) come to share the sorrow with the family and pray for the salvation of the death’s soul. Then the last stage is taking the death to bury or burn.

Funeral ceremony in Vietnam


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Celeste Pham

My name is Chi but you can call me Celeste. I was born in Haiphong, the dynamic port city lying 100 km to the east of Hanoi, and also the gateway to Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island. I graduated from Hanoi University, majoring in Hispanic Language and Culture. I have passion for traveling and I love planning my own trip myself following my own interest. I’m willing to help others visitors to make their own dream trip to my charming country and make them feel at home.