Sat. May 25th, 2024
Faces of Vietnam by Andrew Kirkby

There is a number of things Vietnamese do as habits and as cultural traits. Vietnam has a long history and rich culture. The culture from time to time was influenced a lot by foreign cultures and mostly on a very long duration.

However, Vietnamese people remained their way of life in many aspects of daily life.

  1. Eat and drink on the sidewalks


You can easily see Vietnamese people eating and drinking on every pavement in big cities, especially in Hanoi where street food has been recognized as one of its unique and attractive cultural charms.

If you spend some time on a weekend night in the Old Quarter, you will absolutely understand what I’m talking about. Small businesses open their restaurants, food stalls right on the pavement using plastic tables and chairs to serve costumers. Or one-dish vendors with even humbler facilities.


However, despite the mediocre appearance which makes you hesitate, the food is superb. The Pho, Banh Mi or Banh Cuon sold on pavements can beat any restaurant in taste with a much cheaper price.

Street food is an inevitable feature in big markets and old quarters, too. The thing is not only the wonderful and diverse dishes of Vietnamese cuisine but also the atmosphere.

Many have told about how vivid and vibrant the feeling when they were eating on an old street of Vietnam and watching the continuous influx of motorbikes.


Being surrounded by the scene, the noise and locals will give you a great feeling that you are welcomed here and enjoying the daily life’s pleasure just like Vietnam people do every day.

Hanoi Old Quarter is the best place to enjoy all the things above. Pham Ngu Lao street in Ho Chi Minh city has another name as beer street where you can enjoy draught beer with some special street treats. Hoian and Danang have big markets where they have all the delicacies there.

  1. Ride motorcycle, moped or scooter and pile tons of things on it

vietnam-trafficIf you have never visited Vietnam, you might have been warned about motorbikes in Vietnam. And still, you can get overwhelmed when coming to the country.

Crossing roads in the cities can be pretty dangerous if you do it without any experience. Crossing roads in rush hours are nearly impossible for foreigners.

Vietnam people preferred motorbike because of its mobility with which they can weave through the small and tiny alleys, or crowded roads easily.


To cross the road, you must not stop in the middle or walk backwards. Just don’t do anything unpredictable and the motorbike drivers will easily swerve around you. But do not cross when you see buses or taxis coming.

Vietnamese is also famous with their creativity and flexibility of using a motorbike to carry cargo or people.  There are pictures and stories about how amazed foreigners got when they saw a man riding a motorbike with other three or four people on it, or literally everything they can pile on the motorbike.


Riding motorbike to mountainous areas is one of the famous tourist experiences in Vietnam. Not only the thrill of driving on the winding, dangerous roads but also the magnificent scenery of nature would make your trip so epic. Click here to know more about how to prepare for a motorbiking trip in north Vietnam.

  1. Go to markets every day (and they are everywhere)


Markets are where you can see the true culture of the Vietnamese people. Where you can hear what is happening, see what they are eating, how they are dressing…

Most of the markets in Vietnam are not tourist markets and are very busy. Dong Xuan market (Hanoi) has everything from food to home appliance. Ben Thanh market (HCMC) has many gates in order to categorize the goods, Dong Ba market (Hue) and Con market (Danang) have been famous for food long ago.

cai rang floating market vietnam visa on arrival

Vietnam has a very special kind of market which attracts a lot of attention from foreign tourists. Floating markets are quite a common method of trading in South Vietnam. There a number of floating markets you can visit by boat such as Cai Rang market (Can Tho), Cai Be market (Tien Giang) or Long Xuyen market.

One thing that matters when you shop at markets is bargaining. Bargaining is what locals do every day and sometimes it can get pretty intense. Non-tourist markets don’t show their prices for you so you have to ask if you are interested in the product. They can quote a very high price for foreigners. Always aim for that half price for the first time.

  1. Use chopsticks


Chopstick is used commonly in any countries that use rice as its main food, not only in Vietnam. In daily life, Vietnam people use chopstick three or more times a day. They also have etiquette for using chopstick like you don’t make sound with the chopstick, don’t stick them vertically in your rice bowl, don’t use the chopstick to receive food from other’s chopstick, and don’t put the chopstick in the soup bowl…

Vietnamese people often criticize persons who are not skilled in using chopsticks because they consider this is one of the basic skills a person must learn.

See more on How to eat with Vietnamese.

  1. Eat rice for their meals

vietnamese sticky rice-vietnam visa-vietnam embassy

Vietnam has a long history as an agricultural country. Rice isn’t only food. It was worshipped and symbolized as a gift of God, as the nurture of nature mother in folk culture.

But Vietnamese people don’t have boiled rice as the only way to eat rice. In fact, they created many variations of rice such as vermicelli, rice noodle, rice cakes…

Bun Cha is so famous and one of the “must-try” dishes of Hanoi. Bun Bo Hue and Bun Oc are also delicious.

Banh Cuon (rolled cake) is also made mainly from rice, a common breakfast choice for locals.

Sticky rice is another way to eat rice of Vietnamese, often used as a breakfast dish.

There are many more other dishes made of rice. And the Old Quarter has almost all of them.

  1. Ask personal questions when they can


If you are going to have conversations with a local, you should be warned about this. Some might find it quite rude when strangers ask them about age, salary and marital status. However, the majority of Vietnam people don’t really think that way. They believe by asking this kind of question, they will show the strangers that they care about them.

However, this is only a problem when you talk with elder people. The ones who can speak English also know how to avoid being too curious.

We recommend you do not argue with middle-class folks because it probably will end up leaving you negative feelings. Also, Vietnamese people can’t really take jokes well.

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One thought on “Things Vietnamese People Do”
  1. thank you for this info, i need to do an essay and i got to choose a country so i chose vietnam. this helped alot because i had to write on their culture so thanks!!

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