Local traditions and culture in Vietnam

  • Rice planting in Vietnam.
    Rice planting in Vietnam.
    by cachaseiro
  • Planting rice in Vietnam.
    Planting rice in Vietnam.
    by cachaseiro
  • Working in the rice fields in Vietnam.
    Working in the rice fields in Vietnam.
    by cachaseiro

Most Viewed Local Customs in Vietnam

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    try different beers

    by richiecdisc Updated Jan 18, 2005

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    Bierre LarRue was one of Vietnam’s more interesting bottled brews and clocked in at 4.5% alcohol. Golden with a nice lasting head, it had an interesting mix of hops and grain in the palate. There was also a weaker verion of 3.6% that sold for the same price in bigger bottles. It was more popular though not as tasty. Festival Beer was a Hue attempt at luring the up market beer drinker with its small green bottle ala Heineken though it was the least tasty of the beers I sampled there.

    tasty Bierre La Rue
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    getting some trim in Vietnam

    by richiecdisc Updated Jan 18, 2005

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    One thing I love to do when traveling in another country is to get my hair cut. As most of the places I travel to are inexpensive by western standards, even this simple act can be a money saver. But aside from the monetary gain, I find it a fascinating glimpse into local life and a way to interact with the locals. I was in dire need of a trim when traveling south down the Vietnamese coast and was happy to find when strolling from the Natrang train station back to the beach area, a host of enterprising young barbers that had set up shop under a simple homemade awning. I sheepishly asked how much and was happy to hear 15,000 dong (about a buck) emanate from his lips, quickly seating myself before he changed his mind. There was some confusion as to how I wanted it cut but we sorted it out with some hand signals and pantomime. Soon he was clipping away with both scissor and an interesting hand driven set of clippers as he had not electricity in his makeshift shop. He worked diligently and for quite a while to get it just right but politely refused even a cent more than his due dong. Hey, maybe he had already overcharged me but I was very happy with the cut and the price too. The entertainment and social value was priceless.

    patiently awaiting my trim
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    Ao dai

    by iwys Updated Apr 25, 2007

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    The ao dai is the traditional costume worn by Vietnamese women. These silk, two piece costumes come in a variety of colours, but by far the most common is white.

    Beautiful young women in white ao dais adorn the covers of many guide books to Vietnam and every visitor who comes to Vietnam wants to take the perfect ao dai picture. Unfortunately, it's not always that easy. Nowadays, very few women wear ao dais. The only ones you are likely to see are worn by high school girls, Vietnam Airlines stewardesses and women working in tourist gift shops or as entertainers in tourist venues.

    So, most likely, you will end up, as I did, with some blurred shots of high school girls on bicycles, taken out of a bus window, or some rather formal, posed pictures of gift shop workers who are fed up with having their pictures taken by foreign tourists.

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    Religion

    by iwys Written May 6, 2005

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    The main religion of Vietnam is Buddhism, which was intoduced to the country from China in the second century AD.

    Although it is theoretically still an atheistic Communist country, the majority of the people still practise their religion. It is estimated that prior to the Communist era, 70% of the population were practising Buddhists. Now that figure is little-diminished at 60%. Pagodas are found throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas. You see a few Buddhist monks, but they are not so much in evidence as in Cambodia. The pagodas are busiest during Tet.

    Christianity was introduced by French and Portuguese missionaries as far back as the sixteenth century, and grand churches and cathedrals, such as Notre Dame in Ho Chi Minh City, are to be found in all the major cities. But fewer than 10% of the population are Christians.

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    I Hate Cheap Tourists!

    by epicult Updated Oct 19, 2004

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    While traveling I witness heaps of "well off" westerners who are waited on "hand and foot" while moawing down huge meals and heaps of alchoholic beverages. Unfortunately, I rarely see any of them leave a tip. This was especially true in Vietnam.

    In guidebooks and other resources, you'll read that it's not part of their culture but chances are, neither are you. These people work hard and usually for little more than a dollar a day. Leaving a dollar tip between a party of two or more certainly won't bankrupt you but it will make a HUGE difference in someone's life, if even for a day. If the service is poor, don't leave anything. But if you're served well, leave a small tip to show your appreciation.

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    longan

    by TomorrowsAngel Written Mar 7, 2004

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    The longan, sometimes called Dragon's Eye, is spherical and a little larger than an olive. Its thin, leathery, light brown skin is easily peeled. The edible pulp is whitish translucent and surrounds a large, round, deep brown seed. While the longan's flesh is sweeter than a lychee's, it is not as juicy

    longan fruit
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    "Ice" cold beer in the country

    by epicult Updated Mar 10, 2004

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    I'm still not quite sure if this is a Cultural tip... or a Warning and Danger tip but it involves beer and should therefore at least be classified into the Very Important category.

    Vietnamese folks just love their cold beer but decent refrigeration is not always available so enter... (EKKKK!)... ice. Now if you ask me, there's no better way to completely ruin a beer than to pour it into a glass full of ice. Unfortunately, this is the only way your going to be able to cool your brew, to anything less than luke warm, in many parts of the countryside. That was the Warning or Danger portion of the tip.

    Now comes the Cultural portion... Many Vietnamese "actually like" watered down beer and even when they have refrigeration, they serve it up with ice. It never failed... I put my beer down and next thing I know someone's ploped a big chunk into my glass with some tongs. Not my favourite, but eventually you do get used to it.

    Phu Quoc - Beer w/ice in the middle of nowhere
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    Where to get all Vietnamese stuff

    by we2364 Updated Jan 5, 2005

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    Next to our lovely guesthouse, there is the centre market of Hoi An which is the epitome of vietnamese life in one place.

    You can find out all fresh seafoods in this market - I almost have an idea to buy some of those and cook in our guesthouse. Next time, I will try it!

    You can find many species of vietnamese crafts and living commodities here.

    You can find vietnamese ladies wearing their typical dress and hat, from young to old.

    You can find very friendly local people trying to sell stuff to you. But you can also find stubborn old ladies whom wont let you take the photos of them - very tuff personality :-)))

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    Uncle Ho and the Red Flag

    by iwys Updated May 8, 2005

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    Ho Chi Minh is still very much a cult figure in Vietnam. It's hard to believe that he died as long ago as 1969. His picture is in public buildings everywhere as is the Vietnamese flag and the flag of the Communist party which, with its hammer and sickle, bears an uncanny resemblance to the old flag of the Soviet Union.

    I was told that during Tet it was obligatory for every building, including family homes, to hang out a flag.

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    polemo

    by TomorrowsAngel Written Mar 7, 2004

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    In Vietnam there are regional varieties of polemo; each fruit is named after the locality where it is grown - i.e. Doan Hung polemo, Phuc Trach polemo, Bien Hoa polemo, and Thuan Hai polemo......
    These big, thick-skinned oranges have the bitter-sweet flavour of grapefruit, but their drier texture means you can separate them into sections, without juice getting everywhere. Vietnamese boiled the thick rind in syrup, then let it crystalise, and eat it as a sweet.

    polemo
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    pulbic transport

    by TomorrowsAngel Written Mar 17, 2004

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    Local inner-city bus systems are not good in Vietnam. Luckily there are other convenient (and cheap) ways of getting around.
    Metered taxis are fairly cheap. The first 2km cost 12000 VND and every subsequent 200m costs 1 thousand VND.
    Cyclos are easy, cheap and enjoyable transportation, and are a good way to explore a city. The driver pedals behind you while you sit comfortably in the front and watch the movie of street life passing by. The average price for a ride is around US20c per km and is cheaper by time rather than distance.

    the roads of hcmc
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    Ao dai 2

    by iwys Updated Apr 25, 2007

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    Ao dai simple means long gown. It is actually a figure-hugging, knee-length top, slashed at the sides, worn over long pants made of the same lightweight material.It is, at the same time, graceful and sexy, for although it is long, the thin material hides lttle and the waist is revealed by just about any movement.

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    Releasing of Birds

    by TomorrowsAngel Written Jan 12, 2004

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    Outside a lot of the temples, there are people selling birds in cages.
    You are supposed to pay for the birds' release back into the wild.
    These birds are captured (or bred and raised) specifically for this purpose. And it is good luck and a spiritual gesture to pay for their release. You say a prayer for a loved one and then release the bird.

    bird sellers
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    Dragon Fruit

    by TomorrowsAngel Updated Mar 7, 2004

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    This is a strange fruit that I had never seen before and called Dragon fruit by most of people.
    Hylocerus undatus, is in the cactus family and originates in drier tropical climates in the New World.
    The outer skin is tough and pink, but easily peeled. Between the outer skin and the edible part is a livid purple color. The inside is white with the black pips (like a kiwifuit)evenly dispersed throughout the flesh
    The flavor and texture is also kind of like a kiwifruit except not at all citrus-y, and more sweet.

    dragon fruit
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    Back taps with an ending pat on the rear

    by tampa_shawn Written Nov 25, 2003

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    The Vietnamese are extremely friendly and upbeat and once the women get to know you they have a few habits that I found totally endearing (this is between women only...I have no idea if men here do the same type of thing between themselves).

    The young women will often link arms with you and kind of hand on you or give you a quick hug (it is quite common to see friends of the same sex walking down the street with linked arms or holding hands)

    The older women seem to prefer a quick succession of open handed taps to the back (which feel wonderful) then giving one parting tap…always administered to the rear

    Me at a stove and stool cafe with Friends in Hanoi

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