Each country in the world has its own culture and rules that you should follow. So does Vietnam. There is something that is banned in your country, but legal in this country and vice versa. Hence, here are some Vietnamese culture shocks that you may deal with when first come to this lovely country.

The very first Vietnamese culture shock: the traffic

The biggest Vietnamese culture shock comes from the traffic: motorbikes are everywhere. People seem to drive whatever is convenient for them wherever they need to get to. In some countries, when you’re on the crosswalk, all vehicles will stop and wait for you. However, in Vietnam, those lines don’t work. Though in Vietnam, all vehicles must give way to pedestrians no matter they are on the crosswalk or not, drivers don’t pay attention to that rule. Thus, you will find crossing the road in Vietnam is like swimming among schools of fish.

cross the road following vietnamese culture

Crossing the road in Vietnam is like swimming among schools of fish – Image: Youtube/CoqPwner.

Another cultural thing that may make you shock is the traffic jam. Actually, if you’ve ever been to New York, Bangkok, or any other big cities, you can be stuck in this traffic problem every day. Cars calmly stay in lines waiting for hours until it they can escapes. However, it’s a bit different in Vietnam. In congested cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, the traffic jams are much worse.  If you google “Vietnam traffic jam”, the result may knock you out with cars, motorbikes, public transports, and other private vehicles. If the Western traffic jams make you feel “stuck in order”, you will see it disorder here. Because cars are big, you can ride scooters, bikes or walk through the traffic jam. On the other hand, in Vietnam, the motorbikes are so small that they fill up the road with no gap left.

Shocked with the way the Vietnamese talk

You can easily recognize this Vietnamese culture within the first few days in this lovely country that people here talks so loudly and quickly. If you have ever been to other Asian countries such as Korean or Chinese, you may face the same problem. People talk as if they are having an argument In the supermarket, as well as other public places, a wife can discuss a product with her husband who is 30 feet away from her without caring about the people around them. Surprisingly, none of them seemed to be bothered. For most of the Vietnamese people, this is a normal thing. So next time when you see two women shouting at each other, it’s likely that they just are greeting.

in vietnamese culture, people prefer talking loudly to each other.In Vietnamese culture, people prefer talking loudly to each other.

Since the Vietnamese find no discomfort with the noise, they seem to love the honk very much. Despite the ban on using horn from 5 am to 10 pm, the citizens use it whenever they want. They hit the horn when they get stuck, when somebody in front of them is too slow, or even when they are bored. Just get used to it because you have no way to run away.

“Queue” is not included in Vietnamese culture

While the Western people love to line up at almost all of the shops, the Vietnamese prefer the quickness. They have no concern about the queuing system. Queuing is a thing, but you don’t follow, it’s not a big deal. Moreover, in some shops that require the customer to stay in line, they just push in little kids, pregnant women or old people to the front.

shippers waiting at a restaurants due to the Vietnamese culture of no queue

In Vietnamese culture, there is no queue so that the shippers are ones who do this “boring part”.

As a result, the delivery service is very popular. The queuing part is left for the shippers. The customers just stay at home, open apps, choose the food or drinks they want and wait for the shipper. This industry is so developed that you can see a large number of shippers staying in line at coffee shops and restaurants every day.

Table manners – a big Vietnamese culture shock for the newbie

Because of the difference in foods, the Vietnamese eat in a different way from the Western countries. In a typical Vietnamese meal, food isn’t served individually but each dish is put on a big plate. Family members with their bowls of rice will use chopsticks to pick the dish they want. Furthermore, to express the hospitality and caring, they will grab food and put into others’ bowls. If you are used to just eating what on your plate, you should forget it and start digging the bowl.

Don’t be shocked with the street vendors

Even though the street vendor is not unique to Vietnam, this type of business is still an essential part of Vietnamese culture. They can be divided into three types: moving-vendors who constantly moving around, stand-still-vendors, and lastly those who own a shop right on the pavement. They work as an informal yet important in the local economy. Especially, when you sit at the shop on the pavement (street vendor type 3), there are many moving-vendors coming to you and begging you on buying something for them. It might be annoying, but those people are a bit pitful somehow.

street vendors - a signature vietnamese cultureStreet vendor is a signature Vietnamese culture – Image: itcenter.vn.


If you’re from a Western country moving into Asia, there are always these crazy culture shocks. However, the Vietnamese culture is much more interesting and it will make you every day living here a journey.

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