Gestures Pointing at someone with a finger, or pointing the sole of your foot at someone when crossing your legs, is considered rude. The latter is an indication that you think the other person is below you so if you do cross your legs, point your toes downwards. Also impolite is the usual Western gesture of asking someone to come ... Read More »


HOW TO BE INTRODUCED You can introduce yourself to someone but it is more correct to find a third party who knows both of you to do the task. This is often done in business circles, where who you know is very important and the status of the introducer gives you added credibility. Unfortunately, as the Vietnamese prefer not to ... Read More »


Nicknames Families often have nicknames for members. At home, children have ugly nicknames such as Bo (cow), Tho (rabbit), or Gau (bear) so that evil spirits are not attracted to the child. No matter what a person’s given name is, a sister from the south will always call her eldest brother “Brother Hai” as a mark of respect and each ... Read More »


TONES Vietnamese is a tonal language and the meaning of the word alters depending on the inflection used when it is spoken. In the north, there are six tones, but in the south, only five are used. Southerners make little distinction between the third and fourth tones listed below. For instance, the word ma means a ghost, ma means mother, ... Read More »


Learning the Vietnamese language is a frustrating and time-consum¬ing task. It is also fulfilling, helps break down barriers between people and is the only way that you will start to really understand the Vietnamese. You will make endless mistakes as you grapple with part Vietnamese, part English, but will soon learn to see the funny side of it. For instance, ... Read More »


Set Your Own Goals and Work Towards Them You may have altered your lifestyle greatly. Spouses may have had to forfeit their career or put it on hold. Business people may no longer have easy access to their outside work activities such as clubs or sports. Substitute these with new goals. Learn the language or a new sport or game, ... Read More »


GOING HOME—REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK At some stage, most foreigners will plan to return home. If you have been making regular trips home, you may not feel that the final move back will be too much of an issue. But short-term breaks that are spent catching up with family and friends are not the same as the final move back. Home ... Read More »


The Enthusiasm is Wearing Off, 3-6 Months By now, the veneer is wearing off and the constant call of the cyclo drivers or the sellers has begun to wear thin. The place no longer appears cheap to live in. The problems of short-term accommodation are becoming painfully obvious and you may be getting frustrated about the difficulties of finding affordable ... Read More »


Parents You have all the problems of being a spouse and more! Health, security and ensuring that your children have a proper education and upbringing are the greatest additional worries. Specific issues vary depending on the age of the child. However, discipline is a recurring problem. The Vietnamese love children. Aside from hiring your own nanny, drivers, waitresses and housekeepers ... Read More »


HOW MIGHT IT AFFECT YOU? The issues and problems facing any foreigner who settles in Vietnam are different, depending on the role he or she is expected to play. The Business Person You usually acquire friends through work and soon become very busy. Many businesses require their staff to put in long hours and you may seem to eat, breathe ... Read More »