Learning a new language is not an easy task. And not many locals can speak English. Thus, I pack in this article some phrases to help you make it easier when traveling to Vietnam. This language has five tones and every word you say with different tones will have different meanings. But trust me when I say that even when you speak with no tone, the locals will love you for your effort.
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This sounds like a headache but Vietnamese is a tonal language with lots of honorifics (titles of respect). Anh means older brother and chi means older sister. Use em for yourself if you are addressing an older person. Moreover, Vietnamese locals are super generous. They don’t take it seriously if you mess it up when addressing them.
Put a little bit of emotion to your words when addressing the locals with the word oi. Say it Em oi, Anh oi, Chi oi to make them instantly like you.
Thump up for those greeting phrases. It’s okay if you don’t want to memorize a lot of this language but use those below phrases to greet people then get a smile in return.
Check our blog for Getting Around in Vietnam
Bargaining when traveling to some Asian countries is common. Vietnam is the country with lots of souvenirs to pick home for your family and friends. Shopping for clothes, handbags, shoes is also super cheap. If you want to treat yourself a bit with the shopping, prepare those below phrases.
Check our blog for Getting Souvenirs in Vietnam
From street-side eats to the luxurious restaurants and cafes, Vietnam is one of the heavens for the foodie. Note that the local drinks may be a bit too sweet to Western standards, make sure you tell the sellers when ordering. Prepare some useful basic Vietnamese phrases of these phrases while dining out will help.
It helps to know how to say numbers in Vietnamese when ordering or bargaining. Here, the basic numbers you should know.
- 1 = Mot (Mobh)
- 2 = Hai
- 3 = Ba
- 4 = Bon (Bumh)
- 5 = Nam
- 6 = Sau
- 7 = Bay
- 8 = Tam
- 9 = Chin
- 10 = Muoi
- 1, 2, 3.. Cheers = Mot Hai Ba Zoo (Mobh Hai Ba Zooo…)
Regarding about the body language and the art of getting what we want, my mom is a genius. She traveled to Thailand with some of her friends who are also in their mid-aged. None of them speak a little English or Thai language but they all got what they want by just using the body language and pointing.
Me: I speak Vietnamese. What’s your superpower?
Mom (laughing): I speak… mmm body language
To sum this language guide up, I would love to encourage you to speak at least some greeting phrases to get what you want or simply to be friendly with the locals (not the scams sellers in this case).
You will notice that although the local people really want to get to know and show their friendliness to you, their lack of English makes them shy to speak. Speak at least Hello, Thank you, Good bye (Xin Chao, Cam On, Tam biet) since you deserve the smiles in return from the locals and get the sincere connection with the country.
Last but not least, I send to you this photo of the Vietnamese children. These cheerful faces will brighten up your day!
To get the truly local experience and bond with the young generation of Vietnam, learn more about this girl team in Saigon who ride the scooter to the local areas and taste the authentic food.
Wish you have some fun when practicing the language. Finally, don’t forget to share the experience with me in the comment below.