Vietnam – nature, culture and good-natured locals

Features of Vietnamese culture: customs, religion, literature

Vietnam ─ a small country with a great history and distinctive culture ─ is attracting more and more attention. And not only from the point of view of tourism, everything is interesting in it – traditions, way of life, national art and art. Southeast Asia remains perhaps one of the few places on the planet, where centuries-old traditions are carefully preserved and protected. Purity of manners and family values prevail over the influence of the West. Especially it is felt by the culture in Vietnam.

How do people live in Vietnam?

Many things will seem strange to a European in the life and culture of the Vietnamese. We have long been isolated in our own little world, sometimes we don’t even know our neighbors in the stairwell. The Vietnamese live “wide open”. Literally. In Vietnam, it is not customary to close doors when someone is home. Even in modern apartment buildings, they are always wide open. “We have nothing to hide,” they say.

The Life of Ordinary Vietnamese

The main thing in the life and culture of the Vietnamese is to honor their elders. Their elders never live separately, only in the family. There is almost no divorce. It happens very rarely, but this is the influence of the West. So is the fact that in the big cities, young people have begun to show a desire for an independent life, separate from their parents. Still, Vietnamese culture is slowly and reluctantly transforming toward the West.

The fate of women in Vietnam is not enviable. She has to do all the housework. It is good when in the city it is only cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children. In the countryside, her life becomes a servitude. Because it’s a woman’s job to fix the house, house livestock, and the vegetable garden. Working in the rice fields is also a woman’s job. A man can spend all day in front of the television and it wouldn’t even occur to him to help a woman. It’s not customary. That is the culture and customs of Vietnam.

The Vietnamese never eat breakfast at home. From very early in the morning, small street cafes are packed with customers. The traditional breakfast is a huge portion of pho soup.

The culture of child-rearing in Vietnam is also different from ours. It is believed that up to one year old child should eat a lot. When you meet your child, you are not asked how your child is feeling. They ask how much he weighs. In the morning, you can see a touching picture ─ of mothers or grandmothers walking around the yard with their children, holding plates of food in their hands. They follow and feed their child. Up to a certain age, children are allowed anything that does not endanger their safety.


The culture of the Vietnamese is such that they often live by predictions. Before making any decision a Vietnamese will turn to a soothsayer. You will often see a funeral procession on the streets of a Vietnamese town at 7 am or 6 pm. This is the time for the funeral appointed by the soothsayer. The opening of a new office, the time for receiving guests or the date of a wedding are all assigned according to his recommendation. This culture of fortune telling is very common here.

Wedding in Vietnam

A modest wedding in Vietnam is a wedding with 200─300 guests. The wealth of the bride’s family is judged by how many dresses she has changed at the wedding ceremony. One gift is never given at a wedding. The number should be odd.

The name culture of the Vietnamese is complicated (in our opinion). The name given to a child at birth is considered secret and only the parents know it. They address their children quite simply as “the first”, “the second” and so on in the order of their birth. The secret name is considered protection. There is no patronymic either – you cannot take an ancestor’s name in vain. The culture of communication in Vietnam implies that interlocutors address each other by so-called individual names.

In Vietnamese there are as many as eight pronouns, which in Russian are translated only by one – “I”. Their use depends on age, sex and social status.

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Deceased relatives are always given a new name. The Vietnamese culture does not allow pronouncing the name when alive as it is a great sin. The wake can last up to 7 days. The first day relatives should be in white clothes – this is the color of mourning in Vietnam. The hearse is more like a gilded carriage, the funeral procession travels quite fast and is accompanied by bravura music. In Vietnam, there are also public cemeteries, but often you can find burials right in the yard of the house where the deceased lived. Sometimes there are as many as 10 graves. Return to Table of Contents


Handshakes are customary in Vietnam, but only men shake hands this way. A slight bow with prayerfully folded hands is only appropriate during official receptions. The culture forbids a slight pat on the shoulder because it is perceived as aggression. You should not pat a child’s head, you will deprive it of protection from evil spirits.

Vietnamese etiquette

When you have dinner with the Vietnamese never leave your chopsticks in the plate with the food, you should not touch the chopsticks of the person sitting next to you with your chopsticks. The one who pays for dinner is always the one who is higher in social status. Vietnamese culture is such that the bill for a meal in a restaurant is never shared. It is always paid by one person.

When entering a temple or a house, and even some stores, take your shoes off outside. And don’t be afraid, no one will ever steal them. Vietnamese by their culture are very clean and they wash their shops several times a day.


When they talk about the culture of Vietnam in the area of religion, they call it the “religious triangle”. Three religions have influenced this side of spiritual life-Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. The French colonizers left their mark on Vietnam in the form of Christianity. About 8% of the Vietnamese are Catholic or Protestant. Most are animists – those who worship spirits and the mother goddess. Buddhism is practiced by about 17% of the population.

In fact, most Vietnamese are atheists by culture of religion. And the main thing in their life is the cult of ancestors. Wherever you go – to a store, a café, an office, a private house or an apartment – everywhere you see a small altar with smoked aromatic sticks and fruit. This is the altar of the ancestors.

Religion in Vietnam

Every second and sixteenth of the lunar month, a treat is presented to the ancestors. A table is set under the open sky and various dishes are served. Among them are sure to be sweet rice, homemade rice noodles, boiled chicken, and fruit. If the ancestors were smokers and took alcohol, there will be shot glasses of Vietnamese moonshine and smoked smoking cigarettes on the table. After the ancestors accepted these gifts, they are supposed to be eaten (except cigarettes, of course).

The culture of this religion combines features of Freemasonry, Buddhism, Taoism, the cult of ancestors, and Christianity with a great deal of mysticism. The culture of this religion combines features of Freemasonry, Buddhism, Taoism, the cult of ancestors and Christianity with a great deal of mysticism. In Vietnam it emerged in the second decade of the twentieth century and at one time was repressed for political reasons. Today it has several million followers, is freely worshiped and is very attractive to tourists. Historical figures such as Lenin, Leo Tolstoy, Victor Hugo and Louis Pasteur are elevated to the rank of holy spirits.

Theater and music

An integral part of the country’s culture is the Vietnamese art of theater. It has its roots in the distant past. Like the Japanese shadow theater, it has its own traditional national theater of puppets on water. The puppets are made of wood and the entire performance takes place on the water surface of the lake. Unforgettable spectacle – under the national music in the light of burning lights action takes place, which is reflected in the water. These shows are loved by locals and tourists alike, on whom it makes an indelible impression.

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Theater and music in Vietnam

Another favorite cultural trend in Vietnam is the theater opera. There are several of them – Cheo (a popular opera), Tuong, more like a production of a heroic epic, and Cai Luong – an opera in the modern style.

Cheo originated in mountain villages where people entertained themselves by staging genre scenes to music. The culture of singing is accompanied by dancing, with a clown as an indispensable participant. Often the actors improvise during the performance.

Tuong was designed to awaken patriotic feelings. The obligatory attribute is lush scenery, military props, and masks.

Cai Luong is quite modern theater, combining tradition and folk music with modern urban rhythms.

Vietnamese music is very melodic. The Vietnamese are musical people, they love to sing and they do it very beautifully. They draw inspiration from music – for love and for feats of labor. Their culture allows them to sing in sorrow and in joy. The national instruments are gongs, bamboo flutes, plucked string instruments and xylophones. The latter, preserved from ancient times, have stones instead of keys. But how they sound!

A separate genre of culture is the music played on the instrument Dan Bau. It is played exclusively for oneself, to fill one’s soul with love. In Vietnam, it is said that young women should not listen to it. Often poetry is recited to this music.


In literature, Vietnam has been influenced by China for centuries. However, it affected all aspects of the spiritual life of the people. Until the XX century the Vietnamese written language was based on Chinese characters, and only in the last century the Vietnamese language shifted to the Latin alphabet.

Literature in Vietnam

The first literary monuments in Vietnam date back to the 10th century and are heroic epics, mythology and tales. In the XIII-XIV centuries the genre of court poetry began to develop. The culture in the field of Vietnamese literature was created by its classics. They are Nguyen Chi (15th century) – patriot and humanist, Nguyen Binh Khiem (16th century) – author of contemplative poetry, Nguyen Zu (18th and 19th centuries) – lyric poet, who has been compared to Pushkin.

The 20th century is marked by the emergence of new genres in culture and thematic convergence with Western literature. Fiction, science fiction, philosophical and love affairs appeared.

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Festivals and celebrations

The culture of each part of the country has its own characteristics and traditional festivals. But there are several major ones that unite the whole country. This is Tet, the New Year according to the lunar calendar. It is accompanied by colorful processions, carnivals and festivities. Chang Phu Autumn Festival in Vietnam ─ a time when the whole country is decorated with paper lanterns, all sorts of sweet treats are displayed and costumed Lion Dance is performed.

Independence Day in Vietnam

North, Central, and South Vietnamese festivals are local cultural festivals. They usually focus on Buddhist temples, historical and cultural figures, sporting duels, and local fishing or village festivals. The Vietnamese calendar has 13 official holidays, but there are only a few red (non-working) days – Independence Day – September 2, Tet (according to the lunar calendar, the date is not constant) – 4 days and May 1 – International Workers Solidarity Day.

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How people live in Vietnam – the peculiarities of culture and life of the country


Hello, dear readers! We continue our story about the countries of Southeast Asia, and today you will learn how people live in Vietnam.


It is a poor agricultural country. More than seventy percent of the Vietnamese live in the countryside. They farm, fish, and process agricultural products.

The poorest part of the population lives in the north and the Mekong Delta. City dwellers are mostly involved in commerce.

by boat

Vietnam is one of the twenty most populous countries in the world. There are about eighty million people. Although there are fifty-four ethnic groups in the region, the number of indigenous Vietnamese reaches ninety percent.

The locals are very smiling and simple, and they are eager to communicate sincerely with foreigners.

The language spoken here is Vietnamese, which has been heavily influenced by Khmer and Thai. Since Vietnam was a province of China for more than a thousand years, many political, literary and technical terms are Chinese.

In recent years there is a tendency to use English as a second language more and more.


With some ten million followers and twenty thousand pagodas, Buddhism is undoubtedly firmly at the top of the religious hierarchy.

One of the most famous pagodas in Vietnam is Thua Mot Kot in the center of the capital. It is also called the One Pillar Pagoda, the Lotus Flower Tower, and the Temple of Distant Salvation.

Thua Mot Cat

Its appearance resembles that of a lotus, since the temple itself stands on a single pillar a little over a meter in diameter. Therefore, the names of the temple echo the symbolic meaning of this flower – purity and spiritual perfection.

According to legend, the Buddha was born as a flame from the lotus. The plant was able to remain pure in the muddy waters of the body of water, just as the Buddha was untainted in the world of imperfect humans.

The pagoda was erected in the middle of the lotus pond in gratitude to the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who embodies boundless compassion in Buddhism. He appeared in a dream to the childless emperor Li Thai Tong and gave him a son. And, indeed, soon the simple woman he married gave him such a gift.

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A copy of this pagoda was built in Moscow in 2013. The temple is also adorned with a coin of five thousand Vietnamese dong.

Visitors to the pagoda must remove their shoes upon entry. It is considered impolite to show feet and especially soles to people and statues of Buddhas.

in Dalat

There are also interesting Buddhist statues in Vietnam, such as the statue of the Lying Buddha. You can read more about it here.

In second place in the area is Catholicism, brought here by European missionaries. Its adherents number six million and visit six thousand churches.

Donations for the churches, though not expected, are gratefully accepted, no matter how much one can give. One must remember to ask permission to take pictures of ordinary people or pictures in places of worship.


The most appropriate manner of greeting here is a slight handshake and a smile. Authorities, such as police officers, prefer to be greeted diplomatically.

Any misunderstanding in these parts is best approached with a smile and good humor. Ordinary passersby who offer you help in some situations will appreciate if you give them small souvenirs, no matter how cheap they are:

  • A lighter;
  • pen;
  • cigarettes of foreign manufacture;
  • liquor;
  • perfume;
  • shampoo.

woman on the street

Nevertheless, giving money to beggars in the street can be surrounded by crowds of those wishing to use such generosity.


Three currencies are common in Vietnam:

  • gold;
  • U.S. dollars;
  • Dong.

Gold is used to pay for real estate and land, dollars for luxury goods. The dong is used in everyday life.

Non-residents are not allowed to buy land, so if you want to build a house here, you can rent a plot for fifty years and build your own home.

Features of daily life

Both visitors to this land and locals experience the same known problems. First and foremost is the high level of air pollution. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see passersby wearing masks, thus trying to protect themselves from poisonous gases.

in transport

Another difficulty is that the streets are crowded with streams of cars and mopeds. The country has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths.

It is interesting to know that foreigners are not allowed to drive without a local driver’s license. This does not apply to mopeds.

The cost of living is relatively low in the area. Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, consistently ranks one hundred and thirty-sixth in the list of the most expensive cities in the world.

Staying can be quite comfortable at a moderate cost. For those who want to travel on a budget, there are hostels where the price per room does not exceed five dollars per night.


Street stalls on sidewalks are popular in Vietnam, offering inexpensive and very tasty food. The stalls offer:

  • noodle soup;
  • sticky rice;
  • stuffed rolls with meat, vegetables, or shrimp;
  • seafood.

food on the street

The food is always fresh and healthy. And its cost ranges from one to two dollars.

Separately, we should mention about the fruit. Here a paradise for those who like watermelons, mangoes, pineapples, tangerines, bananas.

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Between local and Western dishes there is a significant difference in price with the same quality. As in many Asian cities, beer and spirits are cheap and wine is expensive.

Vietnamese coffee is said to be the best in the world. Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee exporter. On a continent that is famous for green tea, the country stands out for its special coffee traditions. The most popular are black coffee, coffee with condensed milk, with egg yolk, with yoghurt and coconut milk.


Main celebration

New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is the most important holiday in Vietnamese culture. It celebrates the arrival of spring in the Vietnamese calendar.

Usually the date is in January or February, which is calculated according to the lunar-solar calendar. It takes into account the movement of the Earth around the Sun and the Moon around the Earth. In 2018, it is celebrated from February 16.

On the days of celebration, it is customary to:

  • Visit someone’s home on the first day of the coming year;
  • To worship ancestors at the family altar or visit their graves;
  • to congratulate each other;
  • to give good-luck money to children;
  • To open a store.

Because the Vietnamese believe that the first visitor of the year brings them good luck for the whole year, no one crosses the threshold on this day without being invited. The first guest they want to see is a man of good character and high morals, he must be successful.

However, to reassure himself, a few minutes before midnight the host leaves the house and goes back in with the first beat of the clock.

In this way, he prevents the possibility of someone coming in first who could potentially cause trouble for the household.

new year in vietnam

Sweeping on New Year’s Day is a strict taboo to avoid sweeping away good luck. People who have lost loved ones in the recent past are also not allowed to visit someone during this period.

If the first day of celebration is dedicated to family, on the second day it is customary to visit relatives and friends, and on the third – teachers, who are highly respected in this country.

Interesting facts

We can talk about Vietnam endlessly, but in this article we will give in the end some reliable information that you may not have known:

  • In the mid-nineteenth century, France established a protectorate over the country.
  • The state became independent in 1954.
  • During the years of independence there was a division into North and South Vietnam.
  • In 2007, the country joined the World Trade Organization.
  • Officially it is known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
  • The literacy rate here is 94%.
  • Halong Bay, 1,500 square kilometers dotted with limestone islands and islets, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

near Hanoi

  • Phu Quoc is the largest island with the most beautiful beaches in the Gulf of Thailand.
  • There are six biosphere reserves.
  • Vietnam has the lowest unemployment rate among developing countries.
  • It is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
  • Phongnya Kebang is a national park that is considered a world heritage site.
  • Many natives of the area are famous mathematicians, astronomers, scientists, philosophers, and educators.


Today we have got acquainted with an unusual country, which for a long time was inaccessible for various reasons to inquisitive tourists.

At this point we bid you farewell, friends! If you liked the article, recommend it on social networks.

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