homeVietnam travel guide > Vietnam social profile
Vietnam guide
Regions
Traveler café 
Travel directory
 
Last updated : Nov 2009
Vietnam Social Profile
Vietnam Culture and Social Profile - TravelPuppy.com
Food and Drink

Vietnamese cuisine varies and is commonly very good. It's a combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and French traditions, with various regional specialties. As in all countries of the region, noodles or rice usually make up the basis of a meal. Fish is also abundant. Breakfast is usually noodle soup known as pho (pronounced ‘fur’). Baguettes, French bread are easily found all over Vietnam. Some local specialties are nem, pork with noodles, eggs and mushrooms in rice paper, fried and served hot; and banh chung, glutinous rice, pork and onions wrapped in leaves and cooked for as long as 48 hours, to be eaten cold at any time. A staple Vietnamese dish is nuoc mam, fish sauce; or mam tom, shrimp sauce. Western food is available in tourist or business areas.

Green tea is available everywhere. In addition to baguettes, the French culinary legacy also includes fresh, filtered coffee, brewed on the table in front of the customers. People in Vietnam are also fond of beer and there are both local and imported brands available. When in Hanoi, try the local draught beer, (Bia Hoi) available at street stalls. It's cheap and free of artificial additives. Rice wine is also popular throughout Vietnam and is generally very powerful.

Shopping

Local specialties include embroidery, lacquer painting, reed mats, tailor-made ao dais (female national dress) and mother-of-pearl inlay on furniture and ornaments and of course, the pervasive conical hat.

Shopping hours: Monday to Sunday 7.30 am to 12 noon and 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm.

Special Events

Most regions, especially where there are minority groups, possess their own traditional festivals with music, opera and dance. Lunar New Year (Tet) and important Buddhist festivals are celebrated in February and March every year. Although celebrated, Buddhist and Christian festivals are not national holidays.

The following is a list of some of Vietnam major celebrations and events in 2007:
Feb-Apr Perfume Pagoda Festival, Juong Son Village.
Feb 9-11 Têt Festival (Lunar New Year celebrations), nationwide; Mai Dong Festival, Hai Ba Trang.
Mar Thay Pagoda Festival, Thuy Khe Village.
Apr Lac Long Quan Festival, Binh Minh.
Apr 28 - May 8 Elephant Races, Don Village.
June 10-12 Chua Xu Temple Festival, Chau Doc.
Aug 30 Wandering Souls Day, nationwide.
Sept 1-10 Ca’Te Festival, An Phuoc District.
Sept 22-23 Do Son Buffalo Fights, Haiphong.
Sep 28 Mid-Autumn Festival, nationwide.
Oct 26-28 Keo Pagoda Festival, Thai Binh.
November 26 Oc Om Boc Festival/Ngo Boat Contest, Soc Trang.
Social Conventions

 Shaking Hands and a vocal greeting are widely practised.

 Clothing should be kept simple, informal and in good taste. Shorts are usually only worn by children

 Shoes must be removed before entering Buddhist pagodas.

 Don't touch Vietnamese people on the head.

Photography

There are restrictions at airports, ports, and harbours, and in similar areas elsewhere. Ask permission before taking photographs.

Tipping

Officially prohibited but widely practised, particularly in the south. Discretion is recommended.