Is Vietnam Friendly to Tourists?

Vietnam Friendly to Tourists

Vietnam, a land of staggering natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, has inched its way onto the bucket lists of countless travelers. But beyond the allure of its emerald rice terraces, mystical Halong Bay, and ancient temples, lies a question that often lingers: Is Vietnamese people friendly to tourists? The answer, like the country itself, is multifaceted. It’s a tapestry woven from threads of warmth, entrepreneurial spirit, and a complex past that continues to shape local perceptions. To truly understand Vietnam’s embrace of tourism, we must delve deeper than surface-level encounters and postcard-perfect smiles.

A Legacy of Hospitality

For centuries, Vietnamese culture has been steeped in the Confucian ideal of décaché, meaning respect and courtesy. This inherent graciousness extends to welcoming guests, offering them the best seat at the table, and lavishing them with attention. This translates into a genuine desire to please visitors, evident in the ubiquitous cảm ơn (thank you) and the eagerness to help with directions or recommendations.

Warmth and Generosity

One of the first things that strike many tourists upon arriving in Vietnam is the warmth and generosity of the locals. From the bustling streets of Hanoi to the tranquil countryside of Sapa, the Vietnamese people are known for their hospitality and friendliness towards visitors. This can be seen in small gestures such as offering street food to curious tourists or going out of their way to help with language barriers.

The Vietnamese also have a strong sense of community and family, which extends to tourists as well. Many homestays and guesthouses offer a more personal and intimate experience, where visitors are treated like family members rather than customers. This creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that makes tourists feel at home in a foreign land.

Economic Opportunities

Tourism has played a significant role in Vietnam’s economic growth, and the locals are well aware of its importance. With over 18 million international visitors in 2019, tourism has become a vital source of income for many Vietnamese families. This has led to a strong entrepreneurial spirit, with many locals starting their own businesses catering to tourists.

From street vendors selling delicious banh mi sandwiches to souvenir shops lining popular tourist spots, the Vietnamese people have embraced tourism as an opportunity to improve their livelihoods. This drive for economic success often translates into a desire to please tourists and provide them with the best experience possible.

The Impact of History

To truly understand the relationship between Vietnamese people and tourists, we must also take into account the country’s complex history. Vietnam has been through decades of war, colonization, and political upheaval, which have undoubtedly shaped the local perceptions of foreigners.

War and Resilience

The Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955 to 1975, had a profound impact on the country and its people. Millions of lives were lost, and the country was left devastated and divided. However, the Vietnamese people showed incredible resilience and determination to rebuild their nation and move forward.

This resilience can still be seen today in the way the locals interact with tourists. Despite the painful memories of war, the Vietnamese people have chosen to open their doors and welcome visitors with open arms. This is a testament to their strength and ability to look towards the future rather than dwell on the past.

Colonial Legacy

Vietnam was under French colonial rule for almost a century, which has left a lasting influence on the country’s culture and mindset. The French introduced Western concepts of hospitality and service, which can still be seen in the Vietnamese people’s approach to tourism.

However, there is also a sense of resentment towards the French for their exploitation of the country and its resources. This can sometimes manifest in a reluctance to engage with tourists from Western countries, but it is not a widespread sentiment. Overall, the Vietnamese people have moved on from their colonial past and are more focused on building a brighter future.

Challenges for Tourists

While Vietnam is generally considered a friendly and welcoming country for tourists, there are some challenges that visitors may encounter during their stay. These challenges are not unique to Vietnam and can be found in many other popular tourist destinations as well.

Language Barrier

The Vietnamese language can be challenging for non-native speakers to grasp, especially when it comes to pronunciation. While English is widely spoken in major cities and tourist areas, it may be more difficult to communicate in rural areas. This can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations for both tourists and locals.

However, the Vietnamese people are patient and understanding, and they will often go out of their way to help tourists overcome the language barrier. Learning a few basic phrases in Vietnamese can also go a long way in breaking the ice and showing respect for the local culture.

Scams and Touts

As with any popular tourist destination, there are always opportunists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors. In Vietnam, this usually takes the form of scams and touts targeting tourists. From overcharging for goods and services to fake tour packages, tourists must be vigilant and do their research before making any purchases.

To avoid falling victim to scams, it’s best to book tours and accommodations through reputable companies and always negotiate prices beforehand. It’s also helpful to have a local guide or ask for recommendations from trusted sources.

Cultural Differences

Vietnam has a rich and diverse culture, which can sometimes be overwhelming for tourists who are not familiar with it. From customs and traditions to social norms and etiquette, there may be instances where tourists unintentionally offend or disrespect the locals.

It’s essential to educate oneself about the local culture before visiting Vietnam and to be respectful of customs and traditions. For example, it’s considered impolite to touch someone’s head or point with your finger in Vietnamese culture. Taking the time to learn about these cultural differences can help tourists have a more enjoyable and respectful experience.


So, is Vietnam friendly to tourists? The answer is a resounding yes. While there may be some challenges along the way, the warmth, generosity, and resilience of the Vietnamese people make it a welcoming and unforgettable destination for travelers. From the bustling cities to the tranquil countryside, visitors will find themselves embraced by the country’s beauty, history, and most importantly, its people. So pack your bags, learn a few basic phrases, and get ready to experience the hospitality of Vietnam for yourself.

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