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Tips for Travelers to Avoid Vietnam Cultural shock

Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful country with gorgeous landscapes and attracts many tourists all around the globe throughout the year. However, as with everyone who travels to a new nation of different culture and tradition, Vietnam also do give some cultural shocks especially for people who come from western countries. Therefore, it is essential to learn about Vietnam cultural shocks before apply for a visa to Vietnam.

vietnam culture shocks

What are the common Vietnam cultural shocks?
Here are some common cultural shocks you might experience when visiting Vietnam for the first time.  It would be inevitable to understand the cultural differences of any countries when you pay a visit. Many things, might be strange and unacceptable as per your per culture, but many things what you considered as a right also won't be a right for Vietnamese. Therefore a clear understanding of the cultural cleavage is imperative to avoid embarrassing situations. 

Embarrassing conversations:
Do not be defensive if any local Vietnamese ask about your age, marital status or income. Do not fret. It is very common for people in Vietnam to ask personal questions even during the first time meeting. If you don’t want to answer such questions, be polite and explain it in a right way, which is an excellent way to play with the Vietnam culture shock.

Entering a house by wearing your shoes:
While in your country, it would be absolutely fine if you just walk into a home without removing your shoes. However, in Vietnam, if you do the same, this might embarrass people around you. Like in most of the Asian countries, it is rude to take dirty shoes inside.

Entering a house by removing the shoes is considered as a mark of respect and has a lot of significance in Vietnam culture especially when youare entering a temple or a pagoda. While major hotels in Vietnam does not hold on to such traditions, small homestays will request for shoe removing whileentering the lobby area. Even if you are new to this culture, it is good to follow such customs, as paying attention to these small details will keep you in line with proper etiquette. 

Reacting to situations
When Vietnamese make a mistake, they smile in return instead of apologizing, which might make you angry. But, don't get mad, as this is the usual reaction when they feel embarrassed, and they don't know how to respond instead. When you talk to them and if they don't understand even after you repeating, they might not admit it. However, you can follow this from their gestures. To make them comfortable, tell them that there is nothing wrong even if they don't understand everything in English. It will make them more open to learn and cooperate with you and also helps to avoid serious mistakes that may happen.

Lack of luxury in toilets
While most toilets in Vietnam are tourist friendly, meaning, they have traditional style western toilets. However, Vietnamese consider toilet rolls are a western luxury, and you may not find it in every place in Vietnam. Vietnamese consider using toilet papers as a luxury and the best thing you can do about this to bring your own toilet tissues.

Though modern hotels and restaurants have western style toilets, there are places where Asian style squat toilets are present. Though considered as highly hygiene, the concept of squat style toilets might come as a cultural shock to many at first glance. Either try to adjust with it, or you would be just fine after a few attempts or try to find out one with modern facilities.

Eating dog meat
Dog meat is a massive point of debate topic and surprises cultural shock for travelers. When you visit a local food place or meat shop, it is quite common to see dog meat for sale, and even you may find whole dogs with their fur scorched off hung for sale. Many western visitors in Vietnam find this scene very distressing, but as dog meat trading is legal in Vietnam, you have to cope up with this. To add to it, when you order meat from any restaurant, you must be served with the one you ordered. However, don't except small shops to be transparent with this. If you are still confused, the best way is to go vegetarian, and a few meatless meals would not hurt at all.

The extreme desire for money
It is true that Vietnamese locals are super kind, welcoming, friendly and helping. However, shop owners cannot keep themselves away from chasing tourist money. As Vietnam is a popular tourist destination, small shops try to instantly double or triple the original price especially when they get to know that you are not a local.

In a way, you cannot blame them, but it's not so great to know that you are becoming a victim of scammers. If you know a few Vietnamese words, they often give you more respect, and you can easily negotiate. It is good to learn a few Vietnamese words especially for interacting with shop owners during shopping.

Being loud is not rude
In western culture, being too loud is considered as an abusive behavior but not in Vietnam. Vietnamese doesn't follow such habits and manners, and they usually talk very loud. They not only speak louder, but they also create a lot of noise while walking by not lifting their foot from the ground.

Paying off the cops
It might be an odd concept for most of the western travelers but paying off cops is a common practice and shouldn’t be questioned. Like in many Asian countries, tipping police is a quite common practice. You will find police on roads asking bike travelers to show license and passport if you are a visitor. They try questioning travelers to find any possible excuse that makes you pay.

If you come across such situations, do not try to argue and make them understand what they are doing is not right as this might end up you in the police station. The best thing to do is to give off some tip and avoid cultural shock.  By paying a small tip, they won't bother you further, and you can conveniently proceed with your travel plans.

Traffic Jams and crossing roads
The major challenge traveler’s face in Vietnam is getting to grips with different types of transportation available in the country. Often, the streets would be full of motorbikes especially during peak hours during morning and evening. Buses in Vietnam will also be densely crowded. You also have to be careful when crossing the roads as people might not adhere to traffic rules when in a rush.

When you travel to a new country, it is normal to experience some cultural shock. Honestly, almost all travelers go through cultural shocks in some way. Having a closer look at some of these things, you will come to know Vietnamese people are just lovely and these cultural shocks are just a typical reaction to differences. Having a great sense of humor and an open mind will help travelers who visit Vietnam for the first time to reduce the impact of the cultural shock.

Besides, if you are planning for a Vietnam trip, arrange your trip in association with an experience Vietnam tour operator, who can help you out from most of the possible issues and give you a briefing, what are the things you should have to be careful while touring Vietnam.

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