Being invited to a Vietnamese house for dinner is an honour and be aware that, in line with the Asian tradition of extended family living, you will likely be introduced to the whole family, including parents, grandparents, uncles… etc.
In all places of worship such as temples, pagodas or churches, respectful behaviour is a must. Clothing should be appropriate, (no shorts, short skirts or sleeveless shirts), and you should expect to remove your shoes, (and hat), when entering a temple or pagoda. Unless specifically disallowed, the taking of photographs is not normally a problem though you should avoid taking photographs that might be considered intrusive, such as of people praying etc.
If you want to take a photograph of a Vietnamese person, it is best to ask for permission first. There is a belief, held by some, that a photograph strips the subject of their soul. This is not common with the younger generation. In some cases, it is merely that they want to be paid. In the cities, this is not usually a problem.
Tousling someone’s hair or indeed touching someone on the head is considered ill mannered as it is believed that a person’s spirit lives in the head. It is easy to fall prey to this when children are around and you should be aware that this might be considered bad act. The sole of your foot is not considered a “clean area” of your body as it is in constant contact with the ground. Therefore, pointing the sole of your foot at someone, however unintentional, is considered rude.
Please check out our FAQ for further information.
Watch the interview "Relocating to Vietnam - On the ground with Cartus". Donn Garton and Laurent Quistrebert of Resident Vietnam discuss a number of issues that are important for your Vietnam-bound employees.