Vietnamese Dining Etiquette – 10 Dos & Donts

Vietnamese Dining Etiquette – 10 Dos & Donts

There are 10 dos and don’ts that you need to know about the dining etiquette in Vietnam to have the greatest experience when visiting this hospitable nation. Because meals are the warmest time for the local people when they get together after a hard-working day, enjoy the food and share with each other all funny and sorrowful stories. Therefore, if you have a chance to be invited to the host for a meal, the following information will help you get adapted to the local dining etiquette.

Dos in Vietnamese table manners

Do say “Have a good meal” – “Mời mọi người ăn cơm” /mɒi ‘mɒi ŋʊi ʌn kɒm/ before eating

Vietnamese people always respect the hierarchy so that it is compulsory for the juniors to invite the entire seniors in order of position in the family. If the juniors ignore this rule or start eating without the invitation, they are supposed to be rude and untaught. Because the inviting sentences are very complicated with the foreigners, it is acceptable when they simply say “Mời mọi người ăn cơm” to invite the whole people in general.

Vietnamese traditional meal

Do wait until the elderly and the seniors start eating

In Vietnam, the people usually wait for all of the members sitting at the table, then start eating. Moreover, it is an honor to the seniors and the elderly when the younger and the juniors need to wait until the older begin to eat first, and their turn after that.

Do take and give the dishes and the bowl with both hands

It is polite and well-educated if the younger pass and accepts the bowl with both hands. Not only the dishes and the bowl but also everything that you take and give towards the elderly are supposed to use both hands; otherwise, they feel being despised.

Do decide what to pick up before reaching it

Funnily, you may wonder that why to make a decision before picking the food up. The answer is that it helps avoid returning the food from your bowl to the serving plate but still get your favorite piece. The people around you will find it unsanitary if you take the food into your own bowl then turn it back so that they may not touch that dish anymore.

The grand parent and grand children in the meal during Tet Holiday

Do stay until the other finish eating

If you leave the table too soon, the people will think you may not enjoy the food or talk to them. Therefore, the advice is to wait until all of the others get the food done. In case of emergency, you need to tell them about your situation and apologize for leaving soon.

Don’ts in Vietnamese table manners

Do not knock the bowl by the chopsticks

In Vietnam, there is a belief that knocking the bowl with the chopsticks will invoke the ghosts up. As a result, the local people never do that during the meals, which had been taught since they were children. Besides, it is also thought that this action is similar to the behavior of the beggars when they use chopsticks to tap into the pot to attract attention and be given alms so that it will be considered to be impolite and bad luck to knock the bowl by the chopsticks.

Do not pass food by chopsticks from one to another

In Vietnamese dining etiquette, people avoid passing the food by the chopsticks due to the assumption that they will have conflicts afterward. Therefore, if you want to give the food to the others, you should put it into their bowl.

Three Vietnamese generations gather in the dinner

Do not plant the chopsticks straight into the bowl

It is a bad table manner when you plant the chopsticks into the bowl because it is believed that this action is similar to sticking the incense into the food dedicated to the dead, which brings bad luck to you.

Do not pick up lots of food at one time

Being different from the Western countries that they usually pick up all of the food into their plates in a time then start to eat, Vietnamese people have big bowls and plates to contain the whole food for all members; each one will take a piece in one time. After finishing the food in their own bowl, they will take more. In Vietnamese dining etiquette, people are thought to be greedy when picking up a lot of food in a time so that it is recommended to take the food little by little at different times during the meal.

Do not dig the food to find the favorite piece

It is normal when everyone wants to get their own favorite piece. However, it is considered as a bad table manner if you try to grub about into the serving dishes. That behavior shows selfishness and disrespectfulness to the people in the meal.

Vietnamese dining etiquette represents the traditionally cultural beauty of the people that are built and remained for thousands of years. Learning about the local table manners is one of the best ways to show your curiousness, interest, and respect for the host country that you visit.
Let’s come and experience the unique culture of this charming land!