Ho Chi Minh City Local Custom Tips by chunk38
Ho Chi Minh City Local Customs: 109 reviews and 174 photos
Vietnamese language is tonal. You can say the same word but depending on how you say it, it can have very different meanings. Once I saw a forieger get off an elevator as a viet kieu woman was about to get in. He said " hello" (xin chào) but he used the tone and inflection of engllsh so what he said was, "xinh chảo" So he called her a pretty frying pan.
If you are reading from a guide book and am not sure how to say it, try using complete monotone, the listener will probably be less confused and assign proper meaning based on the context.
North and South
Northern people use some different words ex hat = mu , but in the south = non Also pronounce some differently. ex. already = rồi North will say like "zoi" but some northern people say it like, " Loi"
Some Northern people switch L for N and some use L for R
In the south, some country people will use a "Y" sound for "v" Example in Vinh Long I am happy =
o vinh long toi vui. But they will say like it sounds - " o Yin Lauwm toi yooey
If singing for an audience most all people will sing using the northern words and pronunciation.
if you are an english speaker
for the most part you wont have too much trouble because all over VN somebody knows someone who has studied some english and they are eager to try to practice with you.
Mostly the problem is with a taxi driver who just doesn't have the patience to try to figure out what you want so its best to write it on paper and show him.
Note that "no" spelled "khong" does not have a "g" sound at the end. It has an "m" sound
Dudes ask me about this. Ok, so if you are a single guy here is some info, but try to think about what you are doing and the consequences. Some women do it out of desperation, others just lazy opportunists. Just like anywhere but a higher concentration of desperation. Plan to recieve an STD. And a lifelong memory of the girl you exploited who is doing whatever she can to provide for her familiy's survival. Or, maybe just try to discard that thought like a piece of trash because you need to gloss over your sense of humanity in order to get your jollies.
What to worry, because it wont be you getting the 3am phone call sobbing about renting her body as her final option to meet her obligation to try to support her family's squalid subsistence. She is probably under a tremendous pressure to support her family. You should probably understand that, but don't ask her about it otherwise if she thinks you are concerned she might just try to exploit you with sob story, guilt trip etc.
1) Two girls (or some dude) on motorbike approach you at night in district one saying "anh oi... anh oi." and generally "anh oi-ing you" then, " you like girl viet nam?" It means one will hop off and you get on and she takes you to some place you don't know where and you try to do what you want and probably end up taking home more than you want. Maybe they steal your wallet.
2) Bia Om - a bar where chicks give you affectionate attention. Many will do whoring. Kind of like american titty bar without the dance and lap dance stuff. You can make arrangement to meet at the hotel afterward.
3) Karaoke girls. Karaoke - you and your friends go there and are assigned a room with a couch and table. Pick a song from the song book. Drink beer. You can pay to have girls sit with you and participate ( in singing and drinking) Depends on the place, not prostitutes, but some will do it. Depends on the place and the girl. You can make arrangement to meet at the hotel. To hang out with you (not whoring) and sing etc they cost 200.000vnd. If they are open to do whoring, it will become evident. You can arrange to meet at the hotel later. Will encourage you to buy more beer, fruit plate, snacks etc.
Be sure to tip the waitress that brings your beer. Waitresses are probably working only for tips.
4) Cave - term for higher end "call girl" similar to college girl "working" her way through school and/or sugar daddy but has multiple customers. Probably want 500,000 per hour. They try to get $200 usd per night probably more.
5) Streetwalkers. They tend to wear white and just stand there, often in front of the door of a closed down business. At night. Also near the parks
Lucky for you I think its the law now that every hotel room has a condom in it. Check the drawer by the bed
For the middle aged man tourist maybe your best bet is to become prey of the girls who work the hotel bars/clubs in district 1. You should have your valuables pre-hidden in your room. She will probably go into the bathroom and come back out wearing nothing but the towel.
Li Xi - Lucky Money
During Tet, you can give your friends and family a small red envelope with a new crisp banknote inside. The denonimation isnt important. Should be new and crisp. This is " Lucky Money "
Everyone likes to recieve it. Especially kids. If you visit someone with kids, its good to bring some for the kids.
all the hotels have the same posted rules.
Dudes ask me about this a lot- girl in the room
foriegner girlfriend = no problem
vietnamese girlfriend = illegal, can not do at government run hotel. Other hotels, no problem
stay in a privately operated hotel
What you can get away with also depends on your discretion
A hotel I stay at frequently often doesnt even ask my vnese female friends for ID.. Lets my legitimate vnese gf spend the night with no ID.
Most every other place, she must leave her ID at the desk, just as you leave your passport
Most every hotel pays the police to leave them alone
some hotels want to charge for the 2nd person if the spend the night
instead of a "come here" with a finger or hand like western people do as if pulling you toward them, in VN many people signal you to follow them by making a hand gesture that looks like they are fanning the ground. It may appear they are motioning you to "go away" or to be "brushing you off" but it means, "come here now"
In the city there are military compounds. You may be asked by police to refrain from photography especially video.
If you are eating at a semi-outdoor /streetside place and you are set upon by beggar children, its best not to give them anything. If you do, it can start a frenzy and cause trouble for the proprietor. Once I saw the owner smack the kids and lock one in a closet because of them annoying the customers.
WAIT until you are finished and you can give them your change as you leave the restaurant. Everyone will be better off that way.
You can tell the legitimately poor kids because they tend to have really dark dirty skin and dirty clothes
Others may be just oppportunistic, some are sent out to beg by their lazy parents. Don't beleive every sad story of misfortune you hear.
people walk around selling them. I usually buy them from the elderly and/or handicapped just to help them. I have won money. When you go to redeem your ticket, you must buy two more tickets with the winnings.
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