Vietnam Culture


Vietnamese Culture – Quick Facts, Travel Hints, & Tips


About the People

  • Vietnam is considered a part of the East Asian Cultural Sphere, or Sinosphere. This means that chopsticks are widely used and other cultural similarities with China and other East Asian cultures abound.
  • The population of Vietnam exceeds 89 million according to recent estimates. The majority ethnic group, the Viet, account for 86.2% of the total population
  • There are more than 50 ethnic minority groups. Their historical geographic location has changed over time by war, famine, job migrations, and other factors.
  • Prior to the 1980’s subsistence rice farming was the primary economic activity, with most of the population living on rural farmland.
  • It is said that the Vietnamese value system is based on four basic tenets: allegiance to the family, yearning for a good name, love of learning, and respect for other people

The Food

  • Vietnamese cuisine is a style of cooking derived from the nation of Vietnam with fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables all commonly used.
  • Though there are regional differences overall Vietnamese cuisine uses little oil and many vegetables.
  • Many of the most famous Vietnamese dishes originated in northern Vietnam.
  • South Vietnam’s cuisine is heavily influenced by immigrants from China.
  • Vietnam is one of the world’s largest exporters of catfish. As such, travelers from the southern United States where catfish is the defacto “fish” of choice may find some familiar flavors when sampling seafood dishes.


  • As with other former colonial areas, Vietnam’s transport system was originally created by the French to move raw goods and materials out of the country, rather than to move people around.
  • Motor scooters/mopeds and motorcycles are by far and away the most popular form of transportation throughout Vietnam. Crossing the street slowly, wading through a literal sea of 2-wheeled automobiles as they flow around you, can be one of any traveler’s most distinct memories of Vietnam.
  • Ho Chi Minh city has one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world.


  • Vietnam’s network of schools are mostly state controlled, although there are a growing number of private and mixed public/private schools.
  • Vietnam’s literacy rate, at 90%, is among the highest in the entire world. Still, new schools have sprung up around the country with a stated goal of improving this number.
  • Education from 6-11 years of age is free and required for all. Beyond this the cost of education grows.


  • The dominant language in Vietnam is Vietnamese.
  • Much like Japan and Korea, early Vietnamese was written using Chinese characters. Around the 13th century the Vietnamese developed Ch? nôm as a substitute.
  • The most common secondary languages are Tày, Khmer, Chinese, H'Mông, or M??ng.
  • Many older Vietnamese still speak French, yet English has surpassed it in popularity in recent times.


  • Historically, Vietnam was been an agricultural civilization based on wet rice cultivating.
  • High tech industries and manufacturing comprise a fast growing segment of the economy, and Vietnam has matured into a very open economy.
  • As of 2009, Vietnam was the world’s largest producer of cashews.


  • 85% of Vietnamese classify themselves as Buddhist. A further 8% are Christian, with the rest comprised of Caodaists and other religious practices.
  • The Vatican, and thus Catholicism, are generally banned although relations have been improving.
  • Ancestor worship is very common.


  • The Veitnam War led to many songs that have become anthems for the people of Vietnam.
  • There are several popular forms of folk music.
  • Modern pop music is ubiquitous and the most popular form of music for younger Vietnamese.

Globe Aware has gathered more tips, hints, and facts on Chinese culture from numerous sources in print, past volunteers and staff, and on the web. Find out more by registering today and experiencing genuine Chinese culture, from the music and cuisine of ancient China, for yourself!



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