Basic Vietnamese Phrases and Words for Travellers

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Although there are many Vietnamese who can speak basic English in big cities, it may be challenging to find one in rural areas or off-the-beaten-path areas.

To have the best trip to Vietnam (and make some Vietnamese friends), I would recommend learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases and words before traveling to Vietnam.


1. Addressing people

I – Toi

You – Ban

Male (Junior) – em

Male (Senior) – anh

Female (Junior) – em

Female (Senior) – chi

Basic Vietnamese Phrases and Words for Travellers


2. Greetings in Vietnamese

Vietnamese people love talking to foreigners and making new friends (but we can be shy), so start a conversation first if you’d like to.

Hello: Xin chao

Goodbye: Tam biet 

How are you?: Ban khoe khong? 

I’m fine, thanks.: Toi khoe, cam on.

See you again!: Hen gap lai! 

Thank you: Cam on 

Sorry: Xin loi

What’s your name?: Ten ban la gi?

My name is … : Ten toi la …

Can you speak English?: Ban noi tieng Anh duoc khong?

Yes: Co

No: Khong


3. Asking for direction in Vietnamese

Where?: O dau?

If you’d like to ask for any location, you can ask …. o dau?

For example:

  • Where is the hotel? – Khach san o dau? 
  • Where is the restaurant? – Nha hang o dau?
  • Where am I? – Toi dang o dau?
  • Where is the taxi? – Taxi o dau?

Go straight: Di thang

Turn left: Re trai

Turn right: Re phai

Stop: Dung lai

Go to the airport: Di san bay

How far is it?: Bao xa

District: Quan

Station: Ga

Bus stop: Tram xe buyt

Wait 5 minutes: Cho 5 phut

China Town Saigon Vietnam

Basic Vietnamese words for location

Hotel: Khach san

Restaurant: Nha hang

Toilet: Nha ve sinh

Police: Canh sat

Hospital: Benh vien

Gas station: Tram xang


4. Bargaining in Vietnamese

Because there are several tourist traps in Vietnam (unfortunately), you should bargain first when you purchase anything.

You can start with 10% – 50% less than the price a seller tells you.

Also, if you use a traditional taxi, you must ask how much it costs before entering a cab because they may charge you higher.

How much?: Bao nhieu? 

Too expensive – Mac qua

Can you reduce the price?: Giam gia duoc khong?

Is there anything cheaper?: Co cai nao re hon khong?

I want to buy: Toi muon mua

One size larger: Mot size lon hon

One size smaller: Mot size nho hon

Thousand Vietnamese Dong: Nghin Dong 

Ho Thi Ky Market Saigon Vietnam


5. Numbers in Vietnamese

1: Mot

2: Hai

3: Ba

4: Bon

5: Nam

6: Sau

7: Bay

8: Tam

9: Chin

10: Muoi


6. Dining out

Vietnamese food is tasty!

You should ask for an English menu first when you enter a restaurant. However, not all Vietnamese restaurants have an English menu for foreigners, so it may be difficult to order.

Excuse me (to waitress): Chi oi

Excuse me (to waiter): Anh oi

What is it?: Cai gi vay?

The bill please: Tinh tien

Can I have a menu?: Cho toi menu

I’m a vegetarian: Toi an chay

Not spicy: Khong cay

Can I have a beer?: Cho toi mot chai bia 

Give me (name of food or drinks)?: Cho toi (name)

I cannot eat pork: Toi khong an thit heo

I’m allergic to peanut: Toi di ung dau phong

1,2,3, Cheers… (when drinking): Mot hai ba, do

Where is the toilet?: Nha ve sinh o dau? 

Vietnamese phrases and words for food

Basic Vietnamese phrases and words for food & drinks

Rice: Com

Rice noodles: Bun

Egg noodles: Mi

Beef: Bo

Pork: Heo

Chicken: Ga

Beer: Bia

Alcohol Liquid: Ruou

Cold: Lanh

Hot: Nong

No ice: Khong da

No sugar: Khong duong

One more please: Them mot cai

Mango: xoai

Apple: Tao

Grape: Nho

Coconut: Dua

Watermelon: Dua hau

Durian: Sau rieng

Orange: Cam

Banh xeo street food Saigon Vietnam


7. Emergency 

In case of an emergency, you should remember these Vietnamese phrases below!

I am sick: Toi bi benh

I have food poisoning: Toi bi ngo doc thuc pham

Where is the hospital?: Benh vien o dau?

I need to see the doctor: Toi can gap bac si

I was robbed: Toi bi cuop

Call the police: Goi canh sat

Help me: Cuu toi

Please: Lam on

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