Although there are many Vietnamese can speak basic English in big cities, it may be difficult to find one in rural areas or off-the-beaten-path areas. In order to have the best trip in Vietnam (and make some cool Vietnamese friends), it is recommended to learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases and words before traveling to Vietnam.
If you just need to “survive” in Vietnam, this question is important.
Can you speak English – Ban noi duoc tieng anh khong? (Bạn nói được tiếng Anh không?)
Greetings in Vietnamese
Would you like to impress a Vietnamese? Just by saying these simple greeting phrases, you can impress one and make them grin. Vietnamese people love talking to foreigners and making new friends (but we can be shy), so just start a conversation first if you’d like to.
Hello – Xin chao/ Chao (Xin chào)
Hey – E! (Ê)
Goodbye – Bye (You can just say “Bye” and most people will understand)
Farewell – Tam biet (This one is more formal)
How are you? – Ban khoe khong? (Bạn khoẻ không)
I’m fine, thanks. – Toi khoe, cam on (Tôi khoẻ, cảm ơn)
See you again! – Hen gap lai! (Hẹn gặp lại)
These phrases are commonly used in Vietnam to call someone. You may hear them often in restaurants, coffee shops, etc.
Anh oi (If that person is a man)
Chi oi (If that person is a woman)
Em oi (If that person is younger than you – gender doesn’t matter here)
Basic Vietnamese phrases
Thank you – Cam on (Cám ơn)
Sorry – Xin loi (Xin lỗi)
Yes – Co (Có)
No – Khong (Không)
Would you please help me? – Ban giup toi duoc khong? (Bạn giúp tôi được không?)
You’re welcome – Khong co chi (Không có chi)
Please – Lam on (Làm ơn)
I like you – Toi thich ban (Tôi thích bạn)
Do you have Facebook? – Ban co Facebook khong? (Bạn có Facebook không)
How old are you? – Ban bao nhieu tuoi? (Bạn bao nhiêu tuổi)
> Read: Best places to visit in Vietnam
How to bargain 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 instead of a Grab car, you must ask how much it costs before entering a taxi because they may charge you higher.
How much? – Bao nhieu? (Bao nhiêu)
How much is it? – Cai nay gia bao nhieu? (Cái này giá bao nhiêu?)
Too expensive – Mac qua / Dat qua (Mắc quá / Đắt quá)
Is there anything cheaper? – Co cai nao re hon khong? (Có cái nào rẻ hơn không)
Counting: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 – Mot, Hai, Ba, Bon, Nam, Sau, Bay, Tam, Chin, Muoi
Thousand Vietnamese Dong – Nghin Dong (nghìn đồng)
Basic Vietnamese phrases for restaurants
Vietnamese food is tasty! You should ask for English menu first when you enter a restaurant. However, not all Vietnamese restaurants have English menu for foreigners, so it may be difficult to order.
I’m a vegan – Toi an chay (Tôi ăn chay)
Not spicy – Khong cay -> You add “Khong” before an adjective to indicate “not + …”
Can I have a beer? – Cho toi mot chai bia (Cho tôi một chai bia)
Can I have (name of food or drinks)? – Cho toi (name of food or drinks)
Basic words for food & drinks
Sweet – Ngot (Ngọt)
Salty – Man (Mặn)
Spicy – Cay (Cay)
Beef – Thit bo (Thịt bò)
Pork – Thit heo (Thịt heo)
Chicken – Thit ga (Thịt gà)
Beer – Bia
Alcohol Liquid – Ruou (Rượu)
Ask for direction in Vietnamese
Where is it? – Cai nay o dau?
If you’d like to ask for any location, you can ask …. o dau?
Where is the hotel? – Khach san o dau? (Khách sạn ở đâu?)
Where is the restaurant? – Nha hang o dau? (Nhà hàng ở đâu?)
Where is the toilet? – Nha ve sinh o dau? (Nhà vệ sinh ở đâu?)
Where am I? – Toi dang o dau? (Tôi đang ở đâu?)
Basic words for location
Hotel – Khach san (Khách sạn)
Restaurant – Nha hang (Nhà hàng)
Toilet – Nha ve sinh (Nhà vệ sinh)
Police – Canh sat ( Cảnh sát)
Hospital – Benh vien (Bệnh viện)
Gas station – Tram xang (Trạm xăng)