Basic Vietnamese Phrases and Words for Travellers

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