4 Things You Should Know Before Arriving in Vietnam

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

If you are an experienced traveler and not afraid to meet with surprises or even shocks, that’s fantastic! But in case you’re not, and you’re considering doing internship in Vietnam with only one remaining concern: culture shock, don’t panic! You may have heard a lot about Vietnam’s natural beauty or its friendly people with a wide range of food, activities,… but you still can be a little bit uncomfortable when really staying in the country for some incidents. Therefore, to prepare you the best for your trip to Vietnam, these are several things you’d better know before hand in order to understand, embrace and make them part of your wonderful journey, instead of feeling confused or disgusted.


Obviously, that’s the no.1 thing one usually cares about when spending time in a foreign country. It’s part of your life and part of our culture. Undeniably, Vietnam is considered by some as the paradise of food, with thousands of traditional unique cuisines from hundreds of areas and tens of ethnic groups.

Therefore, there are some that you may find strange and makes you frown. But as you probably know, it’s among our dishes that have existed for decades, and it’s just a bit of cultural differences. If you are offered one of these dishes, please refuse kindly. They offer because they want to show their friendliness, and they may not know about your habits. No offence!

Trung vit lon (duck embryo, balut) – well it’s just a kind of eggs and among favorite dishes for breakfast of many locals.

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Tiet canh (raw blood soup) – a lot of Vietnamese people, especially in the countryside, like this dish, together with many others cooked of viscera of pigs or cattle.

Mam tom (shrimp sauce) – it smells… I know, but it’s among the traditional flavors of many regions.

Larvae – It’s a quality alternative for meat when it comes to nutrients, and some dishes even offer alive larvae.

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There are also a number of other dishes that are bizarre and strange to you. But it’s okay, besides those you cannot actually enjoy, a whole paradise of food is waiting for you!

Transport and traffic

Vietnam is a developing country with a large number of motorbikes. And you may find yourself stuck in the middle of traffic that is usually heavy especially, in rush hours in big cities. Besides, crossing the streets seems a real task as bikes and cars just keep moving forward unless at traffic lights.

But life goes on and nothing’s messed up! Motorbikes are perfect vehicles to travel in lanes, alleys,… that are inaccessible by cars or too long to go on foot. In addition, for young people, to have a quality motorbike secures them opportunities to “phuot”, which refers to traveling hundreds of miles for days by bike!

Traffic jam and you’re scared to death when crossing the streets? That’s why you need a local buddy who can accompany you on your first steps during your internship in Vietnam. And once you’ve got used to it, it’s just a piece of cake, as the traffic is so slow that it can hardly injure anyone.

Attitudes of people

The hospitality of Vietnamese people is known for long and for far. And not just that, they are also often inquisitive when seeing new things or new people. Therefore, if you catch yourselves being stared at by the locals, don’t panic and don’t stare back at them. They are just being curious to see foreigners, who are not commonly present in their regions.

When you’re walking on the streets in the city center or anywhere, if children or young people come to say hello or make friends, it’s not because they want to disturb you, trust me – they just want to practice speaking English! At school, they just study merely vocabulary and grammar and hardly have a chance to actually use the language.

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What’s more, many are extremely willing to help people in need, especially foreigners. Hence, if they keep asking after you, it means they hope to make sure everything is fine for you. In addition, it’s a little bit different from many talking cultures as in the conversations, older people may ask young ones questions of age, job, salary or even marital status. Therefore, if you feel uncomfortable with those questions, just politely refuse to answer them. They’re totally fine with it!

Going shopping

In most markets and small stores, there is no price tag! The likelihood is that you are overcharged – because you are not Vietnamese, so it’s easy to trick you into paying a higher amount of money. This is not decent of course, but even for Vietnamese people, buying something for a right price is not always trouble-free, because there is no right price. It can be very different for the stores at two ends of a market, though the difference is not big.

Hence, you are highly encouraged to learn how to bargain, by showing the sellers you know what they are up to and definitely refuse to buy anything if it’s overcharged. Sometimes, it gets a bit tricky due to the language barrier, and you don’t know what the suitable price is. Don’t worry, get a local buddy to guide you through all of these incidents.

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In conclusion, in any foreign country in the world, not only Vietnam, there will be cultural differences that may shock you and destroy the fantastic time you are supposed to have. However, if you get prepared, simply by reading and probably practicing a little bit, to get to know more about what it’s really like being out there on a foreign land, you will never regret the chance you took!

Want to visit Vietnam and have those exotic experience? SE Vietnam is offering you a chance for an internship in Vietnam… with a group! What’s greater than exploring the country and going through the initial culture shock with an understanding group and be ready for the professional and cultural experiences? When taking group internship in Vietnam, you can free your mind from worries that you would have travelling alone, while still managing to get your own personal memories.

Summer is coming!!! Pack up and get ready!


Want to discover about our past group internship programs?

Click here to learn about IVEY Global Laboratory or here to learn about SEND Education Group Internship

or Visit our Reviews page for more wonderful stories of other students sharing about their experiences in Vietnam!

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