7 Vietnamese Slangs in the South Through Illustrations

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

For international students, there are different aspects of doing an internship in Vietnam other than gaining professional experience in your field. Once you are travelling to a new country, you want to absorb yourself in as much of the culture as possible. You might want to make friends with many locals, have some simple conversation with them in their language but how do you that? Did you know that one of the most effective way to be seen as “one of the people” or to strike up a conversation in Vietnam (or anywhere else in the world) is to know their slangs? Today we are going to teach you some slang in Vietnamese that you may use to impress the locals…with illustrations!

1.Lên Dĩa

“Len dia” is a universal phrase spoken from schools to offices and often means to be put into a nerve-wracking situation or any situation that the speaker doesn’t like to be in. For school students, this is often used when they are about to enter a quiz or an exam and for office workers, this often means they are about to go into a monthly evaluation meeting.

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2. Bánh Bèo

“Banh beo” is a popular phrase among young people in Vietnam to describe a girl who is basic, typical of gender stereotypes and does not possess much personality. This slang is mainly used among close friends and in a joking manner. Sometimes people would just use “banh beo” to refer to all women and if done right, the usage wouldn’t come across as being offensive.


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3. Bá cháy bọ chét

This is the ultimate favorite slang by middle-age Vietnamese men. “Ba chay bo chet” (literal meaning: awesome flea) is a slang used to describe when something is really really awesome. Or you can imagine saying in English something like “awesome possum”.

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4. Kỳ đà:

So you are on a date with a Vietnamese girl when you suddenly come across another friend you both know and he/she started talking conituously and ask you two out for a meal. How do you call this person in Vietnamese? “Ky da” whihc literally means a “lizard” is also often used in  situation where a person is nosy, uninvited and make a particular situation worse.

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5. Đi Bão

This slang originated from Vietnamese people’s nationalism and their endless passion for football (American soccer). During the peak football seasons, you will hear people telling each other to “di bao” if their favorite team wins, this often means that they will have a celebration with motorbikes racing around the city.  And brace yourself if in any chance while you are here that the national team wins, there is going to be legit celebration all around. Recently however, as the traffic regulations have become much more strict (all for the better), these types of celebration are no longer common within big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi while it may still be alive in smaller cities throughout Vietnam.

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6. Đi húi cua

It is very simple, “di hui cua” means to go have a haircut. 

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Illustration Credits goes to Saigoneer



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