With 4000 years of civilization, the Vietnamese are proud people who like to recite to a myth that they are descendants of an angel and a dragon. The Vietnamese are known to be hospitable and sensitive.
They are always open to visits from friends. Drop in visits are welcome.
If you happen to be in their home at meal time, the Vietnamese will probably invite you to sit down and share whatever food is available. They may not hesitate to offer you the best portions as a sincere gesture of hospitality and close friendship.
When inviting a friend on an outing, the bill is paid for by the person offering the invitation.
When they offer you gift, the Vietnamese will usually speak lightly about it. Even though it is an expensive gift, they may pretend it is of no great monetary value, since boasting is often criticized.
Although the Vietnamese may be happy to accept your offer, they usually refuse the first time or even the second time, for fear that he might be regarded as greedy if he accepts your offer the first time. He may claim that he already has or does not need it. It is recommended that you have the patience to repeat the offer once more.
To address people formally, use Mr. or Ms. or a title plus the first name. There are several titles of respect in Vietnamese, but they aren't used in English.
"Thưa" (meaning please) is added in front of the title to show respect.
Vietnamese culture is concerned more with status (obtained with age and education) than with wealth.
Many Vietnamese may greet by bowing slightly to each other, they may join hands. Usually, higher ranking people are greeted first (the family head).
The elderly grandparents and parents are taken care of until they die.
Modesty and humility are emphasized in the culture of the Vietnamese and deeply ingrained into their natural behavior. Therefore, bragging is often criticized and avoided. When being praised for something, a Vietnamese often declines to accept praise by humbly claiming that he does not warrant such esteem. The Vietnamese do not customarily demonstrate their knowledge, skills, or possessions without being asked to do so.
To avoid confrontation or disrespect, many will not vocalize disagreement. Instead of relaying negative communication, people may not answer a question.
When getting a praise, people usually smile instead of saying "thank you". A smile is like a silent "thank you". Most Vietnamese people are very modest and deflect praise.
Speaking in a loud tone with excessive gestures is considered rude, especially when done by Vietnamese women.
Vietnamese may not take appointment times literally, and will often arrive late so as not to appear overly enthusiastic.
Wedding and funeral ceremonies are important events and are usually performed with solemn and traditional rituals. Only a few urban people, influenced by Western customs, celebrate birthdays, since that occasion is not a Vietnamese customs nor do Vietnamese send Christmas cards.
It is disrespectful to touch another person's head. Only an elder can touch the head of a child.
Insults to Vietnamese elders or ancestors are very serious and often lead to severed social ties.
See more about Vietnamese customs at : http://www.vietventures.com/side/country.asp