With a long territory stretching from the North to the South plus a great number of ethnic groups, Vietnam possesses a varied culture with diverse local characteristics. According to reports recently released by the General Office of Statistics, Vietnam's population has nearly reached 96 million people. Eighty-six percent of these are ethnic Viet (known officially as Kinh), while the remaining fourteen percent comprises more than fifty separate ethnic minority groups.
VARIOUS ETHNIC GROUPS WITH DIVERSE LIFESTYLES
Ethnic Viet is the biggest ethnic group of Vietnam's population. They speak Vietnamese language, Vietnam’s official language, and mainly live in the lowlands, downstream of main rivers, coastlands and big cities such as Red River Delta, Central Coast, and Southeast. This group possesses the typical lifestyle of Vietnamese people as well as almost cultural and historical sites of Vietnam. There is about 3% of the population which is ethnic Chinese living in the urban centres of the South, they adapted to local life but also form their own community with maintaining traditions and lifestyle from their home country.
The North of Vietnam covers most of the mountainous provinces that lie to the north of the highly populated Red River lowlands. With the main typography are mountains, hills, and highlands, here is the home to ethnic groups such as H’mong, Dao, Giay, Tay, Thai, Muong, etc, with distinctive lifestyle and customs which intimately relate to the indigenous nature. Famous for breathtaking mountainous scenery, some of the destinations here can be listed as Sapa, Ha Giang, Mai Chau, Pu Luong attract many visitors coming here for sightseeing and indigenous life exploring with the variety of ethnic minorities and their culture as well. With unfavorable terrain and low population density, local people here mainly live in remote tribal villages in valleys or on the hillside scattered along with the mountain ranges or main streams, do agriculture on terraced rice fields or individual livestock for a living.
Along the Central Coast to the South is the land of the ancient Chams Community. Cham people have set up their own dynasties, broadened their villages, communities and enriched their culture as well. Visitors can find numerous historical sites that belonged to Cham culture in this region, one of them has been proudly recognized as the UNESCO Heritage Site: My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province. After integrating with Ethnic Viet, Cham people still maintain their unique traditions and culture which promisingly create a highlight during the trip to the South Central Coast with impressive cultural shows, traditional dance, and festivals, etc.
Central Highlands is the home to many groups of hill tribe people in the highland such as the Jarai, the M’nong, the Ede, and the Bahnar, which attracts a great number of tourists visiting each year to admire the beauty of the unique culture here. Central Highlands is famous for the distinctive architecture of Rong house (Tall House) or traditional communal longhouse, the inspirational space of Gong Culture – UNESCO Intangible Heritage, of heroic epics, and colorful traditional festivals. The daily life of locals here mainly relies on cultivation on upland fields or basalt soil farms, traditional craftsmanship, and livestock.
Situating to the southernmost of Vietnam’s territory, Mekong Delta is the land for cultural interference mainly between ancient Vietnamese and Khmer people. Visitors can find many featured Khmer architectures, especially churches and temples here. Both ethnic groups have been living together and setting up a characterized culture which is the close connection between the river and the locals’ lives. Coming from different ethnicities but almost locals in Mekong Delta have the same ways of living: live in the flat plains or along the riverbank and live their floating lives. People do for a living by farming and feeding. With daily life on land, they plant wet rice, grow fruits in orchards or other agricultural products, do the livestock or make handicrafts. With floating lives, people live on houseboats or floating houses, moving their boats between fields to fish or feed cattle in the flood season of Mekong River.
Besides, there are many languages spoken in Vietnam such as Vietnamese, English, Chinese, French, and Russian, among which Vietnamese is the national official language and the second language of ethnic minority groups. As an international language, English has been also widely used in many fields including economy, education, health, technology, tourism and so on.
VIETNAMESE PEOPLE’S TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Hospitable & Friendly
For so many decades, Vietnamese people have been renowned for their cordial hospitability. Traveling to Vietnam, visitors will be warmly welcomed by all friendly Vietnamese people. They might be kind of reserve at first due to the lack of confidence in their language skills; which makes it difficult for them to break the ice with strangers, especially foreigners. All you need to do is make a smile, actively talk and even use body language while communicating with them then surprisingly they will quickly turn into lovely hosts to you for sure. Whatever it takes, they will try as much as they can to make you feel at home and give you the best experience in Vietnam.
Hard-Working and Inquiring mind
The Vietnamese people are known for hard-working in their lives to achieve their goals. They do believe that working hard will get better results, and they’ve tried so hard not only for themselves but also for the next generation. Furthermore, Vietnamese people always set up their mood with the highest inquiring mind while working. They are always creative and eager to learn new things which help their work run more efficiently. Every generation is taught not to stop trying and learning that made up a typical character of Vietnamese people.
Family plays an important role in Asian society, and so does Vietnam's community. Hence maintaining strong family ties is taken for granted to all Vietnamese people. They live and work to passionately devoted to their families. Traditional festivals or national holidays are perfect times for Vietnamese family reunions to enhance their close-knit relationships with each other. Looking up to the elder and loving the younger is also a great personality that all Vietnamese people possess not only to contribute to their family interconnection but also to set up a common good manner in the daily life.
High Sense of National Pride
Having been through long wartime, all Vietnamese people do know that nothing is much more priceless than independence, freedom, and happiness. Each person in this S-shaped country is an individual who has a very high sense of National pride. Vietnamese people are very proud of their country, the ancestors who sacrificed for the country’s territory and independence, wealthy resources, beautiful landscapes, and themselves as well. This wonderful personality is much more strongly characterized whenever there are big events in the country such as territory conflict, sports victories or big recognition events, etc.
SOME USEFUL TIPS ABOUT VIETNAMESE CULTURE FOR VISITORS
1. Vietnamese always want to show their hospitality as much as they can. If you’re a foreigner and looking for assistance, they’re eager to help you although they might don’t understand any English word at all. You can communicate with them by gestures or body language that could be helpful a bit. If you have a Vietnamese friend, you can be also invited to visit his/her family, which shows how much they express hospitality and respect to you.
2. If Vietnamese people ask about your age, marital status, and income, it is not to make you uncomfortable. As they are normal social questions at the first met and you don’t need to answer if you don’t want to and explain nicely why.
3. If you are a senior traveling to Vietnam, you will often see locals try to help you somehow such as crossing the street or leaving you a sitting chair. Vietnamese people always express their respect to the senior and it shows the respect from the younger Vietnamese to the elder.
4. Vietnamese love to touch western kids including toddlers and children up to 8-9 which shows how much they like your kids. They are amazed by the western appearance, blonde hair, big round blue eyes, etc, so be prepared about that. This happens often while you’re walking into the market or shopping malls and if you don’t want your kids to be touched by strangers, you can explain to them.
5. When Vietnamese people make a mistake, you will often see them smile. Don’t be angry if you receive a smiling face instead of an apology when you complain about Vietnamese people. Their smile means they’re feeling embarrassed and mostly don’t know how to respond.
6. Vietnamese would love you to try some of their authentic food or drink which you might not want to try. There is no need to be too polite in this situation. You can refuse nicely and don’t have to feel bad about this.
7. There is a bit different expression from English when you ask Vietnamese people a question using negative form. If you ask: “You don’t go to work today?”, the answer from Vietnamese people will normally be: “Yes” but it actually means “No, I don’t".
8. In Vietnamese meals, people share the food on the table so that they can taste different dishes and discuss which one is the best. Everybody has their own chopsticks and spoon, each dish will be provided with a bigger spoon that you can help yourself with.
Made up from numerous ethnic groups with different cultures and lifestyles, despite having been through many ups and downs, Vietnamese people have been living, fighting, and developing together while still keeping traditional values in their lifestyle reflected in the relationship within families, work, and friends. Hence, Vietnamese people are always described with typical great personalities such as friendly and hospitable. Do not hesitate to check out the best Vietnam tours or contact with Inside Travel Experts for a perfect journey to Vietnam as you will be always welcomed in anywhere in this beautiful S-shaped country.