Vietnam Country Guide


Buying Souvenirs
Souvenir shops in Vietnam sell lots of T-shirts with the red flag and portraits of "Uncle Ho." Many overseas Vietnamese are highly critical of the government of Vietnam you may want to consider this before wearing communist paraphernalia in their communities back home! A less controversial purchase would be a non la (straw hat) instead.

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Mixing with Foreigners
It's common to be stared at by locals in some regions, especially in the central and northern side of the country and in the rural areas. However, Southerners are usually more open to foreigners. Asian women traveling with non-Asian men could attract attention, being considered lovers, escorts or prostitutes by some people and may even be harassed or insulted. These attitudes and behaviors have lessened but have not yet disappeared.

Tourists visiting a Vietnamese village by McKay Savage

Vietnam War
The most surprising thing about the topic of the Vietnam War (the American or Reunification War, as it is called in Vietnam) is that the Vietnamese do not bear any animosity against visitors from the countries that participated in the war. In the South many Vietnamese (especially older Vietnamese involved in the conflict or with relatives in the war) appreciate or at least respect the previous Western military efforts against the North. Two-thirds of the population were born after the war and are quite fond of the west. That said, there are some attractions which present a very anti-American viewpoint on the war's legacy, which may make some feel uncomfortable.

Be sensitive if you must discuss past conflicts. Well over 3 million Vietnamese died, and it is best to avoid any conversations that could be taken as an insult to the sacrifices made by both sides during the wars. Do not assume that all Vietnamese think alike as many Vietnamese in the South are still bitter about having lost against the North.

Vietnam War Museum by Daniel Hills

Conflict with China
The official government relationship with the PR China has deteriorated significantly recently as the two countries are locked in a territorial dispute over maritime borders namely the Spratly Islands. It is best to stay neutral and avoid discussing this sensitive issue.

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