Expatriate Eyes: The best way to treat local Vietnamese Women and be local

Year by year, we can observe increasing numbers of foreigners coming to this country for business and leisure. Despite economic difficulties, the local tourism business has still maintained an increase in numbers of tourists with 2.5million which is 22.9 percent from the same month last year. For people who are living here, you have to remember that Vietnamese women and youngsters are mostly enjoying the freedom to talk and have a relationship with foreigners. When you are in a relationship with Vietnamese women, you must be more sensitive, especially for those who are having a strong family ties and traditionally religious.

Full of Respect

As a foreigner, you must respect any religious requirement while treating women in Vietnam. Most of Vietnamese are Buddhist and some of them are no religion. You have to be cautious when trying to get close with them and advisable for you to wait until the women make their first move on greeting and any other general conversation.

Don’t Stare

No one in this world likes to be stared at. Same goes to Vietnamese men and women. By staring, you just create an attention because you are a foreigner. You may be sending a message to them that you are sexually interested with them and they can claim it as a sexual harassment. If you are women and staring at Vietnamese women, you will be interpreted as looking down to them.

Clean & Clean

When you are visiting Vietnamese women’s house or family, you have to be more aware about cleanliness and sanitary. Vietnamese house relatively are clean and tidy. Making mess and being careless in their house will show that you are not respecting them and hurting their feelings. Do not forget to flush your toilet after using it and be more light-handed by offering to wash the dishes after eating.

Watch & Learn

As a foreigner, you maybe will have some distinctive thinking about how some Vietnamese men treat women. It’s been said that, some Vietnamese man in rural area and parts of northern Vietnam did not treat women equally. You will think this is very offensive but advisable for you to keep it by yourself as rising up this issue will be considered as rude.

Good Girl vs Bad Girl

If you are visiting some clubs or bars in town, be calm as hot girls are everywhere. Please remember that some of the women are prostitutes and prostitution is illegal in Vietnam. There will be some women who try to seduce you and saying that the law does not work. In general, what you need to do is be respectful in Vietnam no matter if they are your friend, lover or new family members.
Photo: facebook.com/vntravel
This article was published in The Vietnam Guide on June 11, 2012


  1. Danial

    The issues are important but I saw them misinterpreted many times so I took time to explain. Your tone sounds like you intended to praise. However I am afraid that many traditional Vietnamese women may feel offended by your misinformation that they:

    (1) Make the first moves to get stranger foreigners: Only the available girls in a nightclub would do so. Whoever further misinformed you that it's a religious requirement to wait for Vietnamese women to move first took it too far.

    (2) Threaten to charge sexual harassment if you stared: Only street girls may jolt you for money with such threat.

    (3) Enjoy the freedom to have relationship with foreigners: When a traditional Vietnamese woman has relationship with you she enjoys no freedom of relationship with other men.

    (4) Shame you for not flushing toilet: A traditional woman would not invite home the drunken or drugged type that does not flush toilets. If you are deserved, your Vietnamese woman would prepare her house for your arrival, and tactfully be the first to enter the washroom as you walk out to tidy up everything to protect your image.

    (5) Want you to wash dishes after a guest meal: Only the worst of slothful families would expect a foreigner man to wash dishes when hosting dinner in their home. Although every couple should share household chores, if your Vietnamese woman is proud to her friends about you, a foreigner friend or husband, washing dishes then chances are she considers you a toy boy in status.

    Distinctions should be made between culture and personality. Cultural highlights to take away from your article were supposed to be what stick up after screening out all compatible points between the expats' and the Vietnamese women's three legs of culture: beliefs (what preconceived as characteristics of certain people or things), values (what go with or against one's established conscience), and attitude (how one was preprogrammed to respond to external events).

    Culture is at social level whereas personality is at the crossing between psychological and physiological lower levels. Discussed culture but your article relayed anecdotic observations of personality from women who did not show congruency within their own traits: The five behavior expectation points you noted and I relayed above are strongly masculine. So your referenced Vietnamese women were female in sex but masculine in gender--necessary traits of contented ill-famed women.

    Compatibility issues should not be compounded within a behavioral layer. If those masculine Vietnamese females have other strongly feminine qualities to balance up to be androgynous (both strongly masculine and strongly feminine in gender) then they could befriend with other androgynous males. If not, it is difficult for those women to remain happily compatible with masculine men even from the same Vietnamese culture, let alone jumping a cultural gap.

    Compatibility problems should also not be falsely solved by assimilation across behavioral layers. Those incongruent masculine Vietnamese women, by trial and error, have ended up loving to pair with Western foreigners. The compatibility problem is apparently solved by assimilating Western men's respectful and gentle attitude (at cultural level) with softness of Vietnamese feminine traits (at personality level) to let Western males tolerate masculine Vietnamese females much better than do Vietnamese males.

    Further, the forming of new relationship is extreme fast because masculine traits of those Vietnamese females and masculine traits of Westerner males both actively openly seeking mates. But that spontaneously fast pairing, especially when supercharged by the Westerner males faking of more deeply feminine behaviors to attract masculine Vietnamese females as your article misinformed, crosses the culture-personality boundary and hence has a lot of faults which will propagate with time to crack the relationship.

  2. What load of tosh, don't stare because I am a foreigner, what about local people staring at me. Clean houses, yes, I would expect that anywhere, are you saying all foreigners are just plain filthy? It is not about treating Vietnamese women with respect, it is treating everyone one with respect regardless of their race, colour, religion or sexual preference....oh by the way, after spending over eight years in Vietnam and loving the country and it's people and respecting it......the biggest lack of respect for Vietnamese women comes from Vietnamese men....ask any Vietnamese women

  3. As a local Vietnamese living in HCMC and have worked in USA, Canada for years, I would recommend you not to be bothered by others who stare at you. Mostly, they do it because they are curious about foreigners who looks different. That's it :). And this should happen in rural areas only where are not many foreigners there.

    About the lack of respect for Vietnamese women by Vietnamese men, it's really an issue which is recognized and being fixed by both society and government. But as the article suggests, It mostly happens in some parts of the north and the rural areas only. In the south region, especially HoChiMinh city, it's much less.

    Generally, be comfortable in talking to Vietnamese women or men. There is no special thing to be too careful. In the article, I believe everybody would do it everywhere, not just Vietnam when visiting their friends houses. This is an developing country and just like other developing countries :). I hope you enjoy living and working in Vietnam.


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