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Vietnam Travel Tips: Useful Phrases in Vietnamese


Although English has been increasingly spoken in Vietnam, many Vietnamese are unaccustomed to using this foreign language on a daily basis. Getting to know some simple phrases in Vietnamese, therefore, could become fairly useful to you when traveling to this beautiful country, especially when you want to have local experience in off-the-beaten-path places. Have a look at some Vietnamese phrases for travelers to Vietnam.

Overview of the Vietnamese Language

Unlike many other Asian languages including Chinese and Japanese which are generally based on symbols, Vietnamese is an interesting combination of Latin alphabet and additional diacritics for certain letters. There are 29 characters, 6 tones, and 5 tone marks in total. Vietnamese vocabulary today has been partially developed from Chinese, which is a result of several centuries being under the Chinese occupation. Vietnamese speakers could be found in several parts of the world ranging from Southeast Asia to North America and Western Europe due to the Vietnamese emigration during the Vietnam War, making Vietnamese become one of the most spoken languages in the world.

Simple Phrases in Vietnamese

Knowing some Vietnamese phrases could greatly give you a decent chance to have an insight view of Vietnamese culture as well as avoid unwanted misunderstandings and frustrations during your trip to Vietnam. Some simple phrases could also make it possible for you to have more effective interaction with locals, helping you avoid being overcharged when coming to tourist attractions. Here are some simple phrases in Vietnamese that you might need in your Vietnam travel.

Vietnamese words for addressing people

 Vietnamese  English
 Tôi / Toi  I
 Bạn / Ban  You
 Anh  Male (senior) or older brother
 Em  Male (junior) or Female (junior) or younger brother/sister
 Chị / Chi  Female (senior) or older sister
Chú / Chu Male (senior) or uncle
Cô / Co Female (senior) or aunt
Ông / Ong Male (senior in very formal case) or grandfather
Bà / Ba Female (senior in very formal case) or grandmother


Greetings in Vietnamese

 Vietnamese  English
 Xin chào / Xin chao  Hello
 Tạm biệt / Tam biet  Goodbye
 Chào buổi sáng / Chao buoi sang  Good morning
 Chúc ngủ ngon / Chuc ngu ngon  Good night
 Bạn tên gì / Ban ten gi?  What’s your name?
 Tên tôi là / Ten toi la …  My name is …


How to Ask for Directions in Vietnamese

 Vietnamese  English
 Tôi muốn đến / Toi muon den …  I want to go to …
 ... ở đâu / o dau?  Where is …?
 Đi thẳng / Di thang  Go straight
 Rẽ phải / Re phai  Turn right
 Rẽ trái / Re trai  Turn left
 Quay lại / Quay lai  Turn around
 Dừng ở đây / Dung o day  Stop here
 Đi thôi / Di thoi  Let's go
 Ngã tư / Nga tu  Crossroad
 Bùng binh (vòng xoay) / Bung binh (vong xoay)  Roundabout
 Tôi bị lạc / Toi bi lac  I’m lost


For more information on Vietnamese transportation, check out Vietnamese Transportation and Getting around Ho Chi Minh City.

Number System in Vietnamese

 Vietnamese  English
 Không / Khong  0
 Một / Mot  1
 Hai  2
 Ba  3
 Bốn / Bon  4
 Năm / Nam  5
 Sáu / Sau  6
 Bảy / Bay  7
 Tám / Tam  8
 Chín / Chin  9
 Mười / Muoi  10
 Mười một / Muoi mot  11
 Hai mươi / Hai muoi  20
 Hai mươi mốt / Hai muoi mot  21
 Một trăm / Mot tram  100
 Một ngàn / Mot ngan  1,000
 Một trăm ngàn / Mot tram ngan  100,000
 Một triệu / Mot trieu  1,000,000


Useful Vietnamese Phrases when Dining and Ordering

 Vietnamese  English
 Không đường / Khong duong  No sugar, please
 Không đá / Khong da  No ice, please
 Có quán ăn nào gần đây không? / Co quan an nao gan day khong?  Is there a restaurant nearby?
 Cho tôi xem thực đơn / Cho toi xem thuc don  May I have the menu, please?
 Tôi ăn chay / Toi an chay  I’m vegetarian
 Cho tôi cái này / Cho toi cai nay  I would like to have this
 Tính tiền / Tinh tien  Bill, please
 Chín / Chin  Well-done
 Tái / Tai  Rare
 Vừa / Vua  Medium
  Anh ơi / Anh oi (to waiter)
 Chị ơi / Chi oi (to waitress)
 Excuse me
 Một đĩa  One dish
 Một tô  One bowl
 Một ly  One glass
 Cà phê  Coffee
 Trà đá  Iced tea
 Một chai nước suối  One bottle of water


For more foods and drinks recommendation, check out our What to Expect on Your Ho Chi Minh Food Tours, Vietnamese Street Foods You Should Try, and Must-try Vietnamese Drinks.

Useful Vietnamese Phrases for Shopping

 Vietnamese  English
 Cái này bao nhiêu / Cai nay bao nhieu?  How much is this?
 Tôi muốn cái khác / Toi muon cai khac  I would like something else
 Mắc quá / Mac qua  That’s too expensive
 Giảm giá đi / Giam gia di  Can you give me a discount?
 Tôi không đủ tiền / Toi khong du tien  I can’t afford it
 Tôi mua cái này / Toi mua cai nay  I’ll take it
 Tôi không mua cái này / Toi khong mua cai nay  I don’t want to buy this


For more information on what to buy, check out our What to Buy in Hanoi and What to Buy in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Compliments and Expression in Vietnamese

 Vietnamese  English
 Đẹp quá / Dep qua  Nice/Beautiful/Pretty
 Ngon quá / Ngon qua  Tasty/Delicious
 Bạn nấu ăn rất ngon / Ban nau an rat ngon  You’re a fantastic cook
 Vui quá / Vui qua  Exciting/Fun
 Tôi yêu bạn / Toi yeu ban  I love you
 Cảm ơn / Cam on  Thank you
 Không có chi / Khong co chi  You’re welcome
 Xin lỗi / Xin loi  Sorry 


Wishes and Blessings

 Vietnamese  English
 Chúc mừng năm mới / Chuc mung nam moi  Happy new year
 Vạn sự như ý / Van su nhu y  Wish that everything would go well for you
 An khang thịnh vượng / An khanh thinh vuong  Wish you health and prosperity
 Sống lâu trăm tuổi / Song lau tram tuoi  Wish you long life (live to a hundred years old)
 Chúc mừng sinh nhật / Chuc mung sinh nhat  Happy birthday
 Sống đến đầu bạc răng long / Song den dau bac rang long  Wish you a life time of love and hapiness (Wedding occasion)
Chia buồn cùng gia quyến / Chia buon cung gia quyen  Sorry for your loss (Funeral occasion)



Summary of Simple Phrases in Vietnam

Vietnamese is not particularly difficult for foreigners to learn some simple phrases as its alphabet is based on Latin alphabet which is used in English and many Western languages. Getting to know some Vietnamese phrases seems to be the most efficient way to gain a fulfilling experience in your Vietnam trip.

Read more on 50 Fun Facts about Vietnam and Top-rated Ho Chi Minh City Tours.

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Guest - Amanda Crosby on Friday, 01 November 2019 14:52

I am having a hard time reading these much less pronouncing them. As great as these are I believe some pronunciation aids (audio or something) would be helpful.

I am having a hard time reading these much less pronouncing them. As great as these are I believe some pronunciation aids (audio or something) would be helpful.
Guest - Keaton on Sunday, 27 October 2019 14:09

Great and useful

Great and useful
Guest - Molly French on Saturday, 19 October 2019 23:36

I tried so hard and failed everytime Vietnamese is not an easy language to learn

I tried so hard and failed everytime :( Vietnamese is not an easy language to learn
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