vietnam travel covid 19 updates

Stay updated with the latest news of the COVID-19 situation in Vietnam and information for traveling to Vietnam. Read more here.

Vietnam Travel Information

i Tour Vietnam | Top-rated private Ho Chi Minh City tours and Vietnam travel guides.

What You Should Know About Vietnamese Superstitions

vietnamese-superstitions

Despite the fact that there is disapproval of superstitious practices from the government, most Vietnamese still have strong deep-rooted beliefs in superstitions that were set by our ancestors long ago. These Vietnamese superstitions not only reflect in our traditions, culture, day to day life but to the extent that they can also dictate from which date is the best to open a business, go on a vacation or wedding ceremony, etc. Just as an old Vietnamese proverb goes “Co kieng co lanh”, which can be roughly translated to “There is no worship without sacredness, there are no taboos without luck”. Here are what you should know about Vietnamese superstitions so that you can cultivate your own luck too.

Vietnamese Superstitions - Beliefs in Afterlife and Spiritual Beings

Vietnamese usually offer foods and burn ghost money and votive items like houses, clothes, and cars for the death so that they can eat, spend, use and continue their afterlife in another world. You can often see this ritual during the Tet holiday, one's funeral, the death memorial occasions, and Vietnamese Ghosts Month or so-called Thang Co Hon.

To chase away bad luck, Vietnamese will burn incense or a piece of paper and fan the smoke. The sellers often do this when a customer comes and leaves without buying anything first thing in the morning as they believe the customer has brought bad spirits to the shop. The Chinese Vietnamese has a similar ritual where they burn and step over charcoal.

Vietnamese Superstitions and Fortune-telling

There are many kinds of fortune-telling in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese really love fortune-telling. The word for it in Vietnamese is "coi boi", and the most popular time for this is at Tet Holiday (coi boi dau nam). People, especially the female, will go to fortune-tellers (thay boi) and see their luck in the relationship with family members, love life, and work or business progress in the next year. Even though it can be a fun thing to do once in a while, there are many Vietnamese who actually believe in it and got their money swindled, so it gives a bad impression when people talk about fortune-telling.

The traditional fortune-telling includes Tu vi (a combination of reading your star sign, lunar calendar birthday, gender, and some previous events in the past to tell your future), palm reading, and zodiac signs reading. The Vietnamese, especially the young ones, also other kinds of fortune-telling from foreign countries like the horoscope and tarot. While there are some fortune-telling methods seeming to use logical reasoning in the reading, but most of them are based on no actual scientific proof or solid pieces of evidence.

Vietnamese Superstitions - Remedies for Bad Luck and Changing One's Fortune

Comes with fortune-telling, there have to be remedies if the result of reading your destiny is bad. While there are many superstitions in Vietnam about what can bring people bad luck like breaking a mirror and seeing a crow or black cat, Vietnamese have an arsenal of ways to get rid of misfortune as well.

Draw a line of salt

According to Vietnamese superstitions, whenever you seem to have too much misfortune in your life, you’re being shadowed by a spirit. In order to get rid of it, it is advised that you should draw a line of salt in front of your door, this will act as a talisman or protective charm that will keep the spirits from entering your home.

Burn incense

vietnamese superstitions incense

vietnamese superstitions offering incense

Burning incense is a way to respect the gods and the deceased relatives

Most Vietnamese have multiple altars in both their home and workplace to worship their ancestors as well as different deities like Buddha, Bodhisattva, Than Tai (Caishen) - God of Wealth, and Phuc Loc Tho - the three Gods of Prosperity, Wealth, and Longevity. Read more about Religions in Vietnam here.

Depends on what you’re praying for, be it health, wealth, or general fortune for yourself and your family, you will pray to different deities. However, make sure that the number of incense you use is always odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) when making offerings to ancestors or Buddhist deities. Learn more about how incense is made.

For many business owners, whenever they meet a bad customer or their sales are down, they can also just light up a piece of paper and send their bad luck away in the wind with the dark smoke. This practice is known as Dot phong long.

There are also other superstitions in Vietnam to wear off bad luck like wearing lucky charms made from jade. But all in all the best method to cultivate good fortune is to do as many good deeds as you can.

Eat a Balut

Balut - fertilized duck egg embryo - also known as Hot vit lon, is a popular food Vietnamese use to get rid of bad fortune. The reason for this tradition can be explained by the name of the dish itself. The word “lon” in Vietnamese means “to reverse”, so you should only eat a balut to reverse your bad luck and not when you are lucky. Remember to only eat an odd number of eggs (1, 3, 5) and crush the eggshells when you’ve finished.

vietnamese superstitions baluts

Check here for more exotic Vietnamese dishes.

Feng Shui

In Vietnamese superstitions, people believe that their house comes with a history and negative or positive energy of their own. However, the owner can change that by changing the arrangement of their home and surrounding environment according to feng shui to harness lucky energy.

Colors elements

Superstitions in viet nam feng shui color chart

The feng shui color chart by elements

There are a total of five feng shui elements: earth, air, fire, wood, and metal. Just like the horoscope or zodiac sign, your element is also decided based on your year of birth. Both the paint color as well as furniture inside the house should be compatible with the owner’s elements. If your element is water, you should go for black or blue in combination with white or silver, which is associated with the purity of water, and avoid brown or yellow tone because water and earth are conflicting elements.

Door placement

vietnamese superstitions houses alleyway

The door is one of the most important aspects of feng shui in your home

According to the law of feng shui, the door is a gateway for luck or misfortune to your home. You shouldn’t place any mirror opposite to the entrance because after a long day of working, seeing a shadow or reflection in the mirror as the first thing when you come home can create paranoia which can negatively affect homeowners’ mental health or make them suffer from nightmares, especially if you are a woman.

Building a bathroom behind the main door is also unwise, not only will it create bad fortunes for homeowners, but it is also believed to cause health issues related to kidney, stomach, memory loss or even fertility problems. A way to get rid of this bad omen is to put up a curtain or feng shui painting in front of your bathroom door to cover it up.

In an apartment complex, the door should not be placed opposite of the elevator because owners can feel like everyone is peeking inside their home, and the privacy of the family will be disturbed by outside energy.

Numbers

In Vietnamese culture, numbers like 1, 6, 7, 8, 9 are thought of as lucky numbers. Particularly number 8, because the Chinese pronunciation of it sounds like the word “Phat” in meaning “wealth, prosperity”. However, many feng shui masters have said that 9 is the luckiest number, it represents completion, fulfillment, and achievement. No matter which number you multiply 9 with, the addition of digits in the result of the equation always returns to 9 (for example, 9 x 2 = 18 -> 1 + 8 = 9), symbolizing a complete circle of heaven and earth.

In feng shui law, your personal lucky number is calculated by adding the last two digits of your birth year together until you get a single digit. If you are a man, subtract 10 from the final result, and add 5 if you are a woman.

Example:

Your birth year is 1996, 9 + 6 = 15 -> 1 + 5 = 6
If you are male: 10 - 6 = 4 then your lucky number is 4
If you are female: 6 + 5 = 12 -> 1 + 2 = 3 then your lucky number is 3

Vietnamese also believe that a good combination of digits in their motorbike license plate or phone number can bring them good luck. They choose their numbers using a wide range of tools ranging from the year of birth, elemental/zodiac sign, or just a beautiful sequence of numbers, most notably quadruple eight and nine. Some wealthy businessmen would even go as far as paying millions to acquire a good number.

Irrational Beliefs in Vietnamese Superstitions

  • The first customer of the day will determine whether it is a good or bad day for business. Customers buying a lot is considered a good sign and vice versa.
  • Whistle at night will attract snakes. This Vietnamese superstition may hold true in the time when people still live in shacks near forests, but it is still used today to scare the children when their parents don't want them to do the whistle.
  • The owl is a sign of bad luck. The Vietnamese believe when you see one that means someone, especially those who are close to you, is going to die.
  • Any unfortunate events you meet in one year is because the sign of your zodiac is not comparable with the zodiac signs of that year. There are some zodiac signs that will be on good terms with one another (usually a group of three zodiacs), while others will be conflicted with one another. For example, in the year of the dog, if your zodiac sign is a horse, a dog, or a tiger, you will bound to be in big trouble.

And there are more because every person, with their unique background, occupation, and experience will have their own superstition and ritual related to it. For example, the fishermen will remove the bones of the fish after finishing one side of the fish instead of turning it over as they believe this would turn over their boats. You can see more of these irrational beliefs in chopsticks-using manners and gift-giving etiquettes in Vietnam.

To have fun trips in Ho Chi Minh City, check out our authentic motorbike tours with professional local guides!

Some Vietnamese Superstitions during Tet Holidays

Tet is more than just family gatherings, sticky rice cakes, and Li xi (lucky money). It is also about turning to a new page and having a fresh start for a new year. So there is no wonder why Vietnamese practice a lot of these superstitions in order to make sure that the transition from the old to the new year happens as smoothly as possible.

No cleaning during Tet of any sort

vietnamese superstitions sweeping house tet

It is superstitious that cleaning should be finished before the new year's eve

Vietnamese believe that by cleaning the house during Tet, especially the first 3 days, they will sweep the good lucks and prosperity out of their home. These Vietnamese superstitions originated from two folk tales. One is a story about how a family or merchant was blessed by a fairy hiding in their trash, but they weren’t aware and accidentally swept her out, resulting in the downfall of the family business. The second story tells the tale of a Goddess who was responsible for cooking for Ngoc Hoang (the Jade Emperor, King of the Heaven) but always tasted his meals first. When Ngoc Hoang found out about this act, he punished her by turning her into a broom and forced her to work all year long, only allowing her to rest in the first 3 days of Tet.

So when you’re visiting a friend’s family during Tet, make sure not to comment about their piled-up trash or help out with cleaning, as you will be throwing out their good fortune.

Xong dat - also known as the first home caller or first foot

vietnamese superstitions xong dat

Your luck for the entire year depends on the first visitor

Keeping an eye on what or who enters the house is also just as important. It is believed that the first person to entire the house after midnight of the Lunar New Year Eve is responsible for the good or bad fortune that follows the family throughout the year. There are two main ways that the Vietnamese decide who will be the first person to set foot in their house on New Year's Eve.

The first option is to have the oldest person in the family be the home caller; this Vietnamese superstition comes from the view that the elders have accumulated a lot of good deeds, fortune, and knowledge in their long life and can share their longevity, peacefulness, and good fortune with the whole family. The second way is decided by the compatibility of the guest and the homeowner based on their age and zodiac signs. For example, people with the zodiac sign of the mouse should visit homeowners with signs of buffalo, dragon, monkey, and if people born in the year of the snake wouldn't be welcomed to visit a family whose head of the family is born in the year of the mouse.

This superstition in Vietnam is taken quite seriously, so be sure not to show up uninvited to people's houses on the first day of Tet or set foot in their home after New Year's Eve if your age is not compatible. 

Other Dos and Don'ts during Tet.

Other taboos include wearing black or white, as these colors are associated with death and funeral; borrowing money during this time is also frowned upon. For more insights on, check our guide on what to expect in Vietnamese Tet.

 

Conclusion on What You Should Know About Vietnamese Superstitions

Superstitious beliefs are everywhere on the planet and vary from all corners of the world. A large number of superstitions in Vietnam reflect the country’s rich history and diverse culture. Check out our Vietnam travel guide or our private tours if you wish to learn more about the traditions and customs of Vietnam.

Get the world-leading travel insurance for your adventure in Vietnam:

 

Copyright

© itourvn.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

150
 

Comments

Guest - Dorian Mamrie on Saturday, 22 February 2020 17:31

Hey your article is pretty cool. I'm visiting my Vietnamese friend's family and it is very important to know about this

Hey your article is pretty cool. I'm visiting my Vietnamese friend's family and it is very important to know about this
Guest - Mona Figueroa on Thursday, 30 January 2020 11:31

interesting information about the vietnamese culture

interesting information about the vietnamese culture
Guest - Osman Reeve on Tuesday, 08 October 2019 11:33

Wow, should I visit a Vietnamese family during the new year holiday?

Wow, should I visit a Vietnamese family during the new year holiday?
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Monday, 18 October 2021

Captcha Image

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.itourvn.com/

 

About itourvn.com

This Vietnam travel information page is written by a team of professional tour guides in Vietnam. More about us or visit home page

Private Ho Chi Minh Tours

private ho chi minh tours

All tours are private, customizable, and led by professional English-speaking guides. For more reference, read our customer reviews or see below for the tour package in Ho Chi Minh that works for you.

Half-day City Tour

Night Tour

Food Tour

Saigon's Other Side

Shore Excursions

Vietnam Travel Information

Check out the necessary information for traveling to Vietnam

First Time in Vietnam

To Pack List for Vietnam

Vietnam Travel Adaptors

Major Cities in Vietnam

Family & Elderly Travel

LGBT Travel

Vietnam Festivals and Holidays

Best Vietnamese Dishes

UNESCO World Heritage in Vietnam

Responsible Travel in Vietnam

Vietnamese Culture

Religions in Vietnam

Ethnicities in Vietnam

Tipping in Vietnam

Vietnamese Currency Guide

Best Dishes to Try in Vietnam

20 Must-try Vietnamese Dishes

Unusual Foods to Try in Vietnam

Street Food in Vietnam

Vietnamese Grilled Dishes

Rice Dishes in Vietnam

Pho Dishes in Vietnam

Holiday Dishes to Try during Tet Holiday

Chinese Dishes in Vietnam

Dishes to Try in Northern Vietnam

Dishes to Try in Central Vietnam

Dishes to Try in Southern Vietnam

What to Eat in Ho Chi Minh City

What to Eat in Hanoi

What to Eat in Hue

What to Eat in Hoi An

What to Eat in Da Lat

What to Eat in the Mekong Delta

Traveling to and within Vietnam

Airport Arrival Tips at Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Ho Chi Minh)

Airport Arrival Tips at Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi)

Major Airports in Vietnam

Taking Trains in Vietnam

Bringing your Motorbikes on Trains in Vietnam

Bringing Your Own Vehicles to Vietnam

Bringing Your Pets to Vietnam

How to Take Motorbike Taxis

Taking a Ferry in Vietnam

Renting a Car in Vietnam

How to Travel from Hanoi to Da Nang

How to Travel from Hanoi to Hue

How to Travel from Hanoi to Sa Pa

How to Travel from Hanoi to Mai Chau

How to Travel from Hanoi to Moc Chau

How to Travel from Hanoi to Cao Bang

How to Travel from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai

How to Travel from Hanoi to Ha Giang

How to Travel from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne

How to Travel from Ho Chi Minh to Da Lat

How to Travel from Ho Chi Minh to Phu Quoc Island

How to Travel from Da Nang to Hoi An

How to Travel from Hue to Phong Nha

Vietnam Travel Itineraries

Vietnam One-month Itinerary

Vietnam One-week Itinerary

Taking a Gap Year in Vietnam

Backpacking in Vietnam

Expat Tours in Vietnam

Honeymoon in Vietnam

Vietnam Visa, SIM Cards, and WiFi

Visa Info & Where to Buy Sim Cards

Traveling with Wifi in Vietnam

Vietnam Travel Safety Tips

Travel Insurance

Is it Safe to Drink Tap Water?

How to Avoid Mosquitoes

Food Safety in Vietnam

Getting Vaccinations

Common Diseases and How to Prevent

Wearing Face Masks in Vietnam

Can Tourists Drive in Vietnam

How to Avoid Scams

Travel Safety Tips

Best Places to Stay in Vietnam

Deluxe Hotels in Vietnam

Best Hotels in Ho Chi Minh

Best Hotels in Hanoi

Where to Stay in Ha Long Bay

Where to Stay in Mai Chau

Where to Stay in Moc Chau

Where to Stay in Ha Giang

Where to Stay in Cao Bang

Where to Stay in Lang Son

Where to Stay in Sa Pa

Where to Stay in Mu Cang Chai

Where to Stay in Kon Tum

Where to Stay in Da Lat

Where to Stay in Mui Ne

Where to Stay in Hoi An

Homestays in Vietnam

Find more hotels to stay in Vietnam below:

 

Ho Chi Minh Travel Guides

First Time in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh Attractions & Activities

Places to Eat & Drink

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City Districts

Local Activities in Ho Chi Minh

Hanoi Travel Guides

First Time in Hanoi

Hanoi Attractions & Activities

Places to Eat & Drink in Hanoi

Shopping in Hanoi

Hanoi Districts

Local Activities in Hanoi

North Vietnam Travel Guides

First Time in Ninh Binh

First Time in Ha Giang

First Time in Ha Long Bay

First Time in Sa Pa

First Time at Yen Tu Mountain

First Time in Moc Chau

First Time in Mai Chau

First Time in Hai Phong

First Time in Cao Bang

First Time in Lang Son

First Time at Bai Tu Long Bay

Central Vietnam Travel Guides

First Time in Hue

First Time in Hoi An

First Time in Da Nang

First Time in Nha Trang

First Time in Da Lat

First Time in Mui Ne

First Time in Buon Ma Thuot

First Time in Kon Tum

First Time in Phu Yen

South Vietnam Travel Guides

First Time in the Mekong Delta

First Time at Con Dao Island

First Time in Vung Tau

First Time at Phu Quoc Island

First Time in Ca Mau

First Time in Can Tho

Powered by 12Go Asia system