• Basic Vietnamese for Travel: A Guide for Beginners

    Le CongAugust 18, 2023

    If you are planning to visit Vietnam, it might be helpful to learn some basic Vietnamese phrases to communicate with the locals and enjoy your trip better. Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam, spoken by around 70 million people. It is a tonal language, meaning that the meaning of a word can change depending on how it is pronounced. Vietnamese has six tones, each marked by a different diacritic on the vowel.

    This guide will teach you some essential Vietnamese phrases for travel, such as greetings, asking for directions, ordering food, and bargaining. We will also provide tips on pronunciation and some interesting facts about Vietnamese language and culture. Let’s get started!

    Basic Vietnamese Phrases for Greetings

    The first thing you need to know is how to say hello in Vietnamese. The most common way to greet someone is:

    • Xin chào! (sin chow) – Hello!

    You can use this phrase in any situation, whether formal or informal, with anyone you meet. However, if you want to be more specific, you can also add the title of the person you are talking to, such as:

    • Xin chào anh! (sin chow ahn) – Hello sir!
    • Xin chào chị! (sin chow chee) – Hello ma’am!
    • Xin chào em! (sin chow em) – Hello younger brother/sister!
    • Xin chào cô! (sin chow co) – Hello auntie!
    • Xin chào bác! (sin chow bac) – Hello uncle!

    Note that these titles are not based on blood relation, but on age and gender. Anh and chị are used for people who are older than you, but not too old. Em is used for people who are younger than you, or for someone you are close to. Cô and bác are used for people who are much older than you, or as a sign of respect.

    To say goodbye in Vietnamese, you can use:

    • Tạm biệt! (tam bee-et) – Goodbye!

    This phrase is also suitable for any situation and any person. However, if you want to be more casual, you can also say:

    • Chào! (chow) – Bye!
    • Chào anh/chị/em/cô/bác! (chow ahn/chee/em/co/bac) – Bye sir/ma’am/younger brother or sister/auntie/uncle!

    To ask someone how they are doing in Vietnamese, you can say:

    • Bạn có khỏe không? (ban co kwe kohng) – How are you?

    This phrase literally means “Are you healthy?” and it is a polite way to show your concern for someone’s well-being. To answer this question, you can say:

    • Dạ, tôi khỏe. Còn bạn? (zah, toy kwe. con ban) – Yes, I’m fine. And you?
    • Không, tôi không khỏe. (kohng, toy kohng kwe) – No, I’m not well.

    Dạ is a word that shows respect and agreement. You can use it when answering yes to a question or when accepting something from someone.

    Basic Vietnamese Phrases for Everyday Use

    There are some basic Vietnamese phrases that you will need to use frequently during your travel, such as:

    • Cảm ơn! (cam uhn) – Thank you!
    • Không cảm ơn! (kohng cam uhn) – No thank you!
    • Xin lỗi! (sin loy) – I’m sorry! / Excuse me!
    • Làm ơn! (lam uhn) – Please!
    • Không sao đâu! (kohng sao doh) – You’re welcome! / No problem!

    You can use these phrases in any situation where you want to express your gratitude, apology, request, or acceptance. For example:

    • Cảm ơn anh đã giúp tôi! (cam uhn ahn da zup toy) – Thank you for helping me!
    • Xin lỗi anh, tôi muốn hỏi đường. (sin loy ahn, toy moo-un hoy doong) – Excuse me sir, I want to ask for directions.
    • Làm ơn cho tôi xem menu. (lam uhn cho toy sem me-noo) – Please let me see the menu.
    • Không sao đâu, cứ thoải mái. (kohng sao doh, koo twy my) – No problem, just make yourself comfortable.

    Basic Vietnamese Phrases for Getting Around

    One of the most crucial things to know when traveling in Vietnam is how to get around. Whether you’re taking a taxi, bus, train, or motorbike, you’ll need to know some basic Vietnamese phrases related to transportation. Here are a few examples:

    • Tôi muốn đi … (toy moo-un dee) – I want to go to …
    • Tôi muốn thuê … (toy moo-un tweh) – I want to rent …
    • Tôi muốn mua vé … (toy moo-un mwa veh) – I want to buy a ticket for …
    • Bạn có biết … ở đâu không? (ban co bee-et … o doh kohng) – Do you know where … is?
    • Làm ơn chỉ cho tôi cách đi … (lam uhn chee cho toy cah dee) – Please show me how to go to …

    You can fill in the blanks with the name of the place or the mode of transportation you want. For example:

    • Tôi muốn đi khách sạn. (toy moo-un dee kahk san) – I want to go to the hotel.
    • Tôi muốn thuê xe máy. (toy moo-un tweh seh may) – I want to rent a motorbike.
    • Tôi muốn mua vé tàu. (toy moo-un mwa veh tow) – I want to buy a train ticket.
    • Bạn có biết nhà hàng ở đâu không? (ban co bee-et nya hang o doh kohng) – Do you know where the restaurant is?
    • Làm ơn chỉ cho tôi cách đi bến xe. (lam uhn chee cho toy cah dee ben seh) – Please show me how to go to the bus station.

    When you are in a taxi or a bus, you might also need to say:

    • Dừng lại ở đây! (doong lie o day) – Stop here!
    • Đi chậm lại! (dee cham lie) – Slow down!
    • Đi nhanh lên! (dee nahn len) – Hurry up!

    Basic Vietnamese Phrases for Travelers

    As a traveler, you will need some basic Vietnamese phrases to help with accommodation, sightseeing, shopping, and emergencies. Here are some examples:

    • Tôi có đặt phòng ở đây. (toy co dat fong o day) – I have a reservation here.
    • Tôi muốn xem phòng. (toy moo-un sem fong) – I want to see the room.
    • Tôi muốn trả phòng. (toy moo-un tra fong) – I want to check out.
    • Tôi muốn tham quan … (toy moo-un tam quan) – I want to visit …
    • Tôi muốn mua … (toy moo-un mwa) – I want to buy …
    • Bạn có thể giảm giá không? (ban co teh zam zah kohng) – Can you lower the price?
    • Tôi bị lạc. (toy bee lak) – I’m lost.
    • Tôi bị ốm. (toy bee om) – I’m sick.
    • Tôi cần gọi cảnh sát/bác sĩ. (toy can goy canh sat/bac see) – I need to call the police/doctor.

    You can fill in the blanks with the name of the attraction or the item you want. For example:

    • Tôi muốn tham quan chùa Một Cột. (toy moo-un tam quan choo-a mot cot) – I want to visit the One Pillar Pagoda.
    • Tôi muốn mua áo dài. (toy moo-un mwa ao die) – I want to buy an ao dai.

    Basic Vietnamese Phrases for Food

    One of the best things about traveling in Vietnam is the food. Vietnamese cuisine is famous for its freshness, diversity, and flavor. You will find many delicious dishes to try, such as phở, bánh mì, bún chả, gỏi cuốn, and more. To help you order food and enjoy your meal, here are some basic Vietnamese phrases for food:

    • Tôi muốn ăn … (toy moo-un an) – I want to eat

    We hope you have a great time exploring the culinary delights of Vietnam!

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