Fun Facts about Vietnam

Many fun facts about Vietnam might bring you travelers pleasure and enjoyment. I bet that even many Vietnamese do not know or recognize such things.

I pick up here the top 15 interesting facts in different aspects including geography, people, and culture, etc. for your reading pleasure.

So, let’s start with …

#1.  My country’s territory has a shape of a narrow “S” letter. I love the shape as it’s a nice symbol and easy to remember. 

#2.  Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashew and pepper, and the second largest of rice (after Thailand) and coffee (after Brazil) in the world. The exporting figures in 2012 of my state are as follows:

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  • Cashew: 260,000 tons
  • Pepper: 118,000 tons
  • Rice: 8.1 million tons
  • Coffee: 1.5 million tons

#3.  Our capital Hanoi celebrated the 1,000th year anniversary in 2010. Quite a long history, isn’t it? In fact, the duration is over four times as many as the whole history of the USA.

#4. As of 2012, according to, about 36 million people accounting for approximately 40% of all Vietnamese around the world share the same family name Nguyễn.

Nguyễn ranks the 4th in the list of the world’s most common surnames, only after Li or Lee (with more than 120 million people), Zhang (100 million), and Wang (92.88 million). The Vietnamese surname is also becoming the most popular in Australia.

#5. In Vietnam, when loving couples choose their wedding dates, they’ll prefer good dates in lunar calendar, no matter those days fall in weekday or weekend. The selection causes the fact that some days in a month observe too many weddings, filling almost all hotels and wedding halls, while in the other days, there’s no wedding at all. So, it’s a little funny that, sometimes people like me receive several wedding invitations in one day – it’s a good day.

Do you think this is among the fun facts about Vietnam?

#6. There exist several floating fishing villages in Vietnam, e.g. Cua Van in Ha Long Bay. There, inhabitants rarely or (in the past) even never put their feet on land. Classes therefore are held in moving with those floating villages so that students don’t have to miss their lessons. 

#7. Have you ever watched Vietnamese people drinking (coffee, tea, or water)? You might see that we usually leave a part of water in our cups after drinking. Same happens when we eat noodle. That’s a somewhat-superficial habit, as we believe that it’s a polite way to show we’re not so thirsty or hungry to death that we drink or eat all the water in cups or bowls.

Recently, the practice change considerably, when we find the real meaning of saving and politeness. We only leave drinks left because they do not taste good.

#8. On the first meeting, Vietnamese do not usually talk about weather. Instead, to show friendship, the locals usually ask you your age, nationality, and marital status. Sometimes, initial topics may include the business and salary you’re earning.

The above-mentioned conversation is not deemed private matter. Rather, it only shows that people care about you. So, if you’re asked, you can choose to answer or not, and don’t get surprised or upset.

#9. Traditional musicians play funeral music in funerals. It’s a hurtful farewell tune, played to escort souls to the other world.

Funeral musician is one of the oldest jobs in Vietnam. A qualified player earns pretty much, is hardly jobless, and affected little by any economy crisis.

#10. People avoid touching or passing thing over others’ head, with children to be an exception.

It’s unlike what we watch on international football matches, in which players usually tap one another heads to show their friendship or apology. In Vietnam, when you touch other people’s head, that mean you’re looking down or piss off on them.

We have a belief that heads house spirit of people, and should be kept in noble.

So, never touch other people’s heads, especially the front portion.

#11. Vietnamese avoid direct eye contact. If you look at somebody’s eyes for long enough moment, it implies that (1) you’re investigating or do not believe in what he or she is saying, or (2) threatening if you staring at him/her, or (3) have emotional affection with him/her.

#12. We do not actively welcome compliments. That is deemed somewhat arrogant or impolite. Usually, we lightly deny compliments as a way showing our modesty and politeness. At most but only sometimes, we say gently “thank you” when receiving compliments, but no more.

#13. Public traffic is complex, to the most of foreigners. It shouldn't be among fun facts about Vietnam; rather, it’s an odd reality actually.

Motorbikes are the main means of transport in daily life. It’s pretty flexible and convenient, and cheap, in comparison with cars. So, you can see motorbike everywhere.

#14. It’s rather hard to cross street for travelers who’re new comers to Vietnam. You have to carefully look around when walking on pavement or zebra crossing / pedestrian lanes. Most native people do not notice or simple ignore symbol of those.

Remember pavement is not for pedestrian only. More often than not, it is also (illegal) business location for selling tea, coffee, snack, and fast food; washing cars; cutting hair, keeping bike and motorbike… Altogether, it’s a kind of “pavement economy” for street stalls.

Besides, vehicles simply do not let walker go if you wait for them to do so. You need a little courage and tactics to walk on or cross streets.

In many streets, there’s almost no pavement at all. Houses are built too closed to the road lane that walkers have to find themselves walking on the edge of the street.

That’s not the nice image of Vietnam, yet things are going better when we’re improving the public traffic system as well as citizens’ attitude towards traffic aspect.

#15. Many strange foods and drinks are among fun facts about Vietnam that I want to tell you. Because this may bring different and thrilled feeling, I wrote in another article: Vietnamese bizarre foods and drinks.

This list of fun facts about Vietnam may be longer, but I only choose the most typical ones. You might want to discover a general list of Vietnam facts.

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