Basic Vietnamese Phrases – Easy Adventure Awaits!

Wow! Was your next destination to Vietnam finally scheduled? If yes, congratulations! Before leaving, it is good to know that “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is still the best quote for every situation. Knowing basic Vietnamese phrases will be extremely helpful to your trip, making it more active and interesting. 

Now, when the language border is not the biggest obstacle anymore for traveling abroad, your vacation will be much more memorable. It’s time to learn basic Vietnamese for an amazing adventure. Let’s Vietnammotorbiketoursclub get started! 

What you should know about Vietnamese

Before we start to learn some basic Vietnamese phrases for your upcoming trip, don’t forget to learn more about the basic info of Vietnamese, its formation, and its origin. Learning any new language is also a fun activity to join. And Vietnamese is also interesting to know.

Vietnam’s official language

Well. It is worth knowing that among the 54 ethnic groups living together in Vietnam today, 85% use Vietnamese (Kinh) as their mother tongue. This is the official language used by citizens in Vietnam and the community of 4 million Vietnamese living abroad, mainly in the Czech Republic, the United States, France, and other countries.

The origin of the Vietnamese

Vietnamese belongs to the Austroasiatic languages, Tai-kadai family. For many years, the language today has a phonetic system influenced by Thai, similar tones to Chinese, similar grammar to some South Asian countries such as India, Malaysia, and vocabulary inspired by Cantonese. Thanks to the East-West cultural exchange in the 18th-19th century, the transcription of Vietnamese speech in Latin characters occurred by French and Portuguese missionaries.

The formation of the modern Vietnamese

In the process of popularizing the new script, the Vietnamese also introduced a lot of French vocabulary. This makes the accent and vocabulary more diverse and rich according to the region’s culture.

The Latin documents allow people to read Vietnamese easily, thanks to the single pronunciation rule. Grammar is also a plus, with few verb tenses and the rules are much simpler than in Western languages. However, how to use Vietnamese properly remains a big problem as addressing people and showing courtesy and respect when speaking.

You also may be interested in Ultimate Guide To Making A Packing List for Vietnam Tours

Thank you in Vietnammese

Basic Vietnamese phrases for foreign tourists

Are you planning a trip to stunning Vietnam? Have fun! Since there are no guarantees that you can also find English speakers everywhere in Vietnam, be a smart tourist to know basic Vietnamese phrases well to make your trip easy.

You don’t need to pronounce Vietnamese correctly. Just take your time to learn the basic Vietnamese language, and you may find endless amazing things on your vacation. And, now, ladies and gentlemen! It’s showtime!

Addressing people

This is the most complicated part of Vietnamese since you will have a lot of basic Vietnamese words to address people depending on age, gender, and relationships. Remember to be polite and respectful as always when asking anyone for something. Remaining your voice in a neutral tone and always keeping a happy smile on your face will be a plus.

IToi, to ((towards a friend)

Em (towards an older person, like a brother / sister)

Chau (towards an older person, such as an uncle or grandparent)

Chi (towards younger people)

Co/ chu/ bac/Ong/Ba (towards younger people at the same age of your little cousin,..)

Male, Female (Junior, younger than you)Em
Male/ Female (Senior, a bit older than you)Anh/ Chi
Male/ Female (a bit younger than your parents)Co/Chu
Male/Female (a bit older than your parents)Bac trai/ Bac gai
Male/Female (the same age as your grandparents)Ong/ Ba

Depending on relationships or guessing the other person’s age, you can have the right word for addressing. Now, you know why Vietnamese people always ask for your age when you all first met. Well, they want to know how to respect others properly.

For more Vietnam travel tips. please visit Is Vietnam Water Safe To Drink? Commonly Asked Questions

Vietnamese greetings

Vietnamese people also love talking to others and making new friends, but they can always be shy to do it first. So, grab your chance and start the conversation if you want to. Here’s how to say Hello in simple Vietnamese phrases:

How to say hello in Vietnam

  • For beginners

There are common Vietnamese phrases and words to use. Knowing How to say How are you in Vietnamese is also the answer.

Hello/HiXin chao/ Chao  (Sin chow/ Ciao)
Good morningChao buoi sang  (Chow bwoi sang)
Good afternoonChao buoi chieu (Chow bwoi chiew)
Good eveningChao buoi toi (Chow bwoi toi)
How are you?Ban khoe khong?
I’m fine, thanksToi khoe, cam on
What’s your name?Ten ban la gi?
My name isTen toi la …
GoodbyeTam biet
See you again!Hen gap lai!
Nice to meet you!That tot khi duoc gap ban/ anh/..!

These basic Vietnamese phrases are popular among foreigners. However, they don’t sound natural. In Vietnam, people pay more attention to pronouns to personalize the context. For example, say ‘Em chao chi’ when you meet a senior female. Now, you learn how to be a native speaker, LOL.

  • For native speakers

When meeting others, the Vietnamese always smile or shake hands (legal cases), bow slightly when greeting seniors, and hug their family members or close friends. Another way to say hello is to show that you care about their daily life when meeting each other. That action will show that you are caring about others.

Sometimes, the way of greeting does not necessarily need a true “greeting” with the word “Hello!, but questions can replace them. This way of greeting is often used in some cases, such as: suddenly visiting someone’s house (neighbors, friends, …); or meeting someone by chance.

1. Where are you going?- Ban di dau the?

This phrase is used for people with quite close relationships, like friends and neighbors, when you accidentally meet them on the road.

2. Have you eaten? – Ban/Anh/Chi/… an com chua?

Another way to show your quite close relationships. Vietnamese always use this way of greeting when they visit others’ houses. Make sure you won’t say that to the one you’ve first met.

3. Hey!- E!

A very friendly exclamation for equals or friends. Reserve it to use more with a smile on your face!

4. Long time no see!- Da lau khong gap!

This basic phrase indicates, “We haven’t seen each other for a while!” The speaker often expects no response to this.

5. How have you been?- Dao nay ban/anh/chi/… the nao?

One of the best questions to greet someone that you have not seen for a long time. Some catching-up is needed!

6. What’s up?- Co chuyen gi the?

This is how to greet your equals or friends in an informal way. Literally, it’s only a greeting! Sounds crazy, huh? For Vietnamese, nothing is impossible!

7. How’s it going?/ How’s everything?- Dao nay the nao roi?

This question is the same as others, such as ‘How are things progressing?’, ‘What’s up? or ‘How are things going in your life?’ Depending on the relationship, the answer is commonly short like It’s OK- ‘Van binh thuong’

8. How’s your day?- Ngay hom nay cua ban the nao?

Ask this friendly question when you meet your Vietnamese friend during the day. It will be a good start for a smooth conversation.

Thank You in Vietnammese

How to say thank you in Vietnamese

Saying Thanks to others in Vietnamese is also easy. If you want to show your deep gratitude to others, you can also give them a small gift or a hug while speaking to make the listeners feel pleasant.

Thank you!Cam on anh/chi!  (Kahm uhn)
Thank you very much!Cam on rat nhieu! (Kahm uhn rat nyew)
Thanks to you!Cam on anh! / Cam on chi! / Cam on ban!

Other common Vietnamese phrases

OMG! There are a lot of words to remember in case you want to use them in your daily life. And that’s why taking a look at the table below will help.

How to say please in VietnamesePleaseLam on (Lahm uhn)
How to say no problem in VietnameseExcuse me Anh/chi oi
How to say sorry in VietnameseSorryXin loi (Sin loy)
How to say no problem in VietnameseNo problemKhong co gi (Khom koh zi)
How to say you’re welcome in VietnameseYou’re welcomeKhong co gi (Khom koh zi)
How to say good in VietnameseGood Tot 
How to say Yes in VietnameseYesCo
How to say no in VietnameseNo Khong (Khom)
How to say Oh my god in VietnameseOMGTroi oi
How to say toilet in VietnameseToiletNha ve sinh 
How to say I love you in VietnameseI love you Anh yeu em (em yêu anh)
How to say happy new year in VietnameseHappy New Year!Chuc mung nam moi!
How to say happy birthday in VietnameseHappy birthday!Sinh nhat vui ve!
How to say goodbye in VietnameseGoodbyeTam biet!

Basic numbers in Vietnamese

Knowing about the numbers in Vietnamese will make your payment when going shopping in this country much easier since you will have to come to the restaurants and hotels…multiple times. If luck has come, you may get more discounts on the market. So let’s try!

20Hai muoiHai muoy
50Nam muoiNahm muoy
100Mot tramMoht chahm
200Hai tramHai chahm
1000Mot nghinMoht ngin
5000Nam NghinNahm ngin
100,000Mot tram nghinMoht chahm ngin
1,000,000Mot trieuMoht chiew


There are still a lot of tourist traps in Vietnam in the market. So, honest advice is always to bargain before deciding to purchase anything. You can start at 10% – 50% lesser than the price the seller tells you.

I likeTôi thich (thoy tick)
How much?Bao nhieu? (baow nyew)
Too expensiveDat qua (dat qwa )
Can you reduce the price?Giam gia cho toi. (Zam za cho toy)
Is there anything cheaper?Co cai nao re hon khong? 
I want to buyToi muon mua 
One size largerLon hon mot size (Lon hon moht size)
One size smallerNho hon mot size (Nho hon Moht size)

It may sound a little weird, but the best tip for you to deal with the seller for the best price is to compliment them. Everyone loves good words, and the Vietnamese are not an exception. So, give them good compliments, and you will get more affordable prices.

For example, you can say some sentences like:

*You are so beautiful = Chi/ em dep qua (Chi/ Em dep wah)

*You are so handsome = Anh rat dep trai

Restaurants or coffee shops

Vietnamese food is delicious, and you won’t resist its attraction. Vietnamese people use endless flavors in just a dish, so make sure you know about the ingredients.   

Excuse me (to waitress)Chi oi
Excuse me (to waiter)Anh oi
What is it?Cai gi vay?  (kai zi vai) 
The bill pleaseTinh tien (Ting tien)
Can I have a menu?Cho toi menu (Cho toy menu)
I’m a vegetarianToi an chay 
Not spicyKhong cay 
Can I have a beer?Cho toi mot chai bia 
Give me (name of food or drinks)?Cho toi
I am hungryToi doi bung qua (Toy doi bung wa)
I am allergic to peanutToi di ung voi dau phong (Toy yi ung dau fong)
I would like to have thisCho toi cai nay ( Cho toy kah nai)
RiceCom (Gurm)
Rice NoodleBun 
PorkThit heo, thit lon
BeefBo (boh)
ColdLanh (Langh)
No IceKhong da (Khom dar)
No sugarKhong duong (Khom dueng)
1 moreThem 1 cai (tem mop kai)

Asking for direction in Vietnamese

If you’d like to ask for any location, you can ask the place + o dau? which is relevant to Where is …? For example,

Where is the hotel? – Khach san o dau?

Where is the restaurant? – Nha hang o dau?

Where am I? – Toi dang o dau?

Where is the taxi? – Taxi o dau?

WhereO dau? 
I want to go to …Toi muon den (Toy mwon den)
Where is the exit?Loi ra or dau? (Loi ra or daw)
Where is the entrance?Loi vao o dau? (Loi vao o daw)
Go straight:Di thang 
Turn leftRe trai
Turn rightRe phai
StopDung lai
How far is it?Bao xa
Wait for 5 minutesCho 5 phut


Already knew how to ask for directions in Vietnamese? Going to the airport is like a Thanos snap to you. Here’s how:

Go to the airport: Đi den san bay

I want to go to the airport: Toi muon den san bay

In an emergency

Though we all hope the trip will be full of fun and surprises, bad luck may come. “Prevention is better than cure”. So, fill up your empty mind with these basic Vietnamese phrases for tourists below in case you will fall into tragedy:

Help me!Giup toi voi! (Zoop toy voy)
I need to go to the doctor Toi can gap bac sy (Toy can gab bac si)
I’m sick Toi bi om (Toy bi om)
I had food poisoningToi bi ngo doc thuc an (Toy bi nyo doc thuc an)
I have been robbedToi bi trom (Toy bi chom)
Call the police Hay goi canh sat (Hai goi canh sat)
PleaseLam on

Learning basic Vietnamese: Interesting and useful 

In a decade with rapid tourism development today, the need for wanderlust worldwide has become just a basic thing for everyone. And Vietnam is also one of the rising stars in the world’s tourism. After all, taking your time to learn some useful Vietnamese phrases for travel is great, right? Just prepare a travel visa, enough budget, and try to read all of our sharings, then you will have a more convenient time during the vacation to this beautiful country.

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