Impress Vietnamese by using their language: basic useful phrases for travelers

You are traveling to Vietnam and you want to impress Vietnamese by using their language. What are the basic Vietnamese phrases for travelers?

Although English is widely spoken in Vietnam, especially in some tourist attractions, sometimes you might get lost in expressing what you want for some people. Furthermore, traveling to a new country is making new friends. Therefore, why do you hesitate to learn some basic Vietnamese phrases for travelers to make friends with Vietnamese, order meals, ask for directions, or express your thinking? Surely your journey in Vietnam might be more fantastic.

Vietnamese alphabet

The first-ever thing you should learn is the Vietnamese alphabet to make it easier for you. Fortunately, Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet as some countries do. However, its tonal system is a problem for some people. But first, let’s get started with its alphabet before learning some basic Vietnamese phrases for travelers! Vietnamese alphabet has 29 letters:

basic Vietnamese phrases for travelers

There are more for you! In Vietnamese, some consonants can be combined to make new letters, and attention: these are very important to complete its alphabet!

basic Vietnamese phrases for travelers

Vietnamese tonal system

This is the most difficult ever for foreigners, of course. But, no worries. You should sit in your room, close the door, and… practice. Say it as loud as possible to make it clearer. One more thing, if you are shy because it is quite weird for you to speak it loudly or you are afraid of speaking it wrongly in front of Vietnamese people, don’t be worried! No one is perfect! And Vietnamese love all people who can speak their language. Here you try!

a: say it normally

á: going up your voice like you are seeing something terrible

à: going down smoothly like you can understand something

: falling down

ã: falling down and strengthening your voice

: strengthening your voice hard

Then, you have got them!

Basic Vietnamese phrases for travelers

Here we are! This is the time we practice! Take a breath! Drink water and let’s start with these basic Vietnamese phrases for travelers!

How to call a person

Ba: Father

Mẹ: Mother

Anh: Brother. Or you call some men by “Anh” when you first meet them and the man who is older than you

Em: Younger brother or sister. Or you call someone by “Em” when you first meet them and someone younger than you

Chị: Sister. Or you call some girls by “Chị” when you first meet them and the girls who are older than you

: Aunt. Or you call some women “Cô” when you first meet them and the woman who is older than you. Or she is your female teacher

Chú: Uncle. Or you call some older men by “Chú” when you first meet them

Ông: Grandfather. Or you call some aged men by “Ông” when you first meet them

: Grandmother. Or you call some aged women by “Bà” when you first meet them

Thầy: He is your male teacher

Bạn: Someone is the same of your age or he or she is your friend

Mày – Tao: You – I. This is the informal way to call your friends if you are close enough. Please don’t call someone “Mày” if you first meet each other.

These are the lists of what you should call someone in Vietnamese. Strictly, the role of someone with others is very important in Vietnamese; therefore, be careful with the way you call someone. But actually, Vietnamese is very kind so some people will let it go.


Xin chào: Hello! This is the most common way to greet someone, even they are younger or older than you

__ khỏe không? : How are you? Fill in the blank with the one you want to ask

__ khỏe! : I am fine. Fill in the blank with your role

Hôm nay __ thế nào? : How are you today?

Đi đâu đấy? : Where are you going?


Cảm ơn! : Thank you!

Xin lỗi! : Sorry!

Làm ơn! Or Nhé? : Please!

Dạ: Yes

Không: No

__ không hiểu: I don’t understand. Fill in the blank with your role

__ nói lại một lần nữa, được không? : Please repeat one more time. Fill in the blank with the one you want to ask

Asking directions

Đi: Go!

Trái: Left

Phải: Right

Thẳng: Straight

Đường: Street

__ muốn đi đến__, đi như thế nào? : How to get __? Fill in the first blank with your role, the second blank is where you want to go.

Đi bằng gì? : How should I go?

Xe máy: Motorbike

Xe buýt (or xe bus): Bus

Xe đạp: Bikes

Máy bay: Air plane

Tàu hỏa: Train

Tàu thuyền: Boat

Đi bộ: On foot

Ordering and buying

Em ơi! … Chị ơi! … Anh ơi! : This is how you call a waiter or waitress in a restaurant depending on who it is.

Xin lỗi? : Excuse me! You use this phrase to call the waiters and waitresses formally.

Tôi muốn order__! : I want to order__!

Giá bao nhiêu? : How much is it?

Mắc quá! : Too expensive!

Tiền: Money

Tính tiền! : Give me the bill!

Basic name of food and beverage

Chay: Vegetarian

Cay: Spicy

Tôi ăn__: I eat__

Tôi không ăn__: I don’t eat__

Ớt: Chilli

Thịt: Meat

Thịt gà: Chicken

Thịt bò: Beef

: Fish

Hải sản: Seafood

Nước: Water

Bia: Beer

Nước ngọt: Soft drinks

Sinh tố: Smoothy

1…2…3 Dô! : Cheers!

Ngon quá! : So yummy!

Không ngon lắm! : Not so good! Be careful to use this phrase because it is quite sensitive and it can ma