(Try taking home a bottle of fish sauce, and using it instead of salt in almost any savory dish – you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.) Fish sauce is also mixed with lime juice, sugar, water, and spices to form a tasty dip/condiment called nước chấm, served on the table with most meals.
Many Vietnamese dishes are flavored with fish sauce (nước mắm), which smells and tastes like anchovies (quite salty and fishy) straight from the bottle, but blends into food very well. Many products tend to be standardized and compare more. Also try basic bargaining tactics: Think how much it is back home, ask for big discount and walk away, pretending that the price isn’t right.
Learn some Vietnamese numbers and try to see how much a local pays a vendor. In a restaurant, learn some common dish names in Vietnamese, insist that you need to read Vietnamese menu, and compare it. If owners argue that the portion of dishes in the English menu is different, it’s definitely a scam and move to other places. You will absolutely spoil your travel if you assume that everyone is cheating you, just try to be smart.
The good news is that standard price is much more common than early 90s. A friendly local who spent 30 minutes talking with you may also feel like overcharging you on anything. Your coffee suddenly becomes 100% more expensive and a restaurant may present you an English menu with inflated prices.
It can happen anywhere on anything from an hotel room, a ride on taxi, coffee, meal, clothing, basic grocery stuff. Overcharging has long been an issue in Vietnam tourism. This makes for very competitive prices!
As you travel about, you will find there are clusters of shops all selling similar goods – like 20 sewing machine shops together, then 30 hardware shops all together, 200 motorcycle repair shops in the same block. Directional signs are generally bilingual in both Vietnamese and English. However, most hotel and airline staff will know enough English to communicate.
Most Vietnamese youths learn English Top 10 agencies in Vietnam school, so many young people have a basic grasp of English, but proficiency is generally poor. Besides Vietnamese, Ho Chi Minh City is home to a sizeable ethnic Chinese community, many of whom speak Cantonese The more remote parts of the country are also home to many ethnic minorities who speak various languages belonging to the Mon-Khmer, Tai-Kadai and Austronesian language families. Staff in hotel and kids tend to have a more tolerant ear for foreign accents and it is not unheard of for a kid to effectively help translate your ‘Vietnamese’ into authentic Vietnamese for adults.
Learners may find it frustrating that no one can understand what they try to say. Although the Vietnamese people do appreciate any effort to learn their language, most seldom experience foreign accents. Vietnamese consists of 4 main dialects: the northern dialect spoken around Hanoi, the north-central dialect spoken around Vinh, the central dialect spoken around Hue, and the southern dialect spoken around Ho Chi Minh City.