To avoid your further “dépaysement”, we are presenting you 25 very basic yet very useful sentences from the Vietnamese language to help you if you travel around Vietnam. They will help you better connect with local people.
The French have a very nice expression to designate a feeling of being lost while traveling. When everything that surrounds you seem foreign and strange. It’s called “dépaysement”. It can be very loosely translated by being “out of country”. It’s a feeling one can easily have in Vietnam. After all, the Vietnamese language is somewhat complicated to learn. While the letters themselves are familiar, as the alphabet here is Latin-based, rarely are the words similar to English.
So, to avoid your further “dépaysement”, we are presenting you 25 very basic yet very useful sentences from the Vietnamese language to help you if you travel around Vietnam. It assumes you know the very basic like ‘Hello (Xin chào)’, ‘Thank you (Cảm ơn)’, ‘Sorry (Xin lỗi)’, ‘Yes (Vâng)’, ‘No (Không)’ and the numbers from 1 to 10. They will help you better connect with local people. And don’t hesitate to use Google Translate on your phone, the App can be found at the Apple Store or at the PlayStore, you will see many Vietnamese using it in tourist-heavy areas!
Meet and Greet in Vietnamese Language
When first arriving somewhere, those sentences and questions will help you meet new people. They are those ‘conversation starters’ for introduction and basic questioning. The last two are kind of essential in this ever-connected world, which Vietnam certainly is!
Hello, my name is …
Xin chào, tôi tên là …
Nice to meet you!
Rất vui được gặp bạn!
How are you?
Bạn khỏe không?
Thank you very much.
Cảm ơn rất nhiều.
Do you speak English?
Bạn biết nói tiếng Anh không?
I’m sorry, I don’t understand.
Tôi rất tiếc. Tôi không hiểu.
Where is the nearest bathroom?
Phòng tắm gần nhất ở đâu?
Can I use your phone charger?
Tôi có thể sử dụng sạc pin điện thoại được không?
What is the wifi password?
Mật khẩu wifi là gì? (Mật khẩu means password, but you’ll often hear only Wifi là gì?)
Vietnamese sentences at the restaurant
Discovering Vietnam means eventually sitting in those little red chairs on the sidewalk and ordering street food. Now for the dishes themselves, you can check the menu. Most of the time includes loosely translated names in English. Worse comes to worst, you can point the other customers’ plates… Here are some other essentials in Vietnamese language.
Can you bring me the check, please?
Vui lòng tính tiền giúp tôi. (The short version is simply Tính tiền!)
Do you have vegetarian dishes?
Bạn có món chay không?
Not too spicy, please!
Làm ơn đừng cay quá!
I’m allergic to …
Tôi dị ứng với …
This one needs a little work on your part. You will have to figure out the Vietnamese word of what you are allergic to, like seafood (Hải sản), Peanuts (Đậu lạc), or Dairy products (Sản phẩm từ sữa). In this case, you should carry on you a printed card with a good explanation about your allergy, to make clear that you can get sick if you consume said ingredient.
May I see the menu?
Cho tôi xem menu được không?
Many Vietnamese will use the English word Menu instead of the real translation Thực đơn.
Vietnamese sentences at shopping
Bargaining is a must in many markets around Vietnam. For the actual price of the item you want to buy, most vendors will get the old electronic calculator out. Easy peasy! Here are some other shopping-related essentials.
How much does it cost?
Cái này bao nhiêu tiền? (You will often hear only Bao nhiêu? (How much?))
It’s too expensive!
Nó đắt lắm! (Or the short version: Mắc quá!)
Do you take credit cards?
Tôi trả bằng thẻ tín dụng được không?
When do you open /close?
Khi nào bạn mở cửa / đóng cửa?
Basic Vietnamese in Transit
Consider that Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, even Da Nang, are very big cities, and you can’t expect taxi drivers to know every little street. If you happen to know where you are heading (if you’ve been staying at the same hotel for a couple of days, for example), here are the few words useful for pointing out the direction of where you want to go:
You can always have the address of your destination on a piece of paper or on your phone. For the other basics, here they are:
Where is the nearest police station?
Đồn cảnh sát ở đâu?
Where is the nearest hospital?
Bệnh viện ở đâu?
Where is the nearest bank?
Ngân hàng ở đâu?
Where is the nearest ATM?
Trạm ATM ở đâu?
If you are counting, these all amount to one sentence…
At the hotel
Make sure you learn the following phrases to make your stay as comfortable as possible, whether you booked a hotel, a dorm, a homestay or a hostel:
I need toilet paper.
Tôi cần giấy vệ sinh.
Where can I make my laundry?
Tôi có thể giặt đồ ở đâu?
What time is the checkout?
Thời gian trả phòng là khi nào?
Please clean my room.
Vui lòng dọn phòng giúp tôi
Hopefully, these quick phrases will make your stay in Vietnam a little easier and more enjoyable!