Although English is the second language in Vietnam, not everyone can speak English. Thus, mastering these basic Vietnamese phrases will help you have a fulfilling trip to Vietnam. In fact, Vietnamese people are very friendly and the locals love it if they hear these phrases from you, even if they aren’t pronounced perfectly. In some cases, they might even give you discounts if you can say these basic Vietnamese phrases!

100 basic Vietnamese phrases

Basic Vietnamese phrases for greetings.

At the very least, if you are planning to spend a bit of time in Vietnam, you should get familiar with these common Vietnamese phrases as you will be able to use them very frequently during your time here.

  • Hello = Xin Chao (Sin chow)
  • How are you? = Ban Khoe Khong (Ban Kwe Khom)
  • Thank you = Cam on (kahm uhn)
  • Sorry = Xin Loi (Sin Loy)
  • No Problem = Khong co gi (Khong koh zi)
  • Goodbye = Tam Biet (Tarm Byeet)
  • No, Thank You! = Khong! Cam On (Khom, kahm uhn)
  • Can you speak English? = Ban noi tieng anh duoc khong? (Banh noi thien an durkh khom)
  • How old are you? = Ban bao nhieu tuoi (Ban ban nyew twoi)
  • I am __ years old = Toi ___ tuoi (toy ___ doyy)
  • What is your name? = Ten ban la gi?  (Ten bang la zi)
  • My name is ___ =  Ten toi la ___ (Ten toy la ___)

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Addressing people

When addressing younger people, regardless male or female, you  use “em” and for yourself, you use “Toi”. If you are addressing an older person, or in a formal scenario, you use “chi” for female and “anh” for male. In general, Vietnamese are very understanding and tend to forgive foreigners if they mix this up.

  • I = Toi
  • You = Ban
  • Female (junior) = em
  • Female (senior) = chi
  • Male (junior) = em
  • Male (senior) = anh

Basic Vietnamese phrases for direction (on taxis, buses, airport etc…)

  • Where is the taxi rank? = Taxis o dau? (Taxis urh dauh?)
  • Where is the ATM? =  May rut tien ATM o dau? (May root tien ATM urn dole)
  • Go Straight = Di Thang ( Di Thaang)
  • Go Left = Re Trai (Se chai)
  • Go Right = Re Phai (Se fih)
  • Stop = Dung Lai ( Duhng laai)
  • Go to the airport = Di san bay (Di sun bay)
  • Can I have a map? = cho toi mot cai ban do ( chor toi mot cai ban dor)
  • How far is it = Bao xa (Bao seh)
  • Far = Xa (seh)
  • Close = Gan (Gunh)
  • Downtown = Trung Tam thanh pho (Trumh tam tan fo)
  • District = Quan (Wung)
  • Station = Ga
  • Bus stop = Tram xe bus (Tram seh butt)
  • Where? = O dau (uh dow?)
  • Wait 5 minutes = Cho nam phut (Churhn nam foot)

Basic Vietnamese phrases for shopping

Next, negotiating is a fun when you travel Vietnam, and in local markets or touristy areas, you need to make sure you negotiate any price you are given, because vendors normally mark up the first price by 2 or 3 times.

  • How much? = Bao nhieu? (Baow nyew)
  • Too expensive = Mac Qua (Mac wa)
  • Can you reduce the price? = Giam gia duoc khong? (zam za duoc khom)
  • Do you want to sell? = co ban khong? ( cor ban kohm?)
  • I want to buy = toi muon mua (Toi mu-on mua)
  • One size larger = mot size lon hon ( Mot size lunh hunh)
  • One size smaller = mot size nho hon (Mot size nyunh hunh)
  • What do you do? = Ban lam gi? (Ban lahm zi?)
  • *You are very beautiful = Em dep qua (Em dep wah)
  • *You are very handsome = Anh dep trai qua (Anh dep wah)

*One of the most cheeky but effective tips to have best the price is to ask how they are and compliment them. Vietnamese love visitors to compliment them, so if you say something like “you are beautiful”, they often provide more affordable prices.

Basic Vietnamese phrases for restaurants or coffee shops

It is true that the Vietnamese put a lot of flavours in their foods, so make sure you ask before-hand what the ingredients are. It is very common in Vietnam to add sugar to everything, especially to drinks. Knowing these basic phrases will be super handy for getting exactly what you want. Also, do not afraid to call for waiter and waitresses for the bill as them wont stop at your table if you don’t call them.

  • Excuse me (to waitress) = Chi oi
  • Excuse me (to waiter) = Anh oi
  • I am hungry = Toi doi bung qua (Toi doi bhung wa)
  • What is it? = Cai gi vay? (kai zi vai)
  • The bill please = Tinh Tien (Din ting)
  • May I have the menu = cho toi cai menu duoc khong (cho toy khai menu duuc khom)
  • I am allergic to peanut = To di ung voi dau phong (Doi yi ung voy dau fong)
  • I can not eat pork = toi khong an duoc thit heo (Toi khom an duo tit hehll)
  • I am vegetarian = Toi an chay (Toi an chayh)
  • I would like to have this = cho toi cai nay ( Chor toi kah nai)
  • Chicken = Ga (Gar)
  • Rice = Com (Gurm)
  • Rice Noodle = Bun (Bumg)
  • Egg noodle = Mi (Mee)
  • Pork = Heo (Heyoh)
  • Beer = Bia
  • Beef = Bo (boh)
  • Cold = Lanh (Langh)
  • Hot =  Nong
  • No Ice = Khong da (Khom dar)
  • No sugar = Khong duong (Khom dueng)
  • 1 more = them 1 cai (tem mop kai)

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Basic Numbers

The Vietnamese numbering system is very simple, and once you get the hang of numbers 1-10 you can say any number up to 99. Unlike English, numbers above 10 are said as if you just put the two numbers together. For example, 25 would be hai nam, which literally translates to two five.

  • 1 = Mot (mobh)
  • 2 = Hai
  • 3 = ba
  • 4 = bon (Bumh)
  • 5 = Nam
  • 6 = Sau
  • 7 = Bay
  • 8 = Tam
  • 9 = Chin
  • 10 = Muoi

Basic sizes & color

  • Big = Lon (lungh)
  • Small = Nho (N-yor)
  • Medium = Vua (vurh)
  • Less = It (Eet)
  • More = Them (temh)
  • Long = Dai (yai)
  • Short = Ngan (nhang)
  • Blue = Xanh duong (San yoong)
  • Red = Do (Dorh)
  • Yellow = Vang

Basic Vietnamese phrases for emergency

  • I need to see a doctor = toi can gap bac si (toy can gap back szi)
  • I am sick = Toi bi benh (Toy bee benh)
  • I need to go to the hospital = Toi can di benh vien (Toy can di ben vien)
  • I had food poisoning = Toi bi ngo dau thuc an (Toy bee nyo doc thuch an)
  • I was robbed = Toi bi cuop (Toi bee cuoop)
  • Call the police = Goi cach sat (Goi gang sack)
  • Help me = Cuu toi voi (Coo toy vuyh)

Why you should book with Inspitrip when you are in Vietnam

These are the 100 most useful Vietnamese phrases you might have to use when in Vietnam. However, you deserve a care-free trip without having to memorize all of these alien languages. Visit Vietnam with a local guide who will not only do all the translating, haggling for you, but truly connect you to the local life and people here. If you want to learn more:

Ho Chi Minh travel

9 COMMENTS

  1. if this is a guide for tourists visiting Vietnam, it’s unreasonable for you to include “too expensive” and “reduce the price” as must-know phrases… given that the dong exchange rate makes it so that lunch could cost an American only about 2 USD or like 1.5 Euros.

    stop trying to haggle with people who are just trying to make their living so that you can save your ass 15% the price of your coffee at starbucks.

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