Updated: Mar 1
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 attraction, 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 directions or express your thinking? Surely your journey in Vietnam might be more fantastic.
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 the 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:
There are more for you! In Vietnamese, some consonants can be combined together to make new letters, and attention: these are very important to complete its own alphabet!
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
ả: falling down
ã: falling down and strengthening your voice
ạ: 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
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 who is younger than you
Chị: Sister. Or you call some girls by “Chị” when you first meet them and the girls who is older than you
Cô: Aunt. Or you call some women by “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
Bà: 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!
__ 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
__ 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 in a formal way.
Tôi muốn order__! : I want to order__!
Giá bao nhiêu? : How much is it?
Mắc quá! : Too expensive!
Tính tiền! : Give me the bill!
Basic name of food and beverage
Tôi ăn__: I eat__
Tôi không ăn__: I don’t eat__
Thịt gà: Chicken
Thịt bò: Beef
Hải sản: Seafood
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 make other people feel bad
…ở đâu? : Where…?
…như thế nào? : How…?
…là cái gì? : What is…?
Khi nào…? : When…?
Tại sao…? : Why…?
…là ai? : Who is…?
Một. Hai. Ba. Bốn. Năm. Sáu. Bảy. Tám. Chín. Mười. Mười một. Mười hai.
1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 . 8 . 9 . 10 . 11 . 12
Hai mươi. Ba mươi. Bốn mươi. Năm mươi. Sáu mươi. Bảy mươi. Tám mươi. Chín mươi.
20 . 30 . 40 . 50 . 60 . 70 . 80 . 90
Hai mươi một. Ba mươi hai. Bốn mươi ba…
21 . 32 . 43
Một trăm. Hai trăm…
100 . 200
Một ngàn. Hai ngàn.
1000 . 2000
Một ngàn một trăm hai mươi mốt: 1221
Thứ hai: Monday
Thứ ba: Tuesday
Thứ tư: Wednesday
Thứ năm: Thursday
Thứ sáu: Friday
Thứ bảy: Saturday
Chủ nhật: Sunday
Tháng: Month (Tháng 1,2,3…12)
Finally, this is all you need to keep in mind when traveling around Vietnam and show how you practice. Surely, Vietnamese will be surprised with your talent!
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