Home Language Hacks 69 Vietnamese Phrases Every Traveller Should Know

69 Vietnamese Phrases Every Traveller Should Know

by Michele
Vietnamese phrases for travellers
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Going to Vietnam? This Vietnamese phrase guide is the perfect travellers companion. Experience the best of Vietnam, make friends, and avoid being lost in translation.

Before you take that trip to Vietnam,  you should definitely learn some survival Vietnamese phrases. This travel phrase guide teaches you over 60 useful phrases that will help you get around, make friends, order food, ask for directions and ensure you have an amazing time in Vietnam.

To help me create this new addition to my collection of free travel phrase guides, I asked my friend and Vietnamese speaker Trang from Travel with Trang to provide accurate Vietnamese translations and pronunciation tips. She’s even provided audio clips for each phrase to make things even easier for you.

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Let’s take a closer look at the Vietnamese language. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Table of Contents

Where is Vietnamese spoken?

Not only is Vietnamese the official language of Vietnam, but it is also widely spoken in areas where the Vietnamese have immigrated, including Australia, France, the United States, South East Asia, and Western Europe. Vietnamese has also been officially recognised as a minority language in the Czech Republic.

How many people speak Vietnamese?

Vietnamese is one of the most spoken languages in the world with approximately 85 million speakers worldwide.

Vietnamese travel phrase guide

Rice field in Vietnam

Vietnamese Alphabet

Vietnamese uses the same alphabet as Latin languages with a few modifications which include tone and vowel markers. French missionaries changed the written language from Chinese characters in the 17th-century, but their system didn’t become widespread until the 20th-century. Because of this shift to the Roman alphabet, learning to read and write Vietnamese is much easier than most other Asian languages.

The Vietnamese alphabet has a 29-letter phonetic alphabet which includes all letters of in the English alphabet except j, f, w, and z. Vietnamese has 12 vowels and 17 consonants as shown below.

a (a in father) h (h in house) q (qu in queue)
ă (a in hat) i (e in she) r (r in run)
â (u in but) k (k in kick) s (s in sing)
b (b in baby) l (l in love) t (t in tea, but softer and unaspirated)
(c in can) m (m in mother) u (oo in good)
(z in zoo) n (n in nice) ư (oo in boot but with unrounded lips)
đ (d in do) o (o in hot) v (v in van)
e (e in trend) ô (o in hope) x (s in sea)
ê (a in mate) ơ (u in fur) y (e in she)
g  (g in go) p (p in pick)  

Vietnamese Pronunciation

Vietnamese spelling is phonetic and very similar to Portuguese (which it is based on). Once you figure out how to pronounce each letter and tone, you will have a pretty good grasp of how to correctly pronounce Vietnamese words. Compared to English, Vietnamese has few exceptions to these rules.
There are three main varieties of spoken Vietnamese including Northern (used around Hanoi), which is quite different from Southern (Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City ), and Central (Hue) Vietnamese. This guide used the Northern (Hanoi) pronunciation.

Vietnamese Tonal System

If you listen closely to a Vietnamese speaker, you will notice that some words are pronounced with a high or low pitch and other sound more musical. This is because Vietnamese uses tones to make distinctions between words. Other tonal languages include Norwegian, Swedish and Thai, just to name a few. Vietnamese syllables can have six different tones, with five of them indicated by tone marks applied to the syllable’s main vowel. Tone marks can be combined with the other diacritics.

Here’s an example of the letter a’ with it’s various sounds
a – flat
á – high rising; example: đấy, like saying “day?”
à – low
ã – creaky
– falling, then rising
– a low “a’ah”

Because tones are so important in being correctly understood, Trang and I have included audio clips for each phrase to help you with your pronunciation.

Vietnamese Grammar

One of the fascinating things about the Vietnamese is its grammar. As a whole, Vietnamese grammar is very simple in that nouns and adjectives don’t have genders and verbs aren’t conjugated. This is a welcome change for learners of European languages such as French, Italian, and Spanish where you live and die by nailing these rules.

Vietnamese has its own quirks, if you will, that I find super interesting. For example, it might sound strange but Vietnamese is spoken almost entirely in the second and third persons. So, instead of saying “I think you are very beautiful” to a girl you like, you might say, “This older male thinks you (the younger female) very beautiful”.

To Western ears, talking in the third person can sound very pretentious, but to Vietnamese ears it is totally normal.
Vietnamese has a word for “I”, (tôi) but it’s only used in formal situations such as public speaking, talking to a TV camera, or writing a book. Foreigners, naturally tend to use tôi in conversation, which to Vietnamese ears sounds unnatural but they understand why we do it and almost expect it.

In addition to this, there is a proper way to refer to yourself and others depends. This all depends on hierarchy, age, and sex. Many of these terms have literal translations that refer to family relationships, though they are used for all people on all occasions. Without going into too much detail for each, it’s important to be aware of such distinction. Options include:

  • Bạn- friend, pronounced “bhang” with a heavy A
  • Con – child, pronounced “ghone”
  • Em – literally, younger person, generally reserved for a younger sister, younger female relative, or a younger female acquaintance. This is the equivalent of “my dear”.
  • Anh – older brother
  • Chị – older sister – woman older than you by up to 10-20 years
  • Chú (literally, “Mister” with implications toward “uncle”)
  • (literally, “Miss” or “Young Mrs.” – woman older than you by 10+ years)
  • Bác (unisex term, used for both Sir and Madam, – refers to a mature person, generally 40 to 60 years old)
  • Ông (literally, “old gentleman”, grandfather)
  • (literally, “Madam” or “elderly lady”, grandmother)

Useful Vietnamese Phrases for Travellers

Basic Vietnamese Phrases GuideWant the infographic to take with you? Scroll to the bottom of the page and save it.

P.S. If you’re reading this on your phone and can’t see the pronunciation column, turn it to landscape mode. For some reason, tables aren’t mobile friendly. Sorry!

English Vietnamese Pronunciation Notes


Hello Chào jaow 
Good morning Chào buổi sáng jaow bui sang 
“A” in “sang” is like the “a” in “apple”
Good afternoon Chào buổi tối jaow bui to-oy  
The “t” is pronounced like a soft “d”. Say to-oy really quickly together so it’s one word.
Good night Chúc Ngủ Ngon Choop nguu ngon 
“ng” is pronounced like the “ng” in the English word “song”
Goodbye Chào jaow 
How are you? ____ khỏe không? ___ kwair khohm? 
Say the name of the person you are asking in the blank space.
I’m well, and you? ____ khỏe. ____ khỏe không? ___ kwair. ___ kwair khohm? 
In the first blank space, put your name. In the second blank space put the other person’s name.
Good, thanks ____ khỏe. Cám ơn ___ kwair. Gahm uhn. 
“A” in “Gahm” is like the “a” in “apple”. Pronounce the “g” in “gahm” softly. Put your name in blank space ___.


Please Làm ơn Lahm uhn 
Thank you Cám ơn Gahm uhn 
“A” in “Gahm” is like the “a” in “apple”. Pronounce the “g” in “gahm” softly.
You’re welcome không có chi (Means “no problem”) Khohm gaw chee 
Yes dạ Ya 
No Không Khohm 
Excuse me (getting attention) xin lỗi Seen loy 
Excuse me (when asking something to repeat themselves, begging pardon) xin lỗi Seen loy 
I’m sorry xin lỗi Seen loy 
I don’t understand ____ không hiểu ____ khohm heww 
Put your name in blank space ___.
Do you speak English? ____ có nói tiếng Anh không? ____ gaw noy dee-ing ahn khohm?
Dee-ing: say it quickly since it’s one word. It’s pronounced like a soft “d”. Put the name of the person you’re asking in blank space ___.


How much is…? …bao nhiêu? …Baow yew?
Where is…? …ở đâu? … uh doh?
When? khi nào… Khee naow…
May I please have…? ___ có thể có… ____ gaw theh gaw… 
Put your name in blank space ___.

Eating Out

Beer bia bee-ah 
Red wine / white wine rượu đỏ / rượu trắng roo-ew daw / roo-ew chung 
the “ch” in “chung” is soft
Water nước nu-uhc 
I don’t eat… ____ không ăn… ____ khohm ahn… 
Put your name in blank space ___.
I’m a vegetarian ____ ăn chay ____ ahn jai 
Put your name in blank space ___.
The bill, please hóa đơn Hwhoa duhn 

Getting Around

Left trái chai 
Right phải fai 
Straight ahead thẳng trước mặt tung choo-uhk maht 
Turn left quẹo trái kheow jai 
Turn right quẹo phải kheow fai 
Bus stop điểm dừng xe buýt Dee-em yung se boo-wit
Train station ga xe lửa Kha se luh-ua 
Airport phi trường OR sân bay fee joo-ung OR suhn bai
Entrance chỗ vào (means “area you enter”) OR cửa vào (means “door entrance”) choh vao OR coo-ua vao 
Exit lối ra (means “exit area”) OR cửa ra (means “exit door) loy ra OR coo-ua ra 


1 một moht  
2 hai hi 
like saying “hi’ in English
3 ba ba 
4 bốn bohn 
5 năm nahm
6 sáu sao 
7 bảy bae 
like saying “bae” in English
8 tám tam 
the t” is soft
9 chín cheen
10 mười muh-uoy 
20 hai mươi hi muh-uoy 
30 ba mươi ba muh-uoy 
40 bốn mươi bohn muh-uoy 
50 năm mươi nahm muh-uoy 
60 sáu mươi sao muh-uoy 
70 bảy mươi bae muh-uoy 
80 tám mươi tam muh-uoy  
90 chín mươi cheen muh-uoy 
100 một trăm moht chahm 


Monday Thứ hai hu hai 
Tuesday Thứ ba Thu ba
Wednesday Thứ tư Thu bohn 
Thursday Thứ năm Thu nahm 
Friday Thứ sáu Thu sao 
Saturday thứ bảy Thu bae 
Sunday chủ nhật Choo nhaht 


Help! giúp em! yoop aym 
I need a doctor ____ cần bác sĩ ____ khuhn back see 
Put your name in blank space ___.
I don’t feel well ____ không khỏe ____khohm khwer 
Put your name in blank space ___.
Call the police! Gọi cảnh sát! Goy cahn sat 
Fire! lửa! Luh-ua 

Useful Vietnamese Phrases for Travellers [Infographic]

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Top Vietnamese Phrases for travellers

Sources VietnamesePod101 | Instant VietnameseSurvival VietnameseWikipediaLonely Planet Vietnamese Phrasebook & Dictionary

Want to know more about learning languages? Start here!

Over to you!

Which of these Vietnamese phrases did you find the most useful? Are you planning a trip to Vietnam or have already been? Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.
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Chris Hanning January 28, 2020 - 22:03

Very good word lists! Useful with the correct Viet spelling and pronounciation sound files make it much easier to read and remember the ăccents used! I like the variety of words in each list and I know after studying these word lists that my knowledge of Viet will have grown significantly and thanks to the study I’ve been doing on these word lists my reading has improved and so has my pronounciation!
I’d like it if the were word lists for Romance, Nightclubs and other activities.
All together a lot of thought went into this work and I am grateful for it!

Michele January 28, 2020 - 22:10

Hey Chris! Thank you so much for your lovely feedback 🙂 I’m so glad you found it useful. Duly noted on the translations. It’s hard to know when to stop putting in phrases/words. The idea is just to get the language juices flowing for those new to the language and using it for travel.


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