30+ Most Useful Vietnamese Phrases and Vocabulary for Travelers

Vietnamese is a fascinating language because it’s a tonal language. This means that even though a lot of words are spelled the same, they sound totally different. The tones are marked using several accents, usually placed on vowels. When speaking Vietnamese it’s very important to try and mimic the pronunciation as best you can. For instance: “bánh mì chay” means a vegetarian baguette and “bánh mì cháy” means burned bread. The pronunciation is only slightly different but the words have completely different meanings!

Below we’ve compiled a list of useful Vietnamese phrases and vocabulary for tourists to use in day to day situations.


  • Xin chào (sin ciao): Hello
  • Cảm ơn (calm on): Thank you
  • Bạn khỏe không? (ban kway kh-o-ng): How are you?


  • Tôi nghỉ tại (toi nji tie): My hotel address is…
  • Bạn chỉ đường giúp (ban chi duong jup): Can you show me the way to…?
  • Tôi muốn đi (toi mooun dee): I want to go to…
  • Tôi muốn xem (toi mooun sem): I want to see…

At a restaurant

  • Em ơi (m oii): Use this to call over the waiter (literally translates as ‘my dear’)
  • Ngon quá (non kwa): Delicious!
  • Không sao (kh-o-ng sao, sao as in Sao Paulo): No problem/It’s okay.

A famous Vietnamese Grilled Pork Sausage: Nem Nướng (Nem Neung) 

At the market

  • Không (kh-o-ng, ng like in sing): No, Thank you
  • Bao nhiêu tiền (bow nieu tien): How much is this?
  • Đắt quá (dut wa, dut like in “Dutch”): Too expensive!
  • Tôi muốn (toi mooun): I want to have…
  • Đẹp quá (dep kwa, depth without th): So beautiful!
  • Không mua (kh-o-ng m-our, our in tour): I don’t want to buy it.
  • Bạn tốt quá! (ban tot wa): It’s nice of you


  • Tôi không biết bơi (toi kh-o-ng bet boi): I don’t know how to swim
  • Cứu tôi với (kyu toi voi): Help me
  • Ôi dời ơi (oi zoi oi): Oh My God
  • Nguy hiểm quá (nuya him wa): It’s too dangerous

Besides these handy and useful phrases we’ve also compiled a list of essential vocabulary words for when you go to Halong Bay.

  • Đảo (dow): island
  • Vịnh (Ving): bay
  • Du thuyền (Zoo thien): Cruise/boat
  • Thạch nhũ (Tack njoo): stalactite/stalagmite
  • Cảng (Kang): port/harbor
  • Nước (Nuok): water
  • Hang (Haang): cave, den, hole, burrow
  • Hải sản (Hai san): sea-foods
  • Biển (Bee en): sea
  • Tàu (T ou): ship
  • Khách sạn (Khike San): hotel
  • Lễ tân (Lay ten): receptionist
  • Làng chài (Lang chai): fishing village

Last updated: 28 August, 2019

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