Coming to Ho Chi Minh City?

Beginner-level Vietnamese phrases to know

The family-owned “Leiden Cafe and Homestay“. Watch our interview with them here.

Being a Cantonese speaker, I recognise the similarity in complexity and sound to the Vietnamese language. Like Cantonese, a different tone used for the same word can give it a completely different meaning. Unlike most languages in Asia, Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet. These letters (together with their accents) help express 17 consonants, 11 vowels, and 6 tones.

If you are looking for recommendations in Ho Chi Minh City, feel free to message me on Instagram or e-mail me.

Phrases for meeting people

People I met wearing the traditional Áo dài “long shirt” in the lead-up to Tet.

Meeting new people at “Mundo Lingo” events every Thursday night at “SOMA Saigon“.

From the interactions I’ve had, Vietnamese locals in Ho Chi Minh City have been friendly and open to conversation. Many, especially in the younger generation, will understand if you speak in clearly pronounced English.

  • “Hello” = “Xin chào” (pronounced “Sin chow”)
  • “How are you?” = “Bạn khỏe không?” (pronounced “Ban kwe khom?”)
  • “What is your name?” = “Tên bạn là gì” (pronounced “Ten bang la zi?”)
  • “My name is _____” = “Tên tôi là” (pronounced “Ten toy la _____”)
  • “Thank you” = “Cảm ơn” (pronounced “Garm uhnn”)
  • “No problem” = “Không có gì” (pronounced “Kong co zi”)
  • “Sorry” = “Xin lỗi” (pronounced “Sin loy”)
  • “Goodbye” = “Tạm biệt” (pronounced “Taam biet”)

Phrases when you're eating out

A friendly waitress at “The Melbourne Cafe” in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

Practise your phrases with the bartenders at “Layla Eatery & Bar” in District 1.

In Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be able to enjoy a satisfying meal at most owner-operated restaurants for 120K dong (~8 AUD). The price is highest in “District 1” (the downtown area) and “District 2” (the affluent, expat-popular area). In other Districts, you may find the price lower than 120K dong.

  • “”Chicken” = “Gà” (pronounced “Gar”)
  • “Beef” = “Bò” (pronounced “Bor”)
  • “Pork” = “Heo(pronounced “Haerl”)
  • “Rice” = “Cơm” (pronounced “Gurm”)
  • “Rice Noodle” = “Bún” (pronounced “Buuhn”)
  • “Excuse me” to waiter = “Anh ỗi” (pronounced “Ang oi”)
  • “Excuse me” to waitress = “Chị ỗi” (pronounced “Chi oi”)

Phrases for when you are shopping

Plenty of opportunities to exercise your shopping phrases at Ben Thanh Market.

Vincom Center” is a popular shopping mall with local & international retailers.

If you’re coming from a developed city with shopping malls and franchised retailers, be prepared for energetic shop-keepers when you visit markets like Ben Thanh Market. They will enthusiastically try to get your attention and introduce their products. You should definitely try to bargain if you are going to buy something.

  • “How much?” = “Bao nhiêu?” (pronounced “Bao nyaew”)
  • “Can you reduce the price?” = “Bạn có thể giảm giá?” (pronounced “Barn go tay zarm zaa?”)
  • “I want to buy this one” = “Tôi muốn mua cái này(pronounced “Duuy muun muor gay nay”)
  • “Too expensive” = “Quá đắt” (pronounced “Kwa dat”)

Phrases for finding a place

Next time you hop on the back of a Grab motorbike, you can talk about directions.

Would you be able to describe how to go to the “Museum of Ho Chi Minh City“?

Google Maps has been an indispensable tool for me to visit different places in Saigon. Many local businesses have a Google Profile, and maintain it thoughtfully.

  • “Where is the toilet?” = “Nhà vệ sinh ở đâu?” (pronounced “Nya veh singh oh dau”)
  • “Turn right” = “Rẽ phải” (pronounced “Sey fai”)
  • “Turn left” = “Rẽ trái(pronounced “Sey chai”)
  • “Go straight” = “đi thẳng” (pronounced “Di tarng”)
  • “Where is the hotel?” = “Khách sạn ở đâu?” (pronounced “Hkhack san oh dau”)
  • “Go to the airport” = “đi đến sân bay” (pronounced “Ndi den san bay”)
  • “I am sick” = “Tôi bị ốm” (pronounced “Doy bi ouhm”)
  • “Call the police” = “Gọi cảnh sát” (pronounced “Coi gang sart”)

More phrases for social situations

The Gangs Central” is a popular and wildly entertaining restaurant club.

Crowds of locals and tourists gather at Nguyen Hue pedestrian street.

I’ve found many Vietnamese people to be confident and forward in their communications. They have a positive attitude, and are curious to learn as well as introduce their culture.

  • “I don’t understand” = “Tôi không hiểu” (pronounced “Doy hung hiew”)
  • “Yes” = “Dạ” (pronounced “Saa”)
  • “No” = “Không(pronounced “Haoung”)
  • “You are very handsome” = “Bạn rất đẹp trai” (pronounced “Ban zat dep chai”)
  • “You are very beautiful” = “Bạn rất đẹp” (pronounced “Ban zat dep”)

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It takes just a minute 🙏

My name is Garry Ho, I’m the founder.
If you have enjoyed our content and found it helpful, please consider supporting us.
All major cards are accepted.

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