49 eating rules of the Vietnamese according to ancient customs

For many Vietnamese people, there are rules when sitting at the table, no one mentions but needs to be known.

Those unwritten rules are not only customs but also are minimal politeness, showing the culture of each individual.

Many people think that these are the old rules and only apply in rich and polite families, poor people just need to have a full stomach.

Nowadays, when life in Vietnam is too busy with rushed meals, it is very tiring to apply the above rules.

However, there are also quite a few opinions that it may not be too strict, rigid to do all the rules, but the most basic things need attention.

We collect these rules of the Vietnamese, so you can check them to know about some traditional customs when enjoying a meal with a family.

Use chopsticks

eating rules with chopsticks
Using chopsticks needs to be suitable for their rules. ©Hue Flavor

1. Do not take rice in your mouth more than 3 continuous times when bringing the rice bowl to your mouth.

2. Do not take food directly into your mouth from general dishes, but put it in a separate bowl before eating.

3. Do not use your spoon and chopsticks to stir into the shared soup bowl.

4. Do not turn the plate of food to choose the better piece.

5. Do not stick chopsticks upright in the rice bowl, which is similar to incense when worshipping.

6. Do not dip the entire end of the chopsticks into the bowl of dipping sauce or fish sauce.

7. You have to turn your chopsticks to use another side when you want to pick up food to others.

8. Do not bite your teeth on chopsticks, spoons, or bowls, do not lick the tip of the chopsticks.

9. Do not hold the bowl and chopsticks with only one hand, and do not hold the chopsticks to free your hands to do other things such as scooping soup. Unused chopsticks must be placed on a tray or plate.

While eating

Family Meal
Family Meal @hichiko_nguyen

10. Sitting to eat, whether on a mat or a chair, is not allowed to shake the thighs. Shaking the thighs is a general of the meanness of men, the lewdness of women, and extremely disrespectful.

11. Don’t sit too close to the tray or table, but don’t sit too far either.

12. When sitting on a chair, you must keep your back straight. When sitting on the mat, if you want to move to get food, you can move your back and arms, but do not lift your butt.

13. Do not put your hands under the table, but do not put your hands on the table strongly, but hold the bowl and chopsticks. When not holding the bowl, the wrist rests on the table gently.

14. Don’t sit with your chin on the dining table.

15. Absolutely, avoid getting full of rice in the mouth.

16. Do not blow hot food with your mouth, but slowly scoop out the cooler part close to the sides of the dish.

17. The soup spoon must be placed face down in the bowl, not upside down.

18. When dipping into the bowl of dipping sauce or fish sauce, only dip the food, do not dip the chopsticks into the dipping bowl. The food has bitten, not be dipped.

19. When chewing, it is forbidden to copy your mouth.

20. Do not make noise when eating (eg slurping)

21. Don’t talk, don’t drink beer or soup when there’s rice in your mouth.

22. Do not knock chopsticks, bowls, and spoons.

23. When eating water dishes such as soup, porridge, etc., if you have a small bowl, you can hold that bowl in your hands to drink, but not with chopsticks and spoons. If you have a large bowl or a deep plate, use a spoon to scoop it up.

24. Do not eat before the elder people eat, wait for the superior to bring the bowl and chopsticks, you can start your meal. If you are a guest, do not pick up the food before the host, unless you are asked to pick it up first.

25. Whether in the family or as a guest, absolutely do not criticize when the food is not to your taste. This is extremely important because it is not just a courtesy but also a part of character education. A dish that is not delicious to one person, but is delicious to another, and is achieved through the efforts of other people.

26. Don’t pick up one dish continuously even though it’s your favorite dish.

27. You have to taste it first, then add salt, pepper, chili, lemon, etc. to avoid sprinkling all kinds of extra spices on your portion when just sitting to eat.

28. Must eat all the food in the bowl, leaving no grain of rice.

29. When preparing food, remember to add a small bowl to contain bones, shrimp heads, or leftovers in the rice.

30. Baby who are too young need their own tray and have someone watch over them to avoid messing up the meals of the elderly. From the age of 6, they can sit on the same with the whole family after they have mastered the basic rules.

31. When a child wants to eat a dish that is out of reach, an adult must be asked to pick it up for him/her.

32. Do not put personal items on the dining table, except for the folding paper fan that can be placed along the edge of the table. Nowadays, mobile phones are impolite and unhygienic.

33. It is imperative to put the portion of the latecomers on a separate plate, never leave the remaining half-eaten portion on the plate.

34. Eat slowly, don’t eat in a hurry, don’t chew while walking.

35. When eating, do not let food stick outside the mouth, fall out of the table. When standing up, the tablecloth is still clean.

36. If you encounter bones or strange objects in your food, take it out slowly, don’t spit it all out at the table.

37. Burp when eating a meal is impolite unless the elderly from 70 and young children.

38. If it is spicy, ask permission to go out to sneeze or blow your nose.

39. Cooking to welcome guests to avoid adding too spicy or salty in food, which releases being an inconvenience.

40. Keep a suitable distance to avoid touching with others, typically when using chopsticks.

41. Pay attention to the sleeves when picking up food.

42. If the food is large, please cut it up to be easy to pick it up when eating.

43. When you are eating, you have to ask permission before leaving.

44. It’s imperative to say thank you after a meal, even if it’s just the couple cooking for each other. Do not hesitate to praise the delicious food.

>> You can want to study famous Vietnam food names.

45. Say invitation before eating. But, it depends on each family. For some families, the eldest person asks all people to start eating while the others, the younger invites older people to enjoy the meal. So, let’s observe or ask the owner to know this rule.

46. ​​When you want to apply lipstick again after the meal, then ask permission to go to the bathroom, do not put lipstick on the dining table in front of other people.

47. Where to sit is according to the arrangement of the host, do not arbitrarily sit at the table when the host has not invited you to sit.

48. Do not drink too much Vietnam beer or wine when eating a meal with the family.

49. Avoid telling about your diet and allergies when invited unless the owner asks you about that.

>>> Get closer to the local culture by starting learning the Vietnamese alphabet.

About the author


Editor at HueFlavor is a15-year local guide, Mr. Ho Thom, who loves local food in Hue as well as in Vietnam. Trusted by hundreds of guests around the world.