Drinking Etiquette in Vietnam: What not to do when drunk
Don’t stop first
As surprising as it seems, being a good drinker in Vietnam is seen as being a strong man, thus one of the first drinking etiquette in Vietnam is to make sure you’re not the first one to stop.
If you notice your opponent companion watching you as you both chug beer down, it’s because they are watching to see when you will stop.
They don’t want to be the first person to put down their glass. Things can get sloppy fast if you play this game.
Sometimes challenges are delivered, “một trăm phần trăm” which means 100%. This is a challenge for you to chug the rest of your beer.
As a westerner, it is often assumed that you’ll be a good drinker, and that will be put to the test. Do not underestimate a local’s drinking abilities, you’ll be amazed knowing that even though they are small, they can drink a lot.
Don’t just drink
If you’re asked to go drink beers, there will probably also be food involved. Vietnam has lots of bar snacks that satisfy your hunger and make you want to drink more.
Some examples: frog legs, chicken wings, snails, diced beef, and hột vịt lộn (balut).
This is a great way to try new food — you’re slightly braver because of the alcohol, you have people there that will eat it if you don’t like it, and your Vietnamese friends will be happy to show you how to eat it.
Don’t go too far
Perhaps the most important drinking etiquette in Vietnam (or wherever you may go) is to remember not to go too far.
Inevitably, the night will hit a point when everyone is too drunk to make good decisions. More beers will be ordered. More challenges made. Sometimes, the beer girls are treated poorly.
Worse than that though, is the amount of drinking and driving that happens in this country. If you’re going out to drink with friends, take a taxi.
Even if you think you are only going out for a couple. Taxis are cheap, lives are precious. On a Saturday night, there are a lot of drunk people on the road.
You shouldn’t be one of them.
The World Health Organization says that “60% of hospitalized road trauma patients are estimated to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit”. You can be told, “it’s part of the culture” and “everyone is doing it”.
That’s even more reason to not do it. It’s crazy to hear expats who wouldn’t drink and drive in their home country, talk about how it’s okay in Vietnam, where traffic accidents happen more often and are more deadly.