Vietnamese drink. A lot. Especially men, and especially in the country side, but not only. But what do they drink? Mainly beers, and home-made alcohol, that is so strong that it could often almost be used as gasoline to start their motorcycle. Beers are drank as a social activity, whether it’s an after-work gathering, or any occasion of celebration. Weddings, all types of parties, new year celebration, new house celebration, new job celebration, new friends celebration, but also birth, and funeral.
In some ways, drinking habits are pretty similar to what we can find in the West. For example, it seems that beers and stronger alcohol are part of the celebrating package. But in other ways, Vietnamese have a personal understanding of how alcohol should be drank. As a foreigner, one thing you should know: If you are invited to a wedding or any other celebration event, Vietnamese guys will make you drink. A lot. Especially if you are the only foreign face around. I take as a way to welcome you, to show you their appreciation, but also to test you, to see if foreigners can drink. It’s considered pretty rude to refuse a drink, just like in many cultures. But of course, if you are a nondrinker, most of the time they-ll understand.
Whether you are visiting for holiday or staying there for a longer period of time, if you are an occasional drinker, you’ll always find a local mate to drink with you. Drinking with the locals is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to discover the country, the culture, and the people. It’s part of the journey into understanding Vietnam. But please be careful. Vietnamese people tend to underestimate the effect of alcohol on their body, and more precisely on their driving skills. Drunk driving is a pretty serious problem all over the country. Even if the government started to work on the issue a few years ago and equipped some policemen with the needed material to fight against this kind of crime, it’s still very present everywhere in the country. I know how tempting it is to jump on a bike after a night out, and ride back to your hotel without a helmet to feel the wind in your hair and experience what we interpret as « freedom », but believe me, it doesn’t worth it at all. The risks are high, just like back home, and taxis and other apps that bring you home are cheap. Don’t turn your dream trip into a nightmare, don’t drink and drive. Just drink and Uber! Oh wait, Uber have recently been bought by Grab? Then just Drink and Grab!