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According to Vietnamese tradition, when asking someone to hang out, you should always bring enough money to pay the bill. When going out eating, drinking and relaxing—especially men getting together for a drink: a pretty popular pastime—it is not considered appropriate to “go Dutch” with a Vietnamese. If you run into someone at restaurant and you join his table, let him pay the whole bill or pay it all yourself. The senior person usually pays. However, to decline of an offer of a meal is considered polite.
Vietnamese rarely make appointments and they will often arrive late in order not to appear overly “enthusiastic”. Vietnamese custom dictates that if you want to invite guests to your party, it implies that have selected the menu as well as organised the restaurant. And as the person issuing the invitation, you will certainly be expected to pay the bill.
By and large, at class reunions or meetings with friends and colleagues, Vietnamese have a tendency to split the bill with one another because most such gatherings consist of many people and any one person might find it difficult to settle the whole bill himself. However, you can take responsibility for this as long as you can afford it. And it is common practice in our nation that if someone is willing to pay the bill on a given occasion, the next time it will be another’s turn to pay. Vietnamese people often say the word “bao” or “ đãi” meaning “It’s my treat” in this case.
One way in which in Vietnamese culture is very different from Western culture is that on dates between couples, it is always the man who takes care of the payment. The man does this in order to show his qualities as a gentleman. Additionally, he will look after his date by cleaning her cutlery and placing food in her bowl. The man preferring to pay for dinner is considered normal behaviour in our country.
In Vietnam it is also customary to invite customers or partners for a drink or a coffee in order to conduct a business negotiation and may even sign the contract at the drinks table. Typically, places are chosen that have areas suitable for both relaxation and work.
Vietnamese people are well known for their hospitality. They enjoy spending time meeting people they get on well with and will often build relationships through drinking or eating out. This is a characteristic of Vietnamese culture.
By Loan Phan