Although in popular tourist destinations and larger cities it is just about possible to get by without knowing a word of Vietnamese, insisting on speaking your own language all the time will isolate you from the majority of Vietnamese people and leave you less likely to make friends and relationships you will remember from your travels. By learning to speak just a few words of Vietnamese you can greatly improve your experience, reduce misunderstandings and frustrations and have a chance to talk - however briefly - with individuals who work outside of the tourist service industry, giving you a far greater appreciation of the Vietnamese culture and outlook on life.
We think any responsible traveller should at a minimum learn how to meet and greet people and how to be polite, but taking the time to learn a few more phrases will certainly enhance your enjoyment - even if it just means you are able to recognise a few more items on that otherwise baffling Vietnamese menu. Use our free online phrasebook to sharpen your skills and prepare for your trip - or download it as a PDF to put on your Kindle, mobile, iPhone, iPod touch or other ebook reader.
The original copy of this guide can be found at http://www.vietnamtravel.org/learn-vietnamese