Vietnamese people are not native English speaker. And although English is a compulsory subject taught at schools, plus English centers have been sprung up like mushrooms within recent years, that doesn’t mean you can count on every local being able to speak the language.
In fact, there should be little problems if you are in big cities or touristic areas. However, once leaving for remote places, language barrier could be a real issue. So, since you are planning a trip to Vietnam, I would suggest learning a few basic words that could be useful in certain situations. Plus, Vietnamese tend to get extremely excited upon hearing foreigners attempting at their language. They might burst out laughing but don’t be discouraged. Many foreigners mistake it as them being laughed at while in reality the locals are impressed and think you are adorable speaking Vietnamese.
When building this list, I am choosing those which I think are essential for you as a non native traveler. Besides, while there are many ways to ask a question or express an idea, I would put the simplest way. Vietnamese pronunciation is challenging enough due to their variation of intonation, keeping it short and simple is the best way not to confuse the locals and help them understand you easily. This list will be updated constantly based on your feedbacks. Feel free to let me know which phrases you want to learn in Vietnamese in the comment section below. If you are looking for a pocket guide to speed up your learning, I would recommend this one.
In the mean time, let’s learn.