Many Vietnamese people have three names, the family name (surname), middle and last name in that order. If you are touring in Vietnam, it is always advisable to ask about how you should address someone. If they have been introduced to you, or they introduce themselves then the best way to proceed is to reply in the same way, or refer to them in conversation elsewhere by their first name.
If you are on a Vietnam travel package, it is unlikely that you will be involved in any business meetings. However, if for any reason you are then use the family name. When you use the first name you should do it with some form of title.
In Vietnam, there is a formal way to address people because respect is so important within society. Tourists will be excused for getting things wrong, especially those travelling to Vietnam for the first time. However, there is no doubt the pleasure you will provide if you can grasp the correct way to address others. It is especially important on a first meeting for a Vietnamese person to show respect to another; formality may be dropped at a later stage.
As an aside, it is acceptable for a communist to address another communist as ‘’comrade.’’
Here is the information that is worth learning:
Every married woman retains her maiden name though on more formal occasions, she will expect her husband’s name if she is addressed.
When someone has a title, the tendency would be to use that title incidentally.
Are you confused?
Well there is a fair amount to absorb. That said, tourists will not be expected to be correct every time, if at all. You may like to memorise these differences and there is no doubt that local Vietnamese will be delighted if you try, and even more so if you get things right.
Village life has changed little over generations and it is important that family members show due respect to each other and hence get their words right. There may not be the same precision everywhere but in the modern world showing due respect is a tradition to be cherished. It is not always the case elsewhere in the world.
Read more: Vietnam culture