What honking a horn means in Vietnam?

With their everlasting peace of mind and friendly attitude, Vietnamese people are the calmest people I have ever met. It is very rare to see an angry person or even a crying baby in Vietnam. Time seems to flow much slower here yet the entire country moves forward really fast.

In such a peaceful oasis, it might be a surprise to see local traffic for the first time. I mean − hear local traffic for the first time. At this time, I am not thinking of the never ending sound of four-stroke engines, I am thinking of the sound of the horn coming from everywhere. Once you get on the road in Vietnam, you will always hear a horn. Always.

And you should honk your horn a lot in Vietnam too. In fact, it can save your life.

Unlike in Western culture, where honking a horn is great way to tell someone he is an “a**hole and should get out of your way now”, in Vietnam honking a horn is more like “Hiii! I am here, watch out and be careful, please.”

This has to do a lot with the fact that in Western culture, we are thought to drive and constantly care of what is going on in front of us and also what’s happening on the sides and behind us. In Vietnam, people are not using mirrors as much and they only tend to care about what is going on in front of them. It’s not worse, it’s not better than what we do, it’s just a different attitude.

That’s why when a bigger or faster vehicle approaches you from the back, it will honk a horn. You do not have to be stressed, they are not angry nor calling you bad words, they are just informing you they are behind you. At this moment, you should give way to this vehicle. On the other hand, you should honk a horn whenever you get close to someone, from the sides or from the back. You should also honk a horn whenever you are trying to overtake someone. That’s how you inform other vehicles about your presence.

For this reason, make sure your motorcycle has a loud horn and always use it.