Why all men sitting out there? What is Vietnamese men’s role in their family?

Wherever you set your foot in Vietnam, from the young urbanized city of Can Tho, the bustling city of Saigon, the quiet and small town of Hue or the age-old quarter Hanoi, there are always questions come to mind. It is why those Vietnamese men are sitting out there. Where are their women? Why are they not at work as it’s still the working hours? These kinds of questions were repeatedly given to me in my old day guiding job, say it came out of 99 people every 100. Did I feel embarrassed by these? No, definitely not but then I had to take the explanation roundabout in order to provide the best convincible answers. Let’s view this from the below points.

What is Vietnamese men’s role in their family

Historically speaking, Confucianism influence plays a major role in this matter. Men are considered as center, superior to women. They should take care of “greater work” other than ‘little work”. They are decision-makers in the family. This philosophy once dominated the whole of Asia have somewhat badly given impact on the men’s behaviors of this modern society of Vietnam. Women often have to work hard in the offices, factories, shops, restaurants, brick kilns, out in the fields. They then come back home with a ton of chores awaited. Men think they could stay up late in the street-side restaurants, empty one after another glass of beer. They usually kill time by the coffee table and chit chat many of the nonsense topics or pamper themselves in sauna and massage parlours.


Tea-stand in the 80s in Hanoi
Tea-stand in the 80s in Hanoi

In the past, those were totally sole intention and action by men regardless of an agreement or disagreement from their women. However, in this integrated world, trending with women equalization and liberation, men loopholes. They are becoming trickier with plenty of nice reasons. They call home to advise the family that they would be home late. It is due to discuss business, join a party hosted by their bosses, visit an ill relative, and so on. These are such big liars!

In fact, they are at some favorite corners with bunch of guys and drinks. This explains why most of the beer places in Vietnam are filled with men during and after work hours. A recent Tuoi Tre Newspaper titled “The Vietnamese men are lazy and just love gathering and drinking” is undeniably part of what I’m trying to explain.


Hang out “session”
Hang out “session”

Why are the Vietnamese women that tolerant and enduring

Growing from this Confucius influenced society, women shaped their nature with teaching and principles handed down from the older generation. They should support by all means to the husbands and children. They should sacrifice their time and energy to do housework, raise the kids then leave peace of mind for the men to do “greater work”.

I hate such kind of teaching and actually have no idea of what is the “greater work”. As in this modern society, all women work and seem equal to men. Some of them even have a higher paid job than their husbands. To the most explanations heard, “greater work” is house building, good school finding for kids, ahead in all family’s internal and external affairs, etc. It sounds a vague idea to me while I visually found “little work”. They include house chores, caring for the elders, raising kids after office which are so huge and stressful job.  

Culturally speaking, the Vietnamese women don’t drink and they consider the gathering and drinking is man’s thing. I know the majority of them pleased with this thought. They find the happiness in doing the chores, being around and tutoring the kids with homework other than demanding for the right to have fun and relax time like their men. They comfort themselves that the men just have drinks and fun together in beer house or street-side tea vendors without being with any girl which is easy leading to problem (aka adultery threat). To them, this is the most vulnerable and intolerable problem as women from the rest of the world, they will never share their men with any other women.

This blog is beyond my ability to make it a nice and more informative post. But I’m pretty sure that you now have a general answer if you have ever had this question in mind. This explains why a whole bunch of young men keeps sitting around a little street-side tea shop. Whether they are having a “great work” or discussing LOL. Or why almost the shops of bia hoi in Vietnam are filled crowded with men since the early noon every day.

Suggested Vietnam tours

I’m glad if any of you might cross this blog post, find the interest in it and feel free to exchange your comments. If you don’t find my answer in 12 hours, then it would be 24 hours as I may happen to meet an old friend and decide that we should station in a “bia hoi” somewhere…

Happy finding and traveling!


Tim Lee – Travel Specialist

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