How to Say Chinese in Vietnam

Learning how to say “Chinese” in Vietnam is helpful if you plan to travel, communicate with locals, or simply want to broaden your language skills. Whether you want to use a formal or informal way, understanding regional variations can enhance your cultural understanding. In this guide, we will explore various ways to express “Chinese” in Vietnam, including formal and informal options, and provide useful tips and examples.

Formal Ways to Say Chinese

When it comes to formal expressions, Vietnamese has a specific term for “Chinese.” The formal way to say “Chinese” in Vietnam is: “người Trung Quốc.” This term is used respectfully and is suitable for official interactions or when conversing with strangers.

Informal Ways to Say Chinese

If you prefer a more casual and informal approach, you can use the word: “Tàu/Tàu khựa.” However, it’s important to be aware that these terms might carry a negative connotation depending on the context and the person you are speaking to. Therefore, it’s crucial to use them with caution and only in informal situations with close acquaintances or friends.

Regional Variations for Saying Chinese

While the formal and informal ways described above are generally understood throughout Vietnam, there might be slight regional variations in how people express “Chinese.” These variations can provide valuable insights into the diverse linguistic landscape of the country. Let’s explore some regional variations:

1. Northern Vietnam:

In northern Vietnam, people often use the term: “người Hoa.” This term can be used both formally and informally, and it refers to people of Chinese ethnicity or Chinese nationals. It’s important to note that “người Hoa” can also refer to people of Chinese descent living in Vietnam.

2. Southern Vietnam:

In southern Vietnam, the term: “người Hoa” is also used to refer to Chinese people. However, due to the influence of the local dialect spoken in the region, you might also hear the term: “Hoa kiều.” This term specifically refers to Chinese people who have settled in the region or have Vietnamese-Chinese heritage.

3. Central Vietnam:

Central Vietnam has its own regional variation for expressing “Chinese” – “người Tàu.” This term is used informally and might have a slightly negative connotation in certain contexts. Therefore, it’s advisable to use it only in informal situations and with caution.

Useful Tips and Examples

Here are some tips and examples to help you effectively use these phrases when referring to Chinese people in Vietnam:


  • Always consider the context and the formality of the situation before choosing which term to use.
  • If in doubt, it’s safer to use the more formal and respectful term of “người Trung Quốc.”
  • When using regional variations, be mindful of the nuances and potential connotations that might differ from their standard meanings.
  • It’s always appreciated to demonstrate cultural sensitivity and respect when referring to others.


Xin chào, tôi muốn tìm sách về lịch sử người Trung Quốc. (Hello, I would like to find books about the history of the Chinese.)

Hôm qua, tôi đi ăn cùng bạn Tàu khựa. (Yesterday, I went out to eat with my Chinese friend.)

Regional Variation:
Ở đây có nhiều cửa hàng người Hoa. (There are many Chinese-owned shops here.)

Remember to adapt these examples based on the specific context and your relationship with the person you are conversing with. Practicing these phrases will not only help improve your language skills but also foster stronger cultural connections.

In conclusion, there are both formal and informal ways to say “Chinese” in Vietnam, as well as regional variations that provide additional insights into the linguistic landscape. By using these phrases appropriately and respectfully, you can enhance your communication skills and demonstrate cultural sensitivity. Whether you choose the formal “người Trung Quốc” or a more casual term like “Tàu/Tàu khựa,” incorporating these expressions into your vocabulary will undoubtedly enrich your experience in Vietnam.

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