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Chinese vs. Vietnamese: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 18, 2024
"Chinese" pertains to China, its people, language, or culture. "Vietnamese" relates to Vietnam, its citizens, language, or culture.

Key Differences

"Chinese" refers to anything related to China, including its diverse culture, language, and people. "Vietnamese" similarly denotes connections to Vietnam, its unique cultural practices, language, and population. Both terms represent rich, distinct Asian cultures and histories.
The Chinese language, primarily Mandarin, is a tonal Sino-Tibetan language with a complex writing system based on characters. Vietnamese, also tonal, belongs to the Austroasiatic language family and uses a Latin-based script. Both languages are integral to the identity and heritage of their respective nations.
Chinese cuisine is known for its regional diversity, including dishes like Peking duck and dim sum. Vietnamese cuisine, famous for pho and spring rolls, emphasizes fresh ingredients and balanced flavors. Each cuisine reflects the agricultural practices, history, and tastes of its country.
Chinese history, spanning thousands of years, includes dynasties like Han and Qing. Vietnamese history, also rich, has been shaped by various influences, including Chinese and French colonization. Both histories are marked by periods of great achievement and profound transformation.
In art, Chinese traditional forms include calligraphy, silk painting, and ceramics. Vietnamese art features lacquerware, water puppetry, and silk painting, showcasing distinct artistic traditions. Both cultures have a strong tradition of integrating art into daily life and celebrating their historical roots.

Comparison Chart

Language Family


Writing System

Character-based (logographic)
Latin-based alphabet


Diverse, regional styles; includes noodles, dim sum
Fresh ingredients, balanced flavors; includes pho, spring rolls

Historical Influences

Dynastic rule, Confucianism
Chinese, French colonization influences

Art Forms

Calligraphy, silk painting, ceramics
Lacquerware, water puppetry, silk painting

Chinese and Vietnamese Definitions


Pertaining to China or its people.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated with great enthusiasm.


Relating to the Vietnamese language, using a Latin alphabet.
She learned Vietnamese to connect with her heritage.


Connected to Chinese cuisine, known for its variety and flavors.
Chinese dumplings are a popular dish worldwide.


Associated with Vietnam or its inhabitants.
Vietnamese coffee has a unique strong flavor.


Of or related to Chinese culture, history, or arts.
Traditional Chinese medicine has ancient roots.


Pertaining to Vietnamese cuisine, noted for its freshness and balance.
Vietnamese spring rolls are a light and healthy choice.


Referring to the citizens of China.
Many Chinese students study abroad for higher education.


Connected to Vietnamese culture, history, or arts.
The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is a vibrant cultural festival.


Relating to the languages spoken in China, primarily Mandarin.
She is taking Chinese classes to communicate better on her trip.


Referring to the people of Vietnam.
Vietnamese artists are gaining international recognition.


Of or relating to Vietnam or its people, language, or culture.


Are Chinese and Vietnamese languages related?

No, they belong to different language families: Sino-Tibetan and Austroasiatic, respectively.

What is the primary language in China?

Mandarin Chinese is the primary language spoken in China.

What script is used in Vietnamese writing?

Vietnamese uses a Latin-based alphabet with additional diacritics.

Is Vietnamese cuisine influenced by other cultures?

Yes, Vietnamese cuisine has influences from Chinese and French culinary traditions.

What are common Chinese cuisines?

Chinese cuisine includes dishes like Peking duck, dim sum, and stir-fries.

What is a significant festival in Chinese culture?

The Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is a significant cultural celebration.

What are some Vietnamese traditional arts?

Traditional Vietnamese arts include lacquerware, silk painting, and water puppetry.

What role does calligraphy play in Chinese culture?

Calligraphy is a revered art form in Chinese culture, symbolizing elegance and scholarly achievement.

How old is Chinese civilization?

Chinese civilization is one of the world's oldest, dating back over 5,000 years.

What historical periods are significant in Vietnamese history?

Significant periods in Vietnamese history include the Đại Việt era and the French colonial period.

Can Chinese and Vietnamese be mutually understood?

No, they are distinct languages and are not mutually intelligible.

Are there different dialects in Chinese?

Yes, Chinese has several dialects, including Cantonese and Shanghainese.

What is the population size of China compared to Vietnam?

China has a significantly larger population than Vietnam.

Do Chinese and Vietnamese share religious beliefs?

Both cultures have diverse religious practices but share some elements like Buddhism.

Are there any shared festivals between Chinese and Vietnamese cultures?

Both cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, though traditions and customs may vary.

Are Chinese characters used in Vietnamese writing?

No, Vietnamese used to use Chinese characters but now uses a Latin-based script.

How does the geography of China compare to Vietnam?

China has a diverse geography, from mountains to plains, while Vietnam is known for its coastline and delta regions.

Is the Vietnamese language tonal?

Yes, Vietnamese is a tonal language, meaning the tone changes the word's meaning.

What is a unique feature of Vietnamese cuisine?

Vietnamese cuisine is known for its emphasis on fresh ingredients and balanced flavors.

Is tea culture prominent in both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures?

Yes, tea plays an important role in both Chinese and Vietnamese social and cultural practices.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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