Vietnamese culture: What does a farmer do?

As an agricultural producing country, Vietnam has a lot of rice farms and rice products. Tourists can admire the beauty of rice fields, however, not everyone knows the farmers’ everyday work.

Rice is the main food of Vietnamese people, we eat rice in 3 meals a day and we grow so much rice. Vietnam is the second largest rice exporter in the World after Thailand only. Almost 80% of the Vietnamese population works on the rice field or things related to rice.

In the eyes of Caucasian, you may think that rice is  the portion of the menu that you order at the restaurant or white rice that is sold at the market.

We grow rice and we know. From the rice seeds that are harvested in the field until becoming the white rice that you eat is a long way and so much work, it is a long and nice process.


The majority of Vietnamese people work on the farm and when traveling in Vietnam, you could meet them at their works, talking and chatting to them. Vietnamese people are one of the friendliest people in the World. You could visit their home if your time is permitted.

Normally families work together in their own farm. Each family has about half of a hectare or land. Both men and women are working together but men will take care of the hard work of processing the land or carrying a heavy load of fertilizers, making a channel for water supply as rice needs so much water.

Some parts of Vietnam now have motor plows to work but the majority still use the power of buffalo, it is very functional on the small area of land. In the countryside, buffalo are truly Vietnamese farmers ' best friends.


Vietnam is a tropical country and during harvest time in the summer, it is very hot. That is the reason why Vietnamese farmers like to start their day very early. Then they have a long lunch break to avoid the heat of the Sun and stay at the field until late when it gets cooler.

Women like to wear conical hats ( non la) when working on the field. It is light and large enough to cover the head, when they have break, the hat could be a hand fan too.

Vietnamese farmer has lots of jokes to entertain themselves on the farm. Some areas even have songs or folk songs. I would love to have neighbors who have good voices and I bet everyone wants to too.

The children could help parents on the farm too but you don’t see many of them on farm because they have a half day at school and the other half day they could take care of the house with cleaning, washing up and cooking or simply taking care of a smaller brother/sister while parents working on farms.

Before farmers walked barefoot in the mud, it was cool and safe but recently they buy rubber shoes as the foot protection and it really helps when they work on cold days in Northern part of Vietnam.

How rice is growing and how long is a rice crop?

Rice crop

Vietnamese farmers have to select the best seeds of the previous crop for the seedling , they will grow these seeds in the nursing farm  2-3 weeks before planting them on the well processed muddy field. Then they provide so much water for almost 2 months of rice life cycle. 

If the rains are good enough then the work of Vietnamese farmers will be easier otherwise they have to work much on supplying water for rice during this time. This is also the reason why farmers got to choose the right time for their crop to take advantage of the rain. When rice has seeds, they don’t need much water and they seem to keep the farm dry, it will be easier when they harvest.

After they separate seeds from hays, they will dry them in the sun for a while before they mill them into the white rice that you could cook.

So the total time of a rice crop from nursing rice till harvest time lasts for about 3 months on average, some sort of rice may last longer or shorter.

How and why Vietnamese farmers grow veggies?

Most of the farmer’s family are self-service.

They grow their own veggies on the rice farm, they have their own chicken or pig in their garden, mostly free-range chicken. They may have fish farm in the pond and produce rice for their own. They money they use is not much but life is not bad. They got almost everything they need.

Vietnamese farmers will see the coming weather in the moon and sky color then choose the right seedling and timing for the vegetable farm, this experience they learn from the elders since they were babies. 

I did too from my Grandma lessons via songs and poems, if you don’t know these secrets, you are not a real Vietnamese farmer.

Each season has its right type of Vegetable and they have more than their use, sometimes share or barter with their neighbor for other vegetables that they don’t grow.

How do Vietnamese farmers cook their meals?

Vietnamese often have 3 meals a day. Breakfast is quite early. During harvest time, they often take breakfast before sunrise.

Lunch is early too, they may take the snap after lunch before going back to the farm.

Dinner is the time when all members of the family stay together, they cook together and share the meal.

Vietnamese farmers don’t eat many dishes as you served in the city restaurants during your Vietnam trip. They have steam rice plus 2 or 3 other dishes and are not well decorated as you may see in the restaurant. 

Normally they have vegetables (stirred fry or boiled) plus some salted fish or pork eaten with rice. Beef and chicken is not as popular as pork in the Vietnamese community. Men may take several cups of rice wine that ensure them a nighty nite and get 100% strong in the next morning for the next day work

There are several places in Vietnam where you could join Vietnam Travel on a day trip or eco tour and work as a farmer and get real experience of a day local life.

Outside Hanoi, there is a day trip with Trip Azia in Van Duc Village eco tour

In Hoian, there is a day or half day trip available at Tra Que village

In Mekong Delta, if your time is permitted, you could join a half day eco tour too.

Life of farmers is full of outdoor activities and working in the field with lots of fresh air, lovely breeze, sharing jokes and songs with other farmers keep them strong and make farmer day work getting less hectic.

Huong Giang