Vietnam culture tour – A quick look at Ao Dai


Ao Dai, which has already been defined in Oxford Dictionary, is the traditional costume of the Vietnamese. It is designed with two parts, one of which is a long-sleeve tight dress opening at the sides. And the other is baggy trousers covering the ankles.

This costume is usually the first thing that comes up when Vietnamese culture and aesthetic values are mentioned. You will have an opportunity to see this fantastic outfit while joining a Vietnam culture tour.


Ao Dai

When did Ao Dai appear?

Ao Dai has been the traditional costume of Vietnam for such a long time that no one knows exactly when it appeared. It could be hundreds or even thousands of years. The only thing that we can be sure is that all of the Vietnamese wore Ao Dai in the old times. Also, this traditional costume was a must-have outfit and had strict rules of stitching.

Joining a Vietnam cultural tour, you will have a chance to see the locals wearing Ao Dai in many occasions, especially weddings and festivals.

A long history

To have a trendy outlook as today, Ao Dai has gone through a lot of phases. From the dynasty of Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat in 1774 to King Minh Mang in 1828, the traditional costume was affected by the Chinese. Culture tours in Vietnam will enable you to learn more about these things.

Under the rules of Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat, Ao Dai had a high collar and short wide or short narrow sleeves. The layer on the outside does not have an opening at two sides. Although the costume looked beautiful, it made movements quite difficult to fulfill.


Ao Dai in 1940s

In the dynasty of King Minh Mang, he made a thorough reformation on Ao Dai despite its similarities to Chinese costumes. Dresses were forbidden. Women had to wear trousers instead. The design of long-sleeve dresses combining with trousers started from then.

From the 1920s to 1950s, Ao Dai had huge changes. The costume begun being made to measure by the tailors instead of being roomy. It is wider on the back than on the front. So the costume can perfectly fit women’s figure without the waist being deducted. The sleeves started getting narrower and the collar also got higher.

Ao Dai was raised up to be a traditional costume in the 1990s. During this time, it had numerous variations, all of which aimed at showing the beauty of Vietnamese women.

The meaning of Ao Dai in the heart of the Vietnamese

Been through many ups and downs of the country, Ao Dai is not only a costume but also a symbol of the Vietnamese characters and spirits. It successfully overcame many challenges in Vietnam wartime, including over a thousand years under the control of China and almost a hundred years being dominated by France.


Some variations of ao dai

Having the best of both Eastern and Western cultures, Ao Dai represents the pride of the Vietnamese. Although the layer on the outside is quite long, it is opened at two sides. Therefore, women usually look not only graceful but also attractive in this outfit. Especially, the costume is made to measure, thus could highlight all of the curves of women’s body.

Besides promoting the beauty of Vietnamese women, Ao Dai carries a moral principle. The long-sleeve dress represents parents and families. When they are combined with the layer covering the chest, they stand for the image of mothers holding their children. If you have a chance to try Ao Dai while visiting the country, it will be one of the best tours in Vietnam.

Some famous tailor’s shops in case you want to have an Ao Dai are:

In Hanoi City:

  • Phan Hai Shop: 43 Le Van Huu Street
  • Minh Duc Shop: 41 Dang Tien Dong Street
  • Thu Lieu Shop: 158 Kim Ma Street

In Hue City:

  • Minh Tam Shop: 57 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street
  • Tham Tailor’s Shop: 42 Tran Nguyen Han Street
  • Truong Anh Hao Tailor’s Shop: 61 Ben Nghe Street

In Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Cham Khanh Shop: 327 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street
  • Toan Thinh Shop: 195L Tu Trong Street
  • Lien Huong Shop: 111 Pasteur Street

All traditional costumes have some meanings and Ao Dai is not an exception. The more you understand it, the more you would appreciate Vietnam. All these will make your Vietnam culture tour exciting and worthwhile.  

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