What Is Considered Tall in Vietnam?

When you travel the world, you notice that people come in very different sizes. One of the remarkable things about Vietnam is the low obesity rate, for example. It often ranks as the #1 least obese country in the world.

But aside from being thinner, Vietnamese people are also shorter than most western populations. So, how tall is “tall” in Vietnam, exactly? And would you be considered tall there?

The average height in Vietnam is 5’6″ (168 cm) for men and 5’2″ (158 cm) for women. An average American man at 5’9″ (175 cm) would generally be considered tall in Vietnam, as he is taller than ~93% of Vietnamese men and nearly 100% of Vietnamese women.

Below, I’ll share height comparison tables, so you can see how you compare to Vietnamese men and women. I’ll also discuss why Vietnamese people are getting taller on average in recent generations.

Average Height in Vietnam

The average man in Vietnam is 5’6″ tall (168 cm), and the average woman is 5’2″ (158 cm). (source)

Here are some comparisons to put that into context:

  • On average, Vietnamese men are 9 cm (3.5″) shorter than men from the U.S., 10 cm (3.9″) shorter than men from Canada and the U.K., and 11 cm (4.3″) shorter than men from Australia.
  • On average, Vietnamese women are 5 cm (2.0″) shorter than women from the U.S., 6 cm (2.4″) shorter than women from the U.K., and then 7 cm (2.8″) shorter than women from Canada and Australia.

We’ll compare Vietnam to other Asian countries below. But next, let’s look at the distribution of heights in Vietnam.

Height Comparison Tables

Have you wondered how your height would compare to Vietnamese men and women? Well, you can use the following two tables to check.

(Note: These tables assume you’re comparing your height to an adult around 30 years old.) First, let’s see how your height compares to Vietnamese men:

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Vietnamese Men.
4’10” (147 cm)0.3%
4’11” (150 cm)0.8%
5’0″ (152 cm)2%
5’1″ (155 cm)5%
5’2″ (157 cm)10%
5’3″ (160 cm)19%
5’4″ (163 cm)32%
5’5″ (165 cm)46%
5’6″ (168 cm)62%
5’7″ (170 cm)75%
5’8″ (173 cm)86%
5’9″ (175 cm)93%
5’10” (178 cm)97%
5’11” (180 cm)99%
6’0″ (183 cm)99.6%
6’1″ (185 cm)99.9%
6’2″+ (188 cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Vietnamese men? (source)

Now, let’s take a look at how your height compares to Vietnamese women:

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Vietnamese Women.
4’6″ (137 cm)~0%
4’7″ (140 cm)0.2%
4’8″ (142 cm)0.7%
4’9″ (145 cm)3%
4’10” (147 cm)7%
4’11” (150 cm)16%
5’0″ (152 cm)30%
5’1″ (155 cm)48%
5’2″ (157 cm)67%
5’3″ (160 cm)82%
5’4″ (163 cm)92%
5’5″ (165 cm)97%
5’6″ (168 cm)99%
5’7″ (170 cm)99.8%
5’8″+ (173 cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Vietnamese women? (source)

Why Are Vietnamese People So Short?

The two biggest factors that determine height are genetics and nutrition. It is thought that genetics determine around 60% to 80% of your height, while nutrition determines the other 20% to 40%. (source)

So, how do these factors explain the height of Vietnamese people?

It has been suggested in Discover Magazine that Asian populations may be shorter due to a gene called HMGA2. The “short” variant of that gene seems more common in East Asia than in Europe or Africa.

So, that may explain at least part of the genetics. And you can dig more into these discussions if you’re interested. I also found this Stanford article on why evolution favored shorter bones in some populations.

But nutrition seems to play a big role, as well. And this may play into how Vietnamese heights are trending in recent years.

Are Vietnamese People Getting Taller?

Although Vietnamese people are relatively short on the global scale, this is actually changing. And in fact, this was discussed explicitly in a July 2022 workshop held by the Ministry of Health in Hanoi: Vietnamese people are getting taller.

The Deputy Director of Maternal and Child Health reported that, from 2000 to 2020, the average height for Vietnamese women increased by 3.3 cm, while for men it rose 5.8 cm.

He explained that these changes have been due to improvements in maternal and child health care in Vietnam. (source)

Interestingly, this phenomenon is not limited to just Vietnam. South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and many other countries have seen major increases in height over the last few decades, as well.

The Tallest Vietnamese People

And of course, some Vietnamese people are much, much taller than the reported averages. Here are a few notable cases of very tall Vietnamese people:

  • The tallest man ever recorded in Vietnam was Ho Van Trung at 2.57 meters (8’5″). He died in 2021.
  • The tallest living person in Vietnam today is Le Thi Anh Hong at ~2.1 meters (6’11”).
  • The tallest female volleyball player from Vietnam is Tran Thi Thanh Thuy at 1.93 meters tall (6’4″).
  • And here are several more Vietnamese people over 2 meters tall, as well.

Height in Vietnam vs Other Asian Countries

Now let’s take a look at how Vietnam fits in with other countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia for height. Here’s a table showing many of the countries I cover on this site:

CountryFemale Avg. HeightMale Avg. Height
Cambodia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
China5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Indonesia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (166 cm)
Japan5’2″ (158 cm)5’8″ (172 cm)
Malaysia5’2″ (157 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)
Philippines5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
Singapore5’3″ (161 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
South Korea5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Taiwan5’3″ (160 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
Thailand5’3″ (159 cm)5’7″ (171 cm)
Vietnam5’2″ (158 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)
Average Heights in Asia by Country. (Source)

As you can see, the shortest countries here are Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Meanwhile, the tallest are South Korea and China.

Vietnam is in the middle for Asian countries, but a bit closer to the short end. Vietnam has a very similar average height as Malaysia—and pretty close to Japan and Thailand, too.

So, How Tall Is “Tall” in Vietnam?

“Tall” is obviously not a precise term. Really, you could be “somewhat tall,” “tall,” or “very tall”—and all of these are subjective and relative.

That said, I asked a Vietnamese friend what she considers “tall” for Vietnam, and she said around 163 cm (5’4″) for women, and 175 cm (5’9″) for men. That turns out to be the tallest 7% of Vietnamese men, and the tallest 8% of Vietnamese women.

So, as a final answer: If you’re somewhere near those heights or taller, you would probably be considered tall in Vietnam.