Thuoc Lao – Pipe Smoking | How to Get High by Vietnamese Tobacco

Tobacco (thuốc lá or thuốc lào).

If you are looking for a new stimulant to get you high in Vietnam, pipe-smoking or thuoc lao will be mentioned as the number one by all Vietnamese. Thuoc lao literally means “drug from Laos”. This traditional Vietnamese tobacco can be either smoked or chewed. A common proverb in Vietnam said that a piece of betel is the beginning of the story but for most of the Vietnamese gentlemen, pipe-smoking really begins theirs.

Vietnamese Tobacco - Thuoc Lao
Vietnamese Tobacco – Thuoc Lao

How to Enjoy Thuoc Lao – Pipe Smoking

Smoking Thuoc Lao by Pipe

Just need a dieu cay – a pipe made from bamboo or plastic, a ball of Vietnamese tobacco, a match to set the fire, you can get high like the true Vietnamese style. To experience pipe smoking, you can simply go to every drink stalls on every street. Order a cup of green tea, pack up a tobacco ball then put it into dieu cay, burn the tobacco, wait for a second then blow the ash out of the pipe, take a deep toke from the pipe together with drinking some tea, let the smoke get out from your mouth, you will feel extremely “phe” – the word Vietnamese people use to describe the high. You should ask someone sitting behind to catch you in case you may hit your head because of getting too high. You will be also addicted to a unique sound when smoking thuoc lao, it is so cool.

Smoke Thuoc Lao - Pipe Smoking
Smoke Thuoc Lao – Pipe Smoking

Some destinations which thuoc lao has become the specialty are Tien Lang in Hai Phong province and Quang Xuong in Thanh Hoa province.

Chewing Thuoc Lao

Vietnamese tobacco is also used to chew as a way of chewing betel leaves and areca nuts. Eat a pinch of dry tobacco in the mouth, keep it between the teeth and cheeks, sometimes chew the tobacco to get its water but not swallow it. Chewing thuoc lao cannot get you high as much like smoking but it is a worthwhile experience to try for once.

Importance of Thuoc Lao – Pipe Smoking in Vietnamese Custom 

Thuoc Lao is Not Just Used to Get High

Pipe smoking has been an indispensable part of Vietnamese custom for a very long time. In daily life, thuoc lao and dieu cay are the “close friends” of all classes from the rich to the poor, from the functionaries to the citizens in Vietnamese old society. Their day could not go on and be really productive without toking on thuoc lao.

Some modern bong for smoking thuoc lao
Some kinds of bong for smoking thuoc lao

Pipe smoking even appears in folk song and proverbs such as “Nhớ ai như nhớ thuốc lào; Đã chôn điếu xuống lại đào điếu lên” (you do not miss anyone as much as you miss tobacco; as soon as you bury the bong, you dig it out again).

Thuoc Lao in Modern Society

Young generations in Vietnam no more toke on thuoc lao as much as their previous ones did. The main reason is the toxics having bad effects on people’s health of this tobacco. Maybe, in the future, thuoc lao will have to come to museums but its vital value in the culture of Vietnam can never be replaced in the mind of every Vietnamese person.

How about trying this interesting tobacco in your Vietnam tours? You will never forget it for sure.

16 thoughts on “Thuoc Lao – Pipe Smoking | How to Get High by Vietnamese Tobacco

  1. Harry says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Thuoc Lao is legal to be brought to Canada. However, according to the law, every passenger can only bring 2 packs of cigarettes.
    Thuoc Lao, in some ways, can be considered a type of cigarettes so you need to be careful about the amount of Thuoc Lao you bring on the plane.


  2. Harry says:

    Hi Liam,
    Tien Lang is more famous than Quang Xuong.
    They own their unique taste and feelings so I recommend you to try both of them.

  3. Alan Do says:

    Is Thuoc Lao harmful like cigarettes and can you bring it into Australia?? Because some guy near my area brang back 3 kg of it and told custom it was tea

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