Numbers, both lucky and unlucky, are an important part of Vietnamese culture. Whether or not a number will bring you good fortune, depends on two things: 1) the Vietnamese zodiac and 2) the sound of the word in Sino Vietnamese, the ancient language. Both the zodiac and language are closely related to their Chinese counterpart.

The number 4 is super unlucky, it sounds like the word for death (same spelling, only the tone is different). Many buildings don’t have a fourth floor, for example.

The numbers 6 and 8 are very lucky, they mean respectively happiness and fortune / wealth. The Chinese Olympics, for example, began on 08/08/08 at eight seconds and eight minutes past 8pm.

Having a phone number with many 6’s and 8’s brings prosperity, which is why some people spend – literally – hundreds of dollars on a ‘beautiful’ phone number. Especially (Chinese) businessmen love it: people who receive their call will recognize the ‘expensive number’ and pay respect. My former boss’ number ended with ’66 888 0 888′ – just saying.

And even the cheaper phone numbers are not randomly assigned – you háve to pick one from the list (they have different prices).