Ao có bờ, sông có bến.

Ponds have shores, rivers have banks.

The meaning is describing how everything has boundaries and limits and rules should be respected. This is similar to “Toe the line” (i.e., following the rules) or “Draw the line” (i.e., setting a limit that must not be breached).

Ai chọn cửa nhà chui ra.

Who chooses the house door to crawl out.

The meaning is describing circumstances beyond one’s control (e.g., in which house/family to be born) that have to be accepted. This is equivalent to “Like it or lump/leave it,” “What will be will be,” or “In the lap of the gods.”

Khéo vá vai, tài vá nách.

The skillful patches the shoulder, the talented patches the armpit.

The meaning is describing how challenging work (the shoulder and armpit of a shirt are difficult to patch) is handled by people who have ability. This is similar to “Rise to the occasion/challenge,” where people show that they can handle a difficult situation.

Đau thương thân lành tiếc của.

Pitying onself when sick, pitying one’s wealth when well.

The meaning is describing how people generally do not value their health until they are sick. This is similar to “Don’t take your health for granted” (taking someone or something for granted is assuming that you will always have him/her/it without doing anything).

Len lét như rắn (mồng) mùng năm.

Scared like a snake on the fifth day.

The meaning is describing a frightened demeanor. The fifth day refers to the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (Tết Đoan Ngọ / Double Fifth Festival). People believe that snakes hide from people who hunt them on the fifth. Another variant is “Len lét như chuột ngày / Scared like a morning mouse.” This is similar to “Scaredy-cat” and “Like a deer/rabbit caught in the headlights.”