Midfielder Nguyen Thanh Trung put Viet Nam ahead just 34 minutes into the game. (Photo: TTVH)
The win marks a good start for the team in Group B, which includes Iran, Turkmenistan, Bahrain and Viet Nam.
At the opening game in Qatar Asian Games four years ago, Viet Nam lost 2-1 to Bahrain.
Midfielder Nguyen Thanh Trung put Viet Nam ahead just 34 minutes into the game when he slotted home Pham Thanh Luong's through-ball.
Viet Nam focused on a counter-attacking game, to nullify the superior height and strength of their Bahraini opponents, and took the lead into half time.
Fifteen minutes into second half, Trung nearly scored a second goal but his free kick was saved by Bahrain's keeper Mushaima.
In the 72nd minute, Nguyen Trong Hoang made it 2-0 from a quick counter-attack, before striker Nguyen Anh Duc scored the third goal in the 88th minute.
Bahrain pulled back a consolation goal in the last minute.
Viet Nam meet Turkmenistan tomorrow and Iran on Saturday at the Guangdong People's Stadium.
Team assistant coach Phan Thanh Hung said the team would try their best to take a second or the best placed third in the group, which set them a berth in the knock-out round.
Twenty-four teams are taking part in the under-23s tournament, with the top two and four of the best third-placed sides from the six groups advancing to the round of 16.
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