Considering doing business in Vietnam?

Nestled in Southeast Asia, Vietnam beckons travelers with its rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the bustling streets of Hanoi to the serene waters of Ha Long Bay, every corner of this country offers a unique experience waiting to be discovered.

Verbio specializes in international trade, multicultural marketing, and multilingual communications, so we assembled cultural tips and trade info to help you explore new markets:

  • Country: Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
  • Capital: Hanoi
  • Largest City: Ho Chi Minh City
  • Surface area: 331,230 km2, approximately 82% of the area of California
  • Currency: dong (VND). 1 Dong is divided into 10 Hào = 100 Xu.
  • Population: 105,758,975
  • Languages: Vietnamese is the official language, with English as an increasingly favored second language.

 

Learn what other languages Verbio works with: https://verbiogroup.com/languages/

INTRODUCTION TO VIETNAM

Vietnam, with its long and complex history, is a nation of contrasts. From the ancient temples of Hue to the modern skyscrapers of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. Its landscapes are equally diverse, ranging from lush rice paddies in the Mekong Delta to towering limestone karsts in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

​Doing Business in Vietnam: Opportunities and Insights

Vietnam, with its dynamic economy and strategic location in Southeast Asia, offers a wealth of opportunities for businesses. The country’s rapid growth, skilled workforce, and openness to foreign investment have made it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and multinational corporations alike. However, understanding local customs and culture is crucial for successful business operations in Vietnam.

Business Environment and Opportunities

Vietnam’s economy has been one of the fastest growing in the region, driven by robust industrial growth, a burgeoning middle class, and increasing integration into global trade networks. Key sectors such as manufacturing, technology, and services are flourishing, making Vietnam a hotspot for foreign direct investment. The government’s pro-business policies and numerous free trade agreements have further enhanced its appeal as a business destination.

Vietnam and the United States share a dynamic trade relationship. The US imports a variety of goods from Vietnam, including textiles, electronics, footwear, and seafood. Vietnam’s economy has experienced significant growth in recent years, fueled in part by trade with the US.

Navigating cultural nuances and business etiquette in Vietnam can significantly enhance your experience and effectiveness in both social and professional settings. There are some important tips to keep in mind.

Japan - Mount Fiji

Tay woman in North Vietnam

The Tày people, also known by various names such as Thổ, T’o, Tai Tho, Ngan, Phen, Thu Lao, and Pa Di, are a Central Tai-speaking ethnic group residing in northern Vietnam.

Shibuya Shopping District - Japan

Rice Fields in Mu Cang Chai

Mu Cang Chai’s rice terraces, nestled in the stunning region of Northern Vietnam, are a true marvel. Located in the picturesque Yen Bai Province, this incredible destination is celebrated for its awe-inspiring landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

Customs and Etiquette in Vietnam

Vietnamese business culture places a high value on relationships and respect. Building trust and establishing long-term relationships are fundamental to successful business dealings. Hierarchical structures are prevalent in Vietnamese companies, and showing respect to seniority and age is important.

When meeting business partners, it is customary to exchange business cards with both hands and a slight bow. Using titles and formal names shows respect, and it’s essential to address colleagues correctly. Punctuality is also highly regarded, so arriving on time for meetings is crucial.

Gift-giving is a common practice and a way to build goodwill. Small, thoughtful gifts from your home country can be appreciated, but they should be presented modestly and not in a way that could be perceived as a bribe.

Understanding and respecting Vietnamese culture and business etiquette can significantly enhance your interactions and help foster strong, positive relationships. By being mindful of these tips, you will demonstrate your respect for Vietnamese customs and values, paving the way for successful and meaningful engagements.

 

How to say it:

  • Hello: Xin chào (Sin chow)
  • Thank you: Cảm ơn (Gahm uhn)
  • Yes: Vâng / Dạ (Vuhng / Yah)
  • No: Không (Kohng)
  • Excuse me / Sorry: Xin lỗi (Sin loy)
  • How much?: Bao nhiêu? (Bow nyeo?)
  • Please: Làm ơn (Lahm uhn)
Guanajuato - Mexico

 

Ho Chi Minh City Hall ​- The City Hall in downtown Ho Chi Minh City stands as one of the finest and best-preserved relics of French colonial architecture from old Saigon.

Do you seek help with strategy and communications to identify and negotiate with a new manufacturer or distributor? Verbio can help.

Vietnamese Cuisine: A Key to Cultural Connection

Vietnamese cuisine is not just a delight for the taste buds but also an integral part of the business culture. Sharing a meal is a common way to build relationships and discuss business matters in a more relaxed setting. Understanding and appreciating the local cuisine can go a long way in establishing rapport with Vietnamese partners.

 

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Vietnamese food is characterized by its balance of flavors, freshness, and use of herbs. Signature dishes include:

  1. Pho: A fragrant noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà).
  2. Banh Mi: A French-inspired Vietnamese sandwich made with a crispy baguette filled with various meats, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and chili sauce.
  3. Goi Cuon: Fresh spring rolls filled with shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles, and herbs, served with a peanut dipping sauce.
  4. Com Tam: Broken rice served with grilled pork chops, a fried egg, and pickled vegetables.
  5. Bun Cha: Grilled pork served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a tangy dipping sauce.

Each region of Vietnam has its own specialties, with Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang offering distinct culinary experiences.

When dining with business associates, it is important to follow local dining etiquette. Wait to be seated, typically the eldest or highest-ranking person will sit first, and begin eating only after the host starts. It’s polite to sample every dish and to show appreciation for the food.

Doing business in Vietnam presents numerous opportunities but also requires a deep understanding of local customs and culture. Building relationships based on trust and respect, navigating the business environment with local expertise, and engaging with Vietnamese cuisine are all crucial for success. By embracing these aspects, businesses can thrive in this vibrant and promising market.

 

Sources: worlddata.info, cia.gov

 

“​Một ngày đi du lịch sẽ mang theo một giỏ đầy học hỏi​”
― Vietnamese Proverb

Translation: A day of traveling will bring a basket full of learning – Also known as Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn, this means that one must go out of their comfort zone to learn new and unique things

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