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How to Prepare The Right Mindset before Working in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia's oldest civilizations. While national identification in Vietnam might be complicated due to the country's past, inhabitants are proud of their language and its complexity, as well as the uniqueness of their society and culture. The phrase dat Viet (Vietnamese land), for example, reflects the idea that Vietnamese civilization has an organic link with its surroundings. Since the implementation of the Doi Moi - or renovation policy - in the 1980s, Vietnam has seen many important changes, including an increase in the standard of life. As a result of these considerations, there has been an influx of international enterprises eager to set up shop or develop in the country. However, people enjoying working in Vietnam for the first time should familiarize themselves with the country's unique culture and traditions. Those who do will have an easier time finding jobs in the nation.

1. The basic thing you need to know before Working in Vietnam

With a population of 95 million people and long rich history, Vietnam is located on the Indochina peninsula, bordered by China, Laos, Cambodia, and the South China Sea with a beautiful coastline that stretches up to 3,444 km long.

Vietnam has two big cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh
Figure 1. Vietnam has two big cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh

On the banks of the Red River lies the ancient capital Hanoi, It’s the second-largest city in Vietnam and has years since become popular for its century-old architecture, traditional neighborhoods, and scenic parks with influences from China, Russia, and old France…

And in the south of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is truly a mix of old and new. In recent years, the city has become a popular destination for both tourists and foreigners thinking of working in Vietnam or just wanting to change their work environment.

2. How about business culture and social customs in Vietnam?

To prepare the right mindset before working in Vietnam is it so important to understand the local business culture as it is often a way of showing respect to others. Vietnam has a strictly hierarchical structure in both business and social settings, important decisions are always made from the top and mostly by the oldest person.

Usually, you can call your co-workers by their titles and in the social settings of your friends by their age ranking. But this is not only the case, there are many factors such as your current occupation, education, age, and even family ties influence your status in business as well as in society.

3. How about Vietnam’s economy?

According to a report issued on March 31 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Vietnam's economy would grow by 6.6% this year and by a similar pace in 2024.

According to the report "The Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China, and India 2023: Reviving Tourism Post-Pandemic," Vietnam's economic growth is fueled by foreign investment in the manufacturing sector, particularly in electronics, machine manufacturing, textiles, and footwear, and benefits from China's relaxation of COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

At this rate, the OECD predicts Vietnam will continue to dominate the top five Southeast Asian economies. In the same period, the Philippines is expected to expand by 5.7% in 2023 and 6.1% in 2024, while Indonesia grows by 4.7% and 5.1%, Malaysia grows by 4.0% and 4.2%, and Thailand grows by 3.8% and 3.9%.

According to the research, the termination of assistance programs following the COVID-19 outbreak will offer favorable conditions for Vietnam to strengthen its public financial status. Weaker demand, on the other hand, is expected to restrict investment in the Vietnamese economy. The study also advises the government to continue closely monitoring inflation developments.

The economy of Vietnam will still be growing strong in the next few years
Figure 2. The economy of Vietnam will still be growing strong in the next few years

4. Living cost in Vietnam is quite cheap

Depending on your budget, you can spend as low as 250 USD to 700 USD per month for the basics like food, transportation,… In Vietnam, you can eat meals for as cheap as 2 dollars. Those common groceries such as rice, eggs, fruit, and vegetables can be easily found for under 2 dollars as well.

And about the accommodation, you can find a great place for as low as 400 USD to +1000 USD per month. That price depends on your location, your budget, and your preference.

5. Business attire

The location of the meeting will determine the appropriate business clothing. Hanoi, for example, is recognized for its white-collar atmosphere, but Ho Chi Minh City is more business casual. Business partners should often dress modestly and avoid wearing loud colors. Men should wear suits, while women should wear skirts and blouses. The Vietnamese work week runs from Monday through Friday, with office hours ranging from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

6. The concept of ‘face’

The notion of face is immensely significant in Vietnam, as it is in many other Asian nations. While being candid and straightforward is considered a positive attribute in the West, open dissent or asking about issues in public can cause a person to "lose face" in Vietnam. The face is a notion that essentially translates to a person's reputation, dignity, and prominence.

Foreigners should be wary of the possibility of accidentally creating a loss of face with their words or behavior. The key point is to treat your business partners with dignity. If you have any comments or challenges, it is better to discuss them privately.

Know the concept of ‘face’ when working in Vietnam
Figure 3. Know the concept of ‘face’ when working in Vietnam

7. Eating and drinking

If you are welcome to a Vietnamese house, bring fruit, candy, flowers, or incense. Handkerchiefs, anything black, yellow flowers, or chrysanthemums should be avoided. The greatest meals will almost certainly be presented to you; make sure to taste and share them.

Before sampling any of the cuisines, wait for the host to give the signal to begin the dinner. It is considered polite to finish all of the food on your plate.

Wait to be seated at a restaurant. The eldest person in the group will usually be seated first. Pass objects with both hands and never pass anything over someone's head. Use your hand to beckon instead of your finger when motioning for someone to come over.

8. Safety

Vietnam is a generally safe nation to visit. However, business visitors should be wary of petty and opportunistic theft, especially in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Valuables should be secured in hotel safes, while mobile phones and wallets should be kept out of sight to reduce the danger of pickpocketing, especially in tourist locations. While the police are not always helpful, they will normally treat outsiders with respect.

Taxi scams, such as using malfunctioning meters or taking a longer route to a destination, are frequent. Business travelers should utilize licensed taxis such as Mai Linh (green) or Vinasun (white with green and red stripes) or book transportation via their hotel. Card machines are also available for direct payment at these taxi firms.

9. Business etiquette 101

When feasible, business meetings should be held in the presence of a translator. Prepare to attend multiple meetings, as successful transactions are seldom concluded in a single visit. In-person conversations are favored over Internet contact and emails.

Cold phoning is not advised. A shared acquaintance or third-party reference should be used to introduce you to a possible business contact. Business meetings should be planned ahead of time and should avoid significant public holidays like Tet, the Vietnamese New Year festival.

Business etiquette when working in Vietnam
Figure 4. Business etiquette when working in Vietnam

It is better to meet in your possible partner's office for the first time. This eliminates the potential of a last-minute cancellation due to your business partner's travel issues.

When handing out or receiving business cards, use both hands. Time should be taken to read the name on the card; cramming a business card or barely glancing at it is considered impolite. Whenever feasible, make a business card with both English and Vietnamese translations.

Accept tea supplied at the front desk as a symbol of welcome. In the North, hot tea is normally offered, but in the South, ice tea or soft drinks are served.

It is advisable to prepare an agenda ahead of time so that business partners are aware of what will be addressed. It's also a good idea to have all papers translated into Vietnamese.


Vietnam has witnessed a remarkable transformation, emerging as an increasingly desirable location for individuals seeking a new place to call home. The surge of foreign investors flocking to Vietnam, driven by the ripple effects of the US-China trade war, has played a pivotal role in enhancing its appeal. As a result, the prospects for a thriving career have never been more promising in this dynamic Southeast Asian nation. The continuous influx of international investments has bolstered Vietnam's economic growth, paving the way for a plethora of opportunities and advancement. This newfound magnetism has undoubtedly positioned Vietnam as an alluring destination, ensuring that those enjoying working in Vietnam can anticipate a heightened level of productivity and a brighter professional future. With its vibrant potential and buoyant business landscape, Vietnam stands as a testament to the rewards that await those who embrace its compelling allure.

Source: Internet

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