November 4, 2022
By Krizia Mojado
As Vietnam continues to steadily establish itself among the strongest growing economies in the world, Ho Chi Minh City has emerged as an exciting corporate hub full of excellent opportunities for investors and companies. Its balanced political and economic climate allows for stability that caters to all the essential needs of a business. The anticipation of business and start-up opportunities arises primarily in the dynamic metropolis of Ho Chi Minh city.
Formerly known as Saigon, this city is full of energy and economic activity. Ho Chi Minh City is an economic hub within the country, from its significant manufacturing hub to its growing digital and electronics industry. This is complemented by the rich history and traditions which the city wears on its sleeves. However, the wonderful historic buildings, bustling nightlife, unique shops and restaurants, and its fun-loving people can initially feel very overbearing. Many visitors leave disillusioned in the face of the overwhelming assault of urban city culture.
Therefore, before scheduling a business trip to this enchanting city, there are a few things that every travelling management team needs to be aware of. In this article, we will cover five main things you should know before embarking on a corporate trip to Vietnam.
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For a city with a population of 13 million people, the fact that Ho Chi Minh city houses over a staggering 7 million motorbikes may appear inconvenient for corporate travel. However so, despite seeming like an urban obstacle that is sure to turn away those who prefer walkable settings, there is something quite brilliant about how the city maintains its walkability despite the urban sprawl.
Walking around the city’s clean sidewalks and town centres isn’t only the best way to immerse yourself in the city and its culture, but you may discover niche entertainment hubs in the process. Still, if walkability isn’t your strong suit, you should always use metered taxis or rideshare apps such as Grab or UberMoto to satisfy your transportation requirements.
First, since Vietnam is a cash economy, your travel budget should rely mostly on having enough Vietnam Dong to cover most of your expenses. This will allow you to access most of the street shops and restaurants in the city.
Another thing to note is that since the VND is relatively cheap, it will allow you to save a lot of money on your travel. Since the currency is not widely available outside the country, you can bring enough to change into the VND or bring along cards that allow for cheap ATM withdrawals. However, the conversion can be confusing since not having access to the VND can make you look suspicious and unscrupulous. This also frequently exposes tourists to scams, giving them poor exchange rates.
In conclusion, spending via the VND is the best, safest, and most respectable way to participate in the Ho Chi Minh city marketplace, and it is something that your business travel guide should keep in mind when booking travel plans.
Much of your time in the city will be spent outside your hotel. Walking around Ho Chi Minh city and exploring all it has to offer entails having a secure connection to the outside world. This is even more important when you’re on a business trip since emergencies can arise anytime. The best way to ensure constant network availability is to rent a pocket WiFi or buy a local Vietnamese SIM card.
The first option is much more practical since it doesn’t come with the cost of draining your mobile phone’s battery and is much more suited to providing network access. On the other hand, SIM cards are very cheap in Vietnam and have the added bonus of allowing you to make necessary business calls whenever required.
In general, it is advisable to wear modest clothing when in Vietnam. While this may not be true in tourist areas, it is generally important to be mindful of proper behaviour and wear long shorts and avoid revealing clothes. Wearing shirts that cover your shoulders and shorts that go to your knees is generally the advisable coverage you should allow.
To work well with the predominantly warm and humid weather, you should wear breathable fabrics that prevent moisture accumulation. You should also avoid wearing thick winter clothes but bring enough long-sleeved shirts to accommodate chillier days. Lastly, be sure to pack a lightweight raincoat as well since the city’s weather can get very unpredictable.
There is an excellent value attached in Vietnam to humility, modesty, and restraint. You must try and be mindful of your tone and public appearance since people attach great importance to respecting the public sphere.
One manifestation of this is to ‘save face’; this means avoiding conflict and ensuring that you do not put other people in awkward positions. In business, this involves being open to negotiations and never saying “no” directly. Similarly, Vietnamese people appreciate efforts at establishing confidence and mutual trust before business starts. Therefore, you shouldn’t shy away from shelving your agendas and enjoying recreational business meals.
During business meetings in Ho Chi Minh City, you must be mindful of your behaviour in all stages of the meeting. It’s seen as proper behaviour to inform the other party of your business plan before a meeting, so try to be as proficient as you can.
When greeting, shake the other person’s hand and try to greet them in Vietnamese. A simple bow is a sufficient greeting if a handshake isn’t reciprocated. Since hierarchies of age are valued in the country, proper business travel etiquette must first greet the oldest person.
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