Vietnamese Business Customs for Expats

As an expat looking to do business in Vietnam, understanding the local customs is crucial. At, we’ve helped countless foreigners navigate the intricacies of Vietnamese business etiquette. In this article, we’ll share some essential insights to help you succeed in your professional endeavors.

Building Relationships

Fist bump as a respectful greeting – appropriate in some cultures and contexts.

In Vietnam, building strong relationships is the foundation of successful business dealings. Take the time to get to know your Vietnamese counterparts on a personal level. Engage in small talk, show interest in their family and hobbies, and be patient in establishing trust.

Remember, in Vietnam, people do business with those they like and trust. Rushing into negotiations without first establishing a rapport can be counterproductive.

Respect for Hierarchy

Handshake with senior employee – shows respect for experience and authority

Vietnamese society places great emphasis on hierarchy and respect for authority. When interacting with Vietnamese colleagues or partners, be mindful of their positions and show deference to those in higher roles.

Address people by their titles followed by their first names, such as “Director Nguyen” or “Manager Tran.” This demonstrates your understanding and respect for their status within the organization.

Indirect Communication

Nonverbal cues (tone, gestures) – key part of indirect communication

In Vietnamese business culture, communication is often indirect and subtle. Vietnamese people tend to avoid confrontation and may use roundabout ways to convey their message.

Pay attention to non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language. If you’re unsure about something, ask for clarification politely and diplomatically.

Gift-Giving Etiquette

Beautifully wrapped gift – shows thoughtfulness and respect in gift-giving.

Gift-giving is a common practice in Vietnamese business relationships. It’s a way to show appreciation and build goodwill.

When selecting gifts, opt for items that are practical and not overly expensive. Avoid giving anything that may be perceived as too personal or inappropriate. Wrap your gifts nicely and present them with both hands as a sign of respect.

Business Meetings

Brainstorming session – diverse perspectives lead to creative solutions

When attending business meetings in Vietnam, punctuality is essential. Arriving on time shows respect for your Vietnamese counterparts and their schedules.

Dress conservatively and professionally, as appearance matters in Vietnamese business culture. Greet the most senior person first and exchange business cards using both hands. During the meeting, be patient and allow for small talk before diving into business matters.

Dining Etiquette

Savor your meal – mindful eating is part of proper chopstick etiquette.

Business meals are common in Vietnam and serve as opportunities to strengthen relationships. When dining with Vietnamese colleagues or partners, be prepared for a leisurely pace and multiple courses.

Wait for the host to signal the start of the meal and follow their lead. Use chopsticks to eat, and avoid sticking them upright in your rice bowl, as this is associated with funerals. It’s polite to try a bit of everything and express appreciation for the food.

Language and Translation

Diverse languages on a globe – represents the vastness of human communication

While many Vietnamese business professionals speak English, it’s always appreciated when expats make an effort to learn some basic Vietnamese phrases.

Consider hiring a translator for important meetings or negotiations to ensure clear communication and avoid misunderstandings.

At, we understand that navigating Vietnamese business customs can be overwhelming for expats. That’s why we’re here to help. Our team of experienced professionals can provide you with personalized guidance and support as you embark on your business journey in Vietnam.

Vietnamese Superstitions and Beliefs for Expats to Know

When living and working in Vietnam, it’s important for expats to be aware of the various superstitions and beliefs that are deeply ingrained in Vietnamese culture. These beliefs often influence decision-making and behavior in both personal and professional settings. For example, many Vietnamese people believe that certain numbers, such as four, are unlucky, while others, like nine, are considered auspicious. Colors also hold symbolic meanings, with red being associated with good luck and white being linked to mourning. Additionally, the concept of “saving face” is crucial in Vietnamese society, which means avoiding public embarrassment or confrontation. Understanding and respecting these beliefs can help expats build stronger relationships with their Vietnamese colleagues and partners. To learn more about Vietnamese superstitions and beliefs, click here to get more about: Vietnamese Superstitions and Beliefs for Expats to Know

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us via phone, Zalo, or WhatsApp for the clearest and most detailed advice tailored to your specific needs. Let be your trusted partner in navigating the fascinating world of Vietnamese business customs.

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