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Vietnam Business Culture: All what you need to know

Ngoc Lee
Vietnam Business Culture: All what you need to know
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Multicultural business partnerships and beginning a business or career overseas are two of the most difficult hurdles that immigrants face. To make the transition into the Vietnamese corporate culture easier, these international investors need to be familiar with typical practices and traditions. In truth, the realm of Vietnamese business culture is significantly more enticing than most people realize. 

To prevent cultural obstacles and assure a successful business in Vietnam, simply navigate its business environment safely using the recommendations presented in this article Vietnam Business Culture: Understand And Success in Vietnam.

Vietnam Business Culture
 Vietnam Business Culture

Importance of understanding Vietnam business culture

Each country has its own particular culture, which reflects the country's economic practices in major ways. Vietnam will not deviate from this pattern! Vietnam boasts one of Southeast Asia's most ancient cultures. 

If you are doing business for the first time in Vietnam, you must learn about the country's culture and traditions. This is an important factor in establishing and maintaining positive business connections with your Vietnamese partners. 

Moreover, learning about these ancient, well-respected cultural norms will make doing business in this country much easier. Understanding the business culture of Vietnam might help you connect with partners and avoid cultural hurdles. 

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Understand Business Culture in Vietnam

Understanding Vietnamese business customs is one of the most important aspects of doing business in Vietnam. A lack of understanding could cost you a lot of money and lead to missed chances. It's worth noting that Vietnamese society is collectivist, which means that family and community issues will usually always take precedence over individual or corporate interests. Spend time cultivating your relationships in Vietnam.  

Although efficiency is essential, the cultural aspect of Vietnam requires your time and attention. Learn about the person. It is advantageous in both professional and personal life in case you and your partner have mutual connections. A long-term partnership is most prized. Always remember to exhibit respect and genuine interest while remaining humble. Allow your counterparts time to process their thoughts. 

However, to create trust, you must maintain continual contact. We'll go over some more significant characteristics of Vietnamese business cultures in this section, which will help you better understand business customs and conclude deals in Vietnam.

Common Business Culture In Vietnam

It's usually a good idea to be aware of common business customs in Vietnam so that you can make a positive first impression on your business associates. 

Common Business Customs In Vietnam
 Common Business Customs In Vietnam


Start by smiling slightly whenever you see a potential business partner or Vietnamese friend as a sign of goodwill. Smiling genuinely now and then in both a business and social setting brings out your honest manners. 

In Vietnam, handshakes are customary for greetings and farewells. Strangers greet one other with the Xin chào greeting. You may shake a woman's hand when she reaches it to you, or you may drop your head slightly to greet her. Begin by greeting the eldest person first, as is customary in Confucian culture. Always welcome everyone, including youngsters, when greeting a group of people.

Seniority & Respects

Because seniority is valued in Vietnamese business culture, workers pay respect and deference to senior employees in the conference room — regardless of rank, experience, or age. You will almost certainly be presented to someone with the highest level in the firm first. Similarly, in any business setting, the highest-ranking individual will be received first. 

Furthermore, remember to address the other person by his or her title, such as "Director," "Chairman," "Manager," and so on. You should address members without a rank or title with "Mr.", "Mrs.", and "Ms." before their names. 


People in Vietnam do not address one other by their surnames. As a result, you should address others by their first name, followed by an appropriate title. To converse among partners in formal contexts, use [Mr/Mrs/Ms/Designation] + [First Name]. Chairman Quan, Director My, Ms. Hoa, Mr. Viet, and others, for example. 

Vietnam Culture Titles
Vietnam Culture Titles

Body language

Even if you're feeling very affectionate, avoid embracing or kissing someone in public. This is unusual to see on the streets of Vietnam. Aside from modestly amorous gestures, avoid touching the other person's shoulder or head (considered the symbolic highest point in Asia). Touching someone of the other sex is considered disrespectful in etiquette books. 

Remember that it is a modern yet conservative country where traditions and customs are revered. Trust your instincts and keep an eye on your surroundings at all times.

Business etiquette in Vietnam 

Business attire

Business clothing in Vietnam is conservative, which means that you should dress officially but modestly. Dark-colored suits and ties are quite popular among guys. Women, on the other hand, frequently wear high-necked formal gowns or blouses.

Eating and drinking

Many foods are served at the table in Vietnam, and you will share them with your business partners. Normally, at a business dinner, the best dish is served first to the attendees. Taping the chopsticks on the bowl should not be done because it is considered disrespectful. Tea is usually offered during the reception as a gesture of hospitality, and you should accept it graciously. 

Although tipping is not typical in Vietnam, you can leave a 5 to 10% tip if you appreciate the service.

Women in Vietnam's business culture

When welcoming someone, Vietnamese ladies prefer to bow rather than shake hands. When it comes to business, you should allow a businesswoman to decide whether or not to extend her hand. A businesswoman, like the aforementioned, must dress appropriately and apply appropriate makeup. A public venue should also be chosen if you are having a business meal with a businesswoman.

Other considerations for business culture in Vietnam

Apart from normal courtesy and politeness, there are a few other things you should be aware of:

“Keeping face” culture in business

Maintaining one's face, or, in other words, one's prominence and reputation, is critical in Vietnam's corporate culture. You should pay special attention to your Vietnam partners' facial expressions to ensure that you do not inadvertently offend them. The important suggestion for adjusting to the "keeping face" culture in Vietnam is to treat your business partners with respect.

Business cards

At the start of a business meeting, you should exchange business cards. Pay special attention to the style of your business card because it might make a positive or negative impression on your partners. Your business cards should ideally have information on both sides, with one side in English and the other in Vietnamese translation. 

Always use both hands while giving and receiving business cards, and take a moment to look at the card after receiving it.

Gift giving

Giving gifts to prospective business partners is not required, although it is standard practice. Try not to go overboard with the gift itself. Something modest and useful is greatly appreciated. Because culture is essential to Vietnamese people, something from your hometown would be ideal. Buying nicer products for senior partners instead of the same ones for everyone is a positive sign for a business at present. This is how you show respect for seniors. It is not always required to provide a gift. If you do, though, avoid providing sharp things or handkerchiefs. 

In Vietnam, the first is associated with separation, while the latter is a melancholy symbol of farewell. 

Gift Giving Culture In Vietnam
 Gift Giving Culture In Vietnam

Building Relationships before Business Negotiations

Any foreigner who has spent time living and working in Vietnam will advise you to invest in relationships, trust, and mutual respect. Vietnamese people prioritize comfort and respect over commercial communication. As a result of the time, it takes to create a relationship with potential clients, bargaining in Vietnam can appear to be slow. 

Furthermore, visitors should be aware that the final decision in Vietnam will be subject to extensive consultation and red tape. As a result, keep patience in mind. You'll be OK as long as you're devoted, communicate effectively, and create a relationship during the process. If you and your partner have a reciprocal relationship with other possible stakeholders, the value is even more clear.

Business Cards Exchange

Presenting your business card with both hands to the individual or group with whom you are meeting is always a kind gesture. It is advised that business cards be printed in both Vietnamese and English and that the oldest and highest-ranking members receive them first. Then work your way down the line. When giving out or getting business cards, make sure to hold the card with both hands when facing the individual to show respect. 

Another key item to remember when receiving a business card is to look at it and read it thoroughly rather than skimming through it.

Company Introduction

You must be prepared to pitch and introduce your company after all of the small talk and icebreakers. Before the Vietnamese will trust you and do business with you, you must complete this step. You must inform them of their questions about your firm and the services you can provide as a business partner. The presentation slides should be written in both English and Vietnamese if possible. If few people in the room speak English, you may wish to bring an interpreter or a bilingual person to the meeting.

Communication in a business environment

For Vietnamese, confronting unpleasant things is challenging. As a result, they frequently keep their true feelings about business hidden from you. It is not their desire to keep someone in the dark, but rather a goodwill gesture to avoid any issues. The key goal for Vietnamese is to figure out who their true spouse is. You will frequently discuss personal matters; the more you learn to share, the closer you will get with your partner. 

As a result, don't be concerned about discussing subjects that aren't related to the company.

Nothing is impossible in Vietnam

Just as you shouldn't be overly hopeful when you hear the word "yes," you shouldn't be overly pessimistic when you hear the word "impossible." This usually indicates that you need to strive harder to generate engagement, or that your spouse does not have a firm answer (yet). Always strive to delve deeper into what the term "impossible" means and whether the challenges could be overcome.

Should you call or write an e-mail? 

As a general rule, your first cold email is unlikely to receive a response. Vietnamese individuals prefer to do business with persons they are familiar. After sending an e-mail, it's a good idea to follow up with a phone call. As a result, the e-mail is not classified as spam, and the recipient understands how valuable doing business with them is. If you can't acquire an introduction, at the very least try to get the direct contact information for the person you're trying to contact. 

Beginning by requesting a meeting with someone who has authority. If they agree, it indicates that they want to do business with you. 

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Understanding Vietnam's business culture is relatively important for ensuring a successful commercial collaboration in Vietnam. From understanding the significance of seniority and respect to navigating common business customs, such as greetings and gift-giving etiquette, Efex service recognizes the importance of cultural fluency in establishing a strong presence in the Vietnamese business landscape. 

Efex service offers a full range of services to expand businesses in Vietnam, providing comprehensive support and tailored solutions that cater to the unique needs and requirements of each client. By leveraging our expertise and deep understanding of the Vietnamese market, we assist international investors in overcoming cultural barriers and streamlining their entry into the Vietnamese business environment. Our services encompass market analysis, cultural training, regulatory compliance, and strategic planning, enabling businesses to navigate the complexities of the Vietnamese market with confidence and success.

Ngoc LeeNgoc Lee is an Content Creator Manager at EFEX. She wields her long-term expertise in Logistics and Supply Chain, harnessing her top-notch writing and research skills to bring incredibly valuable content. Whether you're a small startup or a well-established enterprise, Ngoc Lee is here to equip you with the essential knowledge of e-commerce, fulfillment, and all things business-related.