Business Travel

Etiquette tips for business in Vietnam

The proper ways of greeting, meeting and more

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Dark suits and ties are the norm in Vietnam; avoid bright colours. A shirt and tie in warmer months (or the southern part of the country) are acceptable. Women should have high necklines and below-the-knee hemlines.

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A letter of introduction or a personal introduction is best. Handshakes generally occur between people of the same gender. Two-handed handshakes are common – reciprocate by using the left hand on their right wrist. The Dead Fish handshake is more common than the Crusher.

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Make appointments well in advance and confirm them beforehand once you have arrived. Always be punctual; if you will be late (traffic can be atrocious), notify your counterparty. First meetings are for getting to know each other. Translate all documents into Vietnamese and bring plenty of copies.

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Faux pas

Don’t touch people (especially children) on the head. Male friends hold hands – deal with it and don’t make it out to be a big deal. Public rebukes or displays of anger are highly offensive. Avoid politics when making conversation and be sensitive about historical events.

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Business cards

Always use both hands to give and receive cards, and make sure to read over a card someone gives you; treat a card respectfully as an extension of the person. A bilingual card is very useful, and shows that you respect the language and culture.

Desmond So is the founder of the East-West Institute of Applied Etiquette

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