Understanding Vietnamese Business Culture

Understanding Vietnamese Business Culture - Student Exchange

Vietnam is creating several prospects for corporate collaboration and international investment. Thus, there are an increasing number of options for graduates and students to intern in Vietnam. However, you must clearly understand Vietnamese business culture to adapt and work effectively.

In this article, Student Exchange will provide some information about Vietnamese Business Culture. Please read it to gain a better understanding of the current business culture in this nation.

Business Language In Vietnamese Business Culture - Student Exchange

Business Language

Vietnamese is the official language of business. While English is spoken in most business circles, informal conversations are often in Vietnamese. One thing to keep in mind is that not all Vietnamese office workers are fluent in English but they are very open to having the chance to practice.

While the language barrier may be a considerable difficulty for interns trying to adapt and blend into the social scene of their new office in Vietnam, it is always helpful to start the conversation with your Vietnamese colleagues, as they would be more than willing to talk to you in English once they know you’re interested.

Hours of Business

Most working hours in Vietnam are 8 hours, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. However, some private businesses still require employees to work on Saturday mornings or all day Saturday (particularly in the tourist, hotel, and culinary industries).

Hours Of Business In Vietnamese Business Culture - Student Exchange

Business Dress

Depending on the type of business you are in, you’ll be required either to wear a uniform or business attire. Business attire should be formal and not too revealing.

As Vietnam is increasingly becoming a scene of startup companies, the requirements for business dress in many places have been loosened. So make sure to check with the host organization of your internship in Vietnam for further information.

Business Dress - Understanding Vietnamese Business Culture - Student Exchange

Relationships and Networking

Networking is extremely essential in Vietnam. Vietnamese businesses prefer to cooperate with people who have been referred by a friend or business acquaintance rather than those who approach them directly.

In addition, personal interactions are seen as key to effective business collaborations in Vietnam; therefore, expats need to spend a significant amount of time getting to know their colleagues to improve this skill.

Relationships And Networking - Student Exchange

During your internship in Vietnam, you may be invited to a dinner with alcoholic drinks (known as “nhậu” in Vietnamese) after work by your employer or coworkers. Take advantage of this opportunity to expand your network and enjoy the informal social setting outside of work.

Saving Face

The concept of face is important in Asian culture in general and in Vietnamese business settings in particular. Face often means one’s pride in public and saving face is meant to avoid publicly humiliating someone, especially at work.

Vietnamese people will try their best to avoid embarrassing themselves and their colleagues during business proceedings. When disagreement happens, people either remain quiet or move the discussion to a more private space to avoid a loss of face. Therefore, silence in a heated discussion sometimes isn’t necessarily a sign of impoliteness.

Saving Face In Vietnamese Business Culture - Student Exchange

This face-saving culture, however, is starting to change as Vietnamese employers and employees are more and more exposed to Western business culture and etiquette, and direct, constructive criticisms in the workplace are becoming increasingly welcomed.


The Vietnamese are very flexible in many aspects of life and this includes time and plans. Sudden changes in plans with little notice are not uncommon in Vietnam’s business setting, especially in smaller companies/organizations.

Sometimes, these changes occur because the organizer or the employer comes up with a better or quicker way to do the job and since Vietnamese people are flexible, they expect their employees to always be ready to change plans. It is helpful to keep in mind that, most of the time, changes of plans with little notice occur because the employers want the best for the team or organization.

Flexibility In Vietnamese Business Culture - Student Exchange

Make sure you are aware of this cultural difference and do not mistake flexibility for irresponsibility or inconsideration; otherwise, you’ll encounter a lot of frustration.


Seniority is quite significant in the Vietnamese corporate environment, especially if you are conducting an internship here with a state-owned or government organization.

Instead of addressing the other person as Mr. or Mrs., it is always proper to address him by his titles, such as Doctor (name), Director (name), or Manager (name). Always show exceptional respect to higher-ranking employees or your bosses.

Seniority In Business Culture - Student Exchange


Vietnamese business contacts are better done through referrals; normally, a business relationship is struck based on another business associate’s recommendation.

In addition, the best opportunities often come from a strong recommendation. Therefore, finding an internship in Vietnam placement would be easier done through an organization with a strong network of contacts with businesses from many industries, like SE Vietnam.

Referrals In Business Culture - Student Exchange

In short, that is all the useful information that Student Exchange wants to provide about Vietnamese Business Culture. Hopefully, this information will help your internship and work journey in Vietnam.