March 24, 2015

Relocating to Vietnam: What You Need to Know

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Relocating to Vietnam: What You Need to Know

Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is known for its beautiful landscape and welcoming people. Our latest Emerging Market Watch on Vietnam discusses the key challenges that international assignees may face when living and working in the country.

Those relocating there should be sure to visit the Mekong Delta in southwestern Vietnam, which offers colorful floating markets, fruit orchards, rice paddies, villages, and bird sanctuaries. The bustling Ho Chi Minh City, located along the Saigon River, is also not to be missed. Watch the Cartus On the Ground video on Vietnam to find out more about this emerging market destination.

Challenges for International Assignees


Public transport mainly consists of buses, which are available in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but we recommend they not be used by assignees, as they can get quite congested. For those travelling by road, there is a rapidly increasing number of vehicles, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and indeed, traffic can be an issue, with city roads heavily congested at peak times. Assignees should take this into consideration when setting off, as journeys can often be delayed. There is an ongoing initiative to improve traffic conditions in Vietnam with the widening of roads and traffic lights/road signs being installed to alleviate traffic jams.

Top Tip! It is not recommended that assignees drive in Vietnam; indeed, it is quite commonplace to employ a local driver. Most roads will not have lane markings and if they do, they are often ignored. Generally, Vietnamese driving habits are not to the standard found in some Western countries, with locals using their horns regularly to move motorcyclists out of their way.

Cultural Issues

Hierarchy. The Vietnamese are extremely hierarchical. As such, acknowledging someone’s job title and position is important, especially if they are in a senior leadership role.

North and South Divide. Vietnam is a united country, but cultural differences between the north and the south still exist today. Northerners are typically viewed as conservative, with strict rules and regulations, whilst those in the South appear commercialized and more informal. Assignees should be aware of how northerners and southerners perceive one another.

Building Relationships. As in most Asian countries, building relationships is key, especially in the workplace. According to the Cartus Intercultural and Language Solutions team, social entertaining with the people you do business with is very important, if not critical!

Top Tip! A foreign national will be given a lot of attention and will be subjected to the best of Vietnamese hospitality, so assignees should learn about the culture and social values to gain respect.

View our Resource Page and On the Ground video series for additional information on moving to other Emerging Market locations.

Picture of Ashley Barry

Posted By

Ashley Barry

About Ashley

Ashley is the director of Supply Chain Management for Asia. She has more than a decade of global relocation experience, specializing in supplier sourcing, supplier performance management, and relocations to Asia’s key emerging markets.

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