Vietnam – A Brief Tourism Guide for Business Travelers

Vietnam is a booming center of global commerce, with a highly skilled workforce and strongly growing economy presenting great opportunities. However, if you visit this intriguing country on business but return home without spending a little time as a tourist then you’ll be missing out. Vietnam has a huge amount to offer, from stunning scenery to great food, and, of course, a strong sense of recent history.

Travel around Vietnam is somewhat complicated because of its geography. The two main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are at virtually opposite ends of this long, thin country which measures around 1000 miles from north to south, while being at times no more than 32 miles east to west. The distance between the cities is best traveled by plane, taking a little over two hours. Although a flight will mean missing out on experiencing the densely forested highlands of the country’s interior, Vietnamese trains are generally overcrowded, slow, and unreliable, and the journey will take up to a day and a half.

Vietnam’s capital Hanoi is situated in the north of the country, nestled in a bend of the Red River Delta. As befitting a city with a history spanning more than a thousand years, there is plenty to see and do. The Old Quarter offers all the noise, bustle and atmosphere you’d expect from this most South East Asian of cities, where adventurous eaters can enjoy some of the best street food in the world. The proud heritage of the city is expressed in countless ornate temples and ancient monuments, set alongside romantic 19th century architecture and ultra-modern commercial buildings.

A little further afield, Ha Long Bay, just over 100 miles from Hanoi, is a destination well worth a visit if you can find the time. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, this coastal idyll features dramatic limestone pillars and islets rising from emerald seas, and is a haven of peace and tranquility despite being the number one Vietnamese tourist attraction.

Hanoi offers a wealth of accommodation options, from 5 star hotels such as the Hilton Hanoi Opera to the venerable Sofitel Metropole which can claim Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda, and many more as celebrated guests.

Ho Chi Minh City, far in the south of the country on the Mekong Delta, is perhaps more famously known as Saigon even to its more than eight million inhabitants. Visitors can enjoy the French colonial atmosphere of the older parts of town, as well as the more modern districts of a city that in recent years has grown to rival near neighbors such as Singapore and Bangkok as a powerhouse of South East Asia.

As well as being the economic and commercial center of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City also has a rich and troubled history which the visitor is never far removed from. From the claustrophobic Cu Chi Tunnels to the War Remnants Museum, the city and surrounding areas are full of strong reminders of the trauma of the country’s recent past, but also of the remarkable transformation in fortunes since then.

As Vietnam’s largest city, Saigon is blessed with a wide choice of places to stay. Ma Maison is a little way out of the city center but makes up for that with its romantic, otherworldly French atmosphere, while the Cinnamon Hotel in District One offers modern comforts in the heart of the town.

Vietnam is a country rich in attractions for the visitor, so no matter how tight your schedule, exploring what the country has to offer beyond business possibilities is an opportunity not to be missed.

Guide to Business Travel Etiquette – United Kingdom

About the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is located in Western Europe, northwest of France between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It is not very large, about the size of Oregon and is home to over 60 million people.

The UK is made up of four distinct regions – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, making it very culturally and ethnically diverse. It may seem that everyone in the UK could be called English, but many people in the UK, especially those in Wales and Scotland may be offended by this. The term “English” refers to natives of England and “British” to citizens of Great Britain.

Language

The majority of people in the UK speak English, but many areas have strong local accents and even dialects which may be difficult to understand. In Wales, Welsh is the language of choice – a Celtic language similar to Gaelic. Welsh is also spoken in some areas of Scotland.

Business Dress

Business dress in the UK is very conservative – dark colors, such as black, navy blue and charcoal are very popular as are heavier fabrics such as wool.

Tips for Men

o Avoid dress shirts with pockets and if they do have pockets, they should be kept empty. The only exception to this is a handkerchief.

o Ties with stripes should not be worn as the pattern may “belong” to a club, military regiment or school of which you are not a member.

o Wear shoes that lace, not those that slip on such as loafers.

Tips for Women

Business dress for women in the UK is not as limited as men’s but a conservative appearance is still important.

Business Hours

Most offices in the UK are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, most employees work longer hours as they prefer to complete their work at the office instead of bringing it home.

Government offices are open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm and are closed for lunch from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

The best time of day to make an appointment is in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Breakfast and lunch meetings tend to be rare – outside of major cities.

Holidays

The UK has only eight national holidays a year, the lowest number in Europe. Most families with children will take annual vacations in July or August and the majority of businesses are closed between Christmas and New Years.

Conversations and Behavior

Many people in the UK are private and reserved – finding it difficult to engage in small talk with strangers. Beginning a meeting with a handshake is customary and a formal greeting is viewed as a sign of respect.

The English have very good manners and they view Americans as too casual, especially in speech. Be sure to speak clearly, in complete sentences and keep your speech at an even tone. Avoid animated conversations and a lot of hand gestures.