Everything a Business Traveler Always Wanted to Know About Saigon

by Kim Fay, Mar 1, 2000 | Destinations: Vietnam / Ho Chi Minh City


The 1990s were a great decade for Vietnam. The United States loosened its stranglehold on trade, free market opportunities flourished and for a while, Ho Chi Minh City was on the road to becoming the next roaring Asian tiger. Although expectation never quite peaked, foreign investment increased substantially. This progress, in turn, spawned a new kind of enterprise--new, at least, to Vietnam--that of providing the sort of amenities and facilities that savvy business travelers around the world have grown accustomed to. Following is a list of services and contacts to help you make your way around the Ho Chi Min City business community.

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Executive job search
Business centers
Cellular phones
Car rental
Legal services
Business organizations
Making contacts
Home away from home

Useful information:

Directory assistance
Hospitals/health care (international standard)
One restaurant you should not miss

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Once the third busiest airport in the world, Tan Son Nhat International Airport is now inarguably a third world production. Don't expect a business class lounge where you can shower and take a peek at the International Herald Tribune before heading off to a business meeting. Nor is there a business center for checking e-mail or sending a fax. Vietnam is not a transit country, where business travelers layover on their way to other locations. It is strictly a destination, and its airport shows it. Fortunately, downtown is just a six-dollar, twenty-minute cab ride away.

You will find everything you need in District One, the compact epicenter of Ho Chi Minh"s business world.

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Executive Job Search


For those coming to Ho Chi Minh in search of work, there are a couple avenues to explore. One of the best is the subculture of expatriate watering holes where more than one great position has been secured during a fortuitous conversation over a third beer. (Suggestions are available later in this guide). A more formal route is the company listed below.

4th Floor, Saigon Tower
29 Le Duan Street, District One
Telephone: 823-0796
Fax: 825-1947
E-mail: nguyen.thu.yen@vn.pwcglobal.com

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Business Centers


If you don't yet have an office, or access to an office in the city, the following are recommended to accommodate your business needs.

Norfolk Hotel Business Center
Telephone: 829-5368 (ext. 650, 651, 652, 653)
Address: 117 Le Thanh Ton Street, District One
E-mail: norfolk@bdvn.vnd.net

Services: document translation, interpretation, on-site and off-site secretarial, photocopying, faxing, messenger service, computer rental and meeting rooms.

New World Hotel Business Center
Telephone: 822-8888 (ext. 2378, 2380)
Address: 76 Le Lai Street, District One
E-mail: bcnwhs@hcm.vnn.vn

Services: on-site and off-site secretarial, dictation, transcription, typing, word processing, binding, photocopying, overhead transparencies, faxing, messenger service, computer rental, mailbox, e-mail, document courier, translation, interpretation and meeting rooms.

Rex Hotel Business Center
Telephone: 829-2185 (ext. 7723, 7724)
Address: 141 Nguyen Hue Street, District One
E-mail: rexhotel@hcm.vnn.vn

Services: translation, interpretation, on-site secretarial, photocopying, faxing, messenger service, computer rental and Internet access.

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Cellular Phones


The local phone system is far from sophisticated. Private phones are still a luxury, and public phones are usually accompanied by a background symphony or crowing roosters and rattling motorcycles. The following company supplies cell phones to many of the foreigners living in Ho Chi Minh. Short-term rentals are available.

10B1 Le Thanh Ton Street, District One
Telephone: 838-0152
Fax: 838-0149
E-mail: vmsmobifone@hn.vnn.vn
Website: www.mobifone.vnn.vn

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Car Rental


There are a dozen great reasons why Hertz and Alamo haven't set up shop in Vietnam. City streets are sheer chaos. The mess of motorcycles, bikes, cars, buses, military relics, cyclos and the occasional lawnmower engine-powered vehicle must be seen to be believed. Even if someone is willing to rent a car to you, don"t drive. The most minor of accidents, although sociologically fascinating, can result in a bureaucratic hassle that will potentially ruin your trip, not to mention empty your pocketbook. In District One, cabs are plentiful and cheap. If you need a car--for visiting outlying factories, for example--go to a reputable travel agency and hire a car and driver.

Exotissimo Travel
4th floor,
Saigon Finance Center
9 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1, HCMC
Tel:  +84 8 825 1723
Fax: +84 8 829 5800

Email: infosgn@exotissimo.com
Website: www.exotissimo.com

49 Le Thanh Ton Street, District One
Telephone: 829-8914
E-mail: sgtvn@hcmc.netnam.vn


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Legal Services


Doing business in Vietnam requires a grasp of the subtleties and inconsistencies that are inextricably woven into the process. For example, joint ventures aren't subject to the same regulations that Representative Offices are and select industries are eligible for tax breaks. You can pick up a lot of this information in the expatriate bars around town, but for answers to your specific questions, contact a professional.

Phillips Fox
Suite 605, Saigon Tower
29 Le Duan Boulevard, District One
Telephone: 822-1717
E-mail: nigel@melb.phillipsfox.com.au

Areas of practice: investment and commercial, including contract, construction, tax, technology transfer, labor and intellectual property.

Freehill Hollingdale & Page
304 Mondial Centre
203 Dong Khoi Street, District One
Telephone: 824-2733
Fax: 824-2736
E-mail: john_dick@fhp.com.au OR
Website: www.fhp.com.au

Areas of practice: foreign investment, banking and finance, infrastructure, mining, oil and gas, telecommunications, intellectual property, securities and general corporate.

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Business Organizations


If you're interested in what the foreign community is up to, both professionally and socially, there are numerous organizations with departments whose purpose is to provide this kind of information.

American Chamber of Commerce
76 Le Lai Street, District One
Telephone: 824-3562
Fax: 824-3572
E-mail: amcham@hcm.vnn.vn
Website: www.amchamvn.com

Find out where the next baseball game is going to be played. Members of the expat community usually get together for a game on weekends. Drinks afterward is a good opportunity to make contacts.

Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce
171 Vo Thi Sau Street, District One
Telephone: 823-0596

Australian Business Group of Vietnam
117 Le Thanh Ton Street, District One
Telephone: 829-5368 (ext. 658)
Fax: 824-5746
E-mail: abgv@hcm.fpt.vn
Website: www.abgvn.com

ABG usually sponsors a monthly business lunch with a speaker who discusses an issue relevant to doing business in Vietnam. ABG also hosts Sundowners, an informal cocktail party for the foreign business community on the second Wednesday of every month. If you¹re feeling athletic, call ABG and ask for information about the Hash House Harriers or Rugby. Both of these weekly events conclude with informal get togethers. An updated calendar is available on the ABG website.

Vietnam Investment Review
Telephone: 823-8330

Once a month VIR hosts Friday Review. This cocktail party, held in various hotels around the city, offers an opportunity for local and expat business people to gather and talk shop. Tickets are free, but necessary, so call the VIR office for details. VIR also provides a listing of current happenings around the city in its 'Time Out" section.

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Making Contacts


Although there is an endless supply of bars and nightclubs where foreigners congregate, certain hangouts tend to attract the business crowds. Ho Chi Minh's expat community is small compared to those in places such as Hong Kong or Singapore. It's also a fairly informal crowd. Take advantage of the small town attitude and strike up a conversation while you're out on the town.

Cafe Latin
25 Dong Du Street, District One
Telephone: 822-6363

Vasco's (in Camargue restaurant)
16 Cao Ba Quat Street, District One
Telephone: 824-3148

Saigon Saigon (in the Caravelle Hotel)
9 Lam Son Square, District One
Telephone: 823-4999

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Home Away From Home


There are many wonderful options for accommodation in Ho Chi Minh, but licenses, permits and community police officers have a way of consuming valuable time and patience. If you're interested in making the city your home base for a while, take a look at the following furnished apartments.

Sedona Suites
65 Le Loi Street, District One
Telephone: 822-9666
Website: www.holidaycity.com/sedonahochiminh
Rates: 1-bedroom, daily 90USD, monthly 2,300USD
2-bedroom, daily 120USD, monthly 2,800USD
3 bedroom, daily 140USD, monthly 3,500USD

Rental includes: Fully furnished and equipped unit, including TV and VCR
Breakfast (excluding Sundays)
Electricity and water
Daily housekeeping service (excluding Sundays)
Local telephone calls (except Internet use and special services)
Grocery order services
Daily Vietnam News
Membership at Sedona Town Club

The Landmark
5B Ton Duc Thang Street, District One
Telephone: 822-2098
Fax: 822-5161
E-mail: landmark@hcm.vnn.vn
Rates: depend on the size and location of the apartment. Sizes begin with studios for 1,100USD and go up to two-bedrooms for 2,800USD.
Daily Rates: Studio, 50USD
1-bedroom (small), 70USD
1-bedroom (large), 80USD

Rental includes: Fully furnished and equipped unit, including TV, VCR and satellite
100% power back up
Personal telephone line
Maid service
Car parking
Central air conditioning
Room service
Health club
Airport transfers

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Useful information


Directory assistance


in english: 1080

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Hospitals/Health Care (International standard)


AEA/International SOS
Hannam Office Building
65 Nguyen Du Street, District One
Telephone: 829-8520

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On the ground level inside the 'Tax Market'
on the corner of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue Streets, District One.
Hours: 8am to 9pm

My Chau Pharmacy
389 Hai Ba Trung Street, District One
Hours: 7am to 10pm

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ANZ Bank
11 Me Linh Square, District One
Telephone: 829-9319
Website: www.anz.com/international/Vietnam/
Accepts: Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus and ANZ Vietnam Access Cards

Hongkong Bank
New World Building
75 Pham Hong Thai Street, District One
Telephone: 829-228
Fax: 823-1530
E-mail: hsbcvnm@hcm.vnn.vn
Website: www.hongkongbank.com
Accepts: GlobalAccess, Visa/Plus and Mastercard/Cirrus

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For shaving cream, shampoo or a bottle of good Australian wine, try the string of shops along Ham Nghi Street, District One, one block up from the river. You may be able to track down what you're looking for in the local markets or one of the 'supermarkets' around the city, but the Ham Nghi shops have the best selections and you won't be required to bargain with the shopkeepers.

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The heart of Ho Chi Minh is filled with souvenir shops. Embroidered linens and lacquerware seem to adorn every other window. Although most items appear to be of good quality, there is definitely a difference in caliber depending on where you browse. The following shops are highly recommended by foreigners who have been living in the city for the past five years.

Kim Phuong Embroidery
Elegant, hand-embroidered table and bed linens made from both local and imported French fabrics. European designs. Export quality. Most pieces are machine washable.

125 Le Thanh Ton Street, District One
Telephone: 827-7091
Email: sales@kimphuong.net
Website: www.kimphuong.net

A unique selection of ceramics, textiles and boutique handicrafts.

53 Dong Khoi Street, District One
Telephone: 823-5438

Cao Minh
Custom-made business suits. A wide selection of imported fabrics.

148-150 Pasteur Street, District One
Telephone: 822-4298

Xuan Thu Bookshop
Foreign newspapers and business magazines. A growing stock of English language books. The vendors on the stretch of street outside the shop sometimes offer a better selection and their prices are comparable.

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One Restaurant You Should Not Miss



There are many great restaurants in the city, but this one is a real treat. The food here is wonderful, the service is exceptional, and the setting recalls the romance of Indochine.

11A Ngo Van Nam Street, District One
Telephone: 822-9783

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