This post was written by Ernesto Baltodano and Carolina Schildknecht, current IMBA students from the November 2012 intake.

The Vietnam Short Exchange starts with a couple of days in Singapore,  allowing us to recover from the jet lag, see the city and receive a days’ worth of South East Asia induction at our partner school SMU.  The time spent in Singapore, a modern financial hub, utterly clean and orderly could not stand at a greater contrast to what awaits us on the other end of our two hour flight to Vietnam. 

As soon as we arrived in Ho Chi Minh’s airport, we quickly realized we are in a completely different world.  Ho Chi Minh rapidly establishes itself as a city full of adventure and excitement, whether it is crossing a busy Ho Chi Minh street with literally thousands of motorcycles buzzing by or surviving a night out with our peers from SMU and IE.  The week-long exchange consists of several visits to Vietnamese companies such as the state-owned food manufacturer Vissan and the fine porcelain manufacturer Minh Long.  Between company visits, the program finds time to squeeze in cultural visits to museums and the Cu Chi Tunnels where you can practice your aim firing an M60 machine gun. 

Unfortunately, as soon as the week begins it is coming to an end.  As we look back on the whirlwind week, we leave Vietnam with a newfound appreciation for a country in economic full-throttle development, the contrasts of state-owned and private enterprise, and the utter friendliness, hospitality and culture of its people.

The Vietnam Short Exchange stands as a highlight to our MBA.  It is a great opportunity to explore a new culture, expand your network, and have some fun while getting to know better your IMBA peers. 

Top 5 must-do’s in Ho Chi Minh City apart from all the cultural visits:

  1. Experience a night out in Ho Chi Minh’s clubs (Sin, Apocalypse Now, or Lush to name a few)
  2. Get a delicious massage at one of the many spas around town
  3. Visit the War Museum for a different take on the Vietnam War (or “American War”)
  4. Eat some local street food at Cho Ben Thanh (Central Market)
  5. Dare to cross a busy city street with thousands of motorcycles moving around you.  Remember the basic rule: move forward slowly and don’t run, stop, or turn back!