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Public holidays in SE Asia

South East Asia is a mixture of nations and cultures which have combined under regional block called ASEAN to assist with the development of the region.

Travelling to ASEAN countries requires knowledge of the many cultures and particularly important events in each countries calendar. These nations are:

  • Thailand
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Brunei
  • Indonesia
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Burma.

Australian exporters do not need to have a comprehensive knowledge of every cultural aspect, but a basic understanding is essential as offending one’s prospect trading partner is sometimes irreversible.

When are SE Asia public holidays?

Many public holidays are listed on general web sites, but many do not include public holidays that are unique to a province, state, or every religion.

For example Chinese New Year holidays may be listed for 1 or 2 days when in fact many business close for over a week or management is not interested or available to meet with visitors.

In Muslim countries, many holidays are not confirmed till the last minute as many of these holidays related to lunar activities. During the fasting month of Ramadan, business hours are cut short and management may not be available.

Most countries have a good mixture of religions, so celebrating the “New Year” can occur up to four times a year.

Limited communications

Communicating by email and phone can also be frustrating during public holiday periods.

Holidays and events can mean that your contact is not available and you can get the wrong impression in regard to the interest in your product or service. Check times and dates before jumping to conclusions.

Planning travel times in SE Asia

Before travelling, always check with all available resources. If you have contacts in target markets, make sure that your trip is planned to avoid holidays and non-productive times.

If you are considering doing business in SE Asia, contact Ian Bennett, Senior Manager International Trade on 02 9458 7443.


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Gary Dawes
Manager, International Business
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