|Hoi An is among 12 best places to visit in Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of The Times)
With 99 million souls and a coastline stretching for 2,000 miles from north to south, there are plenty of people to meet and a lot to see, do, and eat in Vietnam, according to author Claire Boobbyer.
Topping the list was Hanoi, a city described as being noisy, traffic-choked, and beautiful all at once. The thousand-year-old city of lakes was founded on a bend in the Red River and is full of history, charm, museums, shops, markets, and wonderful street food.
|Hoi An ancient town. (Source: http://www.hoianworldheritage.org.vn)
The capital was followed by Ha Giang, an otherworldly landscape of sugarloaf peaks, mountain passes, and rice paddies carved into impossibly steep mountains, along with Pu Luong and Mai Chau which can be found amid green rice paddies.
Ha Long Bay, along with tourist destinations in the central region such as Hue City, Da Nang, Hoi An, Ninh Van Bay in the southcentral province of Khanh Hoa, Da Lat City in the Central Highlands region, and Ho Chi Minh City all made the Top 10 list.
The Mekong Delta region claimed 11th position. Here, travelers will find a mostly rural way of life with floating markets, temples, and churches, and market farms harvesting coconut, bananas, mangos, and vegetables, The Times wrote.
|Hoi An ancient town. (Source: http://www.hoianworldheritage.org.vn)
Elsewhere, 12th place went to Con Dao archipelago. Today, this remote island off the south coast of Vietnam is a nature paradise which is an internationally recognised (by Ramsar) wetland area and home to the most important location for nesting sea turtles in the country, the newspaper shared.
Tourism gathers speed early in 2024
A sudden surge in the number of overseas Vietnamese booking domestic tours and the recovery of international arrivals right since the start of 2024 are among positive signs promising a breakthrough year for the tourism industry, reported VNA.
|Vietnam is emerging as a magnet for cruise tourists. (Photo: thanhnien.vn)
Doan Thi Thanh Tra, Director for marketing and communications of the Saigontourist travel service company, said the number of overseas Vietnamese booking services for the Lunar New Year (Tet) holidays via her company has risen “abnormally”.
OVs account for up to 80% of all clients booking pre-Tet tours of Saigontourist and 60% of those booking post-Tet tours.
The firm has never recorded such a large number of OV travellers before, which is even higher than in the pre-pandemic period of 2017 - 2018. Previously, OV clients of Saigontourist were mainly middle- and old-aged persons, but the surge in OV tourists, including many young ones, this year has really surprised the company, she noted.
OV tourists often book long tours, at least for five days and even eight to ten days. They prefer cultural and experience tours of the central region (Da Nang, Hue, Hoi An) and the northern region (Ninh Binh, Quang Ninh, northwestern provinces). Most of these tours are package ones with relatively high prices.
Unlike domestic or international visitors, each OV traveller returning to Vietnam for Tet usually book at least two tours – one before Tet and another during or after this biggest traditional festival, Tra told the Thanh nien (Young people) newspaper.
OVs now tend to return to the homeland all year round, not only for Tet. Given this, Saigontourist is developing particular products for this group of holidaymakers, she added.
Meanwhile, Vietluxtour has also reported good growth in the number of OVs booking Tet tours, its communications director Tran Thi Bao Thu said, noting that OV clients of her company are middle-class ones and families using services at four- to five-star resorts.
They tend to just relax and do not have much need for sightseeing. This is a “niche market” that many travel firms are capitalising on amid economic difficulties forcing families to cut spending on holidays, she added.
In addition, the tourism industry has also enjoyed an inflow of international travellers since the start of 2024.
The island city of Phu Quoc, which experienced poor performance in 2023, has witnessed a sudden increase in arrivals, especially international ones, since the end of last year. It has welcomed 2,000-2,500 international visitors, over half of whom are from the Republic of Korea, each day on average.
In particular, the debut of Cau Hon (Kiss Bridge) and the Sunset Town entertainment complex there amid the festive season warmed up the local tourism atmosphere in late 2023.
As a result, the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, home to Phu Quoc, attracted more than 120,000 arrivals during the 2024 New Year holidays, including over 15,000 foreigners, while the occupancy rate at local tourism accommodation facilities reached 63.2% and tourism revenue hit 369 billion VND (over 15 million USD), statistics show.
Ho Chi Minh City has also seen a large number of foreigners travelling around on these days. Ben Thanh Market, a tourist magnet in this southern economic hub, has recorded many international visitors, mainly Indian, Korean, Japanese, and European ones, coming to its confectionary, coffee, apparel, and fashion accessory shops.
The municipal Tourism Department said the city welcomed more than 46,500 international visitors during the recent New Year holidays, shooting up 86.1% from the 25,000 during the same period of 2023. Particularly, cruise travellers who are high-end tourists from Europe, the US, Australia, and Japan, are growing well.
Last year, 12.6 million international tourists chose Vietnam as their holiday destination, rising almost 3.5-fold from 2022 and exceeding the initial target.
For 2024, the country targets about 17 - 18 million international travellers, 110 million domestic ones, and about 840 trillion VND in earnings from tourists. In the most ideal condition, if it manages to attract 18 million foreign arrivals, the tourism industry could be said to fully recover to the record level of 2019.
Nguyen Trung Khanh, Director of the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism, said that after nearly two years of taking recovery measures, the tourism industry is now on an upward trend. While many localities have posted strong tourist growth, Vietnam has won many prestigious international awards, including 19 at the world level and 54 at the Asian level presented by the World Travel Awards.
Vietnam Airlines offers free Tet air tickets for needy workers
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will operate a free flight carrying disadvantaged workers from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi on January 29 as part of efforts to re-unite them with their families on the upcoming Lunar New Year, known locally as Tet, reported VOV.
|Vietnam Airlines offers free Tet air tickets for needy workers (Photo: Vietnam Airlines)
Vietnam Airlines will transport free of charge disadvantaged workers back to their hometowns for welcoming the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.
The workers on the flight all live in difficult circumstances, have relatives in need of special care, and have not been able to return home to their villages to celebrate Tet for several years.
The carrier will also prepare Tet gifts and support vehicles taking them from the airport to bus stations, where they can then catch buses to return to their respective home villages.
Following the festive period, flights bringing them back to Ho Chi Minh City will depart from Hanoi, Hai Phong, Vinh, Thanh Hoa, and Van Don.
The airline will also offer free tickets for those who register on its fanpage and website.
According to information given by Dang Anh Tuan, deputy general director of Vietnam Airlines, the flights are part of the “Flights of Love” campaign which aims to spread humane values for the wider community and social responsibility that the carrier has been promoting for years.
The expenses for the flights are supported by Vietnam Airlines and its partners at a charity auction./.