Vietnam’s World Leading Tourist Destinations

By: Laura Hill

World’s Leading Green Resort

World’s Leading Iconic Hotel

World’s Leading Luxury Wedding Resort

Vietnam’s Success at the World Travel Awards

In a year where we have likely spent more time at home than ever before, and travel has been restricted for many, it is easy to forget what an incredible country Vietnam is. From white sand beaches, to lush green forests, from spectacular and iconic rice terraces, to vibrant cities, Vietnam is fast becoming recognised as one of the most desirable destinations for international travellers to visit.

This was confirmed by judges at the recent World Travel Awards, where Vietnam picked up a number of titles including World’s Leading Heritage Destination 2020 and World's Leading Natural Landscape Tourist Attraction 2020!

Vietnam World Travel AwardsIntercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Established in 1993, the WTAs celebrate excellence across all areas of the tourism industry and are recognised globally as a hallmark of quality. Below, we look at each of the locations in Vietnam that were considered to be world leaders in 2020!

World’s Leading Green Resort 2020: Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Since opening in June 2012, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort has developed a reputation for being a work of art as much as a resort. Nestled in the myth-filled hills of Son Tra Peninsula nature reserve, and surrounded by a stunning landscape with panoramic views of the East Sea, this is a truly luxurious resort that showcases the best Vietnam has to offer.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsIntercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Once again recognised as a leader in eco-resorts Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort was acknowledged for its dedication to reducing carbon emissions and aiming to protect the ecosystem of the Son Tra Peninsula.

With such an exceptional resort located in an area of such natural beauty, this is certainly a destination that should be high on your ‘to visit’ list for 2021!

World's Leading Cultural Tourist Attraction 2020 and World's Leading Natural Landscape Tourist Attraction 2020: Sun World Fansipan Legend

Before being branded by Sun World as ‘The Fansipan’, this mountain was just called ‘Fansipan’ and was best known for being the highest mountain in the Indochinese peninsula. At 3,143 meters, the climb to the top was (and still is!) manageable in a day, but not totally without its challenges. With stunning views at every turn, and the beautifully temperate climate of Sapa offering a welcome break from Vietnamese humidity, climbing Fansipan was a highlight for many who visited the region.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsSun World Fansipan Legend

Nowadays, Sun World Fansipan Legend contains a variety of tourist attractions, an amusement park and, the pièce de resistance, a record-breaking cable car that whizzes visitors to the top of the mountain without the struggle of the hike, but with all the benefits of the spectacular scenery.

With a variety of cultural and spiritual attractions adding to the natural allure of the site, it is easy to see why Sun World Fansipan Legend was recognised at this year’s awards.

World’s Leading Iconic Hotel 2020: Hotel de la Coupole M'Gallery

If you fancy taking a trip to the World’s Leading Natural Landscape Tourist Attraction, why not couple it with a stay in the World’s Leading Iconic Hotel? Located just 5 kilometres from Sun World Fansipan, Hotel de la Coupole is as traditional as Sun World is modern. An enchanting mix of haute couture and hill tribe style, this stunning hotel is infused with the glamour of 1920’s art deco luxury.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsHotel de la Coupole M'Gallery

With a luxury spa and extravagantly vast swimming pool allowing spectacular views across the Sapa valley, luxury, relaxation and indulgence are high on the list of priorities at Hotel de la Coupole. “A haven in a heavenly setting” is possibly an understatement.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsHotel de la Coupole M'Gallery

World's Leading Iconic Tourist Attraction 2020: Sun World Ba Na Hills

Also recognised as Asia’s Leading Theme Park 2020, Vietnam’s Leading Theme Park 2020, and awarded recognition for containing the World's Leading Cable Car Ride 2020 and the World's Leading Iconic Tourist Bridge 2020, Ba Na Hills in Da Nang is clearly doing a lot of things right.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsSun World Ba Na Hills

Located 20 kilometres outside Da Nang city, atop a small mountain, Ba Na Hills replicates many of the successes on ‘The Fansipan’, but with a distinctly European flavour. ‘The French Village’ is a particularly popular attraction with locals, but it is the now world-famous Golden Bridge that is the true star of the show. Recognised by Time magazine in 2018 as ‘one of the world’s greatest places to visit’, the spectacular views and unique design have since become an Instagrammers dream!

World’s Leading Luxury Wedding Resort 2020: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay

Once a 19th-century French university, now an eclectically themed, lavish beachfront playground JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa is a luxury haven on the beautiful island of Phu Quoc.

It is easy to see why the resort was recognised at the WTAs for the ability to host an unforgettable destination wedding. With facilities to provide both small, intimate services and lavish, extravagant celebrations, this is certainly a destination that can appeal to every type of bride.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsJW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay

Plus, with access to the soft, white sands of stunning Kem Beach, luxurious, stylish accommodation and a variety of eateries to suit every palate, it is a destination that appeals to every type of guest!

Vietnam World Travel AwardsJW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay

World’s Leading Regional Airport: Van Don International Airport

Just 2 years old and already a world leader, Van Don International, another baby of the ubiquitous Sun Group, is a state-of-the-art travel hub primarily servicing UNESCO world heritage site, Ha Long Bay.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsVan Don International Airport

Also awarded a special prize at the Prix Versailles awards, Van Don is a symbol of things to come in the Vietnamese tourist industry. Let’s hope that in 2021 the tourists can return and Vietnam can continue to develop its reputation for world leading travel and tourism!

For details of all winners at the WTAs visit www.worldtravelawards.com

Banner Image: Golden Bridge


Should Vietnam Rethink Tourism? Interview with Patrick Gaveau

By: Keely Burkey

The typical travel route for tourism in Vietnam is from the north to the south, and sometimes the other way around. How is this style of tourism killing Vietnam’s potential as a tourist destination?

I wouldn’t say it’s killing it, but certainly it’s restricting the potential for growth. For many travellers, in particular from Australia and other English-speaking markets, Vietnam is still very much seen as a “bucket list” destination, a once-in-a-lifetime trip not to be repeated. For some it is their first trip to Southeast Asia, though more often than not they’ve already travelled multiple times to what we call “fly and flop” beach destinations like Thailand and Bali.

travel in vietnamImage source: baohaiquan.vn

Though Vietnam has some very attractive beaches, it is seen more as a cultural travel experience and it struggles to compete with its more established, experienced neighbours. When the potential of new sites or areas is recognised, these are too often monopolised and destroyed by local interests.

What does the current tourist industry look like in Vietnam?

If you look at these source markets, you will see they are filled with competing general sales agents all offering what on the surface seem to be similar types of travel itineraries, and they are all fighting for a piece of the same pie. There are plenty of unique and specialist offerings out there, but these are primarily suited to niche interests and usually don’t receive the same sort of marketing attention. There are real costs associated with all forms of distribution, so products need to pay their way, so to speak, in terms of return on investment.

So, you think it’s primarily a marketing issue?

The issue around effectively marketing and promoting non-generic itineraries is there, but it’s further challenged by the limited knowledge of traditional travel agents. Many of them haven’t travelled to this part of the world, so they stick with what they know and trust, through a tried and tested product.

travel in vietnamImage source: baomoi.com

Familiarisation or educational trips invariably focus on the main highlights of the country through a north to south trip (or vice versa), so they just don’t have the confidence or knowledge to go beyond this.

Few tourists return to Vietnam for a second trip. Why do you think this is?

There are a host of reasons: the lack of an effective national tourism body to market the destination; the relatively high cost of travel; the cumbersome and expensive visa process; the over-development and pollution of natural attractions; the constant tourist rip-offs; substandard services and a flawed hotel rating system.

What other travel patterns or tours should be created to change this and to encourage more return trips to Vietnam, as it is in Thailand, for example?

There are probably only two main reason travellers would return: to visit an area not previously seen, or for a traditional beach-style long stay. Of the latter, we are seeing the emergence of Danang/Hoi An as a destination for repeat travellers (more so than Phu Quoc, though this is also increasing), though the percentages are still relatively small. This should continue to grow as infrastructure slowly improves.

travel in vietnamImage source: baotuyenquang.com.vn

As the number of hotels and resorts increases, so will the competitiveness of rates, along with an increase in international carriers adding direct routes to Vietnam.

How can travel agents help tourism in Vietnam grow sustainably?

They can market and develop a range of innovative packages specifically aimed at these returning travellers. These could include (but aren’t limited to): special city stays with unique inclusions, like going to the less-visited central highlands region. This could be easily combined with a Danang or Hoi An beach stay or a stay in the country’s far northwest, like Sapa, Mai Chau which are both easily accessible from Hanoi. Or you could have Mekong Delta overnight cruises as opposed to the commoditised day tours. This could also include the longer Mekong cruises, which have become so popular in recent years. All of this can be combined with the proper promotion of Vietnam’s best beach locations and advice on the best time to visit the various regions. These more often should be included in planned familiarisation or educational trips, ensuring that travel agents broaden their knowledge for use in the sales process.

travel in vietnamImage source: zone8.vn

Banner image source: dulich.dantri.com.vn

 


Coconuts and Cultural Tourism: Exploring Ben Tre with VTV4

By: JK Hobson

I’ve been a resident of Saigon for a little over a year. Like many metropoleis, the hectic and frenzied energy of it has a way of sucking its denizens in. Often, our ways of viewing Vietnam become limited to Saigon’s many districts. (“What’s Vietnam like? Well, I live in Thao Dien, which is kinda like Brooklyn with more motorbikes!”)

Ben TreThai, the one of the cameramen for VTV4 snagging some footage of women bailing coconut fibre hay.

VTV4’s Vietnam Discovery Tours Ben Tre Province in Vietnam

I’m always looking for opportunities to get out of the insanity of the traffic and smog and to experience culture in Vietnam’s rural areas, so when I was invited to guest host VTV4’s travel show Vietnam Discovery I jumped at the chance.

The two filmed episodes would take us through the rural areas of Ben Tre Province, which I was slightly familiar with from the year that I had spent in the Mekong Delta. During the Vietnam Discovery filming, I was able to experience a different level of cultural immersion than I had while living there as I was invited into the rural areas and engaging with people living their everyday lives, rather than living in the city and visiting rural areas as a part of some tour or another. Just outside the city limits, I found a lush countryside brimming with scenic beauty and friendly local folks willing to share and engage in dialogue about their lifestyles in the Mekong Delta province.

Touring Ben TreVietnam’s Coconut Kingdom

Ben Tre is most well-known for the ubiquity of the coconut, which is why it’s widely understood to be Vietnam’s “Coconut Kingdom.” For local people in Ben Tre, the coconut trees have a special place in their culture and their economic development. The presence of coconut in Ben Tre even had an impact on religion in the province for a time. At one time a monk in Ben Tre a monk named Nguyễn Thành Nam was locally renowned for having legendarily founded his own religion centering around the coconut, sustained himself entirely on coconuts for over three years, and even had a presidential run in 1971.

Along both sides of the Ba Lai river, which runs between the districts of Mo Cay Bac and Mo Cay Nam, there are a seemingly endless number of coconut processing plants where coconuts are sorted, processed and exported.

Ben TreA woman in Phu Le VIllage proud of the water lilies she has gathered.

Over the generations, the people of Ben Tre have uncovered the versatility of the coconut and have become masters at turning it into hundreds of products. Coconuts are used to make candy, oil, milk and water among other comestible products. It is also used for skin care, hair care, fuel, and even musical instruments. (More on that later.)

While visiting the processing plants, you can see people hard at work, often with their bare hands, separating the coconut. Each part will be utilised in some form or another. The variety of ways in which Ben Tre’s most valuable resource has been employed reveals the resourcefulness of its people.

Ben TreAnother worker in the coconut processing plant. His daily workout regimen involves spinning coconut husks into fiber, which are later used to make rope and fishing nets.

While on the Thom River, which splits Mo Cay Bac and Mo Cay Nam, I met locals performing their daily duties. Some splitting coconuts from their husks, some extracting water, others separating the husk into a kind of hay used for constructing rope, and even for fire fuel. These processing plants line both sides of the river and run as far as the eye can see.

Ben TreThis husband and wife work hard every morning ripping coconuts out of their husks. They work side by side and in unison, radiating with the intense energy of a young couple in love.

Ben TreA brother and his twin sisters entertaining themselves in the coconut processing plant where their mom works. They were making some concoction of dirt, twigs, and other things they found around the plant. Impressive in this digital age where kids have iPads and still find themselves bored.

Meet the Local Artisans of Ben Tre Province in Vietnam

The local people have also learned how to repurpose the coconuts and the wood from coconut trees to make ingenious artwork. The coconut is an integral part of Ben Tre culture, so it’s not surprising that the local folks incorporate it into their craftsmanship.

Perhaps the most resourceful of all the people I came across on my travels in Ben Tre was a craftsman who went by the name of Ba Ba. In Ba Ba’s home, the living room looked like a music shop for string instruments. Lining the walls were all sorts of guitars, basses, as well as traditional Vietnamese instruments like the đàn tranh, and the one-stringed lute known as the đàn tỳ bà.

Ba Ba modeled his dan ba in the shape of Vietnam, complete with two arms that unfold revealing representations of the contested islands of Truong Sa and Hoang Sa, an epic show of patriotism. Ba Ba goes to bed at night thinking about his next project and still wakes up in the morning excited about completing it. Etched in his face is the serene look of a person who does what he loves.

Ben TreBa Ba about to put on a private concert using this electric guitar with a built-in microphone that he made using coconut wood.

Ben TreBa Ba's masterpiece, a đàn bầu in the shape of his beloved country.

Ben TreA sac bua singer in Ben Tre.

In Phu Le Village of Ba Tri district, I found an enclave of people that shared a deep interest in preserving cultural traditions. Among them, a woman who is a renowned sac bua singer.

Sac bua is a form of music recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage that originates from Quang Ngai in the central province of Binh Dinh. Many people from that province moved South during the 18th century and brought this vocal tradition with them. The songs are a wish for peace and prosperity for listeners and are generally performed around the Tet holiday.

These are just a few of the people that I encountered on this adventure. It’s heartening to know that just a few hours outside of my home in busy Saigon there are places rich with scenic natural beauty and culture. I would advise a trip to the province of Ben Tre for anyone looking to get a sense of Vietnam’s vibrant artistry.

Ben TreThe slow pace of life in the rural areas of Ben Tre is such that it is not uncommon to share a smile with a stranger passing on the road.
I asked this woman if I could take her photo. She acquiesced and smiled brightly without hesitation.

Video source: Huỳnh Phan Tùng Kha

Image source: JK Hobson


Breathtaking Ta Dung Lake

By: City Pass Guide

Video source: Gia Lộc

Banner Image source: sbsv.tuoitre.vn


Hidden Havens: Vietnam’s Up and Coming Destinations

By: Mark Gwyther

Trying to get away from the crowds? Try these alternatives. Hurry. They won’t stay secret for long.

Vinh Long Province instead of Can Tho

Can Tho is the fifth largest city in Vietnam. Although it is not a major tourism hub, you may want to find a place nearby that’s quieter and easier to manage. Vinh Long Province is on the Mekong River and has a floating market and many pagodas just like its busier neighbour.

Travel VietnamImage source: imgix.net

Phu Quy Island, Binh Thuan instead of Mui Ne

Have you been in Mui Ne and wished you were Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach? Then do not go to Phu Quy Island. If you want an adventure away from the crowds, hop on the boat.

Phu Quy is a four-hour to several-day boat ride from Phan Thiet. By several days I mean if you are on the island and a storm comes, get comfortable. The island houses a fishing village of 25,000 people and there are places to stay and eat. It has a beach.

Travel VietnamImage source: foody.vn

Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan Province instead of Nha Trang

Almost all of Vietnam is spectacularly crazy, but Phan Rang is kind of normal. Phan Rang is the geographical centre of the province and the societal centre of Vietnam. It’s not a modern-day city, nor is it undeveloped. It’s not busy, but not quiet either. It’s not touristy, but still easily accessible to tourists.

Travel VietnamImage source: miendatphanrang.com

Ninh Thuan Province developed infrastructure for tourism before the tourists. The coastal road is 116 km that begins in CaNa and ends near Cam Ranh. On that drive you pass deserts, seaside cliffs, undeveloped beaches, a mid-tier city, salt farms, fishing villages, vineyards, spectacular bays and jungles meeting the sea.

Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak Province instead of Dalat

Same cool weather and waterfalls, but with 44 different ethnic groups in the area. Vietnam’s coffee capital is a perfect base for exploring the Central Highlands.

Vietnam's HighlightsImage source: vntrip.vn

Tuy Hoa, Phu Yen Province instead of Danang

The capital and base for exploring Phu Yen’s beautiful beaches and bays. No internationally managed five-star resorts along the beach: you have the beaches to yourself. Resorts are creeping north from Nha Trang so now is the time to go.

Vietnam's HighlightsImage source: dmanews.net

Phong Nha Caves, Quang Binh Province, no other place like it on Earth

An absolutely amazing recent discovery, the Phong Nha caves bring Vietnam to a crossroads.

The government can choose to develop it in a sustainable and environmentally sound manner with low impact to the surrounding area and limit access to those who are willing to pay a high price, or develop it for mass tourism by adding a cable car, mega hotels, and the transportation infrastructure to bring in thousands of tourists per day in order to bring in as much money as fast as they can. This is a litmus test.

Travel VietnamImage source: ilovevietnamtour.com

You better book your tickets soon, and if you can’t afford it, wait and pounce when you can.

Ninh Binh Province instead of Halong Bay

Nicknamed “Halong Bay on land”, it should be changed to “Halong Bay on land and without tens of thousands of other people”. This is where the movie Kong: Skull Island was mostly filmed.

Travel VietnamImage source: vnmedia.vn

Ha Giang Province instead of SaPa

All the ethnic minorities, dramatic landscapes and mountains as around SaPa, but without all the construction, garbage and masses. Ha Giang is the province closest to the Chinese border.

Video source: City Pass Guide

Banner Image source: vinavivu.com


Ha Noi & Hoi An among Top 10 Asia Holiday Destinations

By: Quang Mai

Ha Noi & Hoi An among Top 10 Asia Holiday Destinations

According to a survey by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), Vietnam topped the list of emerging destinations for international tourist in early 2012. However, Hanoi & Hoi An were making no headway in the Top 10 Holiday Destinations of The Smart Travel Asia 2012 - Best in Travel Poll results.

ASIA
2012 Rank 2011 Rank
1. Bali, Indonesia 1
2. Phuket, Thailand 2
3. Hong Kong 3
4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
    Maldives
    Palawan, Philippines
8
5
5
5. Bangkok, Thailand 10
6. Hanoi, Vietnam
    Kerala, India
    Seoul, South Korea
6
4
7
7. Hoi An, Vietnam
    Shanghai, China
7
6
8. Rajasthan, India
    Taipei, Taiwan
7
10
9. Goa, India
    Langkawi, Malaysia
9
8
10. Koh Samui, Thailand
     Penang, Malaysia
     Sanya, China
9
10
10

The obvious advantages of their beautiful ancient architecture, amazing culture, tradition and outstanding hospitality have recently attracted lots of international tourists. They still need to sit back and make a game plan to not only get more tourists but also improve the rate of returning visitors.

From the result, although standing among the best travel brands like Bali, Phuket and Hong Kong means that Hanoi and Hoi An Ancient Town are the most visited destinations not only in Vietnam but also Asia. However, the surprising progress of Angkor of Cambodia and Bangkok of Thailand has rung warning bell to the whole Vietnam Tourism which is marking time whilst Cambodia and Thailand have started implementing their strategy to become strong brands in Asia travel industry.

The result also lead to a fact that other well-known tourist attractions within Vietnam such as Ha Long, Da Nang, Saigon - HCMC, Vung Tau, Phan Thiet - Mui Ne and Can Tho should consider their short-term and long-term development strategy as their names were yet displayed in the list.

"The voters took an average 16.22 air trips over the past year and earned an average US$162,134 in household income. They travelled enough to tell the difference between crass and class. Their verdict? Classical is back in fashion and so are authentic destinations."

(Source: http://www.smarttravelasia.com/travelpoll.htm)

 

  Thank you for Signing Up
Please correct the marked field(s) below.

IS THERE A STORY OR TIP

YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?

GET IN TOUCH