A Traveler's Guide to Vietnam

By: JK Hobson

The rich modern diversity of Vietnam can be traced back to its fascinating historical origins.

From Hanoi to Saigon, Vietnam’s regional differences may surprise you.

Knowing Vietnam’s seasonal changes will help you choose the ideal time to visit.

La Veranda luxury boutique hotel in Phu Quoc offers a unique experience of the cultural heritage of Vietnam.

Vietnam is fast becoming one of the world’s most sought out travel destinations. Just last year, Trip Advisor named it the 6th best destination for authentic travel experiences, just behind Greece, Mexico, Portugal and Morocco and overtaking Thailand for the first time ever. Foreign and local travellers alike love Vietnam for its pristine and natural beauty, vibrant nightlife, and excellent prices, all of which make for unique and memorable travel experiences.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

Locals are considered to be exceptionally friendly, welcoming, and optimistic about the future of their country as it opens to global capital and foreigners. Travellers are also drawn to Vietnam’s growing economy, modern conveniences, and diverse culinary options with world-class restaurants such as La Veranda Phu Quoc’s top-ranked resort, featuring the Peppertree, one of Phu Quoc’s best restaurants offering gourmet experiences with local touches.

Add to that white sand beaches in places like Mui Ne, Phu Quoc island and Nha Trang, lush mountains in Sapa and hilltop villages, pristine valleys, and modern megacities, all woven together by a culture that is diverse and complex, and you have a one-of-a-kind travel experience in Vietnam.

The Origins of Vietnam’s Diverse Cultural Experiences

Vietnam’s Origin Story is a poetic tale that can explain both the strength and beauty of this complicated country. The legendary fable of the Dragon and the Fairy artfully explains the origins of the Vietnamese people. As the creation myth goes, the fairy Âu Cơ lived in the mountainous highlands of what is now known as Northern Vietnam, and fell in love with a dragon who came from the sea. She bore an egg, and from this egg were born the people that would come to be known as the Vietnamese. The dragon father gave the Vietnamese people their strength and perseverance while the fairy gave her mystical elegance, healing skills and sympathetic heart.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

Beyond the poetic myths, Vietnam is quite complex in its history, with its culture being a manifestation of a variety of influences. It’s geographical position, south of China, and east of Laos and Cambodia, have made it a much sought after territory for millennia. The Chinese occupied Vietnam for over 1,000 years until the Vietnamese liberated themselves in the 10th century. Chinese influence is still ubiquitous in Vietnam, from Buddhist pagodas to culinary standards like rice and noodles, even some of the words have Chinese origins, though the Vietnamese language with its multitude of tones and Latin alphabet is utterly unique in the world.

During the colonial era, both the Japanese and French had a strong presence in Vietnam, which can still be seen in the architecture and culinary traditions present throughout the country. French-Indochine era homes can easily be seen in Hanoi, Hoi An and even on the island paradise of Phu Quoc. The heritage style architecture of the seaside mansion at La Veranda Resort takes inspiration from this bygone era. It is filled with authentic art and furnishings from Vietnam in the early part of the 20th century, creating a nostalgic elegance that travellers can experience along with inclusions of 21st-century luxuries.

It is easy for travellers to fall in love with this melting pot of influences embedded in the tapestry of Vietnamese culture, including its food, religion, architecture, and language.

Culinary and Language Traditions in the North, Central and South Vietnam

It is often stated that Vietnam can be considered three distinctly different countries delineated by the North, Central, and the South. It is often said that “The North is political, the South is open (to commerce, foreigners, innovation) and the Centre is secretive.”

These may all be traits that each region has adopted for political expediency, but the fact remains that a variety of influences have created a distinction between the three parts. Perhaps one of the more noticeable differences between them lies in spoken language. Many northerners speak with a strong accent that seems punctuated with z’s, whereas the southern accent sounds a bit softer with those z’s replaced by “y” sounds.

Some Vietnamese people from the North and the South might tell you that they find the central dialect difficult to decipher. Moreover, the culinary variances between the three regions are also vast. In days past, royalty in the Northern provinces preferred elegant dishes, and so it became the practice to refrain from the overuse of spices in foods. Also, since the summers in the North tended to be particularly sweltering, spicy food was not preferred.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

The Central regions were once dominated by the Cham kingdom, which used a lot of spice and so the food there tends to be the zestiest. The Southern region was dominated by the Khmer, who also populated Cambodia. Their preference for sweet additions to their savoury dishes influenced the Southern palate. The South has always been the most fertile of the three regions, bearing the majority of the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the country. It has also historically been the most international of the three regions, so it has the most diversity in its cuisine.

When Are the Best Times to Travel to Vietnam?

When planning a trip to Vietnam, perhaps the first thing that must be put into consideration is the climate and the best time of year to visit. Much of Vietnam experiences what local people consider to be two seasons, rainy season and dry season, depending on the region.

Generally speaking, the optimal times for travelling in Vietnam are the spring and autumn, specifically from February to April and then from August until October. During these times, the temperature is moderate and rainfall is minimal. March and April have the least rainfall of the entire year across all destinations and for the most part, temperatures are pleasurable during these months. Other times of the year can be challenging for travellers, whether it’s the heat and humidity of the South, the relentless dry heat and then cold winters (including snow!) in the North, or the torrential downfalls of rain flooding the Central regions. The climate and weather in Vietnam can make or break your holiday plans so take them into strong consideration when you’re bringing clothing as well.

Guide to Travel in Vietnam

A Beach Resort Paradise to Experience the Cultural Heritage of Vietnam

Motorbiking across Vietnam has become a popular “bucket list” travelling experience, with western foreigners often driving over the course of weeks from the North to the South, and then venturing off the motorbike trail for a trip to Phu Quoc island at the southern end of Vietnam for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Phu Quoc is well-known for its pristine, blue waters, luxury and boutique resorts dotting its coastlines and is referred to by many as “the Maldives of Asia”. Phu Quoc is a destination that has the versatility of being both a family-friendly and romantic getaway. The island is especially popular with Saigon residents who need only board a plane for an hour-long flight in order to enjoy majestic ocean views and the serene sounds of the seaside. One of the best features of this island paradise is that it can be enjoyed year round and is easily accessed from anywhere in the world.

It is on the island you can find one of the top luxury boutique hotels in Vietnam - La Veranda Phu Quoc Resort. As an AccorHotels Group MGallery Collection Heritage hotel, it has quite a reputation to uphold as a one-of-a-kind destination for travellers seeking to immerse themselves in a place of refined beauty that provides high-calibre culinary experiences. This seaside mansion offers a glimpse of the cultural heritage that we mentioned before. French Indochine stylings set in the lush beauty of Vietnam’s tropical biosphere.

La Veranda Boutique Beach Resort Phu Quoc

La Veranda’s sumptuous layout includes an organic garden, spa, beachside villa, a wellness sanctuary, as well as top-notch fine-dining options in a five-star environment. This sophisticated, colonial-style mansion has been thrilling guests in need of deluxe downtime in secluded solitude. La Veranda Phu Quoc provides a perfect way to start or to cap-off your cross-country Vietnam experience!

Image source: La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Special Flowers for Tet 2019

By: Robert Fouldes

Every Tet holiday we also celebrate and enjoy the arrival of spring. Everyone looks for the best flowers and ornamental plants to decorate their homes, to provide a striking visual effect and to create a feeling of freshness, helping us to look forward to a new year filled with luck, happiness and good fortune. Some of the popular flowers for this occasion are yellow apricot blossom, cherry blossom, kumquat, chrysanthemum, orchid, and narcissus. We find great joy in decorating our homes with flowers for Tet, raising our feelings as well as beautifying our homes, we also find ourselves expressing ourselves through personal tastes and communicating something of ourselves through the aesthetic of our style and decoration, in some cases hoping to mark ourselves as a connoisseur or arbiter of taste.

Let us consider what flower varieties are the hottest choices in this New Year / Tet 2019?

1. Chaenomeles japonica

This is a kind of flowering shrub that visually combines the cherry blossom of northern Japan and the southern yellow apricot blossom. Chaenomeles japonica is also known as Maule’s quince, belonging to the rose family with a short woody bush growing to about 100 – 200 cm. The shrub is slender and graceful, rich in colour, the flowers have broad petals, grow to be evenly sized, with cleverly arranged petals 3 - 5 cm diameter. The petals open by day and close at night and can be expected to be in flower for up to 2 months. The flower shows a diverse range of colour, bright red, crimson, red-orange, red rose. When in bloom, this flowering shrub is like a red fire, symbolizing wealth, peace, virtue and the common good. It is usually cultivated as a bonsai, and will also bear fruit. The shrub produces apple-like fruit, green until turning yellow when ripe, it appears quite like a pear, is fragrant, hard and usually sour, but it can be used to make preserves.

The price of Chaenomeles japonica varies from 1 to 10 million VND depending on the shape and size of the tree.

special flowers for tetImage source: giahuygarden.vn

2. Prunus mume Sieb

Prunus mume Sieb is a kind of white apricot blossom. It is a woody species, belonging to the rose family. The more rough and hardy the tree trunk is, the more beautiful it is considered. The flower buds are pink, but when blooming they gradually become white with very tight layers of petals. When the petals are shed, the remaining calyx (that protected the flower bud) gradually changes to red looking like a new flower, then this too falls away after a period of time, because of this, the flower has another name “twice apricot blossom” meaning that the flower blooms two times. Prunus mume Sieb symbolically represents the honourable man, for principles and values of virtue. The three most favoured silhouettes of the Prunus mume Sieb are the triangle, the straight and the slantwise. The triangle is also known as 3 elements: sky – earth – human with a large root and three branches forming the tree trunk. The straight upright appearance is straightforward, honest and strong. The slantwise is also known as the silhouette of a waterfall, leaning to one side, the shape often bending as would a tree growing on a steep mountain slope, which means reverence to the superior, the master.

Most of the Prunus mume Sieb cost from 2 to 15 million VND depending on the shape, silhouette and age.

special flowers for tetImage source: sohanews.com

3. Camelliathea amplexicaulis

Also known as Japanese Red Camellia (and has been called the Japan Rose), the flowers possess a conspicuous beauty and exude a beautiful, elegant and gentle scent (tea being a variety of Camellia). Camellia can be considered a gourmet plant with an added reward of flowers. Wherever you place the tea flower, the whole area will benefit and become refreshed and brightened as the flowers exude their wonderful aroma. Tea flowers come in many different colours such as reddish brown (deep tea), dark pink (pomegranate tea), pink rose (royal tea), white (white tea), yellow (gold flower tea) and sometimes hybrid combinations of white and pink stripes, red stripes, speckled (octagonal tea). The flowers are large and conspicuous usually with 5 to 9 petals. The Tea flowers will bloom for 5-15 days. The flowers symbolically represent perfection, loyalty, humility, dignity and grace.

Flowers cost from 500 thousand to 120 million, depending on the colour of the flower and the age of the tree.

special flowers for tetImage source: blogspot.com

4. Camellia sasanqua

The flowers are fresh and vibrant, but they do not overpower us with a dazzling feeling, but radiate our senses with a feeling of warmth. The petals are broad, curved, and gently embrace the yellow stamens, the fragrance is very light. These flowers include two varieties, one with single petals and one with dual petals. The colours are quite diverse with white, pink, dark pink, yellow, with the most popular being crimson. Blooms can last up to 20 days; the flowers are often very thick and cover trees with a high density. Camellia sasanqua represents harmony, joyful life and friendship of the family (in Chinese, the name of the flower is synonymous with the big house, the main house).

Flowers cost from 500 thousand VND to 100 million VND, depending on the shape, age and age of the tree.

special flowers for tetImage source: kenhhomestay.com

5. Hibernation Rhododendron

According to the ancients, the rhododendron flower is a symbol of gentleness, peace, prosperity and reunion. For some European countries, this flower is considered a symbol of glory and pride. Rhododendrons can also have another name: Azalea. Possessing a brilliant beauty with warm colours, azaleas are commonly dark red, dark pink, pink, purple, orange, white. Every time the flower blooms, it fills the space around it with vitality. An interesting aspect of the rhododendron is its hibernation, in cold dry periods the plant will reduce its water content, but the cells will remain alive, in Autumn / Fall, the tree will slowly fall into hibernation with the appearance of dry branches. When the water supply at the roots resumes, after 2 days the tree will wake and on the third day will bud and the flowers will begin to sprout. On the 7th day, the flowers will begin to bloom, and after 15 days the buds will fully bloom with brilliance.

The price of hibernation rhododendron is quite low, from 150-500 thousand VND / bunch of 30-50 branches.

special flowers for tetImage source: kenh14cdn.com

6. Classic Rose

Classic Roses are always loved for their beauty, romantic association, elegance and luxurious appearance. In addition, the number of blooms on each bush/tree is usually quite large. The rose bush also radiates a broad gentle fragrance that adds to its attraction. Classic Roses are a diverse and widely cultivated species. The flowers have many varieties such as Van Khoi Rose, Sapa Rose, Lipstick Rose, Bach Xep Rose or imported pink called Tree Rose, all with various colours: white, pink, dark pink, yellow, red, purple or veined stripes. Rose blooms usually last for 7-10 days, with some types of super long lasting blooms persisting for a whole month.

Classic roses are priced at VND 1.5 - 250 million depending on the origin and freshness.

special flowers for tetImage source: vuonhongvanloan.com

7. Peony

Peony was dubbed the king of flowers with a beautiful, noble and gorgeous bloom. Charming and delicate as roses, the petals are narrow, smooth, layered from the centre to the outside, giving a full shape, but the size is much larger (20-30cm) than a rose, making it stand out in every space. It also possesses a passionate and charming scent along with various striking colours such as pure white fawn, a noble and fresh pink, an attractive bright red, a charming high purple, a warm golden shine, a keen purple, and a charming pink colour to a unique reddish purple. The flower symbolises wealth, prosperity, beauty and wisdom and is a popular gift all around the world. The Peony will bloom for 7-10 weeks in suitable conditions.

Peony flowers cost between VND 500,000 and VND 8 million.

special flowers for tetImage source: tronghoa.vn

8. Winterberry

Winterberry is a shrub that grows wild in many countries such as the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States. The tree is tall, beautiful, with slender glossy green leaves, it produces small white flowers, then clusters of berries along its branches, appearing as yellow then ripening to a striking red; these berries are also a favourite food of birds. The tree is at its most beautiful in the late winter and early spring, a clear sign of the New Year. Europeans have long used the Winterberry along with other flowers to decorate and bring a feeling of warmth to the home in the middle of the cold winter season. In the climate of southern Vietnam, fruiting branches can be kept fresh for 7-10 days. If the climate is as cold as in the north, they can be kept for months.

Winterberry prices are quite expensive because of their origin, incurring import and storage fees. Each branch will cost around 200-400 thousand VND, a large collection for about 5 - 50 million VND.

special flowers for tetImage source: wikimedia.org

9. Forsythi

This flower blooms in early spring; the blooms are a bright yellow colour, like the apricot blossom in southern Vietnam. However, Forsythi blooms in clusters, with the flowers clinging along the length of its long slim branches. The flowers have 4 long petals stretching out to hug the pistil. The Forsythi grows as a wild-flower in many European and American countries. They also have the name "Easter Tree " or "Golden Rain", and are often grown as fences/hedges or in parks. The plants often shed their leaves before flowering. Each flower cluster appears to possess great intricate beauty, but close observation reveals quite a simple structure, but it remains visually dominating. The yellow colour always raises one's spirits, inspiring and bringing joy wherever they are found. The flowers can stay fresh for about 15-20 days.

The prices range from 300-500 VND / branch, depending on the height. A large plant is available for about VND 4 - 15 million.

special flowers for tetImage source: amazonaws.com

10. Hybrid Orchid

The Orchid is still the first choice for many flower lovers, but the type of orchid most sought after recently is the Hybrid Orchid, even though their prices are quite high, from several million to nearly ten billion VND. The Flowers have a very distinctive appearance with different colours, diverse shapes and width of petals. There are many types of orchids such as Rhynchostylis gigantea, Dendrobium anosmum, White Dendrobium Nestor… each species having a unique appearance, in fact, all are unique. For example the Paphiopedilum parishii orchid or “mutant beard”, originated from Germany, its shape is intriguing as it appears to be adorned by two long beards, it holds the price of 4.6 million VND / plant. Dendrobium anosmum orchid is marked by broad, thick, firm but not too long petals, costing from 5 million VND / plant. Rothschild: an almost extinct orchid species with only a small number remaining in the Kinabalu region of Malaysia - dubbed the "gold of Kinabalu", blooms only once every 15 years, the flowers costing upwards from 110 million VND. To get these orchids, collectors must order a long time in advance, and sometimes there will be no guarantee that they will receive them at a given time, such are their rarity, but for many flower lovers and collectors, the investment is worth both the time and money, for them to attain the object of their passionate desire.

special flowers for tetImage source: ytimg.com

Banner Image source: ynghiahoa.net

Things not to do in Vietnam

By: Quang Mai

Following the post about “Tips to spot and avoid scams and pick pockets”, City Pass Guide provides a list of things not to do in Vietnam that can secure visitors and help them to make their trip in Vietnam enjoyable.

On the street

To avoid being robbed or becoming victims of pickpockets, we highly recommended travelers not to carry more money than they need when walking around the streets, especially when you are alone. Wear as little jewelry as possible, as even fake jewels attract unwelcome attention from would-be robbers. In fact, thieves and drive-by snatchers do not have time to decide if jewelry is high value or not; they simply take whatever opportunity comes their way through a moment’s carelessness.

When taking a ride by xe om (motorbike taxi) make sure your bag, if any, is not on display or easy to grab. Bag snatches, although relatively rare, are probably the most likely crime a tourist will encounter, and it the risk is increased enormously if your prized camera or laptops are clearly visible.

Cultural issues

Wearing large amounts of jewelry is considered impolite because it seems to be flaunting wealth in public.

Don't wear singlets, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive. Don’t be surprised when you notice some local ladies wearing them. Such dress is actually being criticized in many official and unofficial discussions in both online and print /media. You should not create any chances for locals to lay the blame on western culture.

Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone's house.

Never lose your temper in public or when bargaining for a purchase. This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties. Always maintain a cool and happy demeanor and you will be reciprocated with the same.

Physical displays of affection between lovers in public are frowned upon. That’s why you may usually come across couples holding hands while very seldom you can see a couple give kiss to each others in the public area. In fact, you may catch some couples hugging or even kissing to pose their selves in front of a camera. They are actually a part of the new generation of Vietnamese who are open-minded and affected by film and entertaining industry.

Ethnic minorities

Avoid giving empty water bottles, sweets and candies or pens to the local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages. You cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner, and the people have no access to dental health. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community.

Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.

Political issues

Blogging is acceptable if your content stays steer clear of sensitive stories about the government. It is OK to share your personal experiences and review accommodation or restaurants but nothing else. Talk about anything like corruption in the government or even the Vietnam War can lead to a negative reaction on the part of the authorities. Therefore we definitely highlight this important point. It’s better to forget the term of “Freedom of Speech” while travelling in Vietnam.

Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.

Anything that depicts pornography is highly illegal. Prostitution also happens to be illegal. If you love bars and nightclubs, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi probably can serve your interests. But always keep in mind that sharing a hotel room with a Vietnamese of the opposite sex is generally not permitted.

Trading in or possession of drugs is illegal and a capital offence in Vietnam. As in other countries, drug abuse costs a lot in terms of prevention or even reduction, but it seems that it can never be completely eradicated. Therefore, don’t ever carry drugs with you while you are travelling in Vietnam.

Other articles:

Top 5 tips for crossing the street in Vietnam

Top 5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

5 tips of preparation for better score at golf

5 tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket

Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam

Facebook redesigns business pages with new look

By: Emilio Piriz

Facebook redesigns business pages with new look

After redesigning its news feed personal accounts last week, Facebook announced that it will roll out a new look and feel for business pages. This affects the Online Reputation Management (ORM) service that we at City Pass provide to premium clients in the Travel and Hospitality sector in Vietnam; therefore we should take these changes into consideration to get the best out of the new features.

The remake means good news to all users of this platform. Even Facebook calls this new appearance a more ‘streamlined’ look. The new design includes two columns similar to the old version, but the right column is now the Page’s timeline while the left includes information about the brand or business (e.g., map, business hours, phone number and website URL). Previously, both left and right columns used to display posts as users would scroll down the page.

Facebook New
Two distinct columns in new design

This major rearrangement makes Facebook Business Pages look a lot more like a personal profile. In a post on the official Facebook for Business blog, the company explained, “We’ll begin rolling out a streamlined look for Pages on desktop that will make it easier for people to find the information they want and help Page admins find the tools they use most.”

The redesigned layout comes with several changes for City Pass's Social Media management services – part of our ORM package – as Page admins. Stats such as page likes, the number of ad campaigns, post reach impressions, and notifications will appear in a tool bar in the right column. Therefore, administrators now have this information readily available in one place without having to navigate through numerous menus.

The new appearance actually makes the desktop version look more like the mobile version. This offers a more unified experience for your visitors no matter what device they’re using to follow your feed. Additionally, the ‘face makeover’ comes less than a week after Facebook updated the look for news feeds. This is a fairly minor change that includes larger photos and new icons and fonts.

How do you like Facebook’s latest redesigns? Do you think they will achieve their primary goal in improving the user’s experience?

Posts run on both left and right side in old design

The East Sea Dispute Cost Vietnam One Million Hotel Nights In Five Months

By: Mark Gwyther

I’ve been asked several times just how badly Vietnam’s hospitality business was affected by problems resulting from the East Sea dispute with China. From the investor’s point of view, it is much worse than most people realize.

Back in April (the anti-Chinese riots occurred mid-May) Vietnam’s inbound international arrivals were up 27% for the year, buoyed by a 47% increase in Chinese visitors. Danang resorts, built in anticipation of these new Chinese tourists, began filling up. The amount of direct flights from China to Hanoi, Danang, and Cam Ranh increased almost weekly. Peter Ryder, the CEO of Indochina Land said, “Right now we’re at an inflection point with supply and demand. But I see demand outstripping supply within the next 12 months.” 1

Vietnam hospitality was poised to have a huge year.


First Impressions

At first it did not look so bad; at least from an outsider’s perspective. When the tourism numbers were announced at the end of May the Vietnamese media reported the East Sea dispute was not having much of an impact since the number of Chinese arrivals was still up 30% for the month compared to the year before. People in the business handling the thousands of cancellations and seeing the empty rooms didn’t believe the numbers.

But those numbers included the first half of May in which Chinese arrivals were most likely up around 50%, meaning the second half of the month experienced a precipitous drop. Another factor leading to a lack of understanding of the impact was how VNAT reports statistics. Monthly international inbound statistics are released around the 25th of the month-meaning they estimate the final few days using data from the entire month.

China and Vietnam

The Actual Cost

As the summer wore on it became very apparent to everyone that the East Sea dispute had significant implications for tourism. Vietnam’s inbound growth rate began sinking like a ship taking on water; steadily dropping from 27% in April to 10% by the end of September. Still, most media didn’t recognize or didn’t report the real damage of opportunity costs.


In 2013, more than a quarter of all international visitors to Vietnam were Chinese. The Chinese market is bigger than the next three countries combined. Of course many of those visitors cross the northern border to trade, but that proportion has been decreasing. China’s burgeoning middle-class’s economic influence on Vietnam is hardly surprising as most countries throughout the world are experiencing large growth in the number of Chinese inbounds. China's government is also aware of the flow of outbound riches and it is well equipped and prepared to stop this flow to meet political objectives.

Chinese Arrivals to Vietnam

Chinese Tourists

What is important to understand and very few people have noticed, is that the growth rate in Chinese arrivals to Vietnam is not only growing, but the growth rate is growing as well. In calculus it’s called the second order derivative; in real life it is called accelerated growth.

When estimating how many tourists Vietnam lost, we must forecast the regular growth plus the additional amount from increasing growth rates. For the first four months of 2014, Chinese increased 48% from the previous year. This growth rate was accelerating at about 1.5% per month, which means if we had forecasted Chinese arrivals back in April, we’d have come up with this prediction.

 May 14June 14July 14Aug 14Sep 144 Month Total
2013 Chinese Visitors 148,606 129,577 173,257 190,358 169,682 811,480
Expected Growth (48%) 71,331 62,197 83,163 91,372 81,447 389,510
Accelerated Growth 2,330 3,887 7,796 11,421 12,726 38,160
Expected Total 222,267 195,661 264,217 293,151 263,856 1,200,990
Actual Total 194,018 136,726 123,442 135,170 148,895 738,251
Difference 28,249 58,925 140,775 157,981 114,961 462,739

That's over 450,000 visitors that should have arrived but didn’t. If the average stay is over 4 nights with double occupancy,we are discussing a million room nights lost in five months.Like rotting fruit, that inventory is lost forever. Developers and investors were anticipating growth in the Chinese outbound market and instead it suddenly shrunk dramatically.

China Back off

What’s Next?

This is not the first time the Chinese Government has used its outbound tourists as an economic weapon against another country. In May 2012, they advised travel agencies (many which are state-owned) to cancel tours to The Philippines because of protests at the Chinese embassy in Manila. They lifted the ban several months later and Chinese arrivals to The Philippines increased by 70% in 20132. That would seem to indicate the Chinese travelers will come back rapidly once relations begin to normalize.

1: http://thedevelopmentadvisor.com/news/vietnam-danang-resort-villa-condominium-market/
2: The Chinese government re-instated its travel warnings to The Philippines last month.

Un-like This: How to Curb Digital Dependence

By: Sivaraj Pragasm

Is your smartphone usage getting in the way of completing a task?

Mobile apps are taking over human interaction.

What causes nomophobia?

In an age where friends and family are constantly available anywhere, anytime, with just the tap of an app, are we starting to get overly dependent on technology?

Gone are the days when we used to remember phone numbers and had to rely on awkward first conversations to score a date. Now all of these can be done simply on your phone.

According to an academic study released by the Hanoi University of Public Health based on feedback from 170 college students from three different Vietnamese universities, smartphone usage averages about three to four hours a day, with about 31.2% of students using them six to 11 times a day, and 25.9% of students using them 11 to 20 times a day.

Digital DependenceImage source: macleans.ca

According to various global studies, such as The Global Mobile Consumer Survey by Deloitte in 2016, it was revealed that 80% of a smartphone user’s routine starts within one hour after waking up, or before bed, of which 35% do it within five minutes.

The same survey also found that one in three people check their smartphones in the middle of the night.

How do you know if you are addicted to your phone?

‘Nomophobia’, or smartphone addiction, becomes an actual problem when it hinders your daily life. This includes using a phone for unhealthy periods of time, or swiping a screen instead of completing a task.

If you’ve noticed phone addiction symptoms reflected in your daily routine, and regularly suffer from withdrawal symptoms after not using your phone for a sustained period of time, you may be addicted to your smartphone.

Digital DependenceImage source: recoveryranch.com

Digital dependence is not just about you and your phone

Most smartphone activity centres around social media, instant messaging or watching videos or movies. However, with new apps regularly replacing physical stores and fully-automated services supported by cashless payments, there has been a reduced need for actual human interaction for these transactions.

Digital DependenceImage source: minutemediacdn.com

Apps such as Grab allow you to book a ride from one location to another without needing to speak to another person. Tinder, a well-known dating app, has also made meeting people much easier, without engaging them.

It is inevitable that in the near future, most of our current tasks may just be a click or two away - but is that a good thing?

What else causes this addiction?

Psychologist Nguyen Thi Tam, director of the Vietnam Insight Applied Psychology Company believes that nomophobia has spread widely across Vietnam due to the increased acceptance and normalisation of smartphones in everyday lives.

Digital DependenceImage source: bibamagazine.fr

She added that besides the feeling of anxiety while waiting for notifications, users have also started to find that their social skills have gradually eroded.

In an interview with VietnamNet, Khuat Thu Hong, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies, warns that a lack of attention from parents can make it difficult for children to share or discuss their problems and in some cases, this neglect may lead to depression and other disorders.

Digital DependenceImage source: thegoodbook.co.uk

She suggests parents to set up a timetable to ensure that they spend enough time with their kids. Parents should also make a commitment to live phone-free whenever possible, and engage in fun offline activities with their kids.

Ms. Tam suggests that in order to create a balance between being offline and online, mobile phone usage should be moderated and not encroach into time spent for human interaction and even work.

Banner Image source: peerrecoveryindiana.org