Northern mountain destinations to overcrowd for New Year

By Tu Nguyen   December 28, 2023 | 07:04 pm PT
Northern mountain destinations to overcrowd for New Year
A group of Israeli tourists on a bike tour in Ha Giang, northern Vietnam. Photo courtesy of BiBi Ha Giang Tour
Vietnam's picturesque highlands border town of Sa Pa, and other northern tourist destinations accessible from Hanoi, have reported occupancy rates of up to 90% during the New Year holiday.

The average room occupancy rates in Sa Pa have reached up to 90%, while all accommodation in the three-to-four-star segment is fully booked, according to aggregations by Mustgo, a travel reservation platform with 2,000 hotel partners in Vietnam.

Available reservations in the five-star segment are also 70% booked.

Around 240 kilometers from Sa Pa, the northernmost province of Ha Giang is also expected to face overcrowding this holiday as hospitality businesses are already reporting full bookings.

Lai Quoc Tinh, chairman of the Board of Directors of H'Mong Village Resort, said his Ha Giang facility is full up from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, 2024.

Luxury cruises in Ha Long Bay are nearly fully booked as well, mostly by foreign travelers, according to data from Mustgo.

Bui Thanh Tu, marketing director of travel firm Best Price, said his company has received 1,000 bookings for Ha Long cruise services during the holiday period. A total of 3,000 foreign tourists are included in those reservations.

Tourism industry insiders said tourists traveling Vietnam from Hanoi often stay near the capital for the three-day holiday in order to avoid the year-end’s more expensive airfares.

Airfares from Hanoi to Phu Quoc Island off the southern coast are double normal rates for Dec. 29 and Jan. 1, reaching up to VND7 million (US$289).

Data from Mustgo showed occupancy rates in Hoi An, central Vietnam’s historic old port town near metropolitan Da Nang, have climbed 85-90%.

In the south-central coast’s premier beach destination, Nha Trang, foreign-invested five-star resorts have reported occupancy rates of around 90%.

In contrast to the busyness of northern and central-coast destinations, the picture in the resort city of Da Lat, the Central Highlands’ major tourism hub in Lam Dong Province, is starkly different as the holiday approaches.

Nguyen Nhat Vu, vice chairman of the Lam Dong Tourism Association, said Da Lat has reported an annual decrease in the number of domestic tourists booking for New Year’s, with occupancy rates at small hotels having reached only 50%.

Leading regional tour operator Dalattourist said the number of tourists booking holiday services at its restaurants has decreased 50% year-on-year.

Airfares from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat cost nearly double the normal rate, ranging from VND3.8-VND4.6 million per person.

In general, tourism and aviation officials in Vietnam have warned that another double whammy next year – soaring airfares and people reducing spending on travel due to the steep economic downturn – is expected to lead to a sharp decline in the number of domestic air travelers.

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